“Stop being a jerk,” I told Alex as I stood up from our position on the couch, side by side, and walked away. He was refusing to listen. He kept sighing, loudly, and squirming, purposefully stalling, during his reading homework. He wouldn’t even look at the words to read them, and instead just blurted out whatever word he felt like. He was being rude, an ongoing issue, and not doing what I told him to do the first time. He had ignored multiple requests that afternoon. He yelled at me. Twice.
Within a few minutes, he was on the other side of our long couch, curled up in a ball, under a blanket, very upset. He wasn’t crying, but he wasn’t doing anything at all other than sitting there with a frown on his face.
I wiped the counter in the kitchen. I caught up on social media for a few minutes. I felt bad.
“I’m sorry I got upset with you, buddy,” I said as I walked back in to the room where Alex was staring blankly ahead.
“It’s okay,” he said, his voice sounding so small, so young, as I sat down next to him.
“I shouldn’t have called you a jerk. That wasn’t very nice of me, and I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings.”
He moved in closer to me, then stood up enough to sit on my lap.
Bringing his knees closer to his chest, his entire body taking up the length of mine, he tucked the blanket around us. “It’s okay,” he repeated. We talked about his behavior, why I got mad, what I should have done differently, and what he really, really, needs to work on (hint: it’s listening and doing what we say the first time, and being patient with himself and others when doing chores/homework/tasks).
I won’t have many more days to have him curled up in a ball on my lap. He’s so big, so grown up, so independent. He won’t want to cuddle with me forever.
It wasn’t a proud parenting moment. It was an exhausted, frustrated with behavior, unable to deal with the not listening, blurting-out-words parenting moment. It isn’t the first time I’ve said something mean to him, lost my temper and scolded him or yelled, and it won’t be the last.
We cuddled for less than a minute before he was up again, back to whatever activity he was doing before I interrupted him to do his reading assignment.
I don’t think he will remember this. I don’t think he will remember how he could fit so well on my lap for so many years, and then, suddenly, not. But I will. When the day comes when he no longer sits on my lap, I will grieve.
Calling him a jerk was not good. But the moment of calm and quiet, cuddled in the corner of the couch with a blanket tucked around me by my awesome kid? That was good.