Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shout, shout, let it all out!

Once in a great while, there is an outburst.  An unexpected display of emotion: Overflowing, spewing out like a volcano, covering the scene like a heavy cloud of ash. 

Yesterday it happened. 

Maybe a combination of Dan traveling and being gone this week along with a change in the time and phasing out an afternoon nap...it's all been a little stressful for everyone.  I tend to bury my stress, and carry it directly in the muscles on my shoulders (seriously, you should FEEL these knots...).  Isaac tends to let it all out at once. 

The boys and I were in the kitchen.  We had just picked Ethan up from school and Isaac went to the refrigerator.  We're working on asking before taking, but Isaac is trying to be independent and forgets.  After all, he's thirsty.  It makes sense:  go get juice and pour it yourself.  But, learning to ask and be willing to hear "no, not right now" is something he doesn't want to do or hear.  So he skips asking altogether.

In a second, I see him in the corner of my eye and I quietly say, "Isaac, no juice right now, buddy.  You just had a juice box."  Like a firecracker, he grabs the shelf on the inside door of the fridge to slam it shut.  He rips the shelf guard off and out pours glass bottles of condiments.  We watch in slow motion as they tumble and slam and break on the floor.

I immediately respond negatively.  Not to the spill, but to his attitude in response to me telling him no.  But, he doesn't get this.  "Isaac, no!  Mommy said No!"  He puts his hands to his face, sobbing. Hyperventilating starts as I clean up the mess asking him to help.  He screams in my face, with the little breath he has, at the top of his lungs at an octave that physically stings my ear drums.    At this point, Ethan joins in.  He is frustrated at Isaac's crying.  He marches upstairs crying, saying, "I don't like when he DOES that!"  This makes Isaac even more disturbed.  He greatly dislikes when Ethan is emotional.  It's like they feed off of one another. 

I am shocked.  Isaac keeps screaming and hyperventilating as I wipe his face from tears.  I softly speak to him, hold him in my arms.  He screams and grits his teeth while burying his hot, red face in my shoulder.  What went wrong, I think to myself?  I was just trying to instruct my child...and it has blow up, literally, in my face.  What comes to mind at that moment was a phrase I heard at my study of King David's life from the Old Testament..."We are all one catastrophe away from losing it..."  How true that is. 

After awhile, calming commenced (after I talked with both boys and held them and made silly faces).  I'm not sure what went on in Isaac's mind, but it's obvious he was unable to tell me what was wrong or how he felt.  I was left in the aftermath to dissect the situation...

Ultimately, I determined this:  We all have rough days and moments of incapacitating frustration; and sometimes it's just better to get it out.  I wish I could scream whenever the moment got to be too much, or when I don't get the answer I want to hear. I'm an adult, and I've trained myself to hold my emotions at bay--keeping them hidden until I deem the "proper" time; writing feverishly in my journal, punching my pillow, or crying out to God while I play at the piano.  Isaac has no guard, no filter when it comes to dealing with emotion and expressing it.  THIS is the way he knows how to deal.  THIS is the way he gets it out, and I'd rather him get it out than keep it in or ignore his feelings completely.

Volcanoes happen.  Outbursts are a fact of life.  My job is to let peace rule, even through instruction and discipline.  It's a fine line, and sometimes I won't always get it right.  But I keep trying, keep praying for grace and strength, and preparing my mind and heart for the explosion.

Psalm 119:71  It was good that I had to suffer in order to learn your laws
Psalm 119:76  Now let your unfailing love comfort me...

 What a promise...what a result. 

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