Day 53 Empathy

Day 53 was actually great. But near bedtime everything quickly unraveled. This is pretty typical in a non-quarantine scenario, so it seems par for a course that includes a global pandemic.

While I’ve been treating this whole thing like a stay-cation the truth is that these are unprecedented circumstances. What ever cool bi-products are coming out of this (perspective, time, new skills) The orders to stay at home were just that–orders–and the benefits do have a price.

One of which is a new form of stress. It’s the long-term uncertainty stress. The stress of not being able to work effectively. The stress of having no idea what is going to happen next. For some it’s an actual health crisis. For others it’s already a financial crisis. And because everyone is working at home, more than ever we are not able to leave our work at work. That means that the stress is showing on our faces and in our tone of voice more than before.

Our faces and voices are the things that young children are most sensitive to. And so it’s reasonable that they would get an icky feeling or do something that looks like acting out when a parent just doesn’t seem like themselves.

I see it in the girls–they are more clingy, and (believe it or not) even more moody (is that possible?) on the days when the bad news weighs heavier on one or the other of us.

This sensitivity in children is integral to their development of empathy. But sometimes my kids remind me of people who just hit puberty- a lot of big feelings and no tools to deal with them.

Tonight in the midst of what was not our best bedtime-one kid was screaming because she just wanted to put the blanket on the soup (yes you read that correctly) before coming to brush teeth. I told her if she didn’t come right away then we weren’t going to have time for a story. Hysterically she composed herself to say with deep breaths in between each word, I -want -to -tell -you -something. I- just- wanted -to -put- the -blanket- on- the -soup. She really used all her self-control to tell me this nonsense sentence for a second time before she totally lost it again. The other kid seemed fine until she went crazy about not being able to find the right pajama top. It was a downward spiral. One child would recover and the other one would lose it and every time Little Bean heard Big Sister crying she would start again even if nothing was wrong. If that’s empathy somebody goofed–but it is. And I guess everyone needs a little extra right now.

To add insult to injury I think we are nearing the end of afternoon nap time for Little Bean. She is an energy circus and so it’s been no surprise that she’s a long napper. But lately, she’s been sleeping so long during the day that she doesn’t fall asleep until very late in the evening. I think it’s a sign.

My initial reaction to this sign is NOOOooooo! That can’t be it. I don’t want to give up the nap yet. And I really don’t.

But when I think further, this sign actually gives me a sense of calm. It’s a totally normal thing for a kid this age to outgrow the nap. It’s refreshing to be reminded that even a global pandemic cannot stop mother nature from helping her children develop and move forward to the next stage. Like a garden in spring and the change of the seasons, child development doesn’t stop for a virus. I’m not trying to rush things along but now if she would just try the potty…

Until tomorrow,

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