I am struggling to tell you about this morning, because it was truly terrible, and because my patience was thinner than a neglige, and because I felt as if I were clinging to sanity with brittle fingernails, in my mind saying the most horrible things to myself and to my children and to people everywhere, real and imagined, who had contributed in any small way to the difficult circumstances I found myself in.
But when I write down the facts of it, I think, well, yep, that's what happened. That would do it. And you would think, yes, I've had mornings like that and sure, that's when it gets tough.
So I'm going to skip the details of it, which could more or less be interchanged with the details of any rough day of a parent of young children, and I'll tell you that this moment, below, when Fox fell asleep at 10:30 in the morning--still throwing a fit in his sleep such that we had to line the room with pillows lest he get hurt--this moment preceded a great, shaking, near-sob of a deep breath.
The hard morning was not all him, of course, but he is a child whose reactions are bigger and more vengeful than most, what some books have called, sweetly, "spirited," so while Woody and I certainly had our parts, and Nana and baby Emma were along for the ride, Fox's rest was the reset button we all so desperately needed.
As Fox slept, Woody wanted most of all for me to sit in with him as he played his video game, Uphill Rush 4. He wanted to talk to me about the rules and the point system and trends in the computer character's behaviors. He tried to get me involved by asking me to pick out the vehicle and uniform his character would use, only mildly suggesting something cammo or gray or dark brown. He wanted us to go back and forth commentating on the race, especially wanting me to do funny voices and be silly when his character fell off the bike.
It was so perfect to sit there in the low light giggling at a game with him. And it was maybe only the second or third time I didn't think to myself, Geez, maybe I should suggest we go read books, or pull out a board game, or see if he wants to do an art project. I was so filled with relief for the moment exactly as it was that I didn't stop to assign a relative worth to his chosen activity--better than being bored, but less than doing puzzles, not quite as edifying as a science experiment, OK for a few minutes, etc. I just joined in, giving our cammo-clad motorcyclist an Eastern European accent and a fear of heights for fun.
It was the best kind of decompression, relaxing and fun and full of laughs. And I think I was so quick to embrace it because I wanted so badly to connect with Woody after all those big, angry, scary feelings.
It occurred to me that sometimes tantrums, like lava flows and melting glaciers, clear a great swath for other things to grow in. They make lots and lots of room for acceptance and gratitude and presence and breathing. Turns out I was holding on to some judgments about video games that required something as cataclysmic as a whole family meltdown to shake them on out of the way.