So, lately -- as in the last few weeks -- my son has been having extended tantrums. As in, no-holds-barred-screaming-for-ten-minutes tantrums. I do my best to be calm, to express love and support even as he tells me to "Go away!" and "Don't touch me!". I'm avoiding the trap of reacting and try to respond as wisely as I can. And it's not working. All I can do is hover a few feet away (if he'll let me) and wait for the storm to pass. My husband and I look at each other, baffled.
Why do I do this? To make sure he knows that I accept him every day, right where he is. To show him I love him even as he struggles with big, scary feelings and loses all control. I'm punctuating breaks in the screams and tears with phrases like "It's okay. You're safe. I'm right here when you're ready for a hug." He doesn't demand that I go away when I say these things, so I stick around and just let him empty himself. Eventually the storm passes and he does want to be close again, which is the best moment of all.
Meanwhile, the boy has been getting upper respiratory nastiness about every three weeks since before Christmas. This poor kid can't go a week without needing the humidifier. Last week, he was constantly clearing his throat and coughing phlegm. I wondered if he needed to see the doctor, but then one morning I noticed his voice just sounded different. It became a bit lower and slightly hoarse, but he stopped coughing. I plugged in the humidifier another night to see if he needed it.
Nope, he wasn't coming down with another cold. His voice dropped. Now it sounds more boyish and less little-boyish. I have to confess, my heart dropped just a tinge at hearing it, and he still sounds a little foreign to me. The boy is growing up.
To confirm his growing up, I measured his height against the wall. Sure enough, this kid has grown half an inch since December. December! And it finally dawned on me -- maybe all these massive tantrums are the signs of growing pains. I guess I need to listen more closely when he complains that his feet or back or legs hurt and let him have some medicine sometimes when he asks for it.