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The What If Whirlwind and Other Storms We Face

Posted by Jen on March 18, 2009 at 7:00 AM in JenRaising Boys
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carter's hands

He's wringing his hands over a little egg case of praying mantis eggs sent over from Meryl.

At first, it's the most exciting thing ever! 50 to 400 eggs! Praying mantis bugs everywhere. Can you even imagine?

We sit on the couch and marvel. This is fantastic. And then. The wheels start to turn. And turn. And turn and turn and turn.

What if I'm not here when they hatch?
What if no one is here when they hatch?
What if no one sees them when they're born?
Can we go to the doctor and get an x-ray everyday so we'll know when they're coming?
Can we put them somewhere really warm will they hatch faster? On time? Right now? Like popcorn?


When Carter is in grief, it's the most heart-wrenching thing in the world. None of us can take it. It's the saddest, sweetest grief you've ever seen. You don't know whether to laugh or cry or, in our case, say all the wrong things to make it better. And not just us, but four next door neighbors, two from each side. Not a single one of us had something good to offer that could help Carter stop crying as his emotions traveled through all of life's most primal moments--birth, home (can we make 400 individual shelters for each of them), loss (what if they fly away? what if they're not with me anymore and I needed them?), death (what if they die???).

An hour and a half into the meltdown, I had only two thoughts in my head:
1. This is clearly not about the eggs.
2. There is a whole lot of love for one little boy in this room.

Tell me, please oh please, how do you deal with meltdowns--the kind that aren't about bad behavior or not enough to eat or not enough sleep--but those tears that are telling you that something is truly not all right. I'd love to know.


The Other Laura writes...

My son is eight and is as softhearted as they come. I just try to be with him, accompany, sit with him and say, yes, this is hard. Yes, it hurts. This is scary.

It is incredibly difficult to not try and fix things. I'm still learning.

GailNHB writes...

With my son - who is 12 - who tends to be the more emotional of our two children, I simply wait with him while he works through the meltdown. I assure him that when he is able or ready to talk, I'm there. I promise him that I don't have all the answers, but I am willing to work through the questions with him. And then I wait. Sometimes he reaches out within the hour. Most of the time, it takes a day or two or more.

I try not to ask too many questions.
Mostly I listen and hug him and sometimes cry with him.
And when he is ready, he comes to me. We talk. We cry. We ask more questions. And we grow closer through the entire process.

My thoughts are with you - and with Carter.

Busymomma66 writes...

I often just hold my daughter and let her cry. I hug her and simply am just with her. She knows when she's ready or when she's figured it out and she wants to talk I'm there. I think sometimes they don't even know themselves what's up.

If it's a manic melt down, I just try to help her catch her breath and focus in on why she's acting so out of control and taking one step at a time.

If it's a temper tantrum meltdown--well she just goes to her room--I don't deal with those.

Sarah-Ji writes...

Oh, Jen, what a sweet soul Carter is.

I think the previous posters give sage advice. Your presence and unconditional acceptance are probably enough. He'll know that it's okay for him to have these big feelings, that you are there for him no matter how messy his emotions get, and that he is worthy of love and kindness through it all. And the lesson he'll learn is that sometimes it's when we're at our messiest that we need most to be loved and valued for who we are. The lesson he'll learn, as I'm sure he already so often learns in your household, is that of compassion--for others as well as for himself.


mb writes...

..((Precious carter)) he sounds like a boy with an amazing brain and soul.
I’d say 90 minutes is quite a long time to get stuck in 3rd or 4th gear.
With previous students we would actually practice breathing (when calm) and switching gears- 9 times out of ten in action, the transition from over drive back down to 2nd then 1st then neutral would often end in laughing through tears.
Also with many of my kids a break into physical activity room to walk, stretch-jump, or for a smaller number going to the easel and painting it drawing it was the smoothest transition....
The amazing thing for me was to watch the kids assist each other, without any prompting from me.
One of my fav notes left from a sub
“When James went into a “manic episode” the entire class became NASCAR drivers
It became so loud I buzzed for the principle, but by the time he walked down to the room every student was quiet.”

Imagine that!

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