A Hug and a Safe Place

I once read in some waiting room magazine that sometimes, toddlers shutdown.

Literally, their brain will in a sense, misfire, and throw them into a whirlwind of confusion and anxiousness, which will then cause them to cry because you asked if they want to eat spaghetti or ravioli.

The writer’s suggested method of repair during these “Whyyyyyyy are you crying?!” moments? A hug.

Crazy.

I didn’t bother doing research on the claim though, so it might be completely based on some random freelance writer’s opinion, but I found it interesting all the same.

A few minutes after putting the magazine down I completed my task, went on with my life, and that info was lost in my brain’s sea of miscellaneous junk.

Fast forward about 9 or 10 months and here I am to share, I’ve learned that when a toddler is going through a mini meltdown, a reminder that they’re safe is all it takes.

“Hey! What are you up to?”

“Nothing about to pick up the little one.”

“Cool! Can I ride along?!”

I love it when I have time to tag-a-long and pick my goddaughter up from school. She never expects me to be in the car, so when we finally see each other it’s an exciting moment I cherish.

“We” ran a few errands (Her mom actually did all the stuff while we stayed in the car with the a/c and music), picked up some happy hour slushees from Sonic, and then made our way to their house in some lovely 5 o’clock traffic.

Tiny Baby took a 15 minute nap and finished the duration of the ride singing along to pop songs on the radio. Everything was fine, then we ended our journey and everything was a frenzy.

“Hey Tiny Baby, are you hungry?”

“Yes, yes, yes!!”

“Okay good! Your mom is making sandwiches, do you want to watch CatDog until it’s ready?”

“Yes… *begins to cry*”

I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in the middle of talking to a toddler when they just kind of give up and randomly start bawling, but it’s one of the most irritating things everrrrrr…

“Why are you crying?”

“*cries louder*”

“There’s no reason for you to be crying right now, stop that!”

“*cries harder*”

Her mom asked what her problem was and Tiny Baby slumped to the floor with her tears and noise in tow.

We went into the kitchen talking about the haywire kid on the floor, and like suddenly recalling the name of a song you loved in high school, that article I read surfaced from the sea and landed on the shore of my thoughts.

I immediately went back into the room, got on my knees to level us out, and asked Tiny Baby if she knew why she was crying.

“No.”

So I hugged her. I hugged her like she just fell or cut her finger. I hugged her like her favorite toy just broke or her ice cream just fell off of her cone. I hugged her like her tears made sense, and the tears stopped.

Just like that.

I picked her up, held her for a moment, then sat down with her on my lap. She smiled.

I opened the bag of chips beside me, and as we shared them my little friend came back to life.

We ate sandwiches, laughed, talked about her day at school, then she took another nap.

It was as if nothing ever happened.

Everyone needs to feel safe, and have validation that things are going to be okay, maybe little kids just haven’t figured out how to express or make sense of that yet?

Maybe that’s why hugs could fix anything when we were young.

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