My kids and I took on the project of cleaning my 8-year-old son’s bedroom.
You’d think it’d be a frustrating time of whining and dragging feet, but they both threw themselves into organizing, cleaning, and sorting while I assembled a new bookcase.
When I was done and the bookcase was in place, their laughing bounced off the walls as I slid the piles (and piles) of books, magazines, and notebooks onto shelves.
While flipping through a Mr. Happy notebook to see if it had any blank pages left, I found funny little doodles of Spongebob, Skylanders, and then this:
Yes, it was clearly drawn a long time ago, before he had the skills to make a more accurate self-portrait as he can now, but it still took my breath away.
He’s such a light, joyful, laugh-out-loud kind of kid that seeing this sketch of sadness was like a punch in the gut.
Why wasn’t I there for him when he felt that way?
My son can be quiet when he’s troubled, so I have no doubt this was an expression of how he was feeling one day. I picture him littler, laying in his bed, doodling himself with a tear in his eye because he wasn’t sure how to express himself or didn’t feel like he could come out to find one of us to make him feel better.
I was probably hanging out in the living room with my husband, or laughing at the movies with my friends, or possibly lost in a wonderful book in my own bed down the hall when he drew this. Someone was available to him to comfort him—I’m sure of it.
But I guess that’s what’s harder for me. Knowing that he could have come to one of us, but he didn’t.
Or maybe that’s a good thing, that he faced that sad night on his own?
I know I can’t always be there for him, and the rational side of my brain wants him to be able to handle these emotions. Getting through a long, sad night in your own head, working through the feelings by sketching in a notebook and swimming through your own mind is healthy. It’s the way we become more resilient.
It’s the Mom Side of my brain that has a hard time listening to that reasoning.
Stupid, stupid reasonable reasoning.
My daughter called out, “Mama, whatchoo looking at?” She pulled me back into the Now, so I closed up the notebook, slid it onto a shelf with the others and said, “Just seeing if there are any blank pages left for your brother to fill in.”
You know. Just in case.
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