Copyright © 2014 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.
Today was Alice’s 11th birthday. It’s been quite a ride. On the weekend, Alice had been watching some TV in the morning and I politely let her know that she should finish up and get dressed so we could go shopping together. This flipped a switch on her – she went storming up to her room, locked the door and spent the next hour yelling at me because she wanted to watch TV and she would call the police and she was going shopping with mommy and she was “very angry at me” and so on. I just sat downstairs and caught up on my reading and ignored her. E and Stuart went out on their own errands. Alice was too busy yelling to notice. Finally she came down stairs. “Where’s mommy?” “She and Stuart went out like they said.” I had her sit down and I explained that I had asked her nicely and she chose to waste an hour of my time and that we were still going shopping and that when we got back and had lunch, I was going to waste an hour of her time. She calmed down and went shopping and I reminded her a few times that she still had her consequences when she got home. Still, she wasn’t happy when the rent came due. I hear that tweens behave this way. I also should point out that while her general demeanor is very happy and pleasant, that she is by no means free of less positive temperament.
Stuart, oddly enough, has decided in his head that he’s going to take better care of his sister and spend more time with her. He’s been playing with her, helping her keep on task in self-care, and generally being a good egg. He made several presents for Alice and helped sew her hoodie pajamas and today he decided at school that he was going to set up a “treasure hunt” for her for her gifts and made up clues to point from gift to gift. After her birthday dinner, he hid all her presents with the clues. I didn’t see how this was going to work out, but with some adjustments, it worked quite well and both kids were running around the house, laughing.
Alice tore into her presents and was very happy. She’s in bed, still wound up and still happy.
I think the most telling thing was during dessert. Stuart said, “I’m very happy to be Alice’s brother.” And since we point out, gently, when Stuart is being (unfairly) hard on himself (which he does frequently), I felt it best to also point out that he was being quite kind to himself. His response, “Hey, why wouldn’t I be?” And bravo to you, my son, that is exactly the right question to ask.