It was really cute when Cameron started to make animal sounds. He first learned duck. “What does a duck say, Cameron?”: “Cack. Cack. Cack.” Soon his animal repertoire expanded and he could tell you what all the animals on Old MacDonad’s farm sound like. His favourite animal sound was lion. Or dragon. Or dinosaur. Or tiger or bear. “What does a lion say?” “ROOOOAAAARRRRR!” Cameron would reply, opening his mouth wide and looking as menacing as possible.
His roars moved with him in his imagination and soon he was roaring without our prompts. He’d crawl up to us roaring away, claiming to be a lion and we had better watch out because he was definitely going to eat us. He’d shake his stuffed lion at his stuffed tiger while they tried to out-roar each other. He would sit in the back seat of the car making roars which begged us to guess what animal he was (Lion? Dragon? Bear?) amidst giggles.
(Don’t let anyone ever tell you little boys aren’t loud).
As time progressed, Cameron’s favourite animal changed. He insisted on carrying a sheep with him. He begged for the kitty cat stuffed animal at the store. He practised his mewing and his baaing. Tigers and lions and dinosaurs are still definitely cool but not quite roar worthy. I rarely hear roars during play-time any more.
But I still hear roars.
I hear a roar when Cameron and his friend forget how to share.
I hear a roar when an unknown dog tries to introduce himself to my son.
I hear a roar when Mommy and Daddy disagree with Cameron.
If you watch Cameron’s face during one of these roars, you won’t see glee and merriment. You see hurt. You see fear. You see anger. These are brand new emotions for such a little guy as he starts to explore the world on his own. Now he is one against other people, one against the environment, and sometimes one against the people who love him most. He is not quite sure how to handle any of it yet. So he roars. He roars to assert his dominance. He roars to protect himself. He roars to be heard. He roars because he is unable to process the feelings he is feeling.
Sometimes, I wish I could roar. I wish I could stop the world around me with one loud, startling yell. I wish I could express all the feelings bubbling up inside of me as noisily as possible. But the world doesn’t work that way.
My job as a mother is to teach this precious little boy how to process the experiences that this world will throw at him. I hope he grows into a man who will acknowledge pain instead of burying it; who will bravely face the appropriate fears; who will approach volatile situations with grace.
But what my Mama-heart really wants is to give my little boy a world that will never be hurtful, never be scary, never go against him. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way.
How do your children handle those great big feelings they feel?
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