My husband and I are lousy with planning for the weekends, resulting in doing nothing particularly memorable that’s procrastinated until we are bumping dangerously close to naptime…I experience a lot of guilt about this, yet simultaneously not motivated to change the behavior…the story of my life. Little Man was in too long and behaving like an epic douche all morning. I wasn’t feeling well, and my husband decided at the last minute to whisk Little Man away for some errands. One of those stops to the grocery store, which includes a cookie for the kids for your parenting trouble. These days Little Man is often too excited to nap when his daddy is around, but Warrior Queen usually will, especially if not tempted with older brother wrestling and bed jumping. But, leaving her at home also translates to a meltdown that can easily consume forty-five minutes to an hour when she’s overtired…which she was. But, as the gents headed out, my little girl was rightfully wailing. No way she would fall asleep in the ten minutes until quite time, and I generally felt lousy that essentially Little Man was rewarded for his antics, and a mildly less horrible Warrior Queen remained indoors. I took her out to a local coffee shop where she was allowed to pick whatever single treat her mighty heart desired. She chose chips. I like chips, don’t get me wrong, but why not a cookie? This place has pretty awesome ones that she requests almost every day, especially when I arrive at her school in the afternoon for pick-up.
I had a troublesome day a couple of weeks ago, all the more troubling because the outing is reliably delightful. I took the kids on a Sunday to give my husband a break. One would assume that having the kids all week I’d be bothered to take them an additional day when he’s around. Oddly, in some respects it’s much less stressful because I have my routines and rituals that don’t require compromise with another adult present…I’m weird that way. We were at one of the malls I love that contains a free play area that my kids can occupy themselves at for easily a couple of hours. Little Man is doing better with social things these days, namely he will seek kids his age to play with, and provided the other kids aren’t terrible, it will go well. This day in question was not one of those days.
My son was visually obscured, but I could hear him, and it didn’t seem quite right. He often makes weird noises when he’s excited. It seems to be a type of stimming for him. The noises I heard him making had a similar feel to me, but not something I’ve heard from him. It was strange, though. I could tell it was him, and I’m not sure why. I moseyed over, and there was this other child around his age pretty hard core assaulting him. Little Man is not new to kids getting uncomfortably handsy, and he can usually manage well enough on his own…sort of; this kid seemed to really be hurting and upsetting him. While I couldn’t really get up into the structure well, my voice disrupted what was happening, and my son climbed down.
The thing about Little Man is that he doesn’t process intense emotions well. It’s something I’m trying to work on with him, but this is a big ticket thing that doesn’t come up so often that I feel I’m making a dent. But, my sweet boy stood in front of me with his eyes outlined in red as they get when he’s on the verge of something he doesn’t know what to do with. This instance he didn’t start crying; sometimes tears leak from his face without any other noticeable change in his expressions. It’s moments like these when I know he will start hitting, punching, scratching, and kicking me quite hard. At least two weeks later, and I still have some of the markings on my forearm from his nails that almost drew blood. I’d actually never seen him quite so upset as I had particular moment in time. He was having a tremendous amount of trouble processing his feelings, and his contact with me was hurting quite a bit. I’m not sure what ultimately got him to calm down…not that he really calmed completely. He didn’t want to leave, so we didn’t. He went back into the structure to play, which went well.
Then that kid returned, but I had been standing around for this particular reason. There is something about that other boy. He was mean to others as well; children much younger. I think he scratched another little boy’s face. If I had to guess, that child was in the two-and-a-half-year-old neighborhood to my son’s five years. I couldn’t figure who was in charge of this abusive child that seemed in the five realm as well, but I seemed to have scared him once he attempted to lay into my son again…I’m very scary, even when I’m not terribly mean. All I said was for him to please not hit my kid. He stopped, and left Little Man alone after that. The first time I redirected him for hitting, he ceased in that moment. This second time seemed to finish the behavior altogether. Interestingly, my son was peaceful after this…played fine, and we went home.
I mention this because Little Man is getting picked on at school…maybe? I’m not sure what’s happening, but I don’t like it. There is this one kid that my son has issues with. I don’t think he’s a bad kid, not really. I don’t know that he is especially mean either. That said, I have a focused problem with him, and have since the beginning of the year when similar situations presented themselves. And, frankly, I’m not quite sure how to manage it. Several things bother me about the dynamics that are occurring during this parent supervised outdoor play after school, and I’m left wondering if I’m the only one in the parenting lot of Little Man’s class who holds their kid accountable. That sounds very judgey, and I don’t like thinking it. But, my friend witnessed the situation the other day, and thinks I’m too charitable with regard to the jerk kid’s mom. This is a thing with me. I tend to recognize my possible bias in any given situation and overcompensate by dismissing behaviors more than I should.
