Wednesday, July 20, 2011

birthday feelings

bonzo made out like a bandit on his birthday.
he got some great stuff that requires his input, doesn't require batteries, and encourages imaginative play.
so rad. quality not quantity. music to my ears.

play kitchen courtesy of wonderful grandpa and nonna:
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bonzo powered sound effects. these knobs say chhhhhhhh!
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massive amounts of fun kitchen fixins from auntie and her main squeeze:
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and the 'struction site sand table courtesy of bonzo's sweet meme:
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now here's the thing about birthdays.
feelings and birthdays go hand-in-hand, do they not?
it seems to be a universal truism. big expectations, big feelings.
i completely get it. birthdays and holidays have often felt like high-pressure-to-have-fun occasions to me. to the point of relief when they're over.

with this – and bonzo's age and personality – in mind, we kept things mellow this year. too much of anything is overwhelming for bonzo and i specifically didn't want to put him in a situation where he might find himself on overwhelm. there's just no need for it.

but sometimes overwhelm finds us – even when we're trying to avoid it.

i'll admit that i was super excited for him to see his little sand table because i knew he'd love it. he likes sand, he loves trucks and he loves, loves construction. so while i intended to just let him casually discover this magically set up in his backyard upon waking from his nap, i may have nudged him in that direction. also, a certain mommy may have coaxed him to wake up just slightly before he was truly ready to. eek. typing that makes me cringe! what a jerk mom i am.
thing is, i just wanted him to have time to play before we left to meet his grandparents (chooch's parents) and my mom for an early and very casual dinner. and he'd been napping for a long time. still cringing. this is so not how i roll. but i was excited. still, i blew it.

fast forward and we're outside and he's checking out his new digs.
of course he goes straight for the excavator only to discover that he couldn't really do it. this thing says it's for ages two and up. i think with a little (calm) practice he'd figure it out in a heartbeat. but that's the problem: bonzo wasn't in any state to be figuring stuff out. he got so pissed. so frustrated. so mad.

we played and scooped with our shovels but the excavator was too alluring. it kept drawing him back into it's web only to re-open the wounds. he kept saying he wanted to play with it but it was making him so mad that he was screaming at it. things went from south to south.

it was time to call it good and come on inside. feelings were to be felt, the writing was on the wall.

bonzo was not a happy guy at this point. and i was feeling about an inch tall. this may still have happened if i'd been a little more capable of normal decision making (ie: letting my child nap completely, letting him discover his toys without suggestion) but it was clear to me that i had a major hand in the meltdown that was unfolding before my eyes.

and a meldown it was. oh boy. bonzo was crying hard. he was arching out of my arms. wanting to be held but wanting to get down. sweating. crying. flailing. rolling on the floor. raging.

i held him when he wanted to be in my arms and stayed close but gave him space when he needed to flail about on the floor. i stayed as calm as i could, checked in with him with eye contact as often as i could. told him i understood but didn't try to use many words to fuel the fire, confuse the situation.

this was a major event. usually i'm steadfast and totally calm and okay with the crying. but my internal dialog was starting to waiver: he just wants to go back outside. maybe we could go try it again and see how it goes.
but then i would snap back to reality. a limit was set and i knew it needed to be held. this needed to run its course. all was okay.

we were pushing twenty minutes of epic feeling-of-feelings. i started to worry that we should call and cancel dinner. it wasn't looking like bonzo was in any condition for a restaurant experience anytime soon. but i tried not to think beyond the moment and continued to let bonzo get it out.

he took it from an eleven on the scale of one to ten then brought it down to an eight. then a seven. then a five. then to six. seven, eight. deep breath. five. deep breath. five, four, three. three, three, four. deep breath. two, one.

the calm had come. the page had turned. he felt the feelings.

whew.

we cleaned up, gathered our things and headed out to dinner where we proceeded to have a lovely, mellow, calm, cool and collected birthday dinner with our family.

and the sand table – with excavator temporarily removed – was back in bonzo's good graces lickety split.

the feelings just needed to get out, that's all.

3 comments:

blake said...

gosh, well said! amen to feeling those feelings. these Big Days are such fun, but so, so tough. even when we keep it mellow, expectations (even if it's just about one cool toy) arise everywhere and in all of us, don't they? nicely handled, tho. I've been avoiding the fact that #3 is coming up... good stuff to ponder xoxo

Laura @ My Thoughts-Uninterrupted said...

What awesome gifts! If it makes you feel any better....I would have been that excited mom as well and woken him up before nap was over. Sometimes it's hard to keep our own feelings contained.

carolina postcard said...

Happy B-day to Bonzo! I'm so glad you shared because this is advice I will definitely take to heart when the time comes with my little lady.