Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pushing my buttons

I have one offspring whose defense mechanism is button-pushing. When he is angered or disappointed or frustrated about something...ANYTHING, as a result of me (no matter the innocence of the crime), he lashes out with 4-year-old-version hatefulness.


I just gave away the offender. Yes yes, it's Sullivan, my sometimes-sweet 4 year old. Sullivan does not enjoy feeling badly himself. He wants others to feel badly. Only fair, right? I get it. I really can put my littler brain inside his brain (no joke - I legitimately thing that boy has a bigger capacity for intellect than me... he's gonna be a freakin whiz) and observe the world the way he does. That is, if I try hard and take the time to, I get Sullivan.

Here's the scoop:  When he doesn't get to take a shower after a swim at the gym pool (as we normally do), because the showers are all taken and I am not interested in waiting in line, he says, "You mean, Mommy." When I let him know that we are not going to be able to finish a puzzle or game until later, because we have to leave to pick up Jackson from school, he says, "You're cheating Mommy." Sometimes this emotional response includes a hit or an air fist. And then, sometimes, he'll add a demented snicker... like he's un-touched by whatever is going on. He fake laughs to cover up the fact that he is truly hurting. And if I get quiet and have an authentically melancholy reaction to the way he is treating me/the situation, he sometimes adds "Gotcha!" with a finger point. Like getting me to feel icky was what he was aiming for.

When I use my good, healthy parenting skills and either  a) calmly explain the situation further so he understands that whatever I am saying he doesn't want to hear is not personally designed to alienate him, or b) calmly explain that his reaction to disappointment needs to be adjusted, then the following comment is made (while crossing arms and deliberately avoiding eye contact by looking out of the top little corner of his awnry little eyes, "Not listening, Mom. Not listening."

I know I am making my son sound evil. But if you have a Sullivan in your home, you know what I am talking about.

I don't like it. Clearly, I don't like it. Even if I get it, I don't like it.

But I've been letting him do it. Let the kid say what he wants to say. He's gonna do it anyway (cuz that's the kind of kid Sullivan is), so give him freedom of speech and then let's go about our business. His disagreeable-ness wears off pretty quickly, anyway. So what's the harm? Right?

Until yesterday.

I was treating him to a Frosty, which was a reward for having read these little preschool books a certain number of days in a row. Anyway, he had been talking about it and was excited about it. I was excited about it, for goodness sakes. He was so faithful about checking the little days off the chart at home and had been talking about his treat for days. We pull up to Wendys and he smells the stale yet yummy smell of grease. And his mind goes instantly to chicken nuggets, french fries, and dip. It was lunchtime, after all. Chicken nuggets and french fries and dip were not in the lunch plans. We had swung in the drive thru for a frosty. For a FROSTY ONLY. His hunger and his confusion and his excitement were all swhirling when I said "no" to the request for more than the frosty.

Thus began the rampage: Fit, "you mean, Mommy," "You cheating, Mom" (cheating is not really something Sullivan knows the definition of... it's used pretty much whenever he's mad.)  "I'm not listening!" Then, quiet the rest of the way home.

When we arrived in the garage, Sullivan busted out a whole new level of button-pushing. He crossed a new line.

He said, "Mom, I am not going to love Jesus."

Freedom of speech, my ass.
This. means. war.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I. SO. Get it. Much love. We need to get together and swap war stories.