On Saturday, Mister took a break from watching TV and playing with his cars and just gazed out into the distance. I sat down with him and asked him what was wrong.
“Well, some things in my life are not going very well right now.”
The earnest and heart-wrenching way he said it stifled my initial instinct to laugh at how adorable it was for a five year old to utter something so grown-up. So I probed a bit. We talked about how another (younger) boy at school hit him (reportedly, he hits everybody). And how he feels frustrated that L gets away with everything.
Mister’s cheeks were getting red and I could tell he was fighting those tears hard. I gave him the tightest squeeze I could. At that moment I sadly realized that I don’t hold him or hug him enough. It’s funny how much we moms unwittingly force our firstborns to grow up so quickly. It’s never intentional, of course, or even what we want, but somewhere in the midst of busyness, it just… happens.
I told him how much I understand and that it’s ok to feel sad, mad, or frustrated. I did the whole, “next time he hits you, tell him to stop.” “Firmly?” “Yes, very firmly.” Then we got into the sibling rivalry issue. Honestly, I wish sometimes that the ground would split open and swallow me up and spit out a better mommy for my kids instead. Because Mister’s right. We do baby L more than we should. In times of exhaustion, desperation, or racing against the clock, we let L get his way because it’s easier to talk things through with Mister afterwards than it is to listen to a two-year-old’s blood-curdling screams.
Except more often than not, I forget the whole talking things through bit with him. And he’s left to figure out the inequities in his five year old mind.
The kid’s a trooper. I prayed for him (and silently prayed desperately for myself) and told him that every day I will ask him how things in his life are going, or that he can write his problems down or draw about them and we can talk.
Who knows if that’s the right answer. I think the most important thing was for him to know that I am never too busy to listen to him, no matter what I’m doing. That I’m botherable. He was fine the rest of the day, but I think that moment and those word will stick with me for a while.