Anyway, he’d been whacked in the shin with a plastic rake by our three year old Hudson. Apparently it wasn’t the first whack because John said, “I told you if you did that again I’d take away the rake.”
And so he did. Up onto a high shelf in the garage it went.
My husband was on his way to help our daughter Jules with something when this happened. He was blindsided, annoyed, in a hurry, trying to do too many things at once and in pain. Everyone loves John. And this is the kind of thing that happens when you’re highly sought after.
Hudson, like all people who exhibit, as they say, “aggressive behavior” was hurting. About something. That his son was in pain, certainly wasn’t the first thing that came to John’s mind . Understandably. Nonetheless, I wish that it had been.
As John went over to help Jules (who was likely screaming with impatience: “Come on Dad!”) Hudson was left near me. Crying hysterically. Angry. And with a mission. No one was going to take his rake away! So he started scrambling, trying to figure out how he could climb up onto the tool table to reach his rake.
Me, I’m thinking, Fuck! How did this happen? And now what?
If I could remember exactly what I then said to Hudson, I’d tell you. I didn’t get the rake for him. I tried to empathize though it was the last thing he wanted to hear. He was enraged. Somehow (again, it’s a blur), he decided to join me on my trip to the market. He had his blanket. He was in the backseat sucking his fingers. He’d calmed down. Some.
But it wasn’t over.
After twenty minutes in the market, we headed to the car, at which point I said, “You were very upset when Daddy took your rake…”
He cut me off with “I don’t want to talk about that.”
“Well I know there is a reason you hit him. You must have been really upset about something.”
This got his attention. I wasn’t going to tell him what he already knows, that we don’t hit. He didn’t want to hear that. That he knew.
“He said he would come up to my room and play with me,” he very quietly said.
And there it was. He was hurt. Somehow, something his sister had said to Dad had taken his Dad away from him. From their time to connect. To play together. To be together.
Now I’m not certain if John had said he would go up, but that was the impression Hudson apparently had. And maybe John had said he’d come up after he finished something with Jules. Who knows. There was a lot going on. But whatever had happened, Hudson believed his Dad was going to go play with him and then on a dime he wasn’t. And instead he was going to be with his sister.
On our way home I asked Hudson if he’d like to talk to dad about what happened. If he’d like to share with him why he was so upset that he hit him with the rake.
As we climbed the stairs, he made it clear he wanted me to do the talking for him.
Which I did.
“Oh Huddy,” John said. “I’m so glad you shared that with me. I do want to play with you in your room. Would you like to go play now?”
Hudson nodded yes.
And off they went to build.
When you’re whacked in the shin it can be very hard to remember that behind every aggressive impulse is some pain. And when it is coming from a young child, that yes, first the limit needs to be set “No hitting” but then, drop to your knees, “Hudson, you need something. You don’t have to hit me. You can yell, Dad please listen!’ and I will son. I will. How can I help?”
So when too much is going on to remember that (my husband is amazing, but not perfect!) remember to revisit it later. That’s the gift…we can come back to it. No need for anything to be swept under any rug.