Monday, February 8, 2010

Mean Kids

Andrew has been doing some weird non-Andrew things lately. The most *odd* was repeatedly grabbing a toy, shouting "mine!" and running away from Simone. Huh? I know some kids do that; my kids don't really do that. I'd wondered if we suddenly met a New Andrew, and that sweet doting big brother went away permanently. Quibbling I understand...aggression is different.

Then he mentioned a Mean Kid, and said he never wanted to go back to this particular place. I was surprised, because he loves going there. And I started talking to him about what the Mean Kid does.

I suddenly realized that what we'd seen in him was what he was describing. He was coming home and acting it out on Simone.

Not cool.

So I sat him in my lap, looked right into his eyes and said: "I'm really sorry you were treated that way. You didn't deserve that. That sounds like a sad little boy who needs more love. But we don't act that way in this house, no matter how others treat us. We need to be better than that, okay?"

And that look he gave me. He got it. He looked back with his soulful Andrew eyes...gazed into me and then nodded. Yup. He got it.

Then he crawled off my lap and went over to Simone, offered her a toy and said: "Here, Monie. Let me help you with this cape." She didn't even necessarily want the cape he was offering, but she just stared glowingly at him as he fastened it around her neck.

Moments like that don't always happen in our house, mind you. If I could change behavior trends in simple sit-downs, my children would be neater and much quieter on Saturday mornings at 6AM. Bam. Just like that.

Maybe this one worked because it resonated with his true self? Maybe he didn't like the new aggressive side he tried on for size? Maybe because he needed to hear he didn't deserve to be treated that way? Maybe because it brought words to his confused emotions about the run-ins with this little boy?


But what I do know is that for the rest of yesterday and today, I didn't see even a glimmer of that Temporary Andrew back. Maybe I will again. But I've been amazed along the parenting path by how many times my bad behavior is instantaneously reflected in theirs (if I get bossy, they get bossy...I get impatient, they get impatient)...but quickly the river is re-directed by a sincere hug and a "you didn't deserve that" apology.

Children really are overflowing with love, I'm finding. Forgiveness. Love. Kindness. Joy. It can be pushed aside in the wrong environment, but they are so resilient to honesty, openness, and love.

I get to teach them things like not picking their nose in public and please wash your hands after the grocery store...but they get to teach me much cooler things about life.

I feel so blessed.

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