Emotional regulation is now considered a vital component to learning.

It’s also, if you’re the person who toys with theirs, the only thing that will keep you having your kids send you so much as a birthday card when they are adults.

It’s not even 8:30 on a Friday night and my son is in bed crying. He has every right to be crying. He had a tremendous, unexpected emotional loss this week. He has tried for days to manage his feelings about this, but now there’s no reason to not cry.

Early Thursday morning, standing in the doorway, was Claudia, one giant tear track running down the very middle of each of her eyes, all the way down to her chin. She was crying for herself and for her brother.

They bring these tears to me, like their baby teeth (of which so few remain.)

Maybe two weeks ago — before Béla had any idea of the loss awaiting him — he had texted me that he was very upset and could not even type about it. Felt it was too private to type about. He wanted to get on the phone. I was scared — this was pretty rare.

He told me he’d been taught to shuffle a deck of cards earlier that afternoon.

And he was sobbing. Because although he wanted to know how to do this, he felt he was being taught by someone who wasn’t really the person in his life that should have done it — that it was being done out of pity. That this person who taught him now knew he hadn’t been shown this, not the way Béla pictured. That this person recognized what Béla sees himself to be lacking.

B. has had a lot of this kind of sadness, and I’ve often found out about it long, long after it’s happened. Years, sometimes.

We talked about how to make it positive, and to know that someday he too could show little boys how to shuffle card decks — boys who didn’t have someone to teach them. And that for something like this, the fun was in the shuffling, and he’d spend a lot more time just having fun with it now, that he was improving, than he would being sad.

That’s becoming a positive thing.

What happened this week will just have to heal with time. But I don’t think he has ever felt pain and abandonment like this before, not that he can remember.

His hand in mine. So many times today.

Out of the darkened doorway of his bedroom, asking me to hold him.

My Friday night.





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