Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holding Hands

If only it was as easy to comfort him at nine as it was when he was a baby!
Yesterday was a holding hands kind of day for us. When I picked him up at end of the school day, Jonas was clearly upset. He took my hand as we started the walk home, something he rarely does in front of his peers at school, and said "Mom, I didn't get a smiley face today. it was the worst day ever!"  I listened as he told me the gory details about what happened at lunch.

We walked hand in hand as he told the long story about a bunch of kids in his class fooling around with a piece of cheese at lunch time, and how he ended up getting in trouble for it. Apparently the cheese was thrown around the room until it landed on his desk. Not wanting to participate, but not wanting it on his desk either, he threw it on the floor. Knowing that that wasn't right, he went to pick it up, but by then the other kids were laughing at him, or so he thought. When he touched it, someone yelled out "Jonas has the cheese touch!" (You have to read or watch A Diary of a Wimpy Kid" to understand that reference) and then the entire room burst out laughing at him. By the time the lunch room monitor arrived, everyone was in trouble and Jonas got burned by having the right idea but the wrong execution.

"Mom, I just couldn't help it. They made me so mad! I just threw it one the floor and left it there."

Sometimes it's hard not to jump in with commentary or advice when he's upset. I squeezed his hand, took a deep breath and commiserated, telling him that it takes a lot to get me mad but once I do, I sometimes have a hard time controlling my temper too. He squeezed my hand and said "Yeah, but whenever that happens to me, I always end up making things worse." "Yeah." I agreed, "Me too."

Not wanting to direct the conversation, but sensing that he was looking for a prompt, I said "Whenever that happens to me, I always try to figure out a way to make things better the next time." 

"Yeah," he continued, "I guess I could have...." And then he went through a short list of alternatives that might have worked out a bit better for him. As he suggested each one, I couldn't help but smile as I encouraged his thinking. Seeing problem solving in action makes me happy.

By the time we got home, he was all talked out, still mad at his friends at school, and ready to just take a breather. He put his school stuff away, made himself a snack and then snuggled up with me on the couch.  He took my hand, wrapped it in his own near his heart. "Mom," he said, "I love you."

I smiled, hugged him a little tighter, squeezed his hand and said "I love you too, sweetheart." It's true when they say that bigger kids have bigger problems, but often my problem solving role doesn't increase along with it. Most of the time, just holding his hand and listening gives him the most comfort.


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