The day I had dreaded finally arrived. My sweet, precious five-year-old son told me he didn’t love me. I knew he didn’t mean it, but it cut my heart into a million pieces and it took all of my power not to break down into tears in front of him. It hurt because he was so adamant about his non-love for me that he kept spewing more and more unkind words. He was furious and I truly didn’t know why. This all came out of nowhere.
My husband and I were dumbfounded at his behavior. Did something happen at school? Were his sisters being mean to him? He wouldn’t tell us and it began to make me angry. What did I do to deserve his wrath? Why weren’t any of my “tricks” working, like holding him and letting him cry, telling him he was hurting my heart, giving him some space, or even tearing up myself and letting him see that his attitude was also affecting my emotions?
This little guy was so irascible that he went around the house turning pictures of my husband and me around, hitting furniture, and sobbing. “I’m going to break your bed!” he announced.
“Go ahead, buddy. Hit it as hard as you can. Get it out,” I replied calmly.
“I’m not your sunshine anymore! I don’t love you!!” was his answer.
I acknowledged his frustration and anger with a simple, “I will always love you, even when you’re mad at me. You will always be my sunshine.”
Then, it hit me. What does he do every single day that seems to center him, bring him calm, and make him happy? He draws. I asked him to draw what he was feeling and he immediately ran to the art supplies and drew a crying face. “Why is the face so sad?” I asked. “Because it’s hot outside and he doesn’t want to walk around.”
A ha! He had overheard my husband and I talking about going to a fall carnival later in the day. He was worried about getting overheated and the excessive amount of walking that would inevitably occur. He’s a little guy and tires easily but, for some reason, couldn’t (wouldn’t) tell us this. He just got MAD.
After telling him that we were planning on bringing the covered wagon, he was immediately apologetic. We explained that his behavior was unacceptable and he needed to use his words. Our conversation with him lasted a bit longer, but the gist of it was: that was not cool, bud.
After the hugs and a little more crying and apologizing, he ran off to play. He returned a few minutes later and handed me another drawing, this time with a smiley face and the words, “I love you, mommy.”