And so I sit here on one side of the door with that 4 year old child acting full-on bratty and screaming on the other side. I am trying out what I have been afraid to do, which is to put Fort in his room as a time out. By himself. He is now understanding consequences and knows exactly what he is doing. And when I sit in the room with him, he is kicking me and trying to engage me verbally. Anything he can think of - from "you are mean" to "go away...shoo!" to "I hate you". It can be comical - when he says what he thinks will make me mad- "I'm going to pop my balloon" or "I'm not going to eat pizza any more". I can hear the little wheels in his mind whirring- so frustrated at not being able to get the response he wants from me. I am working so hard to remain neutral. I moved to the hallway, where he can open the door and see me, but can't try to pinch me or head-butt me. He is not locked in, so he opens the door and closes it. Locks it from his side. Then opens it - yells "shoo". And slams it shut. Kicks the door, louder, louder. It rattles in my ear. It does get me. I am not neutral. I am furious and worried and just want him to melt down, cry it out, and be sorry. The kicking stops. He is so grumpy. Just yelling rude things. He says he is going to tell on me when daddy gets home. He is going to tell Grandma. As his physical behavior has mellowed out, his verbal behavior has gotten worse. He says "I hate you" and "I'm going to punch you in the face".
His pre-school starts in 15 minutes. He has said he is not going. I don't want him to think he is in control - that he can chose when he goes and doesn't go. But am I really going to drag him there, kicking and screaming? Would he disrupt the class all day? Is he in no state to go to school and should I keep him home, or does that mean he has thrown a fit and gotten his way? Not only that, but of course I am in charge of organizing a bake sale today for the elementary school. I have told them I would be there at 9. Not an end of the world thing, but it's something I agreed to do and I don't want to leave them in the lurch. So although I know without a doubt that sitting on the floor outside his room is where I need to be, other responsibilities and self-doubt are lurking around the edges of my mind.
It is quiet in there. I cannot tell if he is playing. I hear a rhythmic sound. Is he kicking his bed? He is still mad.
Then I hear it. The crying. Not the mad kind, but the sad kind. The "I'm alone in my room and I'm hurting" kind. I open the door and he is lying on the rug, both hands to his face, and tears streaming down. I crawl in from the hall, lie down next to him and scoop him in my arms. I don't ask him to say sorry yet, I just say "let's be done fighting", so he knows I'm there. I'm nice, warm mommy. Mommy who loves him and isn't yelling or telling him no or holding him back from the door or from kicking. And he is sweet Fort again. The one who just discovered that we all die and has been telling me "But I don't WANT you to die". The boy who told me we needed to go back to his orphanage and teach them about hugs. The one who says sure! when I ask him to help me with anything. The boy I know he is at his core, and the one I am trying so hard to teach him how to be all the time. It is exhausting like nothing I have ever done before.