Wouldn’t It Be More Fun…?

A few days ago, I was holding one of my children, who was distressed and melting down. We were sitting together on the couch while they sobbed, and then settled down, and then would remind themselves of why they were upset and start sobbing again.

Meanwhile, their sibling was playing happily and extravagantly in the room around us and adjacent to us. Their sibling kept checking in with them to see if they wanted to play, and each time they would remind themselves of why they were sad and keep re-working themselves up about it.

I found myself thinking in my head, “come on, wouldn’t you have more fun if you just got over it and went to play?”

Then I remembered all the times that I’ve laid, curled up on the couch in a void of sadness, wishing somebody would be with me—not that they had to be as sad as me, but just wishing they’d be with me. I thought of all the times my husband has come into the room and found me that way, when he is feeling fine, and how he’s never said “come on, why don’t you just distract yourself?” or “why don’t you just get over it, you’ll have more fun that way.”

Sometimes he offers me a mutual distraction—“do you want to watch a movie together?” Most often he usually just holds me and says, “is there anything I can do to help?” Sometimes I cry, sometimes I spill a bunch of thoughts, sometimes the thoughts are too stuck and I just stay curled up and shake my head and he sits with me for a little while.

It would be more fun if I could just get over it. But emotions are something to wade through, not get over.

So I don’t say anything to my child. I sit with them in my lap, as they curl up like the tallest baby. As their breathing slows in between bouts of crying. As they fall asleep and I carry them to bed.

It would have been more fun, but fun wasn’t what they needed.