Friday, March 16, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Five

The past few nights, Limelet has been experiencing some anxiety. "Mama, I'm scared." "Oh, what are you scared about, Honey?" "I don't know!"

Last night at bedtime he asked "Are we in real life? Is this real?" An exchange in which it came to light that he was feeling anxious about the nature of reality and our own existence. Great racking sobs' worth of existential angst. Pretty heavy stuff for someone who has just lost his first couple of teeth.

I have focused on encouraging him to recognize his own reality by being in the moment in his own body: "You can feel your own breath going in and out, and your own heartbeat. You can feel the bedsheets touching your arms and legs. This is how you can know you are real."

We had lots of hugging and snuggling and letting him cry, and telling him that I had similar bouts of fear as a child. I also called in Daddy so we could all be together and touching. When Jack weepingly explained that he was scared that we were not real, my husband looked at me wide-eyed, "Existential issues already?" He also let Limelet know had experienced these fears when little.

We talked about the differences between real life and shows on TV, stories in books, and dreams. I also emphasized that even when we turn off the light and it's dark, everything is still there.

It passed in about an hour, after which he was giddily relieved to feel okay again, and he wanted to laugh and make silly jokes. Which is pretty much what people do.


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