* Having Issues

It's been a hard week for little Hercules.

It started on Tuesday night when he had his first major meltdown in weeks. It was awful. Shut inside his room, he shrieked "LET ME OUT!!" repeatedly as he hurled everything he could reach at his door. I went to the far end of the house and just cried.

He was sent to his room for behaving badly at the automotive shop. After we left I lectured him all the way home: how I won't take him with me anywhere because he pulls stunts like that, so this weekend I'm getting a sitter instead of taking him out to dinner with our friends. That really set him to crying and wailing, so when we pulled up to the house we were both in a pretty pissy mood.

This is where Rio and I slip into a terrible pattern: we feed off each other's anger and frustration. This is where I feel ashamed of me, because I am the adult, and I should set an example and have more control over my emotional reactions.

It's difficult to describe the dark shadow that passes over my heart whenever Rio goes into a meltdown, because my heart fills with such anger as I have never known before. I hate him right then, and then I hate myself for hating him, and I blame myself for all of his anger. It's an ugly thought pattern and one I really need to shed. It used to be much worse, but it hasn't quite gone away, either. And I still judge myself very harshly for having those feelings. It's not exactly acceptable to hate your own child. And of course I don't hate Rio, but at certain moments my darker emotions override everything else.

I'm trying to shed some light on my dark side. I cannot slay the beast, but I can learn to understand it.

Once the meltdown was in full swing I handled my emotions better than I have in the past. I didn't yell at him, I barely even spoke to him. I knew I had already blown it with him, and nothing I said would make a bit of difference while he's in that mindset. So I waited. And I cried a bunch, and then I felt a little better, so I decided to do some dishes until The Diva showed up for yoga.

I had all of them done when she arrived, and by then Rio was slightly subdued. Still yelling, but not shrieking much anymore, and the toys were hitting the door with considerably less force. I filled The Diva in on the scene, cried some more, and then she took over, bless her.

(God, bless That Diva the most. She needs some blessings)

In a few minutes it was all over. They called me in and we negotiated a truce. Reluctantly at first, Rio agreed to clean up all the stuff he had thrown and/or dumped all over his room. So while we did yoga in the next room, little Hercules transformed himself from Hell Boy to Charming One. He was cooperative, sweet, and even remorseful. There was no trace left of the previous devilry.

That night I was reminded of a couple of things, things that I know but often forget to do at the most critical of times:

  • Before I discipline Rio I have to cool down myself.

  • During a meltdown, it's too late for lectures about choices & consequences. Rio needs to be physically comforted and calmed down (Rio is a very physical little guy and he really responds best to actions, not words). Then he can be disciplined appropriately.

  • Control is an illusion.
The last one relates to my own control issues concerning Rio, which is exactly what this all comes down to. I want to control Rio's behavior, but I cannot, and this makes me feel powerless, and I rebel against that. It stirs up the worst in me. I'm really grappling with this, so I obviously have some control issues that I haven't dealt with fully yet. It has a lot to do with my perfectionist nature.

In spite of that dramatic evening at home, Rio had had a pretty smooth week at school, until today, that is. Today his principal called me at work. Rio punched a boy at lunchtime for laughing at him (don't they know not to fuck with Hercules??), and he had already kicked another kid earlier for some unknown offense. The principal, therefore, deemed that he should not be allowed to go on the school field trip this afternoon and asked me to come get him.

So we went home and I put Rio to work cleaning his room and vaccuuming. He was remarkably cooperative, and even remorseful. He apologized to me for making me miss work! He accepted his sentence (grounded until 4, then no TV or computer) without a fuss. We discussed what happened at school, and he understands very well that what he did was unacceptable. The problem is, Hercules doesn't ever think about hitting anyone. If he did, it wouldn't happen. Unfortunately, Hercules only feels, then acts, and thinks about it later. We're trying to retrain him in that regard. It will take some time, but with lots of consistency I'm confident he'll get the hang of it. Eventually.

Meanwhile, here's a little tip for any child that encounters Rio:

Don't piss off Hercules, he's a bad ass when he's mad!

Please, for your own sake!

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