Some days I wake up and wonder what the heck has gotten into my kids. Today there were tears, yelling, and slamming doors one minute — and then hugs, kisses, and complete compliance the next. It’s confusing. I can’t keep up. I ended up standing at the top of the stairs with tears in my eyes and rage in my voice screaming down at my three-year-old daughter, “I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOU RIGHT NOW! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?!” It was ugly, it was embarrassing, and I wish it weren’t true.
I reach back into the depths of my brain to try to understand my daughter in this moment. Plum is so little and — as mature as she is — she still lacks the language and comprehension to understand her complex emotions right now. Her brain is growing, processing a lot more than an adult brain every second of every day.
While she’s playing, I frequently observe Plum vacillating between being a grown-up and being a baby. Sometimes she is making phone calls, throwing parties, and going on trips. This is regularly juxtaposed with needing to be swaddled, rocked, fed, and carried as she gurgles and coos in her baby language.
It is complete chaos in there.
At times like these when James was Plum’s age, I would just play with him… chaotically. We would tear up tons of paper and have confetti parties over and over. We would pull all the Kleenex out of the box and throw it around the room. We would turn music up loud and dance until we were sweaty and out of breath. It was these activities that helped me understand how his developing mind was working to make sense of the chaos, and in some sense he was inviting me to recognize it and honor it.
Now I must explore the chaos with Plum too. Maybe her activities will be entirely different than James’s, unique in how her mind must manifest itself to create order. I want to jump into her inner world and experience this journey from her perspective as much as I can.
I’m not sure what we will discover, only that I must be willing to recognize and honor whatever we find.