The Feelings Room

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My husband, who spends the majority of time with Maya most days gets to experience the volatility of Maya’s mood swings regularly (she is pre-tween after all).  He decided to establish the ‘Feelings Room’…a separate space in our home where Maya can sit peacefully and express all of her feelings without anyone interjecting.  I loved the idea when he first proposed it.  But it sort of lost it’s luster after she continuously asked to visit the room every other outburst.  Perhaps you’re familiar with this method.  Let’s say an argument or disagreement erupts.  Instead of raising our voices, being defensive or throwing verbal jabs, someone says they would like to visit the Feelings Room.  In that room, for 5-10 minutes, you have carte blanche to vocalize your frustrations without the other parties interrupting.  We added a stuffed toy as part of the run rules.  The person needing to ‘express’ will hold the toy and speak freely until done.  Then the toy is passed on to the next person who provides their perspective freely.  Once the talk is over, we walk out calmly, with our sanity in tact and HOPE & PRAY for a peaceful rest of the day.  Pretty straight-forward, right?  So today (Saturday), Ernesto and I woke up feeling pretty great and he put on some classical music to compliment the upbeat morning vibe.  But that all soured quickly with our dear little Maya making her first appearance of the day in the kitchen immediately whining about breakfast and snide comments about chores needing to be done.  We tried our usual approach with some calm reasoning.  But with no success.  Things spiraled fast from there.  So there began the screaming, yelling, crying, stomping, pouting and back and forth sprints to her room for added drama.  All while the soothing sounds of Mozart’s ‘Romanze’ was playing in the background.  As Ernesto left with Maya to the Feelings Room, I found myself chuckling…in a manic  sort of way.  I could not help but be amused by the ridiculousness of it all.  We’ve had dozens of conversations over the last several weeks with other ‘parental victims’ regarding pre-tween hormones and Oscar-winning performances over things completely insignificant.  It seems futile and there’s no getting around it at Maya’s age.  However I don’t recall the same emotional breakdowns at 8 or 9.  I suppose my mom can speak to this.  I recently read comedian & SNL star Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please” where she cites a poem she wrote as a young girl in middle school while bored in her Social Studies class.  It was HILARIOUS.  It goes like this, “When life attacks you from every side…it hurts…too much…and the most painless, easiest way out is death…to survive.”  I realize this is actually dark and disturbing…but I had to laugh because she was pretty young.  I still have hope for us as parents and the success of methods such as the ‘Feelings Room’ so we can avoid those dark poems in her future years, but even that is not a fail-safe tool.  There are no easy answers.  As I walk inside to grab a snack and find my reading glasses, Ernesto and Maya just finished their Feelings Room session.  I look over and see a freshly opened bottle of beer on the counter.  Ernesto is vacuuming.  I smile again.  Maybe that’s the secret 😉Maya & Me Logo