As I've mentioned before, Big Brother is not a talker. He's one-liners are legendary and you will rarely, if ever, hear him utter a single word about feelings. But sometimes, within this brevity, he will communicate a notion with such astounding clarity and insight so as to knock me off my feet.
Yesterday was one of those days.
During the day, we made a trip to the dentist. Actually it was the second in a couple of weeks. He needed to have two baby teeth pulled and let's just say, the first appointment didn't go over so well.
Anxiety got the best of him. Even though our dentist was going to use laughing gas to help keep him calm, Big Brother became so worked up there was no getting him back to the chair. So reschedule we did.
I'm happy to report that things went well yesterday. Although noticeably nervous, he went back without a fuss. Just 15 minutes later, he emerged with a huge gauze-filled smile, a good deal goofier than he was before (thank you modern medication.). He told me over and over again how easy the whole procedure was.
Fast forward to last night. Big Brother was laying on my bed, tired and sore. No words were spoken until the following exchange:
BB: I wish I could be on laughing gas all the time
Me: Why's that?
BB: Because I was so relaxed.
Me: You mean you don't usually feel relaxed?
Me: How long has it been since you were relaxed?
BB: A really, really long time, Mom.
Me: How do you usually feel?
BB: I'm always angry or stressed out. But when I was on the laughing gas, nothing bothered me. I want to feel like that all the time.
And thus I was hit by a proverbial ton of bricks. The realization of my son's struggles made clear by a chance encounter with a little laughing gas.
I cried myself to sleep last night. Why is it I forget how hard life is for my kids until something like this clobbers me. Am I that dense?
I also felt pretty helpless. As a parent, you just want to make things better for your children, but this I cannot change. No matter what I do, I can't make the world a less stressful place for a kid who is always an outsider looking in.
Then there was the fear. There are so many statistics about how kids like mine are prone to substance abuse. The above exchange captures why. For a brief moment in time, my son felt good, and he wants that feeling back. I don't blame him. I will continue to look for ways he can feel this way, minus the pharmaceuticals, but right now this may be hard as my boy is anti-yoga, anti-meditation or any other "weird" things.
In the end, I'm thankful for the fresh insight. Once again, it gives me a glimpse -- however brief -- into how and why my kids do the things they do. I guess they're not the only ones who could use lessons in theory of mind.