“Even a happy life has a sad day. We fail to provide a context which says it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad.”– Marianne Williamson
Against the backdrop of a beautiful warm Spring afternoon, our little T finally broke down in tears for the first time since our self isolation started.
The afternoon started off wonderfully. I took time off from working to focus on T.
We played in the backyard. He recently discovered with the hubby the joy of climbing up trees. He also stepped on top of our compost bin in the back corner and rested his elbow on our fence and peered over to say hello to our neighbour as he raked his autumn leaves.
We started to spend more time in the backyard, because the City recently closed playgrounds as further measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
As I raked our endless pile of leaves, T amused himself. He also did a great job helping me scrub, clean and refill our bird bath.
Afterwards, we went for a walk in the park. I had warned him ahead of time the playground was now off limits. But he did not grasp what it meant.
The two of us noticed the yellow caution tape from afar. I reminded him again why they were closed. He said he wanted to see the yellow tape.
When we got to the playground, I reminded him that he couldn’t go on the swing. Then he walked to the ramp that he loved to climb to go up on his beloved slide. It was also cautioned off.
Then he saw that another favourite part of the playground was also sectioned off.
Then he burst into tears. “Why is everything closed?”
This was not his usual tantrum tears or meltdown that I’ve learned to just roll my eyes at and endure.
This was genuine heartbreak and grief.
My heart felt like it shattered into a million pieces. I felt warm tears well up in my eyes and I fought them back.
I knelt down on my knees and tried to hug him. He refused and we walked over to the long blue slide and he lied on top of it on his belly and sobbed.
I ignored the urge to lecture him about not touching his face on the slide and I just let him cry it out for several minutes.
Kids like T with special needs thrive and depend on routines. The past two weeks have seen our hard-earned routines go out the window.
My hubby and I are trying our best to roll with the punches. We are trying to carry on business as usual. But today was a good reminder that these times are not business as usual.
We are dealing and adapting to a new normal where routines and favourite structures have gone out the window or are off limits for the foreseeable future.
The good thing about T is that he is a resilient and generally a happy go lucky kid. But it was important for me not to minimize this moment, not try to dismiss it nor to try to downplay it.
It’s so important that kids learn that it’s ok to not be ok. And so I let the moment ride itself out.
On the way home, he was angry on his tricycle and peddled really fast. I ran after him and then he stopped his tricycle, got off and screamed at me. “Stop running after me!” He charged towards me and started beating me with his fists.
I did not take it personally. I knew it was his way of processing his anger at how everything in his life is not the way it used to be.
And he did calm down soon enough.
And he was fine by the time we got home. I told him to wash his hands. Gave him a bowl of ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and put the TV on.
A few minutes later, he was on his mini trampoline, happily bouncing up and down, while Snow White and the Seven Dwarves played on Disney+.
These are not normal or easy times. Please stay well and take good care of yourselves, everyone.