…but they grow up.
Awoke yesterday morning to a small child climbing onto our bed. Cowboy hat, cat mask, and Mardis Gras beads which he was swinging over his head and cracking like a whip. I greeted him sweetly as I got smacked with beads and mentioned that necklaces are for wearing, not hitting. He said, “But that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m in the mood to hurt somebody.”
He’s nothing if not self aware.
It got much, much worse from there. I offered to take him to a playground to get out his energy (at 7am. Because I know how these days go.) He refused and tried to antagonize me by throwing clean laundry from the basket onto me. I refused to take the bait and offered to brush his teeth for breakfast. He took of his socks, threw them, then SCREAMED “Go get my socks!”
For the next 30 minutes, he kicked and sobbed and screamed at the top of his lungs that I should get his socks. I calmly replied, each time, that he took off his socks, he threw them, and he could get them if he wanted. After he screamed even more loudly, I left the room, explaining that I don’t stay in the same room as people who act this way, but that I’d be happy to play with him or talk to him when he’s calmed down. He slammed doors and began to throw books. I escorted him out of my room and told him he could not be in my room if he was unable to control his anger. I told him asking for a hug was a great way to help get some calm when your anger feels like too much. He hugged me and clawed at my back. I stood up and told him I wouldn’t hug someone who tried to hurt me. He asked for another hug. I squatted to give him one and he pulled my hair with his teeth.
This went on and on and on for almost an hour, with me calmly removing myself and him escalating. I had more patience in reserve because the day before I had screamed at him when he bit me, and had grabbed him so hard (to tell him that hurting people when you’re angry is not okay), that Spouse noticed abrasions under Peanut’s armpits at bathtime. Carrying luggage on your shoulder through the whole Denver airport kind of broken capillary marks. Peanut said they didn’t hurt, and there were no bruises, but I was horrified and mortified and guilt ridden. So the next morning my remorse allowed one full hour of bullshit to get only calm, measured, parental responses. Because I’d rather teach him that freaking out doesn’t have any benefit, and that controlling anger is a useful skill. But I’m a terrible role model. Awful. Horrible. Trying to reform. Feeling penitent when small person has trouble with anger because he has two quick-tempered, often angry parents. Who have vowed never to hit or hurt him for all the reasons that wielding violence and fear do not work. One of whom just totally failed.
And then he stopped. After an hour of shouting at me and holding me emotional hostage he asked, “‘if I get my socks would you please put them on?”
Yes, I will.
“Thanks. Can I please have a blanket so I can lie down on the couch? I’m exhausted.”
And after Spouse got back from his morning track meet I left the house for the rest of the day. I had several projects to finish this weekend, including a reread of a book I’m editing, and I just couldn’t bear another day of anger and screaming and nonsense. It felt so good to sit in the car reading, to wander a grocery store slowly and without having to explain/correct/process/direct anybody else, it overwhelmed me. Why do I never get any time to think or be alone?
This…THIS…is what happens after I get a week of really impressive fun and tolerable behavior from my intense, persistent, sensitive, shy, empathic, high energy kid. An hour of screaming and biting and hitting. Most days are a mix of wonderful and terrible. If I get more than one day of wonderful, I pay in spades. [All the people who are impressed with his behavior on trips? THIS is what we get when we arrive home and he needs to decompress from all that “being good” (which we never label or praise it but which members of a different generation can’t seem to resist endlessly extolling).]
Gee, after mornings like that, why do I seem so scared to have two?