There is an element of control when there are schedules and routines in place and its the unexpected surprises that bring a feeling of “out of control” that leads to anxiety. A series of moments that seem unconnected and nonsensical on the surface that lead to a rollercoaster of emotions that I find myself having a hard time getting in front of. Instead I find myself expending a lot of energy reacting to Johnny and trying to make this one moment go away. This is when Johnny is fragile and the most vulnerable.
Yesterday was one of “those” rollercoaster days. March break was the week before, Daddy had been away the week before that and the time change and now Johnny is back at school trying to back into all of his routines again after having a nice time with Mommy and “Princess.”
The most poignant moment came while I was making cookie dough and I could hear Johnny whimpering in the living. He was flopped on his back on his bean bag cushion with his little 2-1/2 year old sister, Princess”, kneeling beside him trying to tickle his tummy.”
“Johnny don’t be sad. I am trying to make you happy. Mommy is making us cookies. Let me make you happy.”
He lightly shoved her away which then got a frustrated growl from her and a quick apology from Johnny,
I started to try and reason with him because I was making him and his sister their favourite cookies and this time they were going to help me press the shapes. At this point anything I said would bring tears unless I made him what he decided at that hour was the thing that would comfort him. Is he having a tantrum? It would be if he wanted something I was not giving him. It was more complicated then that. He came home from school with a lot of anxiety and was having a real hard time regulating his emotions. Little frustrations were bringing tears to his eyes and he is now looking for things or to do things to self soothe and bring some control back.
When faced with this situation I usually try and help him get what he needs to calm down but this time I had to tell him first I make the cookie dough then we do what you want to do. This was not going over well and every few minutes he would get upset again. I had originally promised him that if he went to school and had a good then I would wait until he came home to make the dough. I had already promised “Princess” that after lunch we would make cookies so I felt I couldn’t let her down….again.
What did he want so bad?
He wanted me to make rainbows for him to colour. Sometimes it’s the littlest thing.