Occasional Digging Required

It was mid-afternoon when his mood had turned suddenly foul, his behavior bordering on the improper.  He was lashing out for no good reason and frequently hiding his face in his hands.  It was clear something was brewing, but he wasn’t talking.

So I waited.

And I waited some more.

Meanwhile his behavior escalated, and it was obviously time to dig.

I told him I didn’t want to take his actions at face value, that I wanted to find out what was causing him to engage with his family so uncharacteristically.

He seemed relieved—knowing a consequence was not imminent.

And then he started to cry.

His younger brother was getting an award, and he admitted that though he was proud he was also extremely jealous.

He said he was crying because he didn’t like the fact that he felt jealousy, didn’t like the way it made him feel.

Reason does not customarily reside with intense feelings.  So, telling my nine-year-old son that he has had plenty of recognitions and that there are many more to come would never have sufficed.

So I asked him what specifically he didn’t like about jealousy.

He said he hated that he felt that way when underneath it all he really was so, so proud of his brother.

He said he wished he could control his feelings.

But of course he can’t.  We can’t.  Feelings are often irrepressible and generally ill-timed.

So, I asked him to consider attending his brother’s award ceremony and simply aim to control his behavior—and then  just see what happens, see if his feelings change because he made a conscious decision about his behavior.

And he did.

And so they did.

Simple as that.



7 thoughts on “Occasional Digging Required

  1. The boys are growing up. Your son is learning about life and his feelings. It is good that he can talk about them and control them. You are doing a great job with the family.

  2. I think that was very insightful awareness of his feelings, especially given his age and very sweet that he cared about his brother. Well done on the way you handled the situation, I too take note on how to handle situations and the wording used. Thank you for sharing.

  3. It’s a common trait that often surfaces in spite of ourselves and our intellect.
    Learning how to deal with it early on endures.
    Nice handling.

  4. Oscar can be proud that he has supported his brother through the last two tumultuous years while still remaining a lovely young man. Samantha, you all are

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