My weekend of no stress and total relaxation never materialized. Although I had a nice time visiting my Mom, my ability to completely unwind was thwarted by Robby's melancholy behavior. It was obvious that something was bothering my little Koopa, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
When Robby becomes sad or overwhelmed, his instinct is much like mine. Hating confrontation, he tends to retreat and hide. Within 20 minutes of arriving at my Mom's house, Robby was camped out in his "fort" (under the bed surrounded by his stuffed turtles and Black Bear) where he stayed unless he was forced to socialize. He claimed that nothing was wrong and seemed content hiding under the bed and playing on the computer.
I accepted his retreat on Saturday, rationalizing that he was tired from the week at school and just needed some alone time to decompress. Sunday morning I quickly became tired of the endless computer use and insisted that he come out from his fort to visit. Robby became angry when I confiscated the computer, but his mood quickly morphed to sadness. He stayed in his fort and began to cry.
Suspecting that the tears were not just the result of computer repossession, I did the only thing I could think to do. I wiggled and squeezed my way under the bed to join him in his fort. (It was certainly cozy!) After giggling while watching me try to wedge myself into his space, Robby began to open up.
My sister and her children have moved into my Mom's house, and although the kids were with their father on weekends, Robby was feeling displaced. He wasn't sure where he fit in and was uncertain about what toys he was allowed to use. Instead of asking, he simply retreated and hid under the bed.
After talking for awhile, he finally verbalized, "I'm mad at Nana." We talked about his feelings, and I encouraged him to talk with his Nana. Almost as soon as he asked, "Nana, can you come to my house so we can have some special time?" the solemn Robby left. My Mom helped him go through my nephew's bedroom to retrieve the special toys that he always enjoyed. He quickly returned to his happy and energetic self, playing and talking incessantly. I was thrilled that he was no longer hiding under the bed!
In retrospect I should have recognized the issues earlier. I feel horrible not discerning the confused and frustrated emotions Robby was processing. I should have talked to him earlier, perhaps as soon as he hid under the bed. I could have saved him from hours of negative feelings!
By the time we were ready to leave to come home, all of the hard feelings had been soothed. My Mom worked hard to help Robby understand that he was still special and that he could play with the toys that he loves. I'm glad that he was able to verbalize his emotions, even if it took 36 hours. Hopefully next time it won't take as long for him to talk when he is feeling sad!