I talked to Kate and Anna over FaceTime today. They showed me their new rooms in the house their dad just moved to this week. They seem very happy with everything and Anna's room has castle wallpaper, so she is basically in heaven. I asked Anna if she was having fun with daddy on her week off from daycare and she said, "No, I'm having a bad day." Oh dear, why are you having a bad day little chicken? "I don't know, I cry every day about something, so that is a bad day."
No judgements on my ex. This is just four year old behaviour and Kate was exactly the same way at that age. I remember complaining to a co-worker that Kate cried about everything and anything between the ages of three and five. It was infuriating, frustrating and my patience wore thin every day. I remember being so angry with her crying as we were getting ready to leave for some party or something and I turned around and yelled at her to stop, please just stop, for the love of all things holy, STOP CRYING! ENOUGH. Of course, me losing my shit didn't help matters in any way whatsoever. My husband was looking at me like I was crazy and I could see the disappointment and anger in his eyes, I could feel my own disappointed tears pricking at my eyelids and Kate, well, she just looked at me in astonishment for a moment before renewing her sobs so hard that she threw up. Not even kidding. Tempers all around, it was a great night.
So little kids cry. Some more than others. But why does it have to be so much? So often? And about the most ridiculous things?
It comes down to some pretty simple points.
The first is that four year olds do not have the necessary words to express how they are feeling or what they want so they get frustrated all the time. Anna (and Kate at that age) is very articulate, but her vocabulary is, of course, still building. She wants to express a thought or tell me about something that happened and she simply does not have the words to explain it and I end up not understanding and she gets frustrated. I'm probably correct in assuming that men don't cry when they are frustrated, but I know plenty of women that do or want to. That's not sexist by the way, it's just the truth. So you have to think about the daily struggle a pre-schooler has to make herself understood and the final frustrating time when it's just too much, that's when the tears come.
The second is that four year olds do not have control of their feelings the same way that many adults have learned to harness theirs. It takes years of wasted energy to control our feelings so that we can lie behind a mask of calm that we are just fine. Absolutely and totally fine. Cheerily so, in fact! All lies. And four year olds just don't have the same amount of practice we've had, the guile to lie as effectively as we do to keep things comfortable for people who don't really want to know that we are currently losing our fucking minds. It's actually refreshing when you think about it, that honesty in emotion.
The third is that, to them, the most ridiculous things are of paramount importance. I remember absolutely losing my entire shit because the neighbourhood kid had chewed the head off my yellow unicorn eraser. Like, I lost it. I shrieked at her, snatched it away and starting wailing like my arm had been severed at the elbow. My mother came running and when I, hiccoughing and wheezing, told her that my unicorn's head had been destroyed by that cretin, she was so angry at me for scaring her, so angry that I was not crying about a REAL PROBLEM, she yelled at me and sent me to my room. But the thing was, I loved that eraser. My dad had bought it for me on one of the many bookstore expeditions that he had taken me on. He usually bought me a book, but this time, that beautiful, yellow unicorn eraser caught my eye and he bought it instead. You might be laughing right now, but I loved it. And that little bitch ATE IT. WHAT. THE. FUCK? Who eats an eraser? I still remember her stunned countenance when I screamed in her face after realizing what she'd done and the injustice of being sent to my room when I had been absolutely wronged and I still hate her. Seems silly, doesn't it? But that is just one thing that I remember, as a child, that seemed to be the end of the world. I spent the rest of the afternoon in my bed room, sulking. Seriously. As an adult I snicker about it and it's silliness, but as a child, I was devastated. Imagine all the little injustices that seem insignificant to us but end the world for our little loves? Is it any wonder they cry?
Patience does not always come easy. But try to remember being a child and how frustrating it was instead of how easy it seems after you become an adult. Remember how badly you wanted to grow up so you could be in charge of your life? You didn't feel that way because childhood was a cake walk.