Friday, April 12, 2013

Not So Welcome Home

My husband and I had an amazing time in Miami. We had time to talk, hold hands, drink wine and eat great food all without interruption. I didn't do a dish, wipe a counter or do a load of laundry for days. We drove home and talked about all our favorite moments and how much we missed the boys. We told story after story about them. "But just so that you know," my husband said after one of my stories, "Luke can be kind of distant when I get back from a trip. Sometimes it lasts a few days." I pocketed his reminder and hoped that it might be different for me.

It wasn't. He woke up from his nap and walked bleary eyed down the stairs. We were both waiting at the bottom with big smiles and our arms open wide. "Look," he said, "Granny got me this at the bird place." He held up a stuffed parrot that my mom had gotten him after they explored the local Jungle Gardens. I asked him if he had gotten to hold a parrot, what it was like and if it was fun or scary. "Why are you asking me so many questions? Stop it," he said abruptly. What? Who was this child? A part of me started hurting inside but I knew I couldn't let it go.

"You can't tell Mommy to stop it. If you say something rude to me again, you are on the red rug." The red rug is a fabulous time out location that is far away from all the action of the house. This is the ultimate punishment for my social son. "No. I won't go," he announced.

After much cajoling he did go to sit on the rug. Four times in twenty minutes. After the fourth time, he walked off the rug and went to the living room and slapped his brother on the arm with a baton. I am not joking. My husband rushed over and lifted him off the floor. "Hitting is forbidden in this house. Go in your room and we'll talk about this in ten minutes," he said with authority. My oldest started crying and ran upstairs.

When the crying had stopped and calmness returned, we had a real talk. I asked if he was upset at us for leaving. He told me that he didn't understand why he couldn't come with us. I explained that Mommies and Daddies need time on their own sometimes but that I missed him very much. He shared that he was very upset that Granny wasn't there when he woke up from his nap. He wanted to play with her more. In the end, we both realized it was a lot of change for him to deal with. We left and he didn't like it until he realized how much fun it was with Granny. We came home and he didn't like it because we had interrupted his fun with Granny. I tried to help him understand that no matter what he feels, it's ok as long as he doesn't hurt other people with his words or actions. It's a big lesson and it's one that will take years to really teach him. But I'm hoping that we're on the right track. And I'm really hoping that my sweet little boy is back today.

How do you help your kids sort through emotional outbursts? How can you help to teach them to control their emotions in a healthy way?

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