Updated: Apr 11, 2020
We only had a few minutes to pack up her things. She grabbed clothes, some toys, books, and at the last second...on some inner impulse...she grabbed the tent.
When we got to our house we moved her things into the dresser, I made us dinner, and then after she wanted to set up the tent.
It was made of white canvass and PVC pipes. It was from a Sunday School camp the summer before, with some indistinguishable bible scene drawn with 10 year old skill on the outside. It took us a bit, but after 15 minutes or so the tent was all made up in her room. It was small. Just big enough for one little girl. But we managed to stuff four blankets, 2 pillows and a dozen or so stuffed animals in there anyways.
She slept in the tent that night. The night that she moved in. As I tucked her in she asked if this meant she was going to live with us forever now. I told her I didn't know.
She slept in the tent, pitched beside her perfectly comfortable and unused bed, for the first week.
In the weeks after that the tent wasn't slept in, but stayed up in her room.
A month later the tent was taken down. But not forgotten about. It remerged now and then, after something particularly upsetting happened, and then disassembled and waited until it was needed again.
I learned recently that kids often seek comfort in small spaces. Like closets, or under the bed.
“Although we require more freedom of movement as we grow up, the comfort of being contained never disappears. While a small space without an easy escape can be claustrophic, one with an easy exit gives us enough security to let go of pent-up feelings.” Dorothy Einon
I remember that when I was super upset as a kid I would go sit in my parents closet, under my dad's tie-rack.
It feels safe in small spaces.
Even today.... if I'm going to cry, I'm probably going to cry with the sheets pulled up over my head in bed.
Or...if its REALLY bad...I'll go solo-hiking and make camp in my tiny, cozy, just-enough-room-for-me-and-my-backpack tent.
Her tent was brought out less and less as things stabilized into a new normal. Its in storage now.
But I haven't thrown it out yet.
Just in case.
every once in a while,
just has to just go lay in a tiny tent and cry.
Especially around Christmas.
And that's okay. Dorothy Einon says its science.