Max woke up in the middle of the night complaining about how his legs hurt. I felt so sorry for him because I acutely remember how growing pains feel and he was pretty scared to be going through this for the first time. I assured him that these pains wouldn’t last all night and the good news was it meant he was growing big and strong.
He was not amused in the slightest. He began crying and felt hopeless that he’d never feel the same way again. He’s five so that means he said the words never, never, never again. A lot.
I sat on his bed and rubbed his legs for as long as he would let me (he kept saying it was “making it feel worser”). Ugh, I was not helping him at all.
Then I remembered how a friend told me once that potassium helps with leg cramps. Hey, we always have bananas in the house. They’re probably not helpful at all for growing pains, but don’t tell Max. He bought my explanation about the miraculous powers of the banana and he ate half of one on the spot. Still, the banana didn’t work instantaneously so I had to think of something else.
I considered ways to help him but came up short because I was so tired (Mini would be waking up in two hours) and I just wanted to snap my fingers to make this go away so I could go back to bed. I wasn’t feeling very nurturing.
But then I remembered how on sleepless nights when he was younger, say, when he had a cold and we both weren’t getting any rest, I would rub my hand on his back in a circle then tap, tap, tap, tap my fingers at the top of the circle. Amazingly, the rhythm and pattern I drew between his small shoulders worked every time.
So I asked him if I could show him what I did to comfort him when he was a baby. He nodded and turned over with his back towards me. I began, and he relaxed. I then smiled and traveled down Memory Lane for a while. It’s been too long since I just sat there with him in the quiet of his room and reflected on our relationship as mother and son.
I caught a glimpse of his early years that I’ve shared with him, of sitting beside his bed in an attempt to bring comfort during the trauma of sleepless nights, bad dreams, strange noises, and imaginary things hiding in the shadows. My techniques haven’t always worked and some of my ideas are lame even to a preschooler, but the most important thing is that I was there and present for when he needed me.
Tired or not.
By the way, Max said the banana worked.