The event started with me looking over and witnessing Little Man swatting this child who he towers over…My son doesn’t usually do this kind of thing unprovoked. The problem is most of the time don’t see the precursor to these events, just my kid assaulting someone. But, my friend noticed that this kid looked to have said something mean to Little Man just before. And, as my friend is telling me this, I start seeing this same douchemonger kid becoming abusive while his mom isn’t watching…not that it would matter. She thinks boys will be boys anyway…how nice for her.
I reprimand Little Man for hitting. Hitting isn’t a good answer, as much as I understand that he should defend himself. I approach this from a different angle…a more jaded one. My son is quite tall and very strong. He is also a different kind of kid, the peer is among the cool kids…as are his friends. I’ve seen time and again how these things go down. It’s usually the different kids who bear the brunt of discipline when fighting back…one way or another. As is the friends of this jerk kid have grasped that I will hold Little Man accountable for inappropriate behavior, so they will tattle to me about things he does. I recognized it the first time it happened, and pleased that I under reacted to the statements of whatever “mean” thing Little Man managed knowing there was likely significantly more to the story they weren’t revealing.
But, watching the interaction with his peer rapidly unravel, I lightly redirected Little Man’s hitting, and asked if he was ready to go. He left immediately for the car…that NEVER happens. There is always some degree of teeth pulling to go home. I lasso the ignored Warrior Queen into her car seat, and walk over to Little Man who is sitting on the ground by an open car door. I don’t know what to do with this situation. This can’t be a terrible problem because he isn’t refusing school like he did in the beginning of the year for a spell…due to this same dick kid. I ask him if he’s okay, saying I noticed that kid was not treating him well, and asking if he wanted to talk about it. He balled his fist and hit my foot a couple of times. I responded how I usually do…validating his feelings, but saying I don’t deserve to be hit. In this instance I didn’t have to set the limit that I will walk away if he continues to hurt me. Those two relatively half-assed motions and he stopped. As usual he didn’t want to talk about it, but was peaceful in the car.
Later that night I asked him again if he wanted to discuss the situation; he didn’t. Five minutes later he’s eating a snack at the table suddenly saying, “I love you, Mommy.” Another minute later adding, “so much.” And, I still don’t have an answer for this.
I’ve needed a good deal of self-care these days. A friend said not long ago that as you get older, things get more complicated as life experiences become more involved. I see that with my college students, particularly one of them. I suppose the most obvious change with the passage of time is that I’m not as angsty as I once was. I’m probably more focused on self-care than your average bear…especially your average-bear-mom-with-small-children. My exercise has been all over the place…my hip bothering me earlier this week…missing exercise is an extraordinarily big deal for me for emotional regulation. I’m isolating these days…I don’t want to, but I also can’t bring myself to be social. I need to force myself because this will not end well. One of my things is that when I’m feeling low or powerless, I tend to do some kind of community service thing…some have a greater impact on my well being than others. Postcarding is a surprisingly profound lift for me that I don’t really understand, though it’s been derailed by sick kids more often than I like. It’s a crazy thing that I volunteer so much that it seems I’m volunteering to do things I didn’t know I signed on for…good causes, but amusing, I guess. Right now I’m in a space of resignation for a couple of things. I have my self-care measures…some I manage more than others. There’s my latest afghan I never quite drag myself off Twitter to work. It’s amazing how much it’s grown. With life decisions made, this project will have a definite home, but I can’t bring myself to work on it, even though I figured this outcome was inevitable…I suppose things aren’t really inevitable until they are. One life lesson that’s strengthened over the years for me is control…or lack thereof. I don’t know that I’ve found a hard and fast answer about things out of my grasp, except an awareness that almost everything is to some degree. That’s actually fairly unsettling. But, I’m middle-aged now…my remarkable, marvelously different boy will likely have a hard path in school…like his mommy on at least one front. I don’t think there is anything I can do about that. Too many other things I can’t change as well. But, I have things like this afghan that is looking beautiful with each colorful row…cheery and festive when I’m not. I’m in a position, for a while anyway, to pursue my bucket/ambition list…things to distract me as I seek to add another prison facility to my list, and a remote chance to make it a longer term thing…It’s important for me to have things to work toward. Most efforts fail and are disappointing, but I never seem to have a shortage of projects for toiling. I have a Warrior Queen who loves my snuggles, and a Little Man who sits next to me on the sofa with his head on my shoulder. I ask him how he slept, and he tells me to, “Focus on making my dinner.” There are so many things I wish I could control, but sometimes the things I can’t are heartbreakingly sweet.