Today was too much for my toddler. We all have them, even as adults. Those days where nothing seems to go right and everything insurmountably goes wrong! When a series of events leave you tripping, fumbling, stumbling until you inevitably fall into a messy heap. For my toddler, that day was today.
Our Hurricane started his day in his general orchestrated, cataclysmic rumble, never one to have embraced the gentle roll, and slow pace of a morning sluggish wake up. In his normal turbulent fashion he rattled, rocked and rolled into our bedroom with his ever energetic self, swinging the door open abruptly like an over eager pepped up gym junkie, five protein shakes in and ready to smash whatever the day throws at him, it’s go time family I’m up!
Shuffling sheepishly to the kitchen, the Big Man and I ritualistically move about each other in a quest for coffee and tea, momentarily grunting in greeting. Beneath my feet I can see the Hurricane whirling, yanking open draws and emptying out the sea of plastic contents searching for a drink bottle, specifically the blue drink bottle, not the blue one with the dinosaurs, not the blue one with the race cars, but the blue one with the red and yellow rocket ships. Dammit! The specific blue drink bottle with the red and yellow rocket ships was in the washing machine. Wearily and still without caffeine, I braced myself for a diplomatic hostage negotiation. Apologetic for the error of my ways and after much explanation that while the other two remaining blue drink bottles may not possess the required rocket ship aesthetics, they were, in fact, of the same make and design! Successful, the Hurricane begrudgingly accepted dinosaurs as an acceptable substitute. Phew!
Carrying on, the baby, our Little Ray of Sunshine, now awake and on the hip, I manage to gulp down a few sips of tea before fumbling for her morning milk bottle and settling on the couch for a few quiet moments. Enjoying nursing and nuzzling with my little one, the air of silence and calm was abruptly ripped apart by a scream, not unlike that of petrified blonde from a slasher movie, “my truck! Lani, No!” There, hanging from the jaws of our beloved staffy were the now shredded, tattered remains of the Hurricanes favourite monster truck, the same truck I had told him to, oh let’s say three to four times, bring inside the night before because the dog will eat it! Swallowing my eager I told you so, I leapt and lunged from the couch, becoming a human barrier between the dog and the now devastated, furious, morphing gladiator style toddler. Crushed yet consoled, the Hurricane accepting that in some small way he was partially responsible for the loss of his truck, he moved on with a crash and bang tipping over his overflowing car box and rummaging through the remaining one hundred and seventy six matchbox toys in search of the next coolest and totally awesome replacement vehicle!
Like pulling the fraying thread on his favourite Thomas the Tank Engine T-shirt, his day continued to unravel. Toes were stubbed, food was spilled, scribbling colours would not stay within the required lines! Each seemingly insignificant problem gathered and surged, building, and building until ultimately it all became too much and our Hurricane catastrophically came undone. Outside, busying myself at the clothes line, I could hear the now weary patience of the Big Man meeting the frazzled and frantic desperation of the little man. Voices raising and the consequential billowing of 1…2…3 echoed, followed by the Hurricane, stomping and marching like an inmate banished to his bedroom ‘cell’. Boiling over with discontented, disgruntled rage, toys and books caught the brunt of the Hurricanes fury. Team tagging the Big Man in the hall way for a breather, I stood in the doorway watching my erupting, raging son. Anger was rocketing through every inch of his little body, twitching and convulsing with maddening agitation, fury and etched, hidden amongst it desperate and exasperated fear. Normally I would have battled it out, establish that firm stance that his behavior was not ok but something today, that small glimpse of panicked fear, made me stop before taking that first step into his room. Looking into his wild, frantic face, something unfolded before me. He wasn’t fierce, we was frightened, and my small, seeking little human was drowning in a sea of emotion he was not yet equipped to understand. He didn’t need a lesson today. Getting down to his level I opened up my arms, the air between us silent, hanging, he stopped, sad, lost and broken, he crumbled, folded and curled up in my lap gently sobbing. There we sat together, quietly knowing, reassuring, understanding and together. Today was too much for my toddler.
What had been a series of seemingly meaningless events to us had meant the world to him and one after the other everything had cataclysmically fallen apart. Unable to voice his disappointment or put into words his frustration, his misfortune, he expressed it the only way he knew how. Anger, and, for today, that was ok. In that moment of compassion for his temper, irrational to the outside but so vital to him, his voice was understood without the need of words, uncontrollable and frightening feelings lessened, soothed, cocooning him in an embrace of support and a sense of security. Tomorrow there will be a lesson, but, for today, all he needed was love.
We all can have bad days, and we all know that starting on the back foot can ultimately leave you fallen, flat and rolling uncontrollably down the path. What may not seem big to us can be overwhelmingly huge for our little explorers, and sometimes a pause, a step back and a little understanding, compassion and a hug can make all the difference when those small things become all too much.
Today was too much for my toddler, so today I showed him love.