Being a parent is just plain hard and when you're only so quick or bright, kids can run right over you. I know I don't think well on my feet and I also allow my anger to kick in so rational thought goes out the window.
This last time was a doozey for me. I can vividly recall my oldest telling me at 3 that he hated me and the first time I asked him why, etc. and then after that I just told him that it was ok - he could hate me but I still loved him. The I hate you's went away. This, too, when my youngest told me he didn't care if I was disappointed in him, ripped through me like a machete dipped in hot lava.
At first I just sat there. Aaron tried to clarify it a bit but Christopher was having no part of it - he'd said what he'd meant to say. He'd pulled the string on that arrow, let it go and it hit home. Sunk deep. Then my brain started whirring, spinning - looking for something to reply with, something to say so he had no idea how much he'd hurt me.
What came out? "Wow, Christopher. That was incredibly hurtful." I don't think I hid the hurt so well...
Although, I think it's that I was hurt and not angry that messed him up a little bit and there was my rallying piece. Little bugger - he DID care. I don't know if he thought he was being funny or why he'd commented like he had but now he was trapped.
He'd hurt me and... well... now what?
His father stepped in, told him that was a bit of a foolish thing to say and if he didn't mean it he'd better speak up and fix the situation fast because hell hath no fury like a disappointed mom. That was the message he was trying to get across.
Still? Silence in the backseat. Christopher wasn't going to retract his statement and he wasn't going to apologize for it. I still have absolutely no idea why except he hates, hates, HATES to say "I'm sorry" and hates even more to have to admit he's wrong. Not sure who he gets that from...
So - I told Christopher that it's ok. If he chooses to feel that way, I can't force him to feel any other way. HOWever... I could come up with a plan to make him re-think how he really feels and how he chooses to share those feelings. So I cut him off. I told him if that was the case, then no more "extras" from me. If he wants to continue piano lessons, he'd better figure out a way to earn money. I wasn't using my hard-earned money on them. If he wants to go to birthday parties or needs something from school, he'll need to talk to his dad. No help from me. I will kiss and hug him good-night but our "good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" game was a thing of the past and on and on the list went. Any time something would come up the question would be asked "Is that an extra?"
He lasted almost a full week. For that I was wholeheartedly impressed, actually. What caved him, though, was when he got a 100% on his spelling test and all I said was "What else are you supposed to get?" Cold. Flat. No excitement whatsoever. Floored him. He didn't like it at all when I wasn't my normal fun, chipper self. Even when I'm angry it's a quick-type anger, the storm is in and then it's gone and the fun starts back up. There was no fun.
It worked almost like a charm. Almost. Like I said, he toughed it out for almost a week but caved when I didn't care so much about his new room (we're moving him into his big brother's old room and the little one's room becomes my office/craft room. Yay!). He had worked so hard over the weekend while I was gone. He'd cleaned, moved, sorted, thrown out and donated so much and well, I walked in, looked around for less than 5 seconds and said "yup - looks nice" and walked out. I think he almost cried then.
Monday he apologized to me. We had a long talk about meaning what you say, saying what you mean. I covered both Matthew 5:37 AND James 5:12 as far as the talk was concerned. We still have to do the Bible work.
He's learning. Slowly but surely he's learning. I am, too. Little bit by little bit I am learning how to teach him instead of forcing him into Lectureville and "seeing" my point. A lot of that comes from all of the mistakes I made with #1 Son. As wonderful as he has turned out, I wish I had done so many things OH so differently when he was younger. I'm a bit of a control freak and letting that go has been so difficult I can't even think of a metaphor to describe it.
How I love my boys...