Monday, April 02, 2007

Words: No Returns Allowed, Not Even With a Receipt

"I can't wait until I'm an adult, so I can get away from you!"

Tonight, in a vein popping rage, this was what my six-year-old son screamed at me, inches from my face.

He was in "time-out." I could have used a time-out too.

Sadly, an hour after his blowup he cried himself to sleep, wishing he could eat his words. Even after I told him I'll love him no matter what he ever says. No matter how hurtful, intentional or otherwise. He'll still be my son and I'll be his mother.

"Our love is bigger than words, especially ones spoken in the heat of anger," I assured him. He wasn't going for it and must have said sorry a dozen times.

The power of anger is immeasurable, I told him. Anger makes us say the most hurtful things at times. Things we wish we could take back but never really can.

"So you'll never forget that mean stuff I said?" he asked, wiping his tear streaked cheeks with his wrist.

"Of course, I will," I said with my forehead gently pressed to his forehead. "I already did. Don't ask me what you said because I already forgot."

We talked about ways to cool off before blowing up and speaking spitefully. Calming down and thinking our emotions out is something neither of us excel at. Our combined weaknesses could really hurt our relationship if we're not careful.

He's lucky I know better than to take such spiteful words personally from a young child. Don't get me wrong, though. In the first five to ten seconds following his angry words, I didn't handle it well at all, not even like an adult, really -- I wheeled his rolling Spiderman backpack in his direction and said, "Be my guest."

He didn't get the joke. Then again, I wasn't joking all that much. I was incensed. Perhaps I did take it a bit personally. Flawed humans.

In the end, I felt as terribly rotten as he said he did about saying it in the first place.

What a night. Thank goodness for long, meaningful mother-son talks and extended hugs.

Here's something I read (ew - in my bathroom) last night about teaching children to interpret others' behavior in order to be better prepared for kindergarten and the school years ahead: " ... If the child has learned something about moods and human frailty, if he's been taught to interpret certain types of behavior, he's not apt to be so upset by such experiences ... In addition to reading the behavior of others, a child needs to learn how to interpret his own behavior."

ABCs, 123s and mood and behavior interpretation? Obviously I missed the last part of class.

Like I always say to my husband, we are doing the best we can as parents, but we're still human. We're still flawed and mistakes will be made.

And as I always tell my children, mistakes are not to be feared. Mistakes made in anger are normal. Feelings are normal. Even the ones that feel scary when they unfold. Mistakes are merely opportunities to learn.

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15 Comments:

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous mel said...

Oh, I hate moments like those. My son and I have our times every so often. It is usually my daughter who says the hurtful things, though. My son just has a nasty tone.
Poor little guy, living with the guilt of his words. It sounds like you handled it beautifully.

 
At 2:13 AM, Blogger Lara said...

yeah, those are awful. my dad and i had some of those moments, especially when i was a pre-teen and teenager. i REALLY regretted them once he was gone. i wish he and i could have had this kind of talk. then maybe i wouldn't have felt quite so bad. i think you did a really good thing, talking about it like you did. good for both of you.

 
At 3:57 AM, Blogger charlotte said...

I think it's healthy when children learn that in families there may be anger and a bit of shouting, but also love, hugs and apologies afterwards. I grew up in a family where I never heard anger and when I did it terrified me. Now, with kids, I find I experience anger - as do they - now and again, and we are all learning how to handle it. I call it the Italian Model. We shout and then we kiss and then we eat pasta.

 
At 4:19 AM, Blogger Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Lesson learned! By both of you.
I had one of those recently too...My kid is only 3...I'm in for it.

 
At 8:32 AM, Blogger In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Very heartfelt and well-said.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger crazymumma said...

That. Was an incredible post.

He is lucky to have you to guide him through some of the mess that we are. And you. You are lucky to have a son who feels so safe as to speak his raw heart.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Awesome Mom said...

That was a beautiful post. Luckily I have not been there yet but I have said a lot of things to my own parents that I regretted later on.

 
At 5:24 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Great post. We could all learn something about recognizing other's mood/anger.

 
At 6:27 AM, Blogger Karen said...

oh, I'm so admiring you right now. My oldest son and I have had some moments like that - when he loses his cool or I lose mine and in the end we're just a puddle of tears and sorries. I think I'll try to be more articulate in the future with him about what those meltdowns mean and what they don't mean - you explained that well. nice post.

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger charlottalove said...

I think it was handled beautifully. Too often I see arguing...in public - everywhere. It saddens me that this is the only way that some people know how to communicate. Kudos to you for taking the time: 1) to let the heat of the moment pass and 2) to talk through the moment. I promise that little talk will have rippling effects in the future. Thanks for the post.

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

In anger, I tend to yell, "I'm so done with you!" at the offending child, and then I feel bad and wonder if they actually realize what I'm saying at ages 5, 2 and 1. It's so hard to hold it in all the time and remain calm.

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

My mom says that my son and I are very alike....which is why we tend to butt heads a lot...both of us fly into a snit against each other too quickly....i mean, why I am trying to win against a four year old!?

I have had the 'I am not your son' and the 'I am going to live outside'

sigh.

 
At 10:08 AM, Anonymous you da mom! said...

it's so crazy how guilt is an affliction that affects even the smallest humans!

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger karenkt said...

Oh yes, I can Identify with that weakness. As a teacher, I tell my kids that the most important thing I can teach them is that anger is a seconday emotion. We feel it because we feel something else first which we don't want to feel: frustration, sadness, disappointment, etc.

 
At 6:46 AM, Blogger ewe are here said...

I'm sure I'll be facing lots of moments like this... right now such moments are comprised mostly of loud screaming because he can't express himself yet, but I'm sure it's coming.

I'm sure the urge to help him pack at such moments will be strong.... hang in there.

 

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