Thursday, July 28, 2011

(For) crying out loud

Henry is just about 3, just a little jealous of Oliver, and just about as precocious, smart and verbal as they come at that age. His mood swings and string-pulling regularly put the patience of his mother (and father, aunts, and constantly-getting-pinched-and-sat-on brother) to tests equivalent to those of crash-test dummies ramming into windshields.

Typical toddler: adorable, unpredictable, changable, inspiring, exasperating.

Team loyalties still predictable
(if nothing else).

Tuesday afternoon, Missy and the boys planned to drive me the half-hour across town to catch my 5 o'clock flight home. As she fed Oliver and we looked at 10 minutes to necessary departure, Henry was just up from his nap and clearly out-of-sorts. I was trying to help him get ready, but he was not going to have diaper changed -- not from his mom asking him, not from me. Not going to not distract the distractable Oliver. Not going to let me get him a snack for the road. Not going to accept the choice of snack I gave him once he agreed to take the snack. Not going to put his Crocs on. Walking towards the door, telling us he indeed was ready to "rock-and-roll," then getting to the door and insisting he didn't want to.

The nadir came 10 minutes after we should have left: me on the stoop with my suitcase; Missy in the kitchen holding Oliver in his carseat; Henry fixed to the floor between us, sobbing -- ostensibly because his Teddy Grahams were cinnamon and not chocolate, but more likely for all sorts of internal reasons he doesn't know how to verbalize. Meanwhile, we were going to miss my flight. There was no choice but for me to lean over, scoop him by the waist, and forcibly lift and carry him the 40 steps to the car.

And right then, something in him shut off, as if he had been swaddled. He stopped crying. He didn't resist being strapped-in. He let Missy kiss him on the cheek and pat his hair.  We started backing out of the driveway when his little voice piped up.
"Mom?  I don't feel bad anymore. I feel better."

"I know, honey. Sometimes it just feels good to cry, doesn't it?"

And with that, he took a handful of cinnamon Teddy Grahams from the snack trap.

I was impressed by my sister's patience and her wisdom in letting a 3-year-old learn to deal with unspeakable emotions without punishment.

We could all be so lucky.

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