Our cousin Kai-Lan
Last night, homework was hell for my girl.
The kind of hell that includes shrieking and foot-stomping and yelling, “I’m feeling really MAD today!”
The kind of hell where no matter how calm I managed to stay, it just didn’t seem to help.
The kind of hell where no amount of soothing or cajoling or gentle but firm Mama’ing was going to make a damned bit of difference.
The kind of hell that creates the fear of God in any last-year-of-elementary-school parent that middle school is going to be nothing short of apocalyptic.
The kind of hell that makes you really, really want to just curl up in the fetal position under the table with your kid and say, “Screw it, baby, Mama will do it,” and then just let her watch Nick Jr for the rest of the night. Or the year.
That kind of hell.
And then something happened.
Something that I’ve seen before, just once (in the fourth grade concert when a baby cried) and not a single time thereafter in all the months since.
In the middle of all of it – of all the foot-stomping and shrieking and being so mad today, in all of the frustration and anxiety and dysregulation, Brooke stopped everything and closed her eyes.
She took a long, slow, deep breath through her nose.
And then she sat stock-still for a moment. Just like that, with her eyes closed and her chin up ever so slightly as though she were turning her face to the sun.
And then she opened her eyes and began to softly, quietly sing.
Remember when you’re feeling mad,
The first thing you should do,
Is to calm down.
The words are Kai-Lan’s. She sings them to Tolee in the Beach Day episode when he gets frustrated.
In the middle of the shitstorm, my girl was singing.
I watched her, mesmerized.
She closed her eyes again and took another deep breath through her nose. This time, when she opened them, she said, “I’m not feeling mad anymore. I’m calm now.”
I could barely speak. It took everything I had to simply eke out, “I am so proud of you right now, baby. That was … awesome.”
I meant the word literally. I was in awe of what she had just done.
She smiled serenely and sat perfectly still.
“You’re proud of me that I found my calm?” she asked.
Found her calm.
“I am SO, so proud of you that you found you’re calm, Brooke. That was really, really amazing. I don’t have the words to tell you just how proud I am right now.”
“I did what my cousin, Kai-Lan taught me,” she said, “for when you’re too mad.”
I hugged my girl with everything I had.
I didn’t know until last night that Kai-Lan was family. I’m still not sure exactly how we’re related. Perhaps YeYe is my Mom’s father’s brother’s son? Right. Either way, that little girl helped my daughter find her calm at a time when I wouldn’t have believed it possible.
Yeah, she’s definitely family.