18 Things I Hate

Reading is a great way to self-regulate and calm down.

Reading is a great way to self-regulate and calm down.

So apparently I am the Worst Mother Of All Time because, well, I don't really know.  

This happened. My son had three rather exciting days in a row. Then he came home and started play-fighting his older sister, which, as you can guess, is *always* going to be a bad idea because they're both competitive and they both like to win, and he, still being smaller, is not yet going to win. In about two years the tables might turn, but until then, he is doomed to carry the sucker punches. 

The playfight turned sour. Bright Eyes got angry. He stormed into my room demanding that I revoke *all* his sister's privileges *forever*, stating that she doesn't really exist, that she is, in fact, a ghost, and in addition, that I am the Worst Mother of All Time, Without a Brain and Crappy As Well because I want him to calm down before I'll talk to him about it.

Sigh. 

There are two ways I approach this.

The first is to yell and scream back. As you can guess, it almost never works. 

The second way is to take a deep breath, mentally set myself up to remember "He needs connection and calming" and head into the fray, taking none of it personally. 

I drew him a scale where 10 was super happy and -10 was off-your-face-crazy-angry and asked him to put himself on it. He chose -10. No surprises there.  

"Well, I'll talk to you about the problem when you get to -2," I said.  

"I can't. Not at all. Plus you're ugly and mean and both of you are the worst, brainless parents in the world." 

"I think you can," I said. "There are ways to calm down. I can tell you about them." 

"I can't. I won't. I don't want to. No, actually, I am at -2 right now. And my sister is the worst, stupidest ....." 

"No, I can see you're still down here. Your face is still red and your voice is all shaky and your nose is running."

"And I've got phlegm," he added helpfully." 

"Yes, you have phlegm. But if you breathe and stop talking and have a cuddle, you'll get to -2 soon," I said. 

I cuddled him and shushed him every so often and just sat there, and eventually he got to -2.  

"Now, I can see you're calmer," I said. "What you can do is write down for me all the things you're upset about." 

"Okay," he said. "I'll write a list of 18 things I hate." 

I was surprised, but let him go for it. 20 minutes later, this is what I got: 

  1. Stupido sister
  2. Mum's time limits
  3. Coco's babbling
  4. Sister's boyfriend
  5. Dying
  6. Concentrating
  7. My family
  8. You (whoever you are, reading this, apparently)
  9. Being bashed up
  10. Adult stuff
  11. Calming down
  12. Injuries
  13. Being on detention
  14. Tattle-tales
  15. Cats
  16. Being caught eating food
  17. Sister's birthday
  18. Baked beans

I had to giggle. 

The fight wasn't over though. It dragged on for the rest of the afternoon in various forms until he refused to come to eat dinner and then, when he finally came down, demanded to watch an episode of Brum, "because it's the only way I can calm down." 

"I think you can calm down on your own," we said. We don't want to be blackmailed into Brum at every point of the day he thinks he's slightly upset. There were a variety of stand-offs and at one point he actually 'left home'. (Sat outside on the bench in the church yard for about 15 minutes) and then came in, still threatening and making demands.

Finally, we had more cuddles and I read a bit of Batman (took his mind off it all) and then he was able to eat dinner. He did fine for the rest of the night.  We made sure we acknowledged that he calmed down on his own and that he was now sorted out.

So all in all, a successful day, but boy, it's hard work getting to that point. My ears are sore from the beating they received.  But my brain is still laughing at the fact that he hates cats so much that they got on this list.