My kids are almost two and those stereotypes about two-year olds are starting to rear their ugly heads. Specifically in my little man. My lady baby is pretty chill. She likes to cuddle and suck her thumb and generally sit quietly. Her time will come in about eleven years.
This morning my little man had an epic breakdown. He woke up pissy. They both did but I suspect that her mood was contracted from him. That happens with kids. Everything is contagious from germs to moods. Our ‘playdate’ fell through, as often happens with life, so I decided my kids needed a dose of the good ‘ol outdoors. We got our rain pants on, strapped on our rubber shoes (because they’re dishwasher safe) and ran wildly into the yard. Fun was had. Giggles were shared. Puddles were splashed in. For about ten minutes. And then the bad moods returned. Now my kids were just pissy AND muddy. I tried new toys, books, cuddles. Nothing was cutting it. It was time for the big guns…Netflix. I threw on a movie and went into the kitchen to get some cooking done.
Within minutes my little man was at my feet in tears; a common occurrence that usually lasts only a few minutes until he realizes I’m not biting. Today, however, was a different story. His meltdown lasted 20 minutes. Or rather, it went on for 20 minutes before I almost lost my head and decided I needed to step in. My little man was having one of those don’t-touch-me-but-hold-me kind of moments. The kind where you just can’t do right by them. I didn’t know what to do but I knew if I didn’t do something, my head would implode. So I just lied down next to him.
Our kitchen ceiling has a few cracks in it. I’d never noticed. Is that dirt or a spider? Holy shit, I need to wash the underside of our cabinets. We just lay there, me and him. Me, quietly and him, quieter. Within a few minutes, he had calmed down. Not completely but significantly. I didn’t reach out to him. I didn’t say anything. I let him make contact when he was ready and eventually he did. At that point I picked him up, wiped his tear-stained cheek, held him in my arms and we snuggled on the couch for awhile. It’s amazing how perfectly his head fits in the nape of my neck and how wonderful his hair smells even though I can’t remember the last time I used shampoo on him.
All the while, my lady baby sat quietly in her chair watching Charlie Brown lust after The Little Red-Headed Girl.
I don’t know if this technique will work again or if it was just a one-hit wonder but who cares. The five minutes we lay on that floor together were beneficial to us both. My little man managed to calm down and stop leaking from his eye sockets. And I took a few minutes to notice my breath as well. It was a moment of mindfulness amongst a scene of chaos; something I didn’t think was possible. I suspect being on the same level made my little man feel connected and understood. I suspect that he didn’t feel so powerless and dominated. I suspect it made him feel not so small. But I’m no therapist. Maybe he had just wore himself out. Either way, the next time one of my kids has a tantrum I will try this method again. If it works, I suspect I’ll spend a lot of time on the floor over the next few years. I’d better start vacuuming more regularly.Tags: advice, mindfulness, Parenthood, tantrums, terrible twos, twins