My 8 year old son (Vman) sat in the back seat of the car.
Huge tears poured down his cheeks.
His face contorted in complete anguish.
“I just don’t want to go to gymnastics,” he bellowed.
I twisted my head to look into the back seat.
Hbomb, my insightful 6 year old, gave me that knowing look… here we go again.
“Mom, it’s okay we if we miss gymnastics,” Hbomb stated.
Oh my goodness, how giving that boy is!
My children love gymnastics.
And when I say love, I mean LOVE.
It is the most incredible workout out there for these boys.
After an hour of climbing ropes, swinging from the rings and flipping around on the bar, they are drenched in sweat.
Never mind how awesome it is for their sensory diet… gymnastics is just awesome for any kid, period.
Skipping gymnastics can mean the difference between a good couple of days and some not so great days.
Meltdown or Something Else?
At first, I thought I’d just wait out the meltdown.
Sometimes Vman just needs to let it all out before we can move forward.
So I pulled the car over to the side of the road, took a deep breath and calmly spoke with him.
But today wasn’t just a regular meltdown for Vman… a letting go of the day.
Instead of thrashing about, he was actually in control, but those tears just kept pouring out.
He was sharing his raw emotions, and the simple fact was, Vman was done for the day.
It didn’t help that the previous two days after school we had some sort of appointment — including allergy shots and the orthodontist.
He hadn’t had his usual reset time at home, and it was showing.
Plus, we were trying to get back into the rhythm of our routine after spring break.
Listen To Your Child: Know When It’s Time to Call It a Day
As a sensory parent, a big part of my job is to keep in tune with the nuances of Vman’s moods.
Is he on the road toward a meltdown? Or is it just a tantrum? Is there something more going on than what appears on the surface?
Often what can feel like defiance, out-of-control behavior or just plain bratty outbursts is actually a sign of something bigger going on.
As parents, I think we can sometimes get so focused on what is supposed to happen (like getting to an appointment, making sports practice or meeting up for that play date), that we lose focus on the inner workings of our kids.
Kids need downtime, just like adults.
Kids need the chance to reset, just like adults.
And some days, kids need to play hooky from expectations, just like adults do.
For Vman, that was all three.
Thankfully, my younger kiddo is willing to go with the flow on many days.
It can’t be easy for him to miss out on things because of his older brother.
But Hbomb recognizes that Vman has certain needs, and the family runs better as a unit if we all work together to support one another.
Veg Out… But Not All Day
When we got home, the boys instantly changed into boxer shorts (that’s what my sensory kids do) and cuddled up on the couch with me.
We watched TV, and as I sat through the laugh track of yet another kid’s program, I realized that perhaps I needed the chance to reset and zone out as much as Vman.
After an hour (and some snacks), the bright cheery boy returned. Vman was feeling like himself again.
He grabbed his soccer cleats, shin guards and ball and headed off for soccer practice, feeling like a revived kid.
Hbomb and I looked at each other.
“I’m sorry you missed gymnastics today,” I told him. ”
That’s okay, Mom,” he replied. “I needed the break anyway.”
And that’s when it hit me.
Just because Hbomb isn’t as dramatic as Vman in stating he needs to reset, there are days he needs it just as much.
While more extreme sensory kids may show their needs and feel the effects of being overwhelmed more, all kids need the chance to decompress.
Some days, you have to teach your kids to push through life.
And some days, you just have to teach your kids that it’s okay to play hooky once in a while.