Last night, my son had a particularly bad night. As soon as he came home I knew something wasn't right, to be honest.
"You ok, son?"
"No. I don't want to talk about it."
He went to his room and closed the door. He's 6 - with the attitude of a teenager at times.
My sister, who dropped him back off with me, informed me that since she had picked him up from school he'd been incredibly quiet. When she left, I ventured to his room and knocked on the door.
"Can I come in?" I asked. Yes, he's 6. But I still believe in respecting his privacy. In return, I expect that he will respect mine where appropriate. It works.
I went into his room and he was in bed in his school uniform.
"You need to put your PJs on if you're going to bed."
"I'm not going to bed," he answered. "I'm just resting."
"Ok. Want to tell me what's wrong?" I asked.
He has a certain facial expression that he makes when he's in a situation he does not like. He scrunches his forehead up and the right side of his mouth lifts just slightly. I recognise it instantly.
"What's the matter?" I pressed again.
The wall of silence stayed put until I asked,
"Want me to leave you to rest?"
I kissed his forehead and left his room. No more than 5 minutes later he came running out of his room, PJs on and a teddy under his arm in tears.
The boy had dropped his teenage attitude and my baby wanted a cuddle.
I scooped him up and he sniffled into my chest.
"What's the matter?" I continued to ask.
"I want my Mum."
I never even really need to ask. I know already what eats him up. But I ask anyway...on the off chance that it might be something I can actually fix.
"I know you do...."
I can say nothing other than that I know. I can only tell him it won't always hurt this much and I do tell him that frequently. But last night there was no need for me to remind him of that.
Last night my little boy blue just wanted to cry.
We both fell asleep there on the couch. I woke up some six hours later at around 2.30am (with a stiff neck). He was still as he was, head on my chest, eyes closed.
I picked him up and put him to bed. I slept on the floor beside his space ship bed, (there's really not getting a 6 foot tall man in a rocket bed) just on the off chance those pesky nightmares made a return trip. They didn't.
I slept a little - soothed somewhat by his consistent breathing. He woke me at 5:30.
"Why are you on the floor?" he asked. "What a silly place to sleep...." he laughed.
His mood is lighter this morning, much like the sky. But I know these moments will occur consistently, perhaps indefinitely.
I have concluded though, that he doesn't really need my words, the same things repeated over and over when he gets upset. He just needs refuge - a short while where he doesn't have to hold back and he can cry, he can sob and he can be mad at the world while safely wrapped up in my arms.