Last Monday afternoon I had an unexpected emotional experience regarding grief and children. Johnny is in camp half days on Mondays so after lunch we had playtime inside for awhile letting him have a chance to relax and play with his trains. I was tired from the heat outside and saw the time and thought I hadn’t watched my soap opera in months. There is only 35 minutes left so why not turn it on and see what is happening.
Johnny stopped building tracks and clambered up onto the sofa to sit beside me. We were cuddling and then he got very still and then turned a bit away from me and then put his head down on the sofa arm rest. He looked very sad and then I saw tears slipping out of his eyes and Johnny quickly wiping them as if he was hoping I didn’t see them. I snuck another look and his face was read and he had a lower lip trying to contain his emotions. I wrapped him up into my arms and gave him loves and told him:
“its okay to miss him too. I was really nice when we would all sit down and watch the soap together and its okay to think of the happy times but feel sad too because he’s not here now.”
** I wrote about my father passing away and how Johnny was dealing with it here: https://sunflowercyn.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/are-you-sad-shh/
For as long as I can remember since Johnny was a baby, my Dad would put him on his lap, sit down and turn on Days of Our Lives and they would sit and have some quiet cuddle time. I had introduced the soap to my Dad many years ago when I was a teenager and he was working afternoon shifts and I was trying to keep up and juggle school work. It became a special time for myself and my Dad for many years talking about what was happening on Days of Our Lives and then became a special time for Johnny. I’m glad he remembers and treasures it even though he doesn’t want to find the words to share his feelings right now.
My Dad would laugh when Johnny was older and would get up and run over to the TV and point whenever a beautiful blond actress would grace the screen. We noticed that Johnny would really get interested watching the facial expresses on the actors especially during more intense scenes whether it was comedic or dramatic. It was at an introductory class in Autism Spectrum disorder that one of the ABA therapists who works with teaching young adults social skills said that she uses soap operas as a teaching tool. She would have her group watch a scene then stop it and point and ask them what they though the facial expression meant and what was happening and get them to play act and copy so they would know what to do. She said that she was also trained in acting and the soap opera medium has the actors over emphasize and dramatize their scenes for effect more so then you would see on night-time TV and this is perfect for teaching people with ASD.
So I’ll wait I’ll give Johnny some time and then turn Days Of Our Lives on again and see if he’ll cuddle up and watch it with me and think of all the happy times we shared with “Grandpa”.