He grumps his way through the morning, obviously something is a miss, but with the way things have been going lately, I can’t really blame him. I try to help him avoid conflict, but at some point during the day, be it the socks, the cereal, the position of the rain – its inevitable. He’s going to have himself a break down. A full blown break down. The ones that come when everything has just been piled on, higher and higher – until the smallest of things can break it.
I understand these kinds of break downs, and so I carefully navigate the confusion of the day with him. Trying to give him the tools he might need to combat it himself, not wanting to overwhelm or smother him, but not wanting to leave him at it alone either.
Sometimes, I tell myself, it can work both ways. The small things can help, and they can also break the entire day. In today’s case, the small things broke the day. The pressure of having to not only get dressed this morning, but go out of the house was too much, and by the time we made it to school – I knew it wouldn’t be long until I got called back. That gut feeling, they call it. I suppose.
Maybe I should have just taken him home and let him have the day off. After all it has been a hectic, crazy few weeks and I know he too, is struggling. With way more than anyone else knows. I know he is trying to process things, and his mind is working overtime to try and make sense of the confusing, complicated world that he lives in. And sometimes – it just doesn’t make sense. But not wanting to give him a “way out” and wanting him to “face things” and hopefully be able to work through, I walked him in.
I filled his teachers in, and walked off as he pleaded with his eyes – for me not to leave. I whispered that it would be ok, to have a good day. Then slipped out while mentally begging for his day to just go ok. I didn’t need his day to be stellar, or fantastic. Just ok. For my words to actually come through. That by telling him it would be ok, that maybe, for once – it would be.
A few hours later, when I got the call that I was already expecting – I picked him up. Tears staining his face, hair ruffled, fidgety and panicking. Obviously…his day was not ok. Because sometimes, the day just ends up not going good. And the small things – his classmate said hello, someone sat too close, it was too loud, too bright, too itchy, too hot, and too cold -become too much.
I took him home, helped him out of his pants, and watched as he scurried for his bed. He didn’t climb in, but instead under.
It’s the life we live.
It’s the way we are.
It’s how we roll.
When the day is just too much, the comforting things are in the dark, cool corners of the room – under the bed away from the world. Pants are optional, but not preferred.
I called a babysitter, gave some last minute advice on not trying to coax him out, to give him space and when or if he came out – to just take it easy. He’s had a long week.
When I came home, he had found his way out from under his bed, but hadn’t ventured far. Feet up the wall, lying on his back, humming to himself as he traced imaginary figures in the air with one hand, and the other firmly planted in his mouth. He didn’t look up when I came in. He didn’t seem to notice, or have a care in the world. He was in his world.
His world, where everything I assume, is just how it should be. There aren’t too many people, too many noises, too much light, too much color. His world is just the way it should be, how it should be, with everything just right.
As I look at him, pressed against the wall, I had a hundred and one thoughts flood through my mind. Instinctively I wanted to feel sorry for him, for myself, for this life. For everything that has gone wrong. Instinctively, I wanted to scream and yell, and throw myself down there with him and yell that I just wanted it to be ok – nothing more, nothing less.
But instead I took another look.
He was calm. He was happy. He was peaceful. He was content.
No, he didn’t have pants on. At ten years old, he still occasionally sucks his fingers for comfort. He pressed himself hard against the wall and hummed a tune only he knows. His mind was probably running a million different ways. He probably ran out of tears hours before, and most likely was exhausted from chasing away the millions of thoughts and emotions that flood him day in and day out – but he was happily tracing imaginary figures in the air.
He wasn’t scared. Wasn’t fighting. Wasn’t stressing. Wasn’t in a panic. He may just be onto something, this kid.
So if you happen to come over, and see me – laying on the floor tracing imaginary shapes in the air with no pants on – just know, I’m ok.
It’s all just about how you look at it, I suppose.