You drop your preschooler off at the day care center in the morning and everything is fine. You call to check on her at lunch and the caretaker says that she is playing house with her BFF and has been fine all morning.
Yet, there is still that niggling anxiety at the back of your mind because several days a week she melts down when she sees you in the afternoon. There never seems to be a reason and it is totally unpredictable.
Is today going to be one of those days?
Simply put, your child feels safe with you and all the emotions and frustrations she has been bottling up all day are released in one dramatic tsunami. You have probably done the same thing. I know I have.
Last fall, we took a family cruise to Mexico. The kids and I went snorkeling while my husband went scuba diving. His excursion was a bit longer than ours.
Everything was fine until I went to get back on the ship. After having snorkeled, walked around town, and shopped, I looked bedraggled. There is no other word for it.
No make-up, hair sticking up everywhere – I handed the security guard my passenger ID. She looked at it, looked at me, and asked for my driver’s license. She studied that for a while and said (with a thick accent), “This isn’t you. Wait here, please.”
Obviously, after several minutes of talking, explaining, and near-hysteria, I was allowed back on the ship. During the entire time, although I was terrified, I did not yell, cry, or throw up.
The minute my husband walked into the cabin, beaming from his exciting dive, I looked him in the eye and burst into uncontrollable sobbing. I was crying so hard that he didn’t understand what I was trying to say and my 19 year old had to translate.
Then I threw up. He did the yelling – and it wasn’t at me.
My point is that I was fine until I saw him, and then I guess somewhere inside of me I felt like I didn’t have to keep it together anymore.
Kids are the same way. Maybe someone took their toy, or they spilled their chocolate milk. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that there were emotions involved that they didn’t feel safe in sharing. At the end of the day your eyes meet theirs, they rush into your arms, and since they are now safe, the walls all come tumbling down.
There really isn’t anything you can do about it. In fact, there really isn’t anything you should do about it other than hold them and let them get it out of their systems.
If there was a problem you need to handle, you can do that later. For that moment in time the only thing they need from you are words of comfort and your warm arms around them.
After all, that is one of the primary objectives of being a mom, isn’t it? Being the comfort zone?