April 30, 2015 Since we bought our fixer-upper house, I have loved making it ours and finding ways to make it pretty. The dining room is my favorite: it has the floor I painstakingly hand-painted. It has the bench my husband built, and a beautiful wreath one of my dearest friends made. I love this room and it is MINE. Sure, we eat in it, but I covet and protect this room as one of the few pretty places in our house the children have not taken over.
Little Lion Man has tantrums. Big, nasty, mean, biting/hitting/scratching/spitting tantrums 3-10 times a day. He’s had these tantrums since he was about 18 months old. And up until now I have mostly tried to hold him during these times. But he’s getting bigger and stronger and he has hurt me a few times. We needed a better solution.
Enter the Dog Bed. Yesterday at Home Goods I saw a lady with what appeared to be a big, beautiful, soft and fluffy floor pillow in her cart. It was an adorable print and it really caught my eye. I immediately knew LLM would love one. He adores soft things and it was just the right size for him to curl up on.
Turns out, it wasn’t a floor pillow; it was a dog bed.
And it gave me an idea.
I decided I would make a special little corner of the house for LLM. It would be on the main floor so he could stay near me, but it could be a place he could go to calm down in lieu of me having to hold him when he is having a tantrum. He typically runs away from me when we have a conflict. Why not give him a place to run to? So I searched out the dog bed aisle and put one in my cart.
On the drive home I ran through the places it could go on our main floor. No extra space in the kitchen. No place in the family room, plus I didn’t want it near the TV. The playroom was no good because I needed a way to keep Baby Girl away from his special spot. That left the dining room. My dining room. It is close enough to the kitchen that he can see and hear me and easily come to me when he has calmed down and is ready to talk. And I can easily baby gate the dining room off to give him some space from BG.
So the dining room it was. While LLM and BG napped, I made what we refer to as the Cozy Spot. I put the dog bed in a corner between our buffet and the wall so it has a “closed in” feel. I added a soft, hooded, blanket (my boy loves hoods) and his vibrating neck pillow. Then I got a little basket and added a roller ball of soothing essential oils he can apply himself. Also in the basket: a favorite stuffed toy, some small sensory toys, and baggies of dried mango. Food is this kid’s love language so I figured some food he could control would be a good idea. I stuck a few books between the pillow and the wall. Then I hung a some pictures of our family and of his birth family. When he is upset, I want him to be able to see pictures of himself happy and safe with all the people who love him.
When he got up from nap, I showed him his corner. I explained it is a place he can go when he feels mad or sad. I explained that it is only his, and the other kids can’t go in it. I showed him the basket with his snacks and others things. We pretended he was mad and he practiced running to it. He really loves it. He particularly loves having snacks he can control. That’s new for us…and as I suspected, the first day he ate about 1/2lb of dried mango and wasn’t hungry at dinner. But I’m hoping the novelty will wear off and if he knows it’s there and he can have it if he wants, he won’t feel the need to eat it all in one sitting.
So there’s a dog bed in my dining room and we don’t have a dog.
This tiny boy, with smiling blues eyes and dimples…he is doing me in. His depth of need is an ocean. Most days I feel like I have about a watering can to give him.
The God who filled the oceans with His word has placed LLM with me. That same God promises he will not leave me or forsake me. He promises that when He starts a good work, He finishes it. He promises to bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts. He has set the lonely in my family, and I praise Him for that.
Loving kids from hard places is no joke. They will take over your house and your precious dining room. They will need every space in your heart and take from you until there is nothing left to give. You can reserve nothing from them. They will need it all.
Give it to them. You will be refilled. Your God is an infinite well and His grace and mercies are deeper and wider and higher than the pit of pain your child is trying to crawl out of. So empty yourself. Wait for God to fill you up again. He will.
And remember, it’s just a stupid dining room 😉