Monday, May 8, 2017

Parenthood: Week 203 - Time-in, Shower Tea Parties and Storytime with Anger

I moved my chair close to Ollie and held the burrito in front of his face and watched him lunge deeply into the filling and take a bite. Ollie muttered “you take a bite,” with a mouth full of beans, rice and meat and I went ahead and took a bite myself. Sharing a burrito, taking turns with each bite was something me and Diana used to do in college. It was cute then, and it’s just as cute doing it with Ollie.

I’m all about nurturing independence in my son, but handing my son a burrito to try to eat by himself is simply a slower version of throwing the burrito on the floor. It’s cute to watch him dive into and immerse himself in the food. What makes this experience so heartwarming is that he makes sure that I get my turn in. As much as I feel like I’m sharing the burrito with him, he feels he is sharing this burrito with me. In this way we both get joy out of giving to each other.

After dinner, Ollie was in a great mood.He asked me to make him a cave out of the couch cushions. I propped up the cushions and gave him a flashlight. Ollie crawled in the cave and after a couple minutes knocked the walls down. He asked me to build it again, which I di and then he would knock them down, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose.

“Ollie, we are going to need to clean up and take a shower in a couple minutes,” I warned Ollie. After a some time, I gave a final warning and told Ollie that it was time to clean up. Within a couple seconds, Ollie’s good mood became a tantrum. Ollie’s breathing quickened, and tears seemed to spray out of his eyes. His face got twisted in frustration. Ollie wasn’t making any more than a soft whimpering sound until, I started talking and every time I began a sentence, he would scream.

The scream was piercing, loud, high and harsh. I sat down on the ground and concentrated on making my voice as quiet and as calm as possible. I asked Ollie why he was upset and what he was feeling, but each of my words got covered up by his staccato screams, which only seemed to get louder. I reached out to him, but he snapped his arm away from my grip. I encouraged him to tell me how he felt and explained that it was ok if he was sad that he had to clean up, but he just kept screaming.

I grabbed him and forced him to sit in my lap. I wrapped my arms around him and positioned his arms so that he was hugging himself. This is when the screams that were once interjections became a constant tone. I gave him enough space in my arms to move but not enough for him to get free. I focused on my breathing, moving my breath in and out deliberately, exaggerating my chest movement so Ollie could feel my breath. I coached Ollie softly to breathe deeply.

I felt my arms becoming wet with tears, but I also felt Ollie’s breathing slow down. Eventually his screaming was replaced with the sound of his focused inhalations and exhalations lined up with my own. “Ollie, are you calm?” I asked, “Yes, I am calm now,” he replied.

I opened up my arms, and Ollie stood up and looked at me. His face soaked with tears but now he was relaxed. “Can you help me clean up the cave?” I asked and without resistance, Ollie picked up a cushion and started helping me put the couch back together.

I’ve never done a timeout with Ollie, but I do these “time-ins.” Ollie doesn’t always know hot to calm himself down and how to deal with his emotions. There is merit in giving a child space to calm down and think about their behavior, but I’ve never felt the right time to go make Ollie sit in chair. Instead, I hold him close to me, counter his energy with calmness and teach him techniques to calm himself down.

Shower time was fun. Ollie brought his tea set into the shower. So there was a couple minutes where we both sat on the floor of the tub with shampoo in our hair as we pretending to drink the tea Ollie had just poured.

Diana was out of the house, so I was on my own. To distract Ollie from this fact, I told him that I would read him three books. He chose Ida Always, a beautiful book about the death of a polar bear at a zoo and how her friend deals with this loss. My Heart Is A Zoo, a cute book with animals made up of heart shapes and Dr. Seuss classic, The Lorax.

Instead of reading books on the rocking chair, we now read in bed. Ollie climbs in first, I ask him to scoot over, he often doesn’t scoot far enough over so I lay on top of him and he eventually moves giggling under my weight. We get “cozy,” which means we get under his comforter. He insisted that his anger stuffed toy from Inside Out read with us, so he reached to the foot of the bed where he placed his other stuffed toys and carefully positioned him between us.

As I started reading he pulled my right arm up. At first I wasn’t sure what he wanted, but then I realized he just wanted me to put my arm around him. As I read about the polar bears, I felt his cold feet tuck between my legs. Like me, Ollie doesn’t like to wear socks to bed and while feeling ice cold feet on my legs is uncomfortable, it’s cute feeling him trying to get warm against my body.

After the third book, I gave Ollie one more kiss and a hug and reminded him that I was proud of him, that he was my special little guy and that I loved him. I went downstairs to do some dishes.

About half an hour later, I went upstairs to get something out of our bedroom and I found Ollie on our bed, lying on my side, cuddled up against my pillow. I’m not sure if Ollie comes into my bed because he likes my Tempur-pedic pillow or because he finds my smell comforting. Either way, I find it meaningful that he finds comfort sharing the same spot that brings me a feeling of safety and security as I sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment