Her rage has been big.
Her whinging almost intolerable.
Her demanding sometimes too much to bare.
Her attitude amplified into ‘sass-town’.
Ugh. We’re here again. The end of 4-year-old kindergarten….
Each time one of my kids has gotten here, I’ve struggled with their behaviour. My son was the same; angry, frustrated, full of an energy I had trouble holding. My daughter broke down in tears, ‘all of sudden’ unwilling to let me leave, separation anxiety abounded. And now Lols. Oh little Lols. So sure that life is ‘unfair’ and her older siblings get more, and can do more than her. So she reads every single situation through this lense and it’s wearing.
But it’s also genius. Each of them in their own way hit this ‘transition’. The transition of being ‘mothered’ to the first steps of finding their identity alone. It’s big and it manifests in many different forms.
This transition is thus far in my parenting, the second hardest transition our kids have made. The hardest being ‘The Crossing’ at age 8-9…but puberty is just dawning in my house, so perhaps I’ll change my mind soon…
Transitions. A time of not knowing, of losing the only identity they’ve known up to this point. They meet fear and must find deep courage they’ve not known before, in order to separate. I think of it much like a hermit-crab, their shell (their identity) has grown too tight and now it’s restricting them, but to leave this home feels like it could mean certain death, they must reveal their softest parts and face predators that might consume them, as they travel a path they choose, in order to find and create a new home for themselves. It’s a massive journey…for all of us, but certainly for a child who is growing into who they are.
So here we are, ending kindergarten, getting ready to begin school. Frustrated and restricted by a shell she’s outgrowing, and at the same time fearful and uncertain about the path ahead…so as any 5-year-old would do, she finds a way to release the feelings that are pent up.
Tonight was the end of a very long weekend (by long I mean emotionally wearing). She’s fighting with her siblings in the bathroom, I can hear they’re trying to speak to her, her dad has tried to speak to her, but she is having none of it. Living up to her name, (all great Lola’s are Diva’s and have a flare for the dramatics) she’s wailing in the shower about how unfair life is.
“Oh for fucks sake” I say under my breath as I get up to go in to her.
I get down on her level, I register the tinge of annoyance in my body and I begin breathing deeply; I’m of no use here as a barometer if I’m already in a triggered state. “What’s going on Lols?”
After an enormous re-telling of a story it boils down to the fact that she wanted something her sister had, but I’ve had enough of this merry-go-round; whatever is ‘on repeat’ with our kids is a sign that:
1) We can be self reflective with the mirror; where am I feeling this also? Where have I felt this before? etc
and 2) She needs more practice at this particular ‘skill’ - aka emotion.
This makes my job easy; help her stay in these emotions and help both her and I expand our spectrum of tolerance for them. She needs help being seen in her pain and met there, I don’t need to fix it. I’m not interested in making everything ‘fair’, she needs practice at ‘losing’. I’m not interested in making everything equal, fair does not always mean equal.
But she’s not happy with this. Oh quite the contrary. She wants me to fix it. She wants me to take the thing off her sister and give it her, so she doesn’t have to stay in these immensely uncomfortable feelings. I won’t do that. So she gets angry and she gets physical.
I remove her from the shower and I firmly take her into her bedroom. “I won’t let you hurt me” I say. She’s lost in her rage - she’s trying to push me out the door, she’s hitting, she’s kicking “I’m not leaving and I won’t let you hurt me” I say as I pre-empt and hold any physical movements towards hurting me. She throws herself on her bed and screams repeatedly all manner of things “I want you to leave!” “Go away!” “I want to be alone!” “I don’t love you!” “I don’t like you!” “You’re the worst!” “You ruin me!” on and on it goes…
I sit down very quietly and unobtrusively against a wall opposite her bed, but blocking the door; we’re staying here for as long as she needs. When she pauses her tirade, I say something like “I hear you want me to leave. I hear you don’t like me. You hate me. You don’t love me. I hear all of it Lols”. Sometimes I might say “I hear that, but I still love you and I will stay as long as I think you need me”…which of course she yells she doesn’t!
I wait out the storm. Eventually she begins to soften, her angry-tears turn into heart-broken sobs. This is another transition, the one of releasing anger and connecting to the pain underneath. I respect this place and it softens me also.
I check my posture; is it open and receptive? Am I grounded in my heart-space?
I see a soft blanket flung on the floor in front of me, I stroke it. “I wonder if you’d like to lie here and listen to the story of the day you were born while I stroke your hair?”
Her pupils dilate, her body shifts towards me, but she’s not quite ready to move on my terms.
“You won’t remember that story, you’ll have forgotten it” she says, testing the waters.
“Oh no” I say “I remember every single bit of it, and I’d love to tell you the story of the day you were born. Would you like to hear it?”
“Do I HAVE to?…” she tests for my connection.
“No. You don’t” I say. This is like a great financial negotiation, you must be willing to walk-away (let go) in order to strike the best bargain you can.
I continue to stroke the blanket.
She looks at me and a smile peeks into the very corners of her mouth. She moves very quickly into my lap and then snuggles down onto the floor in front of me. I grab a blanket from near by and lay it over her. I find a soft pillow for her head and I stroke her strands of wet hair away from her face. I let my fingertips stroke her cheeks and brush over her eyelashes. She looks up at me and smiles.
Story heals our hearts. It helps us restore our psychic archeology. It connects us on a level our outer ear cannot hear. So I pick a story I know will speak to the love that brought her here and holds her here, even when she can’t feel it.
“Once upon a time” I begin
“there was a mummy who’s heart yearned for another baby……”
I tell her the story of her mother, of the soul that gifted us with love and wanting before he left to live with the angels. I tell her the story of the love that created her and yearned for her. I tell her the story of the day this old, wise, precious soul found it’s way to this mothers body. I tell her how as this baby grew in her mothers tummy, so too did the love around her; I tell her how this mummy and baby would talk together every day, not like we do, but have conversations from their hearts.
I tell her how the day of this baby’s arrival was planned for and much awaited, how this mummy and daddy waited for many sunrises and sunsets, and how this mummy woke up one morning knowing this was the day she’d meet her baby. I tell of the waves of love that would bring her closer and open her mummy’s body so she could be born. I tell her how her daddy would check in on this mummy and baby. I tell her how as the waves got bigger, the mummy stretched with love, melting into the floor. I tell her how when the waves got bigger again, this mummy went for a walk to pick flowers; I describe the air, the mood, her siblings, the flow of water that meant her arrival was soon, how an old man and an old woman looked after this mummy at the end of the street until the daddy came back with the car. I tell her the story of her birth.
“…And as the sun set and the light inside the house changed into a beautiful soft hue, this mummy knelt down on her knees and this baby entered the world; her head guided by her mummy’s hand, her body held by her daddy’s hands. And as the mummy scooped this baby up and held her to her chest, the baby cried and everyone was full of love.
And they called this baby Lola Eve”.
She jumps up and throws her arms around me, her eyes glistening. “I love you mummy” she says as she looks deeply into my eyes. “I love you too Lols. We all do”. “Can Daddy lie with me now?” she asks, and as her dad tucks her into bed she is content; her feelings held, her body soft.
And I’m grateful I had just enough left in the tank to see this through.
If you’re ready to dive into the transitions within yourself and your child, then download a copy fo our TRANSITIONS TOOLKIT - it’s an eBook packed full of knowledge and practical tools to set your kids up for the smoothest transition possible.