The tears started just after bedtime, well what was as close to bedtime as we could get in this heat that we aren't used to and don't know how to deal with.
First there were tears because he "just felt weird." I asked if it was his stomach, if it was his head, if he felt like he had a stuffed up nose. I ruffled his mop of boy hair, patted him on the back and said to go give it another try, to remember to breathe and try to fall asleep.
Ten minutes later, more sobs.
Ten minutes after coaxing it out of him, he tells me he got in trouble too much today and he feels bad about it. I assure him that no matter how much trouble he got in, his dad and I love him just as much as we did the day before, probably more. I remind him of the importance of talking about things that are bothering him, that I can't help if he won't talk to me, that I am always here for him and will listen whenever he needs someone to talk to. I tell him that it isn't good to keep things bottled up inside . . . like a volcano.
Because we all know what happens when we bottle things up inside - one day they'll explode all over the place leaving us sobbing well past bedtime, unable to articulate what exactly it is that is giving us so much anxiety because we've been bottling it up inside for so long now that we've forgotten what it began with in the first place.
I am sure this is what has happened. So I offer my lap, the only thing I have left to give.
Finally his breaths grow deeper and more purposeful. I relax the hand that has been slowly moving across his scalp and just let it rest on the top of his head. I remember a time when he was a baby and it seems like it was yesterday, but it couldn't be - as I look at the boy lying in my lap who has feet the same size as mine now.
Thing is, I know he worries. I know he cares deeply. I know things bother him more than they should. But how do I fix it? How do I make him understand that he gives more power to his worries by thinking about them so much? How do I get him to quiet his mind and think about the good (oh, there is so much good) in his life instead of thinking about the possibility of bad things happening?
His life is good. He plays, he enjoys living, he is a good kid and we're a good family.
Why does he have so much trouble some days, some nights, stricken with worry and sadness over nothing that he is able to speak of? Nothing. Just sad.
He should go to sleep with a smile on his freckled face every night. I try to make his days such that it would be easy for him, easy to live, easy to be happy, just plain easy.
But it isn't, it is so hard.
And I don't know what else to do to give him the wings to soar as he should, each and every day.