Last night was a rough night. I sent Daniel to bed at a decent time for a Saturday with no real plans on Sunday morning. He was resistant, but what’s new? This is an every night ritual. However, last night was a bit different. There were several forces pulling at him and he was crumbling under it all.
I heard him crying from his room and I ignored it. I just assumed it was because he didn’t want to go to sleep and was choosing to feel personally victimized by bedtime because it was a villain or something. Y’all already know how dramatic he is.
As I pretended not to listen, he says, from his room, “I’m ugly.” The words pierced my heart. I responded by asking him why he thought he was ugly. He says because his teeth are little and he’s different. I lost it, for so many reasons.
I calmly got out of my bed and I sat in the bed holding my adorable chocolate baby and I asked him where did he get these ideas from – if it was something he came up with on his own or if someone was telling him this. It was from him – alarming. Then I asked him why he thought he was different – no true underlying reason, just that he feels that he is not from this planet.
Profound statements from this 5 year old. I saw him, in that moment, as myself and as one of my clients. He needed a mental and emotional make over and we had to begin IMMEDIATELY. He needed to learn self-love ASAP.
I carried him into my room, turned on the light and sat in front on the mirror. With my arms around him I asked him to look at what he sees. I asked him to tell that little boy in the mirror that he is handsome, and smart, and his smile is radiant and that he is capable of doing anything. I was willing to sit there all night until he said it and believed it.
He had so much trouble at first, saying these things to himself. He couldn’t look his own self in the mirror. He couldn’t say these things to himself without crying. It was heartbreaking to watch, but I was determined to change his narrative.
It worked for the most part and he finally wiped his tears and started to feel better about what he was feeling and who he was. This is only the beginning, we have a ton of work ahead of us.
Previously stated, I lost my mind – at least temporarily. This wasn’t the first time that I heard painful descriptions come from Daniel. He was watching a Mom and Dad at the pool yesterday play with their daughter and he stated that he was sad that his father and I weren’t together and that that’s what family is about. He talks to me about missing his Dad quite often and wants to go live with him because “I yell too much”. He has even said to me “I don’t want to live anymore” at five years old. This is painful to process for me – consider how painful it is to process for him.
Could he be suffering through depression? At such a young age? What was causing his depression? Was he genetically predisposed to depression? Was I feeding this internal conversation some how?
All questions that I initially believed I wanted answers to, but after long thought, I realized that I could help him. I realized that I had to begin building with him from the inside. I realized that he needed more than whatever he has been getting. He needs my time, he needs my love, he needs my attention and my silliness. He needs me to be stern and he needs discipline, but he also needs to be nurtured.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. I hated that he felt the way he felt about himself, even if it was temporary. Whether it is a genetic predisposition or not, him and I are going to beat this thing together.