It’s calculable. It’s palpable. There’s empirical evidence. It’s the witching hour. 14 days before any transition, our household begins a slow and steady downward spiral into Hades.
Maybe that’s a bit overstated, but I only think that after the transition has occurred. There will be no convincing me of it at the time.
Good or bad. One room to the next. Two states away. Exciting or dull.
It. Does. Not. Matter.
There is always that moment where my child is wackadoodle and I ask out loud “what is going ON?!!” That is the same moment when I look at a calendar. And there you have it.
We are two weeks away from camp; first day of school; basketball practice; summer vacation; any vacation; return from a homestay…
Feel free to substitute anything you like. It fits.
Put it on the family calendar or hide it for your eyes only or on your bathroom mirror. Circle it in red. Set a timer on your smart phone. It is coming.
They lose their voice. All the anxiety of a struggling kiddo begins to surface. For the child who has never practiced giving voice to their fear OR joy, fear-based behavior takes over.
I have no idea why two weeks is the magical mark. I just know that all three of my children, for as long as I’ve known them—since birth—have ushered in event after event with great enthusiasm, chaos, and gnashing of teeth.
I still never seem to be prepared for it.
Why can’t I batten down these hatches everyone talks about? What the heck IS a hatch? At least I am no longer surprised by it.
So. Now I know. Buuuuut, what then?
Well, I pray more specifically, that’s for sure. “Lord. Please do not let me say what I hear in my head out loud.” Seriously. I do that. But maybe more applicable is the prayer that I will be ever more gracious to my child. That I will be ever more gentle. That I will be ever more sympathetic to their inability to cope. That the absorptive qualities of my pillow will be ever more capable of muffling my exasperation.
It is weary work, this compassion. This leading our children out of their past and into their ability. Leading them from grief to grace.
Practically, when the realization that D Day has arrived dawns on us, my husband and I look at each other, breathe deep, quickly draw straws and the winner checks into a hotel.
No, we remind ourselves, very often audibly, that said child is struggling with the ability to manage feelings and it is our job to help them out.
There will be more compromise, more behaviors overlooked, more “yeses” if possible. There will be less volume in our voices; less concern about winning battles or teaching lessons or holding our ground on an issue. It is the time to flex in our rules more than ever (Not disregarding them all together, but giving in a bit more where it’s not an issue of safety.
Showing disrespect? Perhaps ignoring it is best this time rather than addressing it. Wanna eat in their room? At least they are getting nourishment today. Adamant that they must sleep on the bathroom floor tonight? Go for it. No harm. No foul.
To extend grace for poor choices and empathize, as much as possible, with this young person who is so UN-able to cope. And, quite frankly, to find ways to just survive the day, avoiding as much emotional damage as possible, until you reach the other side of that transition.
by Angie Harrod