For over six years, we were parents with peace in the house. No angry throwing, hitting, kicking, biting, etc.. Then once the Boy hit a certain age—oh, around two-ish—our hopes for a peaceful, Zen-like home environment went out the window. I’ve noted here that he has a certain familiarity with his “quiet spot”, both at home and while visiting grandparents, where he sits and contemplates his wrongdoings.
Lately, though, he’s been getting better at controlling his anger, or exhibiting it in a different way. We’ve been trying to, for quite a while, convince him and demonstrate for him how to curb his angry impulses and show his anger in ways other than physical. And I think it’s slowly, finally, in small ways, starting to get through. For example, he’s begun to say things like, “I don’t like you”. This, I believe, though it may hurt a bit the first time it’s said, holds a certain amount of charm for most parents.
The other day, he did something different again. He had been whining about wanting to play a new video game on the PS3. No, we all told him, you have to do something else tonight besides play a video game. I suggested Trouble, Scrabble, Jenga, or the Busytown boardgame. After hearing many, many repetitions of our refusal, he was starting to become frustrated, and I could see that he wanted to lash out in some way. I can usually tell because it looks like he’s clenching his fists tightly, trying to hold in his anger.
We waited to see what he’d kick or pound, but instead, he walked over to the easel where both kids do their schoolwork and artwork. He picked up a dry-erase marker and calmly wrote out the following:
I X Mama.
I X Papa.
I X C [sister’s name]
Then he followed with a drawing of three frowning faces (presumably the three faces of evil that were blocking his path to happiness), and finally, proceeded to scribble angrily all over the whole creation.
It struck all three of us as a wonderfully cute creation, and a marvellous example of him trying to manage his anger by not lashing out in his usual, physical way. Most of all, I appreciated that he wrote a mysterious, all-encompassing “X” to convey his feelings towards us. He couldn’t quite bring himself to put the word “hate” in writing, so I appreciated that he could delay that at least for a few years to come.
I wanted to take a photo of it the next morning, but he had erased it before we’d woken up. “I’m not angry anymore,” he explained. Well managed, indeed.