Under tables and inside closets are places of comfort for my son. He retreats with his Pirates of the Caribbean figures, a trusted flash light, and even a rubber sword. He plays for hours in his world: fighting the mean and fire-breathing dragons, catching anacondas with his two hands, and loudly beeping and wooting and buzzing and chugging with his lips.
The small spaces are areas of comfort when the world doesn’t meet his needs. When the world asks him to take a bit of a new food that smells salty or is too slimy, then the insides of the table is his retreat. If the noise of the fan wires his attention or the fire-alarm blares when the stove opens, letting out the hot, smoky air, then he retreats. He finds his place where he can be calm.
I often want to crawl under a table or inside a closet and shut everything away. Granted, I’m an adult, and, obviously, that isn’t the best coping skill for a single mom who is trying to model healthy choices for her children, but it still seems enticing. Instead, I pause and take a breath. Or I cry. I put my running shoes to the pavement. And, yes, those are my coping strategies when the world doesn’t make sense to me.
So, when I watch my son find these spaces and places, I let him be. I let him play. I let the noises come out into the open. I allow him to be in this place because he is making sense of the world around him.
I do wonder how the world feels to my son.