The Crocodile in the Sea of Tears: The Mechanics of Sadness

Dialogue between Jess and Mom

Jess, all of six years and three full quarters, explaining the mechanics of sadness


"Mom, did you know that there's a sea of tears?"
"Really? I didn't know that."
"Yes, it's true. You know there's a sea of tears inside me and there lives a crocodile there. He's always watching out, waiting to eat my heart!"
"Oh!"
"Yes. And you know, my heart lives in a tall tower above that sea, but when I am sad, it starts feeling all wobbly and then it starts falling towards the sea of tears. The sadder I am, the faster it drops into the Sea of Tears. And when it falls in, the tears overflow and fall down my face and I cannot stop crying. Sometimes, when I am really sad, and my hear hurts, it's actually the crocodile who's gnawing at heart! It hurts a lot!"
"Oh dear! That sounds very painful!"
"It is!"
I hug her at this point, hoping that that crocodile doesn't get to gnaw at her dear heart.

***

It was almost bedtime. I was going through my Facebook feed on my iPhone and considering commenting on a post. Before I could say "Wait" or anything she's quickly reached out and posted a sticker comment. Twice. I was mortified. Try as I might, I didn't know how to delete that from the phone. And it was way too late to switch on my laptop. I snapped at her, "Why did you do that! What a pain!" and as I fumbled unsuccessfully to delete the sticker, I didn't notice she'd quietly slunked off and was quietly lying down, her face buried in her pillow.

Something told me she wasn't really sleeping. I felt ashamed of my behavior and checked on her. "Mom, I am sorry for posting that sticker; I didn't know you cannot delete it." she said, even before I opened my mouth.
"Don't worry about it, sweetheart. I will delete it tomorrow if needed. It's no big deal." I said, perhaps, a little too quickly, hoping it will help.
"Really, can you do that?" My heart tugged at her innocence.
"Yes, I will delete it using my laptop if needed, stop worrying about it"
Her face lit up with a big smile. "I am so glad!"
"Hmm. Me too. What about your heart? Did it fall into the sea of tears?"
"It was falling, but then you cheered me up, so it didn't fall into the sea of tears this time! The crocodile was waiting, you know, with his mouth wide open!"
"Uh huh."
"When you hugged me, my heart flew right back up to its house and through the white windows, and it's now very glad. It's making some tea now and singing a song"
"What about the crocodile?"
"Oh, he's disappointed! But that hardly matters, right?"
"That's right! I am glad your heart's happy now."
"Me too, Mom. I love you! Good night!"
"Good night, darling."

And, with a smile on her face, Jess fell asleep. Dreaming perhaps of unicorns and fairies.

I am really glad that her heart didn't fall into the sea of tears that night.


***




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