T had a really fun morning today, sewing clothes for his teddy, and a really fun afternoon, having an extended Pokemon battle with a friend, but for an hour or so in the middle of the day, things just weren’t looking so good.
He was upset about something, frustrated that he couldn’t have/do/get/ something or maybe one of us wouldn’t play something he wanted to play, I can’t remember the details, but he got into a mood, and then got kind of stuck, which is typical for him. No amount of empathetic listening or jolly distractions changed the course of his increasingly foul outlook, and he spent the car-ride to diving in miserable attempts to blame me/his sister/the world for how he felt. He kicked the back of the seat in front, he made rude and annoying noises, he humphed and garumphed, and said antagonistic things. He told J that she was being too loud, and he growled at me when L didn’t pop out of the pool doors right at the moment we arrived. I finally turned around and told him to get out of the van and wait outside, which he did, his body language providing clear evidence of his satisfaction in proving how horrible his mother actually was. I had reached the end of my patience by that point, and simmered quietly inside the van, making little scratching noises on the steering wheel with my finger nails. I’m glad that I separated the two of us, because by the time we were all back on the road for our lunch at the deli, the tension had diminished, and after an astonishing amount of food was consumed, T clearly felt a lot better. (I made a mental note to remember that I have known since he was a baby that he needs to eat frequently, and that he gets grumpy when he’s hungry, which you’d think I’d know by now, seeing that he’s nine.)
Just before bed, he and I got a chance to chat. We talked about the events of the day, and I asked him what he thought about how he had acted in the van. He said that he felt badly about it, but that he had been grumpy, and that everyone gets grumpy sometimes. I agreed, but said that it was very important to try not to take our anger out on other people. That our most basic rule was not to intentionally hurt other people, and by infecting them with our negative mood, we would be hurting them. I told him that his anger would not be made less if another person was angry too. That he could try to feel the feeling and not DO anything.
He sighed, and said that he thought it would be very hard. Then he brightened, looked up at me, and said, ” I guess you’re kind of like my life coach. Like in basketball I have a basketball coach. Except that you and I never know which thing we’ll be working on, I just live my life and you help me practice what I need to know.“
Then off he went to bed.
I felt profoundly good, knowing that he thinks of me that way. That he didn’t see me as punishing him. That he’s willing to hear what I say, and willing to trust that what I say might be right. That he’s nine years old, and he can go to bed secure in the knowledge that he can feel his feelings, make mistakes, and it’ll be okay, because he’s just learning, and he’s got a coach.
Read Full Post »