Friday, April 2, 2010

Say it with a sign

It's getting toward the end of a week long Spring break from school. We are keeping a nice balance of being busy and relaxing - getting outside in the beautiful weather, seeing friends we don't get to see enough, doing crafts, and just hanging out at home. I've even got multi-colored egg dye fingers to prove it. Man, did we need this break from the regular routine to get our footing again.

Inevitably, the Spring break bliss is slowly fading and we are all letting our guard down and throwing out all kinds of emotions other than happy happy joy joy like in the beginning of the week. We went from "you are the bestest brother in the whole wide world" kiss kiss hug hug to "I never want to play with you ever again...ever!!!" tears and tattletales. Umm, can we go back to last Monday please pretty please? This mama who is used to her relative free time is losing her sanity - grrr...

Yesterday morning, a friend from school came over to play for a few hours. I listen to giggles and imagination for about an hour, and it's all good. Then, I suddenly hear my Quinn talking louder and louder saying "why are you ignoring me?" and "why aren't you playing with me?" and "I'm feeling soooo frustrated!" and I look over and yep, the girls are doing their girly thing while he stands next to them being completely ignored. I call him over to me and tell him that maybe it's best to play in his room on his own for a little while.

He comes out about twenty minutes later, confidently marches up to them, shows them this sign and says "I was using my words and you were not understanding me so I drew this picture to show you how I am feeling."
I am stunned. Blown away. Very very proud. Thrilled. He wasn't being heard or understood, felt emotional, and expressed it in an artist way completely on his own. He conveyed his feelings without violence or blame, but simply and effectively through art. He got lots of my praise and positive reinforcement. Love love love it.

Lately my emotions are all over the place, you know, the almost forty unemployed what am I doing with my life wanting to get more in touch with my creative side major transition kind. To make sense of it all, I read and work through books to help understand and deal better and grow. I share and relate with those close to me.
I shut down and push people away. I journal. I meditate. I hike. I drink too wine and eat too much sugar to escape. I cry in the shower. I listen to my favorite music and sing out loud. I shop. I say I'm "okay" when I'm really not and keep it bottled up. I do things to help other people feel better. I'm all over the place.

And my kid, my six year old sweet boy, makes a heartfelt sign that reads "sad" with tears. We all understand him. And he smiles at that and goes right back to playing with everyone without incident or tears until their friend leaves. He felt, he expressed, he was heard, he moved on...end of story.

Of course life gets much more complicated as grown ups, but I can't help but daydream about making my own signs on occasion. Instead of resorting to making a fattening sugary cake when I'm cranky, what if I just wore a sign that says "PMS". Or next time I'm feeling ignored or unappreciated, a sign that says "Invisible". What about a "Lonely" sign for all those days I could use some company and wishing someone would invite me to do something with them. Many times an "Alien" sign would be helpful when I'm feeling completely out of place.

Alright, well, I know that's not quite realistic, but maybe that's where art and being creative comes into the picture - a way to express ourselves, but beyond just simple words. I know when I'm being consistently creative I'm a much better person - a more fulfilled person that doesn't need to make many sad signs at all.


  1. Sometimes I feel like I need a sign to let people know what's happening. "Migraine Brain", "Thinking", "Self Absorbed","Stressed," "Overwhelmed" and "Mopey" are all signs I feel like I could have used recently.

    Sometimes I feel like I need a clipboard with a list of topics someone is allowed to talk to me about at that moment. "Is your topic on my list?... Nope. So sad for you."

    Life just keeps coming at us while we're spinning around in it. YAY!

    I feel so lucky that my kids are able to express themselves in ways I didn't feel fostered and empowered when I was a kid, or even now. So at least you know you got one thing right when you see this level of connection from your little guy.

  2. Great great post. You are doing better than you think. And way to go, Quinn!

  3. tears-in-the-eyes... incredible!

  4. ok - i think it's TOTALLY doable. a whole wardrobe of signs with a small chain link around the neck and a place to hook them hanging from the neck. hmmmm....the possibilities. FUNK comes to mind. NO not "i didn't take a shower" but "in a funk, don't look at me, don't try to talk or bring me out". i think i'd use that one alot. PROUD when i watch my neice lead cheers or my nephew fly through the air while twirling his bike. LOVE when i'm with my mom (and MY MOMMY on the other side of that one). the list is endless. thanks for the idea - i just might be wearing one the next time you see me :)