Monday, April 21, 2008

His Bad Mother

I made the lad cry last night. He was wiping his mouth on a towel, as is part of his teeth brushing ritual, and he used his brother's shower towel. I harshly said something to the effect of, "You don't use that towel." And he burst into tears. It turns out that he doesn't know he doesn't use that towel. He doesn't know that the other towel, the one he always nearly always uses, is the one he is supposed to use.

I sat him on my lap, comforting him, cooing to him, feeling like total crap for having made him cry. This is not the first time I've made him cry. Not by any means. I looked hard at myself last night. I make him cry far too often. I speak harshly to him far too often. I am forever on his case for the things he does that are not appropriate. I am too ready to jump down his throat.

I am a hard task master. Don't get me wrong. My kids have it as easy as any other modern-day, high-convenience, middle-income kids. They get to do lots of things. They have lots of things. They have plenty of freedom. They're not asked to do many chores. It's a sweet life for them, really.

Except they have this high-strung mother who likes order and some semblance of peace. The two older kids toe the line. They do so, I see now, because it is in their nature. Unlike their younger brother, they do not hear the siren call of music which makes them treat any surface at any time like a drum. They do not have the limited attention span he does. They are able to amuse themselves for more than minutes at a time. Oh, he can amuse himself with that electronic box for 15, 20 minutes at a time. But what the hell kind of accomplishment is that?

He needs a different style of parenting. And that was never more clear to me than last night, as he sat sobbing on my lap because his mother had jumped down his throat for no reason other than the misuse of a sibling's towel. He craves attention. He craves interaction -- mostly of the positive kind. He craves more gentleness and understanding than I have clearly been able to muster.

I don't quite know exactly yet how I'm going to right the wrongs I've committed, but I'm taking the first step in acknowledging I've got issues. The second step is to re-commit to connecting with him every morning when it's just the two of us. I'm hopeful he'll show me the next steps.

Rides to Heaven on a Gyroscope

A couple of months ago, I saw a client I hadn't seen for a number of months. Like more than a dozen people have in the recent past, she ...