Yesterday was an at-home day. It was a snow day here, and even though my kids don't take the bus, they stayed home because a)L was still sick with a bad cold and b)I didn't have any other kids to look after and so considered it a nice family day.
Not much happened around here. L was ok, the boys mostly played their iPods, watched tv and later played outside. We even had to make a trip to the school anyway to pick up a daycare kid, and they all played outside together ok without incident.
Today wasn't as good.
The first half of the day went by normally. We took it easy in the morning, R and DH went to R's ballhockey game (and R scored his first goal in a long time!YAY!) and I even got L to do a page of spelling homework without too much fuss. And in not too much fuss I mean there was complaining and whining, but I didn't have to threaten him or nag him over and over again, so I consider that a win.
After homework time, the two boys went outside to play in their fort. They were outside for at least an hour, and then R came in crying. He said the L hit him with this thing we call a snow rake, which is a wooden pole with an orange solid foam end to it used for cleaning off the top of your car and whatnot. I asked him if it was an accident, and R said he wasn't sure, which pretty much means that it likely was an accident. When I questioned him more, he said that he got angry (R did), called L stupid (a HUGE NO-NO!!) and came inside. I think he said that L did try to call out an apology.
After that, I went outside to look for L. I was worried that he would take off, because I knew this would upset him. At first, I couldn't see him, and I was starting to get that panicky feeling, but then I followed some footprints in the snow and found him around the side of the house lying reclined in the snowy window well. I asked him to come in, to which he shouted at me, "NO!" and so I came inside. About five minutes later, I told R to go outside to apologize for calling him stupid and to ask him to come in. He didn't come in then either, but did about five more minutes later.
At this point, L came into the family room and wouldn't talk to either his dad or I when asked if he was cold, or if he'd like a hot chocolate, normal sort of questions. I was trying to pretend not to notice that he wasn't speaking, hoping (vainly) that it would snap him out of it. But he wouldn't speak and just went upstairs.
At this point, I turned to DH and said that I wish I knew what to do. If this were a normal situation, I would be yelling at him not to be so rude and to ignore someone when they asked you a question. I'm used to this sort of behaviour, when he's upset with ME. But this not talking business when he's mad at someone else, this is new. I don't understand it. What did I do? I didn't tell him off, I didn't get mad at him, I didn't make him do something he didn't want to do. I don't get why he shuts down and gives us dirty looks when other things upset him.
So despite maybe what I should have done (honestly, I really don't know what to do in this situation) I went upstairs to find him. I asked him why he wasn't talking to me, and what did I do. He pulled away, tried to walk away, but I persisted. I followed him into his room, and he pulled the blanket off the bed and covered his head with it. I didn't try to take it off, I let him have the separation. At first, he kept saying he was stupid, he didn't know why he did these things, he's an idiot. I asked him if he did it on purpose, and he said no, so I tried to explain that it was an accident, and that maybe R was upset at first but he's fine now and it doesn't matter anymore. He said he felt guilty. I asked if he meant sorry, and he said no. I am not sure he entirely understands guilt, I don't think even some adults do, since moms will say they feel guilty for leaving their children while they go to work. It's a misunderstood emotion, I think. I tried to echo back his feeling, asking him if he felt badly for what happened, and saying then that maybe he felt sorry. He was still hiding at this point. Somehow, the conversation turned to what his idea of a good parent is. He said, i wasn't a good parent because I wasn't there when he needed me. I asked him when wasn't I there. Now, he's got a good memory for any time someone has "wronged" him. He can remember stuff that happened years ago. He said I wasn't there for him when he got hurt outside one time, to which I didn't respond but asked if there were other times. He said yes, one time when he slipped in his room and got hurt and apparently DH and I were downstairs watching tv. He said when he came down, daddy said, "You'll be fine." I didn't point out, even though I was thinking it, that well, he is fine. When I prompted him, he also said that I wasn't there for him when he got cut at a friend's house with a pocketknife. To this, i asked him how he expected me to be there for him when he was at another person's house. He didn't really have a response.
He was coming around at this point, not crying anymore. I did say that I was sorry that I wasn't there for him before, and that I would always try to be there for him if possible. I emphasize that I couldn't always be there, and he did say that he didn't expect me to go everywhere with him.
And that was it. I asked him if he wanted to come down and watch a movie, and he said yes. The funk was over. Like someone flipped a light switch. It's so weird.
I forgot to write that when I first approached him upstairs, he was in the bathroom and when I asked him what was wrong, he said he was stupid, he didn't know why he did what he did (as I wrote above) and then he started to bang his head rather hard on the bathroom countertop. Then during the conversation in the bedroom, he also kept saying, as he often does now, that he wants a different life. He said, "people think I'm lucky, but I'm not. They're the lucky ones". I suppose he means that they are because they don't have to deal with these oppressive feelings all the time. And I suppose they are. I look at other parents myself and think, "They're so lucky their kids are happy and normal." I even think back to a year or two ago, and remember how he was then and think that I wish we could have that back.