queen of my compartment
Years ago, following a house fire from which my kids were rescued, my four-year-old began to experience gnawing and quickly-multiplying concerns.
Our conversations would start early and go late. They would sound something like: “But, Mommy, how do you know I won’t accidentally climb in the laundry chute and get stuck?”
“I just do.”
“Well…what if the bus driver forgets me at kindergarten and I’m there all by myself and the office is locked and I can’t call you?”
“He won’t forget you.”
The worry virus would, of course, divide and jump hosts. How could I find her if the bus driver forgot her and the office was closed? What if she does climb in the laundry chute and drops into the basement?
When the reassurances started to stretch from breakfast to bedtime, I took her to a wonderful therapist. He acknowledged the validity of all of my daughter’s fears and said that we absolutely must address them by coming up with contingency plans for each and every one. The only restriction was that the discussion could only be held between 4 and 4:15 every afternoon. The topics might have to carry over, he said, but the meetings had to end on time.
Containing the anxieties was brilliant. On the second day my daughter said she didn’t feel like she had anything else to talk about and went to play with her rabbit.
And that was that.
Boxing up (but not burying) the writhing mess of troubles that come with just being here, protects the space for the other things, too.