"I'm just feeling upset, but I need to hide my face so people won't see," my 4-year-old cried.
"I understand. Do you want to sit with me or do you want to hide by yourself?" I asked her.
"I just want to be by myself for a minute," she answered.
And so I let her. She laid her head down in the booth to hide her face and I ate my chips and salsa. I didn't yell. I didn't whisper threats. I didn't demand that she pull it together when the other restaurant patrons looked our way. She was clear about what she needed. I let her have it.
The food came. She ate. Halfway through she said, "I'm still feeling a little sad, but I think I'm feeling a little better."
I smiled and said, "I'm glad." There was no need for more words. She didn't need a recap of her behavior or extra attention on her need for a reset.
She needed a minute, you guys.
Sometimes I need a minute. Sometimes we all need a minute. Sometimes we're hangry or tired or frustrated or disappointed. Sometimes there's no obvious reason — we just need a minute and I'm not sure when we all decided that it's not okay to need a minute.
So, hey, if you need a minute then ask for it. Say it clearly. Put your head down or excuse yourself or take a deep breath. Do what you need to do. If you need a minute, take a minute.
And if your child needs a minute, respect that need. Sip your tea and dip your chips. Let your kiddo have a minute, because when loved ones can say what they need and those needs are honored, trust is built and love is strengthened.
Follow Happy Like This by Mandy McCarty Harris for more stories of standing happily in the awkward middle of life, love, and parenting.