Because I have, of late, been relentlessly upbeat, I was rewarded with a fairly shitty day. Nothing catastrophic happened; it was just more of the usual challenges that suck the life-force from my soul.
It's 11:10 at night, and I am just sitting down to write. And it's not like I've been busy cleaning up the joint, and am now plunked down in my chair, exhausted but pleased, as I gaze out at my gleaming kitchen counters. Nope. I had to shove the kids' homework out of the way to fit my laptop on the table. I'm waving hello to the pizza box, which, if I was inclined to go open, probably still contains a gelatinous slice or two. I'm debating whether I should empty the remains of this morning's coffee and make a fresh pot, so I have the energy to unload and re-load the dishwasher. Maybe I'll just drink tea.
The mood of the day was established early, when Four refused to go to school unless he was allowed to bring Five's Nintendo DS game on the bus. I got him out the door toward the van that picks him up at the top of our driveway. Then I went inside and told Five I'd pay him money to let his brother borrow the game. He started negotiating a price, but I could feel the clock ticking, so I basically grabbed the game out of his hand and headed up to Four. Five came outside, sobbing, "You'd better not give him that game!" I got to Four and gave him the opportunity to do the right thing. Make his younger brother happy, or leave him crying. And this is where I should explain everything that was going through my mind at that moment.
The night before, taekwondo had ended badly. Four was disrespectful to me and the teacher, and he wouldn't/couldn't explain what had triggered his transformation from enthusiastic student to sassypants. This resulted in an hour of reading alone time in the bedroom before Four came out ready to apologize. So, I feared another complete meltdown.
The van driver is a nice, older gentleman who doesn't really understand the mood swings of my beloved Aspergian child. As I stood outside the van, negotiating with my boy, who was threatening to unbuckle, I let my feelings of inadequacy take over. I wanted to avoid looking like a failure, keep my kid in his seat, and send him off to school. Four chose the game over his brother, so I gave it to him, and told him he better enjoy it, because it was the last time it would ever rest in his hands.
Then I walked back toward Five, fully aware I had just left the frying pan to jump into the fire. It took an hour to calm him down. Here is the abbreviated version of his commentary:
"I trusted you. You're a nice person, but you just came in here and stole the game from me! And now I am really upset. You've taken my heart, and broken it. Ripped it into pieces! And I'm crying, and I'm not going to be able to stop, and everyone at school will know, and they'll make fun of me. And I'll be humiliated! I'm only seven, and I'm shy! And I'm afraid I won't be able to stop crying, and I'll have to spend the day at the nurse. I'm not going!" Seriously.
I swept the ashes of my heart into my hand, and attempted to explain. But it's hard to say, hey, listen, I know it sucks that you have this totally needy brother, but every so often, I'm going to screw you over. Instead, we decided that letting him watch a bit of a funny movie would stem the tide of tears, and a stop at Dunkin' Donuts would fortify him for the day ahead.
When Four got home, the first thing he asked was if I had told Five he was sorry. I said he would have to do that himself. He did, and Five accepted his apology. Later, he took great pleasure in telling Three that he had gone to "DD", all by himself, and ate his own cup of munchkins at a table.
"Why did you get to go there?" Three asked.
"Because mom stole my game from me, and gave it to Four. But I forgave her."
I asked him to repeat it to be sure.
Now I just have to do the same.