Joe-Henry is playing with a friend. They are playing baseball, like they do every time. This friend, who is three years older, is goading Joe-Henry, quietly, like he always does, because he loves it when Joe-Henry screams and yells and I tell him to stop.
It's going to get ugly, because my boy is tired, and has had some candy at the movies. He's bored. And this kid knows EXACTLY which buttons to push.
I am mowing the lawn. The mower stops and I hear Joe-Henry yelling to me from inside the house, "Mom, V just tried to hurt me!". I had seen the boy heading next door moments before, so I head in to check on Joe-Henry. He's crying and yelling at me to go next door and take care of things.
Calm down, I say, tell me what happened. He's yelling, I DID tell you, he tried to hurt me, he said "Oh, you want to get me? I'm not afraid of you!", and he pushed me down and hit me on the head with the ball.
Why, I ask, did he say "you want to get me?", because, he says I accidently threw the batting helmet and it almost hit him. But it was AN ACCIDENT, he screams, knowing he just told me the important part of the story that I need to know.
I know full well the scope and range of my son's anger, and this, I say is where the tantrums stop. He is nine and a half years old. It's time to find a new, better way to deal with being really, really mad.
I told him that I wasn't going next door, that tomorrow HE could talk to his friend. If he wanted, I could talk to him if he comes over again and tell him they can play something other than baseball, and be nice or go home. But this issue was his to resolve, and he'd better wait a day to do it, so that he's calm. He cried and yelled and told me I wasn't doing my job as his mom.
But I am, see? And that's the part that sucks.
What I don't tell him is this: As much as I want to go next door and tell the little shit to stop baiting Joe-Henry until he explodes because he thinks it's funny, and stop coming over here just because you're bored and want to play with my son's stuff, and just because you're big brother picks on you, you don't get to come over here and pass that crap down the line, stay away, you little weasel and quit picking on my son, I don't do that.
I took the Wii away for a day, because he was screaming at me. Someday he'll know that I'm not betraying him, or taking someone else's side, I'm just being HIS mom. Because that IS my job.
One Mixed-Up Night
1 week ago