A friend once told me about the concept of "filling the tanks" of kids -- the idea that often their acting poorly is their non-prefrontal-cortex-way of articulating their need for our attention, for their tanks to be filled. The conscious mothering class I took last year taught the same thing -- try to give your kids 15 minutes of undivided attention two or three times a day. 15 minutes doesn't sound like a lot to ask, and yet, mid-house hunting, it is. And Silas, for one, has felt my distraction.
The result has been explosive tantrums, the likes of which I've never seen before -- top-of-the-lung screaming, banging the floor etc. This morning, all before 6:40 AM, he melted over having no clean shorts to wear, over not apologizing after hitting me, over being misunderstood because the hitting was an accident.
So, though I wanted to lock him in his room and tell him he couldn't eat this morning or come downstairs, I decided to take him out for breakfast, just the two of us, in hopes of "filling his tank." He took some deep breaths, agreed to put on pants, found his shoes, and in light of the invitation, alone, practically danced out of the house.
Snuggled next to me in a booth, eating our banana pecan waffle with whipped cream, he kept looking up at me with a little squinting smile saying, "I love you mama." He nuzzled against my arm as he circled letters on his paper place mat and connected the dots with a blue crayon. We talked about meltdowns, about how he'd had a lot this week, and about what he might do to help himself when they start. As he was putting another forkful in his mouth, he said, "when we finish eating, let's stay here and keep talking."
As we left Coco's, he teetered along a balance beam wall, and an hour later, he climbed into his friend's car and left for school smiling and waving.