Right as we were finishing up the laundry I heard Jude (5) wailing. His brother, Ezra (7), came out wearing Jude’s blue shirt. Jude was mad about this and wanted his shirt back. He was just screaming and crying, really over the top.
Ezra, on the other hand, was very pleased with his shirt and walking around happily.
I could feel myself literally starting to get a head ache at the screaming. I sat down and put my head on my hands for just a second and then turned to Jude. I gathered him into my arms and he began saying, “Mommy, Get my shirt back! Get my shirt back, mommy!”
These types of situations are the hardest in parenting aren’t they?
When children fight, it’s hard not to become the referee. And we have to make on-the-spot decisions about how to respond and what’s a fair solution. We have to know when to stay out of it, and when to get involved. I really didn’t know what to do in this situation.
So I just calmed myself down and then I listened.
“You’re really mad about that shirt.”
This statement helped Jude’s screaming come down a notch and he rested in my arms. I slid down on the couch so we were laying side by side. We lay there quietly for a few moments.
I thought, o.k., maybe this is over, maybe we can move past this now.
Then Jude started to sit up and say again, “Mom, you just gotta get my shirt back.” The intensity and pain was still in his eyes.
So I asked him, “What would it mean to you to have that shirt right now?”
I thought for a second and then just stated what I was perceiving.
“It’s like your stuck, Jude. You’re just stuck on this shirt. And if you can get past it, if you can get past this shirt, a whole world of opportunities will open for you. Opportunities for play, for fun, for joy,”
“For T.V…” Jude filled in with a suggestion of him own, smiling.
“Yeah, exactly, you just gotta get past this shirt.”
He got it.
The smile was back, the light in his eyes. Then Koa (3) came in asking for string cheese. Jude jumped off my lap to go get one for him and himself.
I haven’t heard another peep about the blue shirt.
We all get stuck sometimes, don’t we? And if we can just get past that thing – whatever it is we’re obsessing about – a world of opportunities will open for us, too.