Whatever you do, don’t say the ‘W’ word!

My little family has had an amazing week at home over this holiday season, possibly the most enjoyable we’ve ever had. We are now preparing for my husband to return to work tomorrow, and I think we all have a our own feelings about that, including feelings of disappointment, sadness, irritation, apprehension, frustration and powerlessness. These feelings are all bubbling under the surface, we haven’t really talked about them.

A game spontaneously came about in our little family yesterday that brought those feelings out into the open a bit, and brought laughter and connection. I was explaining to my son that hubby was returning to work in a couple of days, and I playfully said, “Alex needs to go back to … you know (and I made a ‘w’ with my fingers) … the ‘w’ word … on Tuesday.” And here’s where the game evolved, “… whatever you do, don’t say the ’w’ word!”. And of course, there is no better invitation!

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My son had a big cheeky smile on his face! He went over to my husband and started threatening to say the ‘w’ word and I acted shocked, saying “Oh no! Don’t say it!”. Then he came over to me and gleefully whispered the word in my ear, and I said, “Just whatever you do, don’t say it to Alex!”. (My son is familiar with this types of game, he recognises this as a playful invitation, but if a child wasn’t then you might need to use a ‘stage whisper’ or a wink so that they get the idea.)

Then he started playing around saying, “the ‘w’ word”, to my husband, and saying the word itself, “work!”, and hubby made exaggerated shocked and sad faces, and pretended to cry. My son found this hilarious, and repeated it over and over, and my husband continued to mock sob. And this power reversal went on for some time, with a few variations, until he’d got it out of his system, all the while connecting and laughing with my husband and I on this topic.

The fact that my son wanted to play this over and over suggests to me that it was touching a ‘sweet spot’ of his, and that the connection and laughter was helping him to release some of his feelings, perhaps particularly his sense of powerlessness. And though I haven’t spoken to my husband about how he felt, from my previous experience being in a similar position to him, I personally have felt some sense of release from playfully exaggerating my own deeper feelings, as he did in that game.

Image courtesy of Pressfoto / Freepik.

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