My daughter got a balloon yesterday. You know because after I locked the kids in the car we celebrated their freedom with a trip to McDonalds where they each got a balloon. Helium balloons and 3-year-olds often lead to tears. Ours did. She loved that pink balloon. She named it Balloony. No one else was allowed to touch it-even if she wasn’t. The girl loved it, she took it outside because she didn’t want it to be out of her sight. She let go and the backyard was filled with screams and cries. Her whole little body was shaking. Tears just streaming down her face. Heaving sobs. Balloony, she cried, Balloony. Her older brother tried to soothe her with a hug, words of wisdom, and talk of Heaven. Nothing helped. Figuring the best thing I could do was distract her I asked if she wanted to make banana chocolate chip muffins. She did. Through her tears, her occasional moans of, “I am so sad. I want Balloony,” we made muffins. She normally assists but this time she took charge while crying. She grabbed the hand mixer and seemed to use the noise to cover her sobs. At times she needed to pause to give me a hug, but then she once again took the ingredients and poured them into the batter without my help. For the first time she took the spoon and dished the batter into the muffin tins solo. We set the timer and snuggled on the couch.
I admit as this was going on I began to feel like maybe I shouldn’t have used baking muffins as a way to help soothe my little girl’s tears. It seemed too stereo-typical female. Tears into muffin batter, doesn’t that go along with ice cream for a broken heart, and eating your sadness? Is this what I really want to teach her? Is this the path to body issues? Am I being anti-feminist by teaching her this aspect of domesticity? I feel maybe partly, but then I think of her determination, persistence, and take charge attitude while baking, and I think not. There is something powerful in making something out nothing, there is something calming in following a recipe, there is joy in sharing what you made, and these all add up to stress relief, so I think taking charge of your emotions and channeling them into something positive is quite healthy. If nothing else she is learning that her mother will be there for her no matter what, will listen to tears, and will share a delicious treat, and a good cry.