Emotions are climbing to a crescendo this week — at least in my home, where miss R seems to have swallowed a gallon of teenage sensitivity. Earlier today she decided to sequester herself in her princess tent, seemingly tranforming it into a bunker. She’d hauled in 5 dresses on hangers, 4 magnetic dress-up games, a coloring book and paints. She also slyly absconded with our nice iPad (the off-limits one that is free of duck tape, and hasn’t yet been cracked and repeatedly dropped by her quick and slippery hands) and settled in for an afternoon of cozy isolation. Her desire for solitude came on the heels of an epic meltdown (I think I’ll have to find some new qualifiers for meltdowns, blowouts and tantrums, since I seem to regard so many of them as “epic”). After gasping for air and resuming a healthy breathing pattern, she looked at me with red eyes and cheeks moistened by crocodile tears. She told me that I was breaking her heart and that she “hoped we could be good again, like family should be.” She was dramatically responding to my requests that she clean up, wash her hands, and basically follow through with simple human responsibilities. The kid is a little theatrical and knows how to hit me where it stings. She even asked me how I could be mad at her adorable face. She really doesn’t like being bothered with the not-so-fun-but-necessary stuff. After we both cooled off, a unifying craft project was a-calling.
Since I lacked the gumption to delve into something really messy and complex, we settled on homemade stress balls — a perfect supplement for our current states of mind. The project requires very little (just a few balloons and some old Playdoh) and even the process is therapeutic. We sorted through our box-o-doh and selected Playdoh that still felt nice but had lost some of its shimmer and shine. We then used both hands to roll the doh into many small sausages, and plopped the skinny sausage/cylinders into the balloons. We shook the balloons to ensure that the doh moved out of the balloon neck and slid all the way down to its circular bottom. Once our balloons were filled and felt satisfactorily squishy, they were tied and drawn upon with a Sharpie. I was anticipating R making lots of simple little faces signifying different emotions, but she just sort of scribbled on them, evidently starting her venting process that way. The finished balls feel really cool! We all keep picking them up and giving them a quick squeeze, even absentmindedly. A successful project indeed!! Feel free to watch my kiddos engaging in this great activity in the short video below (in which their crazies are pretty well hidden 😉). Here’s to releasing stress, fear, anger and frustration!!