The week of Thanksgiving, you and your sisters spent almost an hour assembling a gingerbread turkey from a kit I got at the grocery store. The three of you had so much fun in the process with lots of giggles and candy stealing. Melody called me in to inspect your work when it was finished. We took pictures of you 3 with your creation and cleaned up the mess. You guys wanted to eat it right away, but I asked if we could wait until after Thanksgiving so the turkey could be a decoration. You reluctantly agreed, but no sooner had we positioned the turkey on its decorative perch than he began to list badly to the front of the box.
Me: “Okay, you guys. If he falls over I guess you can eat him.”
All of you: *loud cheering*
About 20 minutes later, the turkey was dead and the scavenging began, each of you claiming slightly larger than a cookie sized piece of fallen gingerbread turkey. The girls ate a bit and then threw pieces away, declaring the gingerbread bitter. You ate a few bites slowly, then I noticed you sitting with your piece of gingerbread in hand, looking at it sadly. “I don’t want anymore,” you said. I suggested you throw the rest away, but this suggestion agitated you and so I asked if you’d prefer to set your piece on the counter for later and you agreed. After you’d put it down, you came crashing into me for a fierce hug. When you pulled back, I noticed the tears welling in your eyes.
”What’s wrong, buddy?” I asked as I hugged you again.
”I’m sad that the turkey isn’t a turkey anymore,” you said in a choking voice. You clearly were trying NOT to cry. “It’s ok that you’re sad the turkey broke. You can cry if you need to.” And you did need to. You crawled into my lap and held on tight, grieving the dead gingerbread turkey that had brought so much joy a little while before. You cried hard for a little over a minute, then snuggled into my arm to watch a Christmas movie. 15-20 minutes passed, and you looked up into my face and said, “I don’t feel sad at all anymore, Momma.” And as I leaned my face against your soft blonde hair, I thought about how thankful I am for all we’re learning together about emotions and grieving and letting ourselves feel, even when it might seem silly. Even when it’s over something small. I love you, my little tender-heart. Thank you for trusting me to be your safe place.