Have you ever had one of those moments [days? weeks? MONTHS?] where you just felt off? Nothing ‘specific’ was bothering you or necessarily happened that day–just life in general has got you feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you’re a little exhausted and weepy and you just want to cry for no good damn reason? Of course you have. We all have. Well when I have these moments, I actually welcome the cry. I think of the most sentimental 90’s country song I can muster [Think Terri Clark, Mindy McCready, Martina, early Reba, etc… click if you dare.] –and I blare that shit and let the ugly crying commence. Or I watch a couple surprise homecoming videos–in case you don’t know what these are, they are videos of soldiers surprising their loved ones after long deployments. And they are every bit as emotionally brutal as they sound. It feels good to just let the tears roll and get it out. 99% of the time I feel better afterward and move on with my day. Does this sound familiar at all? Ok, now consider this…
What if I was only 4 or 5 years old and didn’t have the intellectual capacity to identify my wonky, emotional BLAHS, nor have the ability to think through and process my feelings, make a decision about them, and move on? What if all I knew was the overwhelmed and weepy part? And everyone kept telling me to stop crying because I’m not hurt or sick and “nothing is wrong with me” so I should “be a big girl.” We do this to our kids so much, perhaps as often as every day. And I use the collective pronoun “we,” because in spite of realizing how unfair this is, I know I have been guilty of it.
“Stop acting like a baby; you’re not a baby!” “Quit whining!” “You’re fine!” “Oh, great another tantrum!”
“You’re being ridiculous!”
“You’re not going to get your way, you’re going to get to your room with that noise!” -yikes, this one is literally me
But what if they just needed a good Reba cry? What if they were just feeling lots of feelings at once and didn’t know how to say so, and so instead, they just started to cry (or scream, or have an all-out fit in the Food Lion) “for no reason?” And then we tell them they are being bad… Because 4 (or 6 or 8 or 10) is too old to feel emotionally overwhelmed and, thus, behave unreasonably? Bitch please, I’m 35 years old, and last Friday I was in my feels all day, and so I let myself boo-hoo from the High Rise Bridge to 58 (That’s like an hour on a Friday afternoon, ya’ll). I literally have a playlist in my phone for this purpose. No shit. The difference between me and a little kid having a tantrum is that I am an grown-ass woman with emotional tools and blue-tooth capability. I was a brand new woman before I got to my exit.
So here’s my disclaimer to all this… I am NOT IN ANY WAY saying that sometimes kids don’t just act like assholes and lose their minds to get their way. They definitely do this. I’ve seen a kid initiate mental manipulation warfare over a tootsie pop. And as soon as he was given the tootsie pop, cool as a cucumber. Little fucker. That’ll be your last tootsie pop from me, mister! [And other lies I tell to seem tough…] BUT– I think you’ll find, more often than not, if you do a little mommy (or daddy) investigating, that your tiny terrorist is just a little ball of feelings who maybe needs a hug and minute to cry.
So if you’re slogging through a difficult day in mommy-land and no one is making sense and you have no idea what their problem is, try asking them if they are all feelingsy and need a reset. You’ll be surprised how honest kids are when you actually ask about their feelings, rather than make assumptions about them. And maybe they don’t know that it’s okay to just feel shitty for no reason. Think about it– We try to assign reason to everything. We want everything to make sense. And that’s just not how emotional beings work. I think it’s only fair we let kids be the little HUMANS they are. Tears and all. That’s all. 🙂