The other day, Johnny had a “sad” day. It seems that he is only now dealing with how he feels about Daddy going away and traveling on business. While riding the subway to his ABA playgroup with Daddy he kept rubbing his eyes and covering them trying to fight back the tears and stop himself from crying. Daddy called me and said that he was late leaving him because he’d never seen Johnny so emotional dropping him off at something. So as I did a bunch of things around the house and played with Princess my mind kept drifting to thoughts of my little boy with the BIG heart.
I was told he ended up having fun but once we were home and he saw Daddy’s shoes he got emotional again. Johnny is now an emerging speaker so now we are better able to try and help sort out his emotions and express his feelings In the end it took lots of cuddling and reassurance and saying “it’s okay to feel sad, cry and miss Daddy but he’s only at work right now like he always is sweetie.”
I wonder if its harder for Johnny when Daddy travels because he only has “Mommy and Daddy” at home now? My father lived with us and was a prominent caregive in his life and he passed away in February. Even though Johnny saw his “Wompa” diminish from cancer slowly in front of his eyes and understands he is gone forever, that the simple act of leaving for multiple days makes him sad and anxious wondering if Daddy is truly coming back. You can see on his face when his Daddy has gone to the basement for longer then what Johnny thinks he should and he begins to ask for him.
We are learning to follow his lead and just give him extra hugs as he sorts out these feelings. We are going to create some social stories so that he knows that even though Daddy has to travel sometimes for work he will come back. We are also using things like FaceTime and Skype to help reduce the anxieties and give Johnny some much needed “Daddy time” even from far away.
How is he doing now? Johnny wears his heart on his sleeve and can be emotionally sensitive so it helps to re-direct him by doing fun activities to fill his mind with happy moments. After we pick him up, instead of going straight home for lunch, we go for a little walk downtown and explore, hunt and pick dandelions, find a nice bench to sit on and have snack time and find soothing spots like a big beautiful water fountain to gaze at.
When other people in his life pay extra attention to him and make him feel special during this period it helps a great deal. Our neighbour will treat him like a rock star and really give him lots of praise or come with us shopping.
We are now seeing some happy tears when he sees something that makes him burst with happiness and less sad tears. He gets really happy when he realizes he has a birthday coming up, lots of presents and getting to see family again and he’ll rub his face into your tummy and hug really tight.
The important thing is he is beginning to learn its okay to feel these emotions and because he’s talking more its okay to express them and not keep things to himself. Especially since Daddy will be going away again in a few days.