Generally, my 5-year old has a happy and pleasant disposition. He’s normally cheery and friendly, offering a smile and a greeting to people he knows. Because of this, you’d easily know if and when he’s in a foul mood.
Instead of a wide smile, his lips would be set into a tight line, his brows would be arched together and he would be silent as a mouse.
That was how I found him when I fetched him from school last Saturday. As it turns out, he hadn’t followed the proper instructions and that had earned him a reprimand from the teacher.
Before the day ended, he was to commit two more boo-boos, prompting yet more scolding from none other than me and another family member.
That night, he couldn’t sleep.
“I don’t like myself!’, he angrily said.
It came as a shock as it had the first time I heard it. I prodded him for more, asking why he said it and what made him think less of himself.
I countered his words with more words, explaining and reassuring. It fell on deaf ears however, he refused to listen and kept on with the I-don’t-like-myself dialogue.
It was the well filling up, I knew. I’ve experienced it one too many times myself, taking in all the harsh words, keeping them all bottled up inside, dragging you down with barely a room to breathe.
And so I did what I would have wanted at such a moment.
I gave him a hug and said, “Cry it all out until you feel better.”
And so he did.
After drowning in tears, he raised his head up and murmured, “Mommy, I love you.”
I choked back tears.
Coming from this boy, the words meant a lot. Unlike his younger brother who throws free I love you’s in the air as often as he can, the older boy has his reservations.
“Whenever you feel sad and overwhelmed, you can always come to me and cry, okay?”
He nodded and was quiet for a while.
“What if you get old already and you’re not here anymore?”
Fighting back more tears, I replied,
“You’d already be a strong man by then. It will be your turn to hug your wife or your child or your grandchild, telling them all that I’ve told you now.”