finding her calm


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 incredible.

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.

29 thoughts on “finding her calm

  1. Welcome to the family, Kai-Lan! Jess, this is absolutely amazing. What a way to start Grammy’s morning. I love Brooke’s ability to find her calm.

    Love you,

  2. I don’t know what kai lan is but I want to find that episode. We have always tried to get Daniel to sing (and he often does) to calm himself down. I love LOVE the phrase “found my calm”. It’s perfect!

  3. That is awesome! I love Kai Lan. I have to laugh whenever you mention Brooke scripting from that show or just watching that show because I am always telling folks it is the perfect show for teaching this stuff to all three of my kids. I am so impressed that she found her calm. Still looking for my own right now…. 😉

    PS – if you’re related can you get us an autograph? 😉

  4. I’m with Megan – we’re in homework hell too, but it is only Kindergarten! I’ve rarely felt as helpless and hopeless as I did last night. I don’t know how we’ll ever make it to 1st grade. Brooke’s success does give me a glimmer of hope for my girl. Thank you for that.

  5. YES! My daughter does this also. And I believe Kia-Lan is to be thanked for this too! My girl will say “Ok, Mommy I need to take deep breaths to calm me down”! And sometimes she’ll say “I can’t do it by myself, help me to be calm, let’s count together’! Then we count, hold hands and breathe at the same time. There are times it does not work, when she’s to far gone. Then she freaks, cause she can’t control it and get back to even ground. I think I’ll use Brooke’s term from now on with her, in “finding her calm”! And Brooke you are Super Awesome! Your Mama is Super Awesome in her own right too. ❤

  6. Amazing! My son, who is 14, also finds his calm with the Nick, Jr. Family. We have been at Seattle Children’s Hospital now for a total of almost nine months, and I will tell you, Nick, Disney, ans PBS Kids have saved my sons life. All of his “cousins” give him a life lesson in some way that he uses during his struggles through the day. Thank you for your story. Again, Amazing!!!

  7. Sitting here on the couch…….reading your post….now standing up from my sitting position……tapping my feet and waving my arms in the air…….doing the happy dance!! Awesome, amazing, and awesome again!!

  8. Thank you for sharing that. That was an incredible moment. Even more incredible is your daughter is an inspiration for me. I too have meltdown moments. The next time, I get angry and frustrated, I will remember Brooke and look for my calm for release from my hell.

  9. Pingback: I found my calm. | Organized Babble

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