|image credit: https://web.dsbn.edu.on.ca|
to be himself, without question or judgement. He sheds his anxiety and takes solace in familiarity.
But what do you do when your home becomes a place of chaos and confusion?
Recently my sister and my wonderful nephew have come to stay with us for a little while. My nephew is three and is as adorable and saucy as my little miss of the same age. They are like two peas in a pod, acting the same way, taking interest in the same things, and act out in all the same ways. As you can imagine, this is cause for some mega blowout toddler fights.
Now when these two begin the fifteenth round of the day of screaming and tugging the same toy away from each other, It can be a bit trying. My sister and I are equally tired of the noise, the mess, the scrapping, the... everything, but not nearly as much as little man.
He began to meltdown about little things, and retreat into himself, almost completely severing communication by day four. I tried to coax him out of his shell, and interest him in things that are usually quite tempting, but he was only interested in getting as far away physically and emotionally as possible. As hard as it is for me to allow him that space, I understand that it is necessary for him to have it. My concern however, was that he would continue to retreat and I would lose touch with him, and the progress we have made to establish open lines of communication would be compromised.
Not wanting this to happen, I had to offer him an alternative. Thankfully my mother has always been an enormous part of little man's life and has over the years become someone he can lean on and pull strength from when he is feeling vulnerable.
After one phone call to my mom, little man was packed up, and off to Grandma's for the night. We have only had a couple of one nighters away from each other and they pretty much all happened in the last year. I very meticulously prepare him mentally for the sleep over, and fret the whole time he's away, wondering how he is doing without me. I have learned though, that I need to get over myself a little and realize that he is fine without me long enough to have a sleep over at Grandma's house without falling apart.
So when he went this time, I assured myself that he was in good hands, and that a total decompression was in order for his well being. He practically sprinted out the door when my mom came to pick him up, and I had to call him back to say goodbye to me (tear).
I checked in a couple times throughout the evening and morning and was reassured that he was happy, calm, and eating copious amounts of junk food (maybe that's why Grandma's is so fun).
When he came home, he was himself again. I was relieved. I think I have this irrational fear that eventually he will pull away from me and won't come back.
But, he did. just needed a night to reset. I visualize it like this: He has a bucket, and over the course of the day, or several, stimulation and sensory fill it up, one drop after another; and without ample time to tip the bucket upside down and let it drain out, it will inevitably overflow.
I am not always able to offer this to him on my own. I have learned to rely on and trust my circle of people to help me and to have little man's best interest at heart as well as the capability.
I just hope they keep it up when we have four teenagers hanging around!