January 07, 2004

tempered temper

Today in the car Damian was in a Bad Mood. I’m not sure why, though I think it has something to do with my saying we had to hurry and him therefore wanting to move at a turtle’s waddle and my therefore saying really, we do, because otherwise we won’t be able to play with Kahuna, who will be waiting for us at home. And so he got into the car under duress and waited all of a millisecond to find something wrong.

His shirt wasn’t pulled down all the way over his butt, apparently this was problematic. We solved that. Then he wanted a toy frog. Which I fished out of my pocket for him.

Then he said he wanted to listen to different music in the back seat than I had in front, only he liked the music I had on, therefore I needed to listen to something else. Then he couldn’t find the remote for the rear audio system. When I glanced in back during a red light and found it right away (in the book basket next to his seat), he informed me that we couldn’t let his friend Corey have the remote again because he didn't put it back where it belonged, and if Corey wanted to use the headset next Wednesday during carpool, I had to operate the remote and not let Corey do it at all.

Then he wanted milk. But he was upset, you see. And when he’s upset, he wants to yell. So he screeched, “MOMMY! I WANT MILK!” But I get deaf when he shouts, it’s too loud and, I don’t know, something happens to my eardrums, they vibrate or some such and, oddly enough, I simply can’t hear him. So after a short bit of shouting, Damian said in a perfectly normal voice, “Mommy, give me milk.” Sure, Damian. When you can ask me politely, I’ll be happy to do so.

MOMMY! PLEASE GIVE ME MILK, PLEASE!” Ouch. Sorry, I can’t hear you. The shouting, don’t you know.

“Mommy, give me milk!” Sure, when you ask nicely. Nobody likes to be bossed around.

MOMMY! PLEASE GIVE ME MILK, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!” I’m sorry, Damian. What was that?

“Mommy. Give. Me. Milk.”

Is it wrong of me to admit that after the fifth iteration of this normal-voiced bossiness alternated with shouted niceness, I started to giggle? He laughed too, but then got stern. “Mommy, don’t do that. I don’t like when you do that. Promise you won’t ever do it again.”

A harsh taskmaster, my son. No laughter in the house of Damian.

Sometimes he needs this, I think. Needs to shout a little, blow off steam. Because he was a pussycat for the rest of the ride home, sweet and funny. He even flirted with me in the mirror. And never told me not to laugh.

Posted by Tamar at January 7, 2004 09:40 PM

I love reading your stories about your son! He sounds so much like mine. I know exactly what you mean about the shouting. ;-)

I suspect you handled that interaction better than I would have, though. I'm working very hard on not shouting right back at the boy. And not getting all bristly when he offers me parenting advice.


Posted by: darby at January 9, 2004 09:50 AM

I admit, I do occasionally slip and snap at him. Usually when I'm already stressed. But something shifted a while back when I realized he doesn't know how to express his real feelings, usually along the lines of: "I'm tired, I've had a full day, I need to let off steam." I find remembering that allows me the compassion to be playful or at least gentle about it.

Another technique is to shout back. Not angrily, though. I mostly just go "Aaagh! Yaaah!" Which feels really good. And he says "Don't shout! I don't like it!" So I say, "Okay, I'll stop when you stop." And try not to giggle. Because it does get silly when you go along with it like that.

Posted by: Tamar at January 9, 2004 11:40 PM