Recently, when my husband was out of town on a shoot, my son found himself deep in a hurricane of a temper tantrum. He was sad, mainly. I can’t remember what the fuss was all about or what he was in trouble for. I recall speaking to him quietly but firmly, and how he stomped his growing feet. His face was twisted in a mixture of fury, frustration, and frenzy, and hot tears were pouring down his little red cheeks. It was terrible. I felt so, so sad for him. To be so young, to feel so much, the heavy burden that falls on the very young. Their emotions, their feelings are popping through their little bodies like blue sparklers that keep swirling and growing. They don’t know what to do with what they feel. It seemed like Xander was just filled to the brim with a very barbarian pain. At one point I said, “Just yell. Just holler and get it out of your system. Get all of that mad and sad out of your body and you’ll feel better.”
I mean to tell you that kid just roared. He roared until he howled like a little wolf, and then both of us were crying. Once his snuffling and sniffing had eased I asked if he felt better, and he smiled his pumpkin smile at me, his eyes still watery and red and said, “Yeah, I do.”
I think that when we’re born, we kind of explode from a state of constant calm: our needs are taken care of, it’s warm and rhythmic. Then we’re born into chaos and mess. Children remember that calm, they remember a plane where everything was good and right and everyone smiled all the time. The farther away we get, the madder we get. The more frustrated and hopeless. Emptying that burden off of our bodies (by yelling, crying, yoga, running, creating art, reading, sex, kissing, more sex) settles our souls a bit. It takes us back to when we were just floating.