Sometimes, OK a lot of time I hear this from people I want to punch them in the face. Note I didn’t say all the time. I understand a fair amount it is used as an “installation of hope and reassurance.” And there is absolutely a time and place for that. Because no doubt, kids—human beings are resilient. People get knocked down and they get back up. But there are those other times (the above mentioned LOT) when people use that phrase to erase some guilt of their own. Like little Jimmy’s mom died, poor baby – kids are resilient, though he will be okay.
First, of course he will be okay but jumping first to identify the resiliency feels like we might be cheating kids of their opportunity to not be okay. To have some feelings.
Please refer to Inside Out which is now the clinical bible for children. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it 700 times (like we have in the last week) you are totally missing out on some good feeling work.
Its okay for little Jimmy to be sad, heck its appropriate. Just marinate on that.
But where I am really bothered I when people say to themselves (thought—refer to cognitive triangle) “Kids are resilient” its as if there is some kind of justification for their behavior. This came up for us after the kids visit this past week. I saved my sentiments about the first visit for after Christmas (you’re welcome). Not only was it a surprise which caused so many mixed feelings, demonstrated with all kinds of interesting behaviors—BUT the aftermath was surely even more complex.
It was a teeter-totter of “I love you, I need you” and “I hate it here, I want to go home.” Good thing we are therapists and can totally regulate our emotions based on a very psychological analysis.
Yea, freaking right.
It was like a roller coaster and I did not want to ride it anymore (and that was only and hour in from return from visit)—I don’t like roller coasters. We were pretty tired and for extra fun a transformer on our street blew, so we didn’t have power (thanks to global warming we have thunder storms in December). So in the dark, with scared dogs, tired adults, and emotional kids…we did our best, but I know we can do better. We allowed for that space for kids to lead the return home. There were tears, cuddles, fantastical discussions about mom and dad and statements of “promises.” There was attitude and fussy babies. It was as if we took 100 steps backwards.
Don’t worry I had a great idea. I made a really special dinner (requested by K) and when it was served she loudly stated she didn’t like it and its not how her Mom makes enchiladas. Ouch, of course I said she didn’t have to eat them and reassured her that Mom probably makes them different, I apologized (that is Jesus…totally not me). Then she tried a bite and made the most disgusted face, basically spitting them out. (now of course the littles are NOT eating this slop). I said please don’t make those kind of faces about the food, it hurts my feelings. She burst into tears, of course she did. That was me, not Jesus that time. I have already felt pretty shitty about picking the food battle post visit. Nothing anyone thinks or says will be worse than what I have already thought to myself. I will do better.
We opted for an early bedtime in hopes the next day would be better. For all of us. The morning came with hugs and I love you’s. Don’t worry, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know there will be other visits (we will have pizza every time, now).
For extra fun, we ate Must-Go’s (all the leftovers in buffet style) last night and K ate 3 plates of those gross enchiladas.
This is just to give my very colorful demonstration of children’s’ erratic feelings in erratic situations. So, fair kids bounce back but we have to, have to give them space to feel. And be big enough containers for those feelings. And probably not meet their emotion with emotion.
Going to watch Inside Out again, we all need reminders that we don’t have to “fix” feelings but be with kids (people) and validate when they have them.