My 5yo didn’t eat his sandwich at lunchtime today, so he was obviously extra hungry after school. First, he told me he ate it and when I showed it to him in the bag he said: “that’s nothing.” So I said, “that’s what you have to eat, nothing else until dinner.” He chose to finish his goldfish crackers – all 6 of them. Fine.
He circled back for more snacks so I said: “finish the sandwich.” Initially, he didn’t want to eat it because he said he doesn’t like the meat in it. Alright, I hear that, but he has been eating it so I’m not just going to let that slide. If I do I risk it becoming a trend, “all I have to do is say I don’t like it and I get out of eating it.” I pushed back. Eventually, he took it and showed it to me as he took a bite. Perfect! Then he quietly wanders out of the room for a minute. When he returns he proudly tells me that he ate it all really quickly!
Duh! “Did you put it in the garbage?… Tell me the truth.” He considered it and chose the truth. I said, “thank for being honest and telling the truth. If you lied, I would have
He seemed to accept that rather quickly, but he went into the kitchen without me knowing and found some bacon on the counter. I left it out, my mistake. He took it and again proudly came to tell me not only where he found it but how he got it. And, he claimed it as his.
All I could think was, “crafty little savage!” as I laughed. I really appreciated his ability to problem solve; he wanted to eat so he went in search of food.
I took the bacon, put in a container and told him that he can have it after dinner. I could not allow him to directly circumvent the consequence of trashing food. He protested immediately and fiercely. A screaming sh*t-storm that lasted about 30 minutes ensued.
He threatened me with my “last warning” or he’d cut me with the wire cutters (from the crafting table).
He punched me several times.
He put a bucket on my head.
He put a fart machine against my ear and blasted me with a fart, lol.
He was so angry; it was amazing. And persistent!
He’d survive in nature; little bugger would not give up!
Anyways, I stayed super calm and only spoke to the facts, in moments where I hoped he’d hear me.
“It’s ok to be angry and frustrated.”
“You’re not getting any food until dinner.”
“You’re being consequence’d for putting food in the garbage.”
“Hitting me is not ok.”
“Let’s calm down.”
Finally, he calmed down and we sat cuddling on the couch. My urge to overpower his terrible attitude and actions would have only kept the tensions high. A person in peak emotion cannot hear you – they can only hear how they feel. So, time and love were needed to help him level out.
I told him that mamá would be home soon. He instantly told me not to tell her he was doing “wrong things,” and he had a catch in his throat with tears ready to roll out of his eyes. He didn’t want her to give him trouble again. I said, “alright, bud.” He repeated himself to be sure I meant it, and I did.
The moment she came in he unloaded the whole thing to her, lol! He was calm and clear-headed so we could actually talk about what happened. He nailed the explanation, and she didn’t give him trouble because it was already handled. She and I reinforced our unity (whatever mom/dad says, I will say, too) and we reinforced the lessons (no wasting food / our actions have consequences). In the end, he was as sweet as usual and apologized with a catch in his throat for hitting me.
To be honest, it was so hard to not react the way I felt. I felt extremely angry at him for doing so many violent things and expressing so much negativity while angry. I felt frustrated that I could not reason with him at all. I pulled those moves with my daughters 10 years ago and it always made things worse. I wanted to overpower him and assert my will. His anger was the exact same thing. How could I do it and give him crap for the exact same things?
I have to break the cycle.
You know what? When mamá is around I feel more freedom to just drop it and let her take over when I get so emotional like this one. But, when she is not there I have no one to turn to, so I either level myself out or a screw up the interaction. Today I found it particularly interesting to think about how I rationalize this with myself. It is worth it to stay level when she is present, but it is comforting to know that I can rely on mamá at any time.