Sorry for the lack of posting lately, dear readers. I have been seriously down in the dumps. What has brought this on, you ask? Some of it, I’m not sure. Life just has ups and downs. But some of it is that Mushroom has been extremely trying lately. And by extremely, I mean some days I don’t know if I want to laugh at him or scream or rip my hair out or just curl up in a ball and cry.
Something I learned a long time ago is that kids bring you their worst when they feel safest and most secure in your love for them. It’s true when you’re just their teacher and it’s true beyond true when you’re their parent. It’s such a wicked contradiction, yet makes perfect sense. Of course a child who feels unconditional love can let out all their demons, all their emotions, all their deep, dark thoughts.
I feel like none of the touchy feely, just give the kids love and respect parenting and teaching philosophies want to admit this terrible truth because it goes against everything that love and respect should do. The more you love and respect you give, the more chaos a child can bring.
The answer isn’t, of course, less love or respect. But as Mushroom’s anxiety has risen in the last few months, I’ve had to pull back and draw more boundary lines and push hard against that chaos and angst and tears. And it’s just wearing me down, folks. He’s always been a sensitive kid, but something in him has just snapped in the last several months and I am still struggling to keep up.
I want Mushroom to see that he is one of the gentlest, kindest kids I know. In many ways, he’s the most emotionally intelligent eight year-old I’ve ever met, full of deep thoughts and amazing empathy for others. I want him to know that he’s brilliant at math and writing. That of course he’s not perfect, but that doesn’t make him any less amazing and excellent. I want him to find confidence and resilience, persistence and patience. I want him to find joy, because when he does, he lights up so brightly.
Some days he has all that and then some. He pushes through hard math, he writes beautiful narrations, he works on his own projects with joy and cheer. He goes outside and strays far and wide. Other days, he is tears and screaming and practically clawing at me full of neediness and fear. He shakes and won’t catch his breath properly. He wants to go out, but he’s afraid – afraid of dogs, afraid of people, just afraid of his own shadow. He wants to finish his math or his writing or reading, but he’s all nerves and tears. My heart aches for him. And I never know which kid I’m getting when we start the day.
I try to give him the right tools, to equip him with the skills to fight these battles. And I am learning, painstakingly, to push him away when he’s in the throes of it and make him fight the battle. There’s no way to sate those deep, dark fears except to turn away from them, something he has to do on his own. I do this and hope for the best, hope that I’m doing it right, but never really knowing.