Yesterday we had a date with a girl in the neighborhood. Trev and she met a couple of years ago, but somehow they didn't establish a friendship or meet regularly, though her mother and I see each other often and wave and say hello.
She lives on the next street.
The day before yesterday we went to a neighborhood playground, viewable from their home, and they came over to say hi and to play. So we made a date for Wednesday afternoon, after school. (Just giving you this background in case we meet often, which I suspect we will, and you'll know from where she and their friendship came.)
Yesterday while playing tag on the tramp whenever Trev would get close, she'd drop into a curled position, which meant "I'm safe, you can't get me." Every time Trev got within a couple of feet, she'd do this.
Well, eventually he got really frustrated and would "aaaaargh!" and hit himself on the head with his fist. He's been doing this a lot lately. Well, not a lot as in constantly, what I mean is that it's his current method of dealing with frustration.
Like thump, thump, thump, "Stupid Me."
I always stop it. "Hey, hey, hey, don't hit my son," I say. Probably (definitely) I should change that to "your Self", as he needs to be valued for his Self, not for being my son. Initially I just wanted to convey that I love my children and feel protective of them, and can't allow mistreatment of them. But I can see now where I need to change that wording.
Anyway. Thank God Jo (mom) was there, because she noticed my distress, and asked "Does he do that often?" "The last couple of weeks, I said."
I stopped him, and asked him if he was frustrated (obviously) and he said yeah, and I told him, "Well, why don't you tell Al that you don't really want to play that game any more?" Which he did, and her conclusion was to not go into "time out" so much, and then they had a great time playing tag.
Now I'm feeling really lame because it took this incident to bring it all the way to the front of my mind, and to notice [ahem] that I may want to do something about this. (You know how some things don't make it to the front of your brain for a while? They just sit on the back burner? It's like being only partly conscious of it happening.)
So now I've really started thinking about this.
Clearly it's an expression of anger or frustration.
And I absolutely have a problem with it.
Self destruction is absolutely not okay with me - there are healthier outlets for expressing anger or frustration. Belittling one's self, hurting one's self can only lead to other self destructive things - shame, not believing in one's self, etc. I'm just not okay with it.
So! I'm in pursuit of healthy outlets for anger and frustration.
Absolutely I don't want them to zip it up.
Absolutely I don't want them to turn it upon themselves.
Of course hitting another is not acceptable, either.
I don't particularly like "YOU IDIOT!!!", either. Which has been a favorite previously.
It is not my intention to have them express that's in a way acceptable to me and my preferences, or to repress it and cause them harm.
But, on the other hand, if I have tools (that I was not given as a child) that can help transform this normal emotion into something that does not have to take over your life and debilitate you (as a child and as an adult), I would surely like to pass that on! Breathing, practicing mindfulness, etc.
Ideally (where I would like us to be) is a place where Trev recognizes the signs of frustration building, and he calls for an end to it before it culminates into such great heights. He has excellent communication skills, usually, and maybe it's just a matter of practicing and remembering them. On the other hand, who is to say that isn't what happened? Could be that it's only difficult for Me to deal with the way he chose to deal with his frustration, and it wasn't that big of a deal, to him.
I think this rainy sort of day (with a clean house!) is a perfect one for breaking out Naomi's Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves again. Seems I need a refresher course.
I'll take all insight that you have to offer, Friends.