Don’t butt in line. Don’t take the red crayon when you know it’s his favorite color. Don’t hog the ball. Don’t sing when he is trying to concentrate. Don’t sit next to the girl he wants to sit with at circle time. And certainly don’t push him out of your way so you can be first.
My first grader has to figure out how to contain his anger at school, but I respect him for standing his ground when he feels an injustice has been done. The third of three boys, he spends much of his time proving himself, keeping up, playing with the big dawgs. He adores his friends, but just can’t stop himself from letting loose when someone butts, pushes, brags, pokes.
The school psychologist called me a few weeks ago after meeting with him. “I was trying to give him an example of how most of the time, anger is not appropriate, but sometimes it is. We talked about how when someone cuts me off in traffic, I want to yell….”
What did my seven year old tell him about me?!
“But usually, it’s just someone being careless,” he continued. “Nice person. Doesn’t deserve me yelling at them.”
“But one time, a reckless driver almost hit my wife and daughter, and I was so mad that I chased after his car and pounded on the hood.”
Redeemed. No scolding for mom!
“That was a real reason to be mad,” said the counselor to my son. “The other times weren’t.”
Later that very afternoon, we were racing to a guitar lessons across town, and everyone was driving slowly.
I lost it. “Do you not realize that the rest of us have someplace to go?! HELLO?!”
And in the rearview mirror, my seven year old looked at me wisely. Peacefully.
“I shouldn’t have gotten so mad at that guy, should I?” I asked.
“Nope,” responded my seven-year-old sage.
I don’t need therapy. I just need my kids to remind me of who I should be… and then follow their lead.