Dealing With Our Big Feelings

dealing with our big feelings

Dealing with our Big Feelings…and that Stupid Elf


The Holiday Season is upon us. This is the season of togetherness and joy. The time of year when we give back to our community and celebrate shared traditions.

And for many of us, myself included, it is the season for emotional meltdowns. Maybe it’s the build-up? Or maybe it’s the music? What I do know is that we are dealing with our big feelings around here, and not always very productively.

We are having issues with teachers, tantrums and the Elf.

Freaking Out Our Teacher

I have enormous respect for educators, and elementary teachers in particular. I attempted to be a teacher for a while so I know how hard the job is. Kindergarten teachers should be given hazard pay or something.

A wonderful, kind and patient teacher is having some issues with my offspring. It all started one beautiful fall afternoon.

Around 2 pm my phone rang. When I looked at it I knew immediately that the call was coming from my son’s school. Trying to sound pleasant without sounding annoying I answer, “hello?”

“Is this Mrs. Lewis?” “This is Dr. —— from ——— ——– Elementary.”

Trying not to vomit on myself I tell her yes, she had contacted the correct parent. I listened as she explained that my son had threatened to “tear down the school” that day when he was asked to stop talking. I was silent for a moment before telling her, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say.”

There was so much adrenaline flowing through me I was shaking. I finished the conversation with her by promising to find a time to talk with the school guidance counselor.

I come to find out that my son has had more than one angry outburst with his teacher at school. E has had a total of 3 outbursts. This was a total shock to me because he absolutely adores his teacher. The troubling part about all of this is that we seem to be falling back into old patterns.

I thought we had grown out of this emotional regulation problem. I was wrong. We are still in the thick of it.

So that is happening. And we are dealing with it. We are actually going to have some testing done to find out if my son is ADHD, on the spectrum, or something else. For all we know, he could be playing us. Stay tuned – I will update everyone on our eventual diagnosis.

dealing with our big feelings

Not only is my offspring behaving like a crazy head at school, but he has been pretty difficult at home. He argues, raises his voice and often deliberately ignores both of his parents. Tantrums seem to be the manifestation of his jumbled up “big feelings.”

Unfortunately these big feelings seem to bubble up to the surface in the form of anger.

The other day he became so angry with my husband and I, that he went in his room and growled under his breath that he would “kill” us. I told him I heard what he said and then we had a long talk about what that actually means. This was when things got really hard for me.

My son confessed that he doesn’t really notice or care about other people’s feelings. It was a long conversation so I cannot give you a blow-by-blow, but I can tell you it made me very sad.

My son’s lack of empathy for other humans shocked and scared me. But I am so grateful he told me the truth.

Hopefully with the help of our therapist he will continue to tell me the truth and share his big feelings in a more productive way. As my husband pointed out, we need help with this because it is not something we can handle on our own.

Now we watch Inside Out every day. And talk about our feelings and how we can control our big, beautiful brains. I highly recommend Inside Out for young children struggling with emotional regulation. We get something new out of it each time we watch.

In our current situation, I decided we needed a little holiday sparkle. So we started decorating over Thanksgiving break. That is when the Elf on the Shelf crawled out of hibernation to torture me.

The Stupid Elf

Every year my son renames his Elf because we cannot remember what his name was the year before. And every year my son notices that his Elf has not moved while he slept, or the Elf is laying face down on the floor with the dog licking his butt.

This actually happened – our dog assaulted the Elf one night while we slept and licked him until he was drenched in slobber.

I asked my son if maybe the elf could take a break this year and stay in the North Pole. My son’s answer: “No I like the elf even when he makes a mess.”

dealing with our big feelings and that stupid elf

I assume he was referring to the time the elf got into the liquor cabinet. Bad Elf passed out on the mantel.

I tried a different tack: “Don’t you think the elf should visit with another child who has never met him?” Again my son shot me down: “But he’s mine!”

So here I sit with resentment for that elf and his miniature leather bomber jacket. I know exactly where he is, downstairs in the big green Christmas tote. From downstairs I can feel his creepy little smile as he rests in his box.

I am dealing with big feelings about the elf. And I am having big feelings about my son’s big feelings and lack of emotional regulation. At this point I think it best to do whatever I can to offer consistency for my son this holiday season. Even if that means consistently forgetting to move the elf.

If my son remembers nothing else from his childhood I hope he remembers that I was consistently there for him.

I was there when he was misbehaving at school. (Well, immediately thereafter.)

I was there when he was learning to swim.

I was right up there high-fiving when he read through his first Ready Reader.

And I will be there regardless of the outcome of all this testing.

[bctt tweet=”I’m a mom. I show up. That’s what we do.” username=”HealthyADHD”]

For more info on “big feelings” and kids check out this article from Hey Sigmund.

Here is my article on emotional management in ADHD adults.


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