It’s a natural tendency when someone yells at you to want to yell back.
When someone pushes you – Impulsively you push back.
It’s a difficult thing, not to lash out in response to someone else lashing out at you.
I ask a lot of a 7 year old. I ask Ace to exercise restraint that many adults struggle with. That I struggle with.
I ask him to talk softly back to Jay when Jay yells at him. Which is often.
I ask him to open up his space and his heart when Jay pushes him. Which is often.
I ask him to share his fruit snacks and toys with Jay even when Jay has wronged him. Yeah, often.
I ask him to watch shows he doesn’t like and I ask him to engage in scripts that he’s long since tired of.
I ask him to help me by not making things harder.
I know. I know I ask a lot of him.
Over the weekend we were in a big box store. Everything was going well. I blinked and then it wasn’t. We were in the check-out line and everyone was in their usual spot. Me leading the cart from the front, Ace pushing the cart and Jay riding inside the cart. Before I knew it, Jay climbed out and was pushing Ace out of the way and holding onto the carts handle bar. Ace didn’t take kindly to it and pushed Jay back. Jay yelled. Ace yelled. Jay screamed. Ace screamed. I tried to reason with them in my stern whisper. It did no good. Ace was mad as hell. Jay was stomping and screaming. The other store patrons looked on in shock.
I’m sure that as mad as he was at Jay, Ace was equally mad at me. Why wouldn’t be be? I was asking him to let Jay push the cart. It wasn’t fair. Why was Jay getting his way when he was being so bad? Driving the cart is Ace’s job. And Jay had pushed him. Pushing is not OK. Jay had yelled at him. Why did it feel like he was the one getting punished?
I was asking him to give in because in that moment it was easier for me. That was MY instant reflex to Jay’s public meltdown. Do whatever is quickest to make it stop.
Ace was having none of it.
Luckily my friend Angel was there and she stepped in and made a bargain with Ace. He’s recently become a big fan of saving money so she offered to give him some money if he stopped fighting back and let us get out of the store and to the car quietly.
That break in the action allowed me to gather myself and instead of yelling at the boys which I was tempted to do, I gently touched Jays cheek and asked him what was wrong. He was sweating and very upset. I asked him if he would like some juice and if he would like me to pick him up. He quieted.
We left the store with Jay in my arms. He was clinging to me tightly and scripting to himself as he tried to calm down. Angel had her arm around Ace and he pushed the cart. God bless her.
I definitely don’t get it all right. I don’t know if it’s possible to get it right for both boys at the same time. I just hope that I do right by each of them more times than not and that Ace grows up to understand that I got it. I knew it wasn’t often fair. I knew I was asking a lot. I tried to make things up to him in other ways. I always always did and will love them both equally.