Monday, November 17, 2008

So Way Short of Where I Want to Be

Yesterday goes down in the annals of my parenting history as a truly horrible day. Most days I figure I score pretty well as a parent. I am not a yeller by nature. I am strict but most times tend to reasoned logical consequences. But yesterday just sucked.

It started reasonably well. Actually very well. I can not allow myself to forget the positives and be overwhelmed by negativity. Took the boys to church and the most positive thing about this was watching KC voluntarily go with a trusted adult to another classroom to pack toiletries for a shelter. So very huge for this little man who was my velcro child for so long. That he would now be comfortable taking steps away from me. I am so proud. I remember how very long he was willing to be in my arms, in my lap, in a rebozo, anywhere but separated. He was interested in the world around him but wanted to observe it from the safety of my arms as opposed to sampling it on his own or with peers. People made subtle comments over the years as he grew older and I was still toting him around. "Was there a problem" was the usual hidden agenda to the probing questions. As though a child wanting and needing the nurturing safety of their parent was a problem. I smiled and sloughed off the comments, listened to the jokes about how he would forget he had legs and just did what felt right. And it paid off. He is so much more confident and day by day is doing more and more new things.

Came home from church and took Chet shopping for Christmas gifts. He stresses if he hasn't got all his things purchased way before a holiday and i figured anything I could do to keep him calm and happy was important. Off we went and the trip went pretty well also. I tried to get across to him that I like spending time with him and I wish he would come out of his room more and spend time with me. I know it won't change anything but I think it is important to keep reminding him that he is loved. He is my first born. I remember the days spent waiting for him to come home like it was yesterday.

And then things just crashed and burned. KC wanted to read upstairs on my bed. This should not have been a big deal. At 4, that feels like so much independence to him and should be a safe place for him. My bed is absurdly low to the ground, even if he falls off he can't hurt himself. I know he was a little tired and was sick of the football big brother Rob was watching and was looking for a place to hang out. So I said yes. Apparently somewhere along the way he decided to go in Chet's room and pester biggest brother. I hear the sounds of fractiousness and investigate. Chet says KC is going in his room. I tell Chet to shut his door because KC can't open it on his own and actually physically shut the door myself. I go downstairs. I think all will be well. Except it wasn't. Because Chet didn't feel he should have to keep his door shut and opened it. KC went back and tried to go into his room and Chet checked him with his body hard enough to hurt his arm. Not seriously thankfully, but it could have been, because Chet has no sense of his own strength and never has. There is KC holding his elbow and crying and Chet complaining as though it was KC's fault. He doesn't get that shutting the door was what he was supposed to do. To him it had been shut for ages--it was literally 10 minutes. And when I go to walk into his room to talk about this with him, that is when he decided to shut the door, by putting his foot against it to try and prevent my entry.

I don't think that is what incensed me. I think what it really was was looking at KC holding his arm. And knowing that in his little 4 year old mind he had just been trying to connect with his big brother. He tries so hard to build a connection with Chet. Chet is as weird and foreign to him as --I don't know, a now extinct dinosaur? KC is all about emotion and Chet hates emotion. It isn't a match made in heaven for sure. Chet would be happy I think if KC left him alone and never acknowledged him beyond a hello. But KC wants to understand Chet. He loves him at some deep level even though he has told me that Chet annoys him, frustrates him and makes him mad. But yesterday he hurt him and that crossed a huge line with me.

Unfortunately my response didn't help anything. I went into Chet's room, pushed the door to, and proceeded to lambast him. I didn't yell, I'm not a yeller, remember? But I was intense, I was in his face. I swore, something I almost never do. His lack of concern over his use of force didn't do anything to dampen my parental fury. In his mind, KC was wrong because he was trying to go into his room and he was just keeping him out. At that point, I pushed him onto his bed and he toppled over onto it like a felled tree. Between the fact that I startled him and my previous martial arts history it wasn't hard, though Chet is much bigger than I and outweighs me. My point to Chet was just that, it was startling. It was could even be considered fear producing and that this was similar to what he did to KC, except that I did it in a way that would make sure he wasn't hurt. He didn't get that. I know he didn't get it. Looking back in the calmer time of 12 hours later, I can't think why I would think it would demonstrate anything positive to him. And then Kirsty came into the room and said that perhaps I should go downstairs now, so i did. That was when she explained that KC had seen me push Chet --the door being ajar and not totally closed--and was visibly alarmed. Great. So I terrify my own child inadvertantly while trying to make sure my eldest doesn't physically harm him. Yup, I am up for a parenting award. Sigh.

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