Things went a bit pear-shaped in our house the other day, leading to a thoroughly unpleasant evening for all of us. A question was asked of me and I answered it honestly, in a way that I thought was best for the whole family. It turns out this wasn’t the response that was required. The questioner knew what response they required. So my answer turned out to be really bad for the family, leading to five very unhappy bunnies.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t cheer up, I couldn’t snap out of it. I wanted to escape it all and for everyone to be happy again. I got angry and irrational.
My poor daughter was in bits. There’s nothing quite like seeing your child really upset to calm you down. I apologised to her and sat with her trying to make it all better. My younger son was sat with his back to me staring at the telly far more intently than usual. I asked him if he was OK.
‘He’s not OK,’ said my daughter. I cuddled them both and then he pulled away and curled up on the settee.
I went to find my eldest to apologise.
‘Why are you sorry?’
‘For being a silly mummy.’
‘You’re not a silly mummy.’
‘But I got angry.’
‘We all do that sometimes.’
And I gave him the biggest hug. Who was this boy? Where was the grumpy 12 year old who likes nothing better than to niggle his brother and sister? Who was this caring boy?
Deep down, below all the 12 year old humour and sulkiness, there is a lovely boy with great empathy and understanding. We don’t see this side of my son anywhere near as much as we should, but when the time is right, the caring boy comes out. He was the only one who tried to understand and said it was OK. Of course it wasn’t really OK, but everyone gets angry and unhappy sometimes. They shouldn’t upset the people they care about, but there’s no real damage done.
My son understands because he’s like me. We are the two most likely to snap, most likely to lose the plot, to scream and shout, to feel as if the whole world is ending and we don’t know how to make it better.
But with those few words, he made it better for me.