Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The cure for a crying fit is...math?

It's almost 9pm on a Tuesday. Normally, both of my boys would be sound asleep in their own rooms right now, and I would be: 1) Passed out from exhaustion, or 2) Enjoying a nice glass of cabernet while watching something brain-numbing on T.V. As it turns out, I was planning on option #2 this evening, because the hubster went over to his buddy's house for a little male bonding, and the new season of The Biggest Loser started tonite. But, as I relaxed on the couch, sipping some red and munching on Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop popcorn, I heard little footsteps and sniffling noises approaching down the hall. There was Foster. He looked up at me, miserably, bottom lip trembling, and then burst into tears and flung himself onto my lap.

"Mommy, I feel so, so sad." (sob, sob)

"What's wrong, honey? Why do you feel sad?"

"Because you gave away some of our stuffed animals! I love ALL of my stuffed animals, and you gave some awaaaaay......" (louder sobbing)

"Well, honey, we gave away some of our stuffed animals at Christmastime, so that kids who don't have any can have some animals to snuggle up with at night. You have a lot of stuffed animals to snuggle up with. You're really lucky."

"I know, but I really, really miss my stuffed animals." (renewed fits of sobbing)

Now, before you think I'm a terrible mother who cruelly snatched beloved toys from the arms of my devastated little boys...I donated maybe 10 stuffed animals that neither boy ever even looks at any more, let alone plays with. I doubt that Foster could even come up the identities of any of these donated stuffed animals that are now the cause of so much drama... Still, I felt a twinge of guilt at his sadness, I'll admit.

Then, the sound of new footsteps came down the hallway.....Spencer, of course.

"What's wrong with Fos? Why is he crying?"


"Well, sweetie, I know that you're sad, but it's a school night and time for bed. So, let's go snuggle up with some of your other stuffed animals, OK? Spence, it's sweet that you're thinking about Fos, but time for bed for you too."

Off we went down the hallway...

By the time I got Fos to his bed, he was crying even harder than before.

"Now I'm really, really sad about TWO things. I'm sad about my stuffed animals AND I'm sad about Cosmo dying last Christmas. I'm SO SAD!!!" (bwaaaaaaaaaaaaa.....)


So, we went through some deep breaths to calm things down, but he had himself really worked up, and I just didn't feel right walking out and leaving him in such a state. Was I being manipulated? Highly likely. I'm sure it happens every day. However, this is really unusual behavior from him, especially at bedtime, so I just wasn't sure what was really going on with my little guy.

Next thing I knew, Spence appeared at my side.

"Mom? I know I'm supposed to be sleeping, but I'm really, really worried about Foster, and I think he needs me." (How precious is that, I ask you? I almost pee'd my pants with joy at big brother being so sweet to little brother, especially since that's pretty unusual behavior around here as well.)

"Honey, that's really nice of you, but I think you need to head back to bed." (louder wailing from Fos)

"Well, you see Mom, I really think you should let me sleep in here with Foster for a little bit. I think I can make him feel better. You know we used to share a room." At this, Fos sits up and hugs his brother, and, for a change, his brother hugs him back.

"Mommy," said Fos through his sobs, "You always say that the most important and wonderful thing is our family, right? Please let Spence sleep with me."

So, I let Spence grab his blanket and pillow, and I said he could stay in there for a little while to cheer up Fos.

"Can we do quiet talking, Mommy? PLEEEEEASE?????"

"OK, but if it sounds like you guys are getting crazy in there, I'm going to send Spence back to his own bed right away. And, only 10 minutes of talking. Then, it's sleepy time for you both."

"Thank you so much, Mommy. You're the best Mommy in the universe!!!" (accompanied by more sniffing and sobbing from my youngest, of course)

"Yeah," I thought to myself, "I don't think your teachers are going to be thinking I'm such a terrific Mommy tomorrow, when you're both so tired that you lose your minds all day at school..."

Anyhoo...I headed back to the living room to finish my glass of wine, and I immediately heard giggling from the room. So, I did what any self-respecting parent would do...I tippy toed down the hallway and eavesdropped outside the door.

What was making my little guy, who had been sobbing his heart out only moments before, giggle with happiness, you ask?  Math. Yes, math. Spencer was firing addition problems at him, and Fos was adding them as quickly as he could, laughing like crazy every time he got them wrong. Which was a lot. He's only a first grader, afterall.

So, Fos didn't need Mommy hugs and deep breathing to get over his bout of sadness. He just needed his big brother to do some math with him. Who knew?

Now, I need to go get Spence and tuck him into his own bed, with extra kisses for his kindness to Fos. And maybe I should write a nice little note to the boys' teachers for tomorrow, just in case...


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