Inside and Outside

Outdoor Playdate

Dear Readers,

It’s been an emotional week for us. Max has been having a few rough spots. I think it’s about separation anxiety, change, and having lots of really big feelings, and not being able to put it all into words. So, I’ve tackled that by listening, watching, and now that I see a common theme in his various meltdowns, I’m feeding him words. Reminding him of words he already knows, giving him new ones, and identifying and talking about feelings. I’ve been doing this in small, short bits. A little every day.

I made Max a little booklet of sentences which I collected from listening to what he’s been saying to me and his teachers, and what I’ve figured out from what he was not saying, that might help him. He’s already given me a glimmer of a recognition smile which tells me that I may be on to something. I hope so, anyway. Anyway, I typed it up, printed, cut out each sentence, and put each one on a separate index card like this.

index card

I tied it together with some orange yarn (a color he’s been liking lately).


I told him, if he finds himself so angry, sad, frustrated, or anything that makes him feel that he can’t find the words, to turn to his book and see if anything there can help him express himself. I reminded him we’re not allowed to hurt ourselves or others, but we can feel whatever we feel and it’s OK.

I pulled out these books that we keep on his bookshelf in his room (and read periodically), and left them lying around. He looked through them, and then asked me to read them to him.

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

We’ve been reading My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess since he was a baby. As you can see, our copy is dog-eared and held together by several applications of tape. It is one of my all time favorites.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess
Paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

Last week, Max’s preschool held their annual fundraiser  and each class was assigned to put together a basket for the raffle. The theme of his class basket was “Outdoor Playdate” and parents in the class donated all kinds of good stuff to use for outside play. I made this drawing as my contribution.

A friend won the basket and said she’s put the picture  in their playroom at home. That makes me happy.

After school one day this week, Max climbed around in our backyard.


Big emotions tend to calm down with fresh air and moving around. I keep realizing over and over that Max is very physical. That often, his feelings simply need MORE room, space, and open air to breathe. Getting outside is necessary every day. Even when I think, oh, he’s been outside plenty, more is usually even better.

We found more flowers growing.

Flowers and rocks and acorns

And trees in full bloom.

Today, Max’s class is celebrating April Fool’s Day early. When we found out yesterday, we were so happy! The teacher let us know that the kids can come wearing silly clothes, mismatched outfits, even pajamas! Since Max had missed his class celebration of the 100th day of school due to being sick, where they wore PJs and had pancakes (and which he still talked about being terribly sad about missing weeks later!), he was thrilled to finally get his PJ day after all.

I baked cupcakes to bring  to his class as a special treat. When I say baked, I mean I used a mix. Not in any way from scratch, but it was the best I could do considering I’m not very good at baking from actual recipes. Well, maybe once upon a time, I could. And maybe in the future I will again. These days, I usually buy baked goods that other people, who are much better bakers than I’ll ever be, bake. But every once in a while, I like to manage a round of cupcakes. Even if it is from a box. I’m hoping Max gets the message that I’m not always there with him, but I’m always there for him. And I’m a fan of chocolate cupcakes, too.

I kept one cupcake for me.

The teacher also said everyone can choose one stuffed animal to bring in. Max, went through several different options including Border Collie the dog and Shiny the cat,  then declared, “I have too many. I can’t pick one.” Eventually, he  chose Petunia the Hamster.

Earlier this week, Max said to me, “Mommy, I want to be a hamster in your pocket. You will carry me with you everywhere.” Today, he’s carrying his hamster in his pocket. Everywhere, I’m sure.

Pocket Hamster

10 thoughts on “Inside and Outside

  1. All is blooming and growing, and so it is with children as they grow and come to know so many emotions and feelings. We are there to nurture, love and understand so they grow tall and beautifully fullfilled. That is what you are doing so beautifully with Max. Your experiences and stories are always profound and inspiring. Love you! Thank you!

  2. Elana,
    You are an amazing woman and mother — I wish my kids were still young so I could learn from you. But some of these lessons apply to adults, too, I suppose. 🙂 And it’s icing on the cake (so to speak) that you have such great skill with words, and pen/paint and paper, too. I’ve often wished I could reach inside my kids and make the hurt, fear, pain, etc. go away, just like every parent does. What you’re doing is the next best thing– giving him the tools to handle his emotions and life. Remarkable. Thanks for sharing.
    Deborah (Faye)

  3. I love your drawing! And, man, could I use some of those word cards! Tied with pink yarn, please.

  4. I love this entry, heck I love everything you write. Especially the way you share how lovingly you consider your parenting skills and how doing that shows us the way you parent your amazing son. I believe that the care you take is making him an even more thoughtful, considerate and caring human being than he would be otherwise. If only all children were so loved and cared for it would be a magical world 🙂

Comments are closed.