I was working several weeks ago when my six year old got home from school, promptly running up to my room to share some news. He was nervous and worried. “Ok, Mom. I have to tell you something bad I said at school today. You have to promise to not get mad.”
“Okay,” I said. “I can’t promise that I won’t be angry, but I promise to listen and not yell.”
“Okay.” Big sigh. “I said something really bad today”. I prepared myself for a good old-fashioned ‘poopyhead’, ‘jerk’, or even ‘asshole’. Some insight: We are not fans of censoring ourselves in this house. Though we have improved in minimizing our potty mouths, we still let the occasional F-bomb or “Ow, shit!” slip when we stub a toe or something. In a broad sense, I believe in teaching appropriate usage of curse words: Never towards someone and only in appropriate situations (our own home, amongst teenage friends playing Xbox, etc). I find them incredibly helpful in relieving anxiety and frustration.
“Okay, bud. Deep breath. Just tell me what you said.”
“Okay, well. I told Ethan… that I would stab him.”
I blinked. Twice. I tried REALLY hard to stifle the laughter I felt deep in my twisted, dark humored nurse brain. Quickly I made a mental list of solid arguments AGAINST the fact that my child was a psychopath. He is empathetic and cares about others, he is kind to animals, he is (sometimes) kind to his little brother. Did he mean “I will stab you with LOVE!”?!?!
“Oh. Um. Well, that was not very nice Ryan. WHY would you say something so mean to someone? You are NOT allowed to threaten another person, EVER. I am very disappointed.”
“I know, Mom. I won’t ever do it again. I’m sorry.” Truly remorseful, truly sorry. Scared eyes.
“What did Ethan do? Was he mean to you as well? What did your teacher say?”
“She said we do not ever say things like that. He didn’t do anything, I was just mad.”
“She was right, we don’t. I do not EVER want to hear you say anything like this again, got it? It makes me very sad. You are way too sweet of a boy to be a bully. The most important thing is to be kind, more than anything else, ever.” I opened my arms for a hug, and my big guy obliged.
“Got it, Mom. I’m sorry. I got it.”
As he turned to leave me to my work, he turned hopefully and said, “Hey Mom. At least I still got green today.”
“Uh, that’s good bud. But, never again on the threatening, got it?”
“Got it.” And he really did.
Alone afterwards I texted my sister what happened, along with a knife emoji and telling her that hey, he didn’t say he wanted to stab the kid with a knife, so we have that going for us. Dark humor, my favorite coping mechanism.
Her response: “His teacher was like, like ohhhh… sweetie, just stabbing with a crayon? Okay then green for today. If knife, then definitely red. Red for blood.”
I replied, “Green for stabby scribbles, I’ll call that a win. Should we celebrate?!”
I love my sister. She gets me, probably more than anyone else. Sometimes when your sweet, loving, ADHD kid tells you they threatened to stab someone…. You freeze, feign adultness, freak out, and take a deep breath and laugh about it with your sister. Because even though we want them to be perfect little angels and do well everyday, they are just kids and need to learn what is and is not acceptable. It is up to us to teach these things. I frequently need reminders that children learning right and wrong – and messing up often along the way – is not a reflection of parenting failure. I most definitely needed to remember this that day, and many since times in the days ahead.
While this was certainly NOT an okay thing to say, my big dude really did not possess the intent behind the words. Better he learn now than when he is a teenager and facing a police officer instead of a wonderful Kindergarten teacher and myself. In the several weeks since this happened, we have never had a situation like this happen again.
Parenting is a hard gig, man. I choose to laugh about as much as I can, whenever I can. The good, the bad, the really weird, the really hard. And today, as I reflect back on how much we have moved forwards in the past couple of months, I reminded myself to laugh about Stabby McStabberson. It was a bit hard to share, but it was real life. Hopefully we have seen the last of Stabby ‘round these parts, partner.