I was very parent-y this evening (well, Z was being parent-y and I played supporting role) and it sucked. Connor has never been reprimanded like he was tonight and he knew he was in big trouble. After we all cooled off, he came back so apologetic and sweet that I felt like we had just broken his legs and he was afraid we’d start cracking his ribs. He walked out of his room, stood in front of me, and said, “Sorry, Mama. Sorry. Sorry,” and I just wanted to take back everything that had just happened. But I couldn’t and I knew he would learn nothing if we did, so I gave him a big hug. It felt like I should be the one apologizing to him.
When we all sat back down at the dining room table and Z asked him if he was ok, his innocuous response was enough to almost make me cry: “I’m ok. Sure. Oh yeah, yeah, I’m really ok.” It was that “really” – maybe in the way that he said it – that made it feel like he wasn’t ok, that his little soul was broken but that he was trying to protect himself from further harm. It felt like he added that “really” as a way to appease us so we would let him be and quit beating on him (for the record, there was no “beating” in any definition of the word going on tonight or ever in our house, it’s just semantics). What made it worse is that he said it in a groggy voice which added an extra layer of grief to it.
After the drama and the apologies, he sat quietly on the steps into the living room playing with his musical helicopter. Z sat next to him, sharing in my parental pains. “Should we see if he wants to watch a show?” he asked. I knew he felt like we needed to make amends without losing the potency of the lesson we hoped to have just taught him. We just bought “The Lorax,” so we offered that as a way of moving on with our night, hurt feelings aside. Z and I sat on the couch with ‘Rado between us, Connor’s eyes fixed unmovingly on the world of Thneedsville. His little voice was still groggy, but he occasionally asked where the Lorax was and who this character or that character was. When Z left the couch to start his homework and I tried to cuddle with Connor on the couch, Connor told me to go to the other side of the couch. Yup, our ‘Rad-a-Dude was coming back.
Count Dracula and Me
It’s nights like these that make me wish I didn’t have to go to work in the morning, like tomorrow should be devoted to showing Connor that I do love him because my fear is that reprimanding him tells him we don’t. But, (insert parental cliche here), and I don’t want to raise a brat. Or maybe, more precisely, I don’t want to deal with a brat. So much of my parenting tales deal with me and what I want. Is that being selfish and missing the point of having a family and loving? I feel like my world has been very small lately – a very dangerous, damaging thing. It’s time for another pull-back, another vision shift. I’ve been talking about this a lot lately. I’m not sure what will bring it on but I’ll let you know when I do.