I’ve mentioned before that S can get very sad about some things. When he gets really sad, he tries so hard to control his emotions that he nearly bursts. And then every now and then, he does burst. And I mean literally. When he bursts, there are tears, plenty of tears, plenty of loud wailing tears. And he finds it very, very hard to calm himself down again.
He had his first big meltdown at school yesterday. A lovely Japanese intern, Miss Y was leaving and the principal had called a full school assembly to wish her on her way. As soon as the principal said ‘We are all sad to see her leave’, S was done for. He held it in for as long as the assembly went (bless!) but then as soon as the kids headed back to their classrooms, S couldn’t hold it in any longer. He cried and cried and cried. ‘Howled’ was in the fact the word his aide used when she rang to tell me I should maybe come and pick him up early.
By the time I got there, he had calmed down. But then the gorgeous Miss Y came into the classroom to say goodbye to him personally. She brought with her a beautiful origami swan for S. He cried a little more, but I think (thankfully) was just too exhausted to burst at the seams again.
Later, at home we talked about what had happened. We talked about how everyone gets sad when people go away and how it’s OK to be sad. We talked about how he could talk about his feelings and about maybe how he could try not to get so upset. He said ‘I know mum, but I so, so, so, so, so can’t help it’ .
I love that he’s at least able to convey his emotions this much. It’s such a step forward for him and I am hopeful that the more he’s able to verbalise his feelings, the less of these meltdowns he will have. So we’ve loaded up his Dynavox and his PODD book with a few new phrases and different ways that he can describe his feelings when he’s sad and talked about sadness quite a bit. We’ve also got a few picture books on order from the library that deal with sadness. (Happy to take any recommendations of books too!) And I think we’ll line up an appointment with a good child psychologist we know who might be able to help with some coping strategies. And please, if you have any words of wisdom, do share!!
And no, I won’t be letting S watch the TV tomorrow to see so much destruction in Japan . I know we have to try to build up his resilience, but I think even I might find it hard not to be very very sad tomorrow when the real impact of the unfolding catastrophe of earthquake/tsunami is revealed. Thoughts to anyone with family or friends in Japan tonight.