Monday, August 4, 2008

A communion in anger management

I've a confession to make. I'm a short-tempered person: and I lose my head quickly and often, and I can be very cruel with my words. And because this is a confession, and it involves being honest - even though the truth makes me squirm like water got into my leather pumps - I don't necessarily spare Nino the brunt of this. And yes, I've smacked him - good manners are very important to me - being kind, saying sorry and the like - though Nino's Dad says it's not the lack of manners that bothers me as much as the fact that Nino is a 'different' person than I am.
I remember when he said this, I felt like my stomach fell to the floor - and though I've made a personal commitment not to loose my head on Nino, it's happened today.
He's ill - fever, cold, cough, the regular seasonal side-effects of pollution that today's kids have to be put up with - and unlike other kids, or unlike me, it's very difficult to make that out. yes, you can feel the temperature rise and fall - but otherwise he's the same, not necessarily crankier, as exuberant, and as pause-less as ever. And getting him to rest - because that is as important as medication, in my opinion - has been fruitless and therefore, irritating.
Now I made him a paper plate game a few days back with numbers from 1 to 5 pasted on the plates. A small bag accompanies the plates and it has sets of various objects (stuffed puppets, pebbles, rocks, shells, animals, etc) that are 1 to 5 in sets. The aim is to match the number to the number in the set. Three pebbles go on the plate with the big number 3 pasted on it, and so on and so forth. It might be a slightly complex game for a 30 month old, but Nino's been showing an interest in numbers and often counts out aloud. So I figured he'd love the game and be good at it. Somehow however the sorting hasn't gone well. Perhaps it's because it's the first time he's trying to match a number with the word he reaches when he finishes his count. I've done the routine with him several times over, without the toys, first checking the numbers and the succession they are placed in; then seperately counting the toys; and then counting and placing on the apporpriate plate.
It's not worked and when he was unable to do it again this evening I lost my head and I told him to pack the plates up and put away the toys or play by himself. 'But I want to play with you,' he said. 'No, you don't know how to, you're not ready to listen to Mama who's telling you how to, so we can't play.'

He looked down, and must have been crestfallen, if I had looked into his eyes. With a trembling lip he muttered, 'Somebody bigger will have to beat Mama.' I would have smiled, burst out laughing, but I know I would have hurt his ego. And yes, kids do have egos. If you believe otherwise, please, let's take this outside the blogworld one of these days. He remembered my rule that he can't hit elders - including and especially Mama. But Mama hurt him, and he wanted to hurt her back. As my anger melted away, I wondered how when Nino was born, and motherhood brought forth all things nice, I resolved to be a better person for him. Eventually that philosophy moved on to not hiding my real nature from him, to let him see his family with all their faults. I wonder if this is truly a healthy choice, or whether it's an easier one to make. I don't ponder if his affection towards me gets affected with my temper - everyone around me believes and makes a point to express that they think I'm too strict with him - but I do know that not hiding it under the perfect mum tag and just expressing it doesn't make me feel any better. I've tried everything - counting to ten, even writing it out line by line - and yet there are times when the situation gets better of my intent.

If you want to know, I did apologise for screaming. I always do say sorry. Because I usually am. And he said 'It's okay Mama' even before I finished explaining why I got angry. 'Let's colour now.' He forgives and forgets far more easily than I do.

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