You guys, I have discovered The Secret to Boys. I will share it with you here because I like you so much, but let's keep it between us, OK? Mostly because I don't want to get referred to the school counselor in a few years. Because, you guys? The secret to communicating with little boys who are angry or frustrated or sad? Or who cannot stop PICKING ON THEIR BROTHER FOR THE LOVE?
Is to act EXACTLY LIKE A FIVE YEAR OLD BOY.
I am telling you that I have spent half my life over the last few days calmly (and let's face it, not so calmly) attempting to explain to Charlie that he needs to stop picking on Wes all the stinkin' time. Stop poking him, stop calling him names, stop taking things from him, stop telling him what to do. But the thing that has best diffused the situation before it has escalated was to teach Wes to call him names right back.
Let me give you an example. They were exiled to the backyard for wild indoor behavior this afternoon (you'll see why they were behaving wildly inside in a moment). Charlie came to the back door to tell me that Wes had called him a (wait for it, it is quite awful, you might need to avert your eyes) "mimic-head".
So I said "You ARE a mimic-head", because he totally is a mimic-head, and went back to making dinner.
And HE LAUGHED and WENT BACK TO PLAYING.
I am a freaking genius people.
Earlier, when Charlie was consumed with rage because the paintbrush could not do what he wanted it to, and was yelling "STUPID!" over and over as he stomped around the living room? I calmed him down by yelling "STUPID!" in a silly voice and throwing a pillow at him. He stifled a giggle. I got another pillow.
"STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID ARRRRGGHHHH!!!!!"
I smashed my fists into the pillow, then threw it at him.
He was doubled over laughing.
Then Wes started yelling stupid and throwing pillows and five minutes later we were all breathless, pillows covered the living room floor, and no one could remember who was so mad he'd snapped a paintbrush in two just moments before.
I was not prepared for how competitive and physical boys are, though my life now is casting every negative elementary school gym class experience into a different light. Nothing makes Charlie happier than when you run past him, dribbling a ball, then execute a perfect lay-up just as he tries to take the ball away. Except possibly blocking him with my shoulder, but that seems a little rough for a five-year old. If he makes a basket on you he can talk smack like a five-year-old Chicago Bull playing street ball. "OH HO HO, YOU MISSED! BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME MOM!" as he whizzes past me hanging onto the ball so I can't get it (TRAVELING!!). Is it poor sportsmanship or a valuable life skill? I've seen boys playing basketball on the playground and it seems to be their version of girl-talk, so I'm hesitant to squash it, though I do point out that if someone's feelings get hurt then he's gone too far.
So, we might have to put the coffee table away for a while and we might have to have our pediatrician on speed dial, but I can't imagine my life without this wonderful energy.
But I do hope his kindergarten teacher is a patient, STRONG, woman.