As far as labels go, V could possibly be classified as a “difficult kid”. The problem with labels is that no one can really compare my difficult with another person’s. I could have the most laid-back, logical, un-insane kid, but if I choose to call him difficult there’s no way to dispute me. There’s a lot of hoo-ha about labeling kids and how it messes with their self esteem — indeed their life! — but this seems to be the problem only with perceived negative labels. After all, I haven’t heard of anybody calling the CPS over labeling someone a fantastic child or a talented little person, and so on.
V knows that he’s picky. He agrees that he has a quick temper that turns him into a mean person. He sometimes even tells me that he realizes when he’s being illogical and argumentative but can’t seem to stop doing it. We are constantly working on that. We have both come to realize his triggers and most times when he’s unable to react to situations in a non-disruptive way, I have learned to diffuse them in various ways.
Yesterday, though, I couldn’t. I yelled at him like I haven’t in a while. I grabbed him by his shoulders too hard. I shoved him. I punched the bed a few times right in front of him because I couldn’t punch him. I got so mad I almost cried. I’d totally lost it. And the worst part was I knew in my mind all along that it wasn’t a behaviour I wanted him to emulate. I was being the exact same person that I wanted him NOT to be. That I’d worked with him all this time for him to be able to control this exact impulse that I could not control in myself. I. just. could. not. stop.
I was where he is so many times a week or month, and even I couldn’t stop myself. He’s 7, and I’m, well, older. I should know better. And I did. But I couldn’t stop anyway.
If someone called me a difficult person, I could live with it. I could bear it knowing that someone still loves me even if they and I both know I’m difficult. And that’s my lesson from yesterday: V is my difficult kid, but he will be okay as long as he knows I’m always in his corner. My job is not to protect him from what everybody thinks of him — his own behaviour will influence that. My job is to be there for him, labels and all.
PS: I did go and apologize to him before he fell asleep (this all happened at bedtime), but I felt rotten for a long time after. Hopefully the scars will be all mine.