Pai: We’re home. Hello?
Me: (manage a groan, laying on the sofa, ice pack pressed against the back of my feverish neck, counting down the minutes to when the full extent of Molly’s flu hits me)
Molly: Papa! (play with every single one of her toys once before abandoning it in the middle of the living room floor for the next) MANO (Brother)!!!
Hank: Hi, mana (sister)! You’re feeling better.
Molly: Play? Mano, play toys? (nodding)
Hank: Sure, but I need to talk to mama for one sec, okay.
Molly: Okay. Mama, sick. (nodding)
Hank: Oh no.
Me: It was bound to happen. Taking care of a puking toddler with a suppressed immune system means it is only a matter of time before I fall ill.
Hank: I am sorry, mama.
Me: It’s okay. No matter how bad the flu is it will eventually end thanks to modern medicine.
Hank: Not about your flu, but I am also sorry about that. I am sorry about this morning.
Me: That was unfortunate. Why are you sorry?
Hank: Because you were right it wasn’t a big deal at all. I made it a huge deal and I am sorry.
Me: Did you feel better once you gave yourself permission to calm down?
Hank: Yes! And I was thinking to myself what was the point? It was just a small mistake.
Me: Raging over spilt mouthwash? Yah, there are much better uses of your time.
Hank: I was thinking that most of my classmates are ten and I will be ten soon and is this, like, puberty?
Me: Um… (really wishing I didn’t have a fever for this conversation)
Hank: Was that what you call a mood swing?
Me: Yes, you were chatty and wonderful the minute before you were screaming and crying. When you are a pre-teen or a tween your body fills with hormones and a lot of changes occur and some of those changes are emotional, but you have had issues with being far too critical of yourself and letting your big feelings over power your rational self long before now. Meaning you will need to work doubly hard to tell your irrational, lying brain to calm down and only you will be able to find the best way to do that.
Hank: This morning I kept thinking I was so stupid and it was so stupid that I was so upset and you are right I ruined my morning, not the mouthwash, me.
Me: How do you think you could have handled this morning differently?
Hank: I could have listened to you and papa.
Me: Listening to your parents when you are upset is a huge challenge for anyone. I want to know how you can help yourself. There was a part of you that knew you were out of control this morning. Did you notice that part of you?
Hank: (shocked) Yes! The whole time.
Me: And what do you think you could have done to better listen to that rational part of yourself rather than totally surrender to the irrational part of yourself.
Me: (so sick)
Hank: I could go into a quiet room. I could do that counting thing.
Me: Count to ten three times, that is a very helpful tool.
Hank: I could have done both and I could have asked for help with cleaning up because I was nervous about being late to school.
Me: Were you late to school today?
Hank: A bit.
Me: And was there any problems?
Me: So you can scratch that fear off your list. And what about your shoes? Were they ruined?
Hank: No. They weren’t even wet.
Me: (shifting the cold pack from the back of my neck to my forehead) Now that you are almost ten and you have a tool box packed full of options to counter act a mega mood-swing-melt-down what will you do next time?
Hank: I will try and listen to the calm part of my brain.
Me: (pinching the bridge of my nose, doing my best not to vomit) Punch that irrational, lying part of your brain that wants you to think you are a terrible mouthwash wasting person in the face and move on. You do yourself no favors when you collapse at the smallest crisis. Only a calm person can be at their best in a crisis.
Hank: Mama, go and lay down in your bed. I will take care of Molly.
Me: That is a wonderful offer and I will take you up on it, but watching your sister means playing with her and not YouTube, no phone just playing.
Hank: That’s fine. I understand. Who wants to play with a person looking at their phone? I can play with her until I have to stop and study. Amália, do you want to have a tea party?
Molly: No, doctor Amália. Sit down, mano (brother). Check eeearrs, check eeeeearrrrs. (gathering her stethoscope, and doctor’s bag) Check-up!
Me: (walking away, submitting fully to the flu now that my tribe is home)