Tonight was a rough night around here. The kids were up way before their normal 7 a.m. wake up time, then we had church, and a family party.
Family parties for us are no joke. My mom was one of six children. She and all of her siblings are married with kids, and most of my cousins now have kids, too. Think of the scene where the in-laws meet each other in My Big Fat Greek Wedding….it’s kind of like that. Except we’re Italian instead of Greek, and we are all crammed into the basement of my Nono’s small 2 bedroom house. Needless to say, it was a day filled with lots of people, noise, excitement, and, for the kids, sugar!
On the 9 minute drive home from the party, the kids managed to fall asleep (what IS it about cars??). I let them sleep for about a ½ hour, but then I had to wake them up since it was already 6:00. That was a disaster. Long story short, they broke down. The younger two were relatively easy to calm down, but my oldest one…my handsome, headstrong, just turned 4 year old…he was a different story.
After almost 45 minutes of him screaming/crying/tantruming, I had tried everything. Talking to him in a soothing voice, hugging him, leaving him alone to “cool off,” threatening to throw away candy if he didn’t stop screaming (not my finest mommy moment….don’t judge me!). I gave up. He was inconsolable.
Out of sheer desperation, I told him, “Buddy, you have to stop crying. Just stop!” Then he looked at me with huge, tearful eyes and yelled, “I can’t!” CAN’T? Oh, I was so mad! I yelled back, asking why, and cried, “Mommy, you have to make me comfortable!”
I remember reading an article once that said when kids are throwing a tantrum, it is because one (or more) of their needs are not being met. My son needed comfort. I had been so caught up in myself–I am so sick of hearing screaming, My throat and head are killing me, I am exhausted!, Why is he doing this to me!–that I didn’t stop to think about what he really needed.
When I asked him what would make him comfortable, he told me, and I did it. And you know what? Within 5 minutes he was back to my sweet boy who wanted to lay down and snuggle. And after about 20 minutes of non-stop “Twinkle, Twinkle” singing, he was sound asleep.
I stayed in his room staring at his beautiful face and listening to that ragged breathing that always comes after a long cry, and I felt humbled. Out of all of the things in the world, my baby needed me, ME, to make him feel comfortable. The fact that I was able to give that to him and send him off to dreamland with a safe, happy feeling fills my heart with joy. So much joy that I can almost forget the full hour of wall-shaking screaming….. Almost 🙂