Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just Breathe


Ah, the joys of babysitting. 

She really is too old for this. I slung her over my shoulder and dragged her up to my lair as she continued to wail and howl as though I was extracting a molar sans anesthetic. 

I threw her down on the bed, lecturing her as I made the preparations for bedtime, drawing curtains, clicking on night-lights, finding the blanket that was just the right weight. At which point I noticed that her hands were clamped over her mouth. 

"I wanna stop but I can't," she sobbed piteously. 

At which point, of course, I ceased to be Admiral Aunt, and mellowed. "This is what you do," I crooned. "Breathe in . . . and out . . . breathe in . . . and out." She loudly sucked in and expelled air, and within the minute she was calm. I had just started reading a book when she thankfully dozed off. From 60 to 0 in five minutes.
I had learned this simple breathing trick the hard way, from experience. 

I'm not the best of travelers, and small, shaky jets inflict the worst damage. I actually had to use my air-sick bag.
I staggered off the plane, near tears, knees dangerously wobbly; I collapsed onto the first chair I saw. Then a Voice began to soothingly instruct me from somewhere to the left. "Breathe in . . . and out . . . breathe in . . . and out . . ." I automatically obeyed, and despite my sniffly disbelief, was shocked that practically immediately I felt human again. The Voice belonged to a smiling middle-aged nurse, who was really so kind to talk me off the edge. 
Take two with my niece occurred but a few weeks later, when I arrived on my brother's doorstep for Shabbos. The parents were going to a dinner that night, leaving the brood in my care. As soon as I stupidly informed her of that fact, she disappeared. Then the telltale caterwauling rang from the depths of the house. 

I tackled her, hauled her downstairs, bawling her out as I did so. "Such a big girl to behave like this! I'm not going to tell you anything if this is how you behave! This is not how a big girl acts! And now—we are doing yoga breaths! IN! OUT! IN! OUT!"

The fuchsia-mottled face, composed mostly of open mouth, subsided into a creamy-hued doll-like visage in about 74 seconds. She lay on the couch, blinking dreamily. Her stunned elders sisters, who had witnessed my "cruelty" with wide-eyed horror, could not quite process the magical result. 

"Yoga breaths," I said smugly.
I kept invoking "yoga breaths" the whole night. By the tenth time, the 12-year-old said, "Oh! She's saying 'yoga breath,' not 'yogurt breath'!" 

Call it whatever you like; it gets the job done. 

If I feel overwhelmed, short of temper, ready to collapse—I slowly inhale, expanding my stomach, and gradually deflate. Then repeat.  


FrumGeek said...

Yoda breath?

tesyaa said...

In my autistic son's classroom, the teachers taught the kids, who are limited verbally, to "smell the pizza... blow out the candles...". The kids can actually do it.

Princess Lea said...

FG: THAT's what I'm going to call it from now on! (I cracked up).

tesyaa: What a great tip! The last time I did it with my niece (try #3) it took her longer to apply it without an aid of some sort. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely use this!