Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sleeping Tigers and Grumpy Lions

Tyler needed a vaccination this week, one with a side effect explained to us as "possible attitude fluctuations".  That didn't sound so bad, and who wouldn't "fluctuate" a bit after being poked with a needle?  But, the next day, we realized the nurse had been a bit of a spin doctor.  Attitude fluctuation= BIG mood swing.   It was most evident last night.  Sometimes, while Tyler takes a bath, we play music and sing along.  Creating an atmosphere of fun, laughter and pre-bedtime bonding is the goal.  Last night was no exception and it started well.

But then Tyler requested "The Tiger Sleeps Tonight".

Me: You mean "The Lion Sleeps Tonight?"
Tyler: No, I want to listen to "The Tiger Sleeps Tonight"

My mother instinct kicked in (at least I think it was that--there's a chance it was also the fact that I have never heard of a song about tigers sleeping, but know for a fact there is one about lions sleeping--which we have listened to recently--and tigers are in the same animal family as lions so it is plausible that Tyler really wanted the song I was thinking about) so I dropped the conversation and just said:

Me: Ok, I know what song you mean.  Let's play that one.
Tyler: Ok.  Yes, let's play that one.

So I played the song we have listened to many times before, and he was enjoying it...UNTIL...they sang "the LION sleeps tonight".  His face said it all: they sang the wrong song!

Tyler: No, no, no, no!  It's NOT the LION sleeps tonight.  It's the TIGER!!
Me (thinking to myself): Hmmm...perhaps the attitude fluctuations kicking in?

Tyler: (really grumpy-like) I DON'T WANT THIS SONG!!!  (starts crying)
Me (again, thinking to myself as I'm turning off the music): If this is what they call a fluctuation I don't even want to think about what a swing would be...

I'm not going to lie.  It took extra patience to not start giving a lecture on the topic of: "Really, this is NOT a big deal" and to remind myself that this was the vaccination talking.  And then, memories of times when I've been "fluctuating" started pouring to mind (I would have preferred a drizzle, but there you go).  And compassion replaced frustration.

So instead of a lecture I tried to tell a story.  A story about how when the shot puts the medicines into the body something funny happens.  The body needs to work really hard to make sure the medicine doesn't get lost, in case the body ever needs the medicine one day.  This makes the body a bit extra tired, and when we get tired we sometimes get grumpy.  And when we get grumpy we can sometimes feel like "roaring" like a lion.

Tyler screamed through the entire story.  I'm pretty sure he didn't hear a word of it.  But I think it proved the point of my story.

Eventually, he calmed down (when all the bath water drained and he realized he was getting cold).  Thankfully, the attitude fluctuated back to his happy self, and we read our stories.  As he started to climb into bed he stopped, ran back and gave me a huge hug, a kiss and said "I love you Mommy." 

Mush.  If someone in that moment had come along and told me my son had just been screaming uncontrollably a few minutes prior I would have laughed at them.  And it is in these moments that I fully appreciate the power of love and the gift of a child.  Yes, parenting can be tiring.  Yes, there are moments when I want to join in the screaming and pull my hair out.  Yes, it is hard.   But it is so beautiful.  Children may not know how to do a lot of things yet (i.e. control their emotions, but then, really, it's also an issue for most of us adults...), but they know how to love without holding back.  They hold their hearts out on their sleeves, and receiving that love is the best gift that anyone, and especially this mother, could ask for.

And so I tucked my previous Grumpy Lion into his bed, sang our songs, did our prayers, gave him kisses and said goodnight.  And later that night, when I went in to check on him, I remembered the "song of crisis" from bathtime, and thought perhaps, the point was not whether the sleeping animal was a lion, a tiger or whatever: what mattered was that it was sleeping

Pretending to be Scary (Grumpy) Lions

The fun of paper bags and construction paper! 

Oh yes, Mommy gets a turn (I believe this is what people see when I don't get enough sleep...)