the first asshole was a 5-year old boy. he wasn't an asshole when his mother picked him up, but he immediately owned up to a "bad" day and when his mother found a note from his teacher in his backpack that read: 1. left classroom and went to playground on own, 2. tore up math sheet and other students' work, 3. threw other students' objects off of desks... his mother assigned the asshole judgment to him in her mind (this was not a great way to start their evening together) while getting him into his carseat.
|not really what our ride home looks like.|
by the time they got home, there was only one asshole (the mother) left. the first asshole had become a 5-year boy again. He was vulnerable and dealing with something brand new and on a grander scale than anything he'd ever experienced without the support of a parent before... and he was frightened. he didn't know how to communicate his needs for comfort to his teachers, other care providers, and fellow students. his aggressive actions were the attempts of a desperate person who doesn't have the words for his feelings. he was essentially crying out "i am feeling something really big and really scary and i need your help to define it and reassure me that i'm safe here!"
one asshole and one 5-year old began their evening at home with the asshole sitting in silence (attempting to let the rage drain out of her body) and the boy playing in his room. the boy came to the asshole after a little while because he was done playing and wanted to do his homework. the asshole asked the boy to clean up his room and he responded by whining about how hard it was.
the asshole saw a lightbulb illuminate over her head. this was a great opportunity to play out a life lesson that will help in kindergarten and beyond: when something is wrong--tell someone, and ask for help.
the asshole was a different kind of asshole now... not the horrible-parent-who-dislikes-her-own-child-kind. more the self-important-know-it-all-giver-of-all-wisdom kind. the boy didn't take too kindly to her and her attempts to coach. he responded by going back to his room. when she went to check on him a few minutes later she found that he had dumped all of his dresser drawers onto the floor on top of the piles of toys he'd left before.
the asshole went back to being the horrible-parent-who-dislikes-her-own-child-kind and left the room to spare the boy her tears of frustration. it was futile. a few minutes later she heard the boy generating sobs of his own. she went back into his room and found him buried deep under his covers, wailing (these two characters are very dramatic--it works for them). She was still an asshole, but an asshole with heart, so she reached up and took him into her arms and they went and sat together. Eventually her sobs started to drown his out--this didn't sit well with him, escalated his tears, and this disturbed her further. She felt helpless...
She wasn't an asshole anymore either. She was a 32 year old woman, vulnerable, and dealing with something brand new and on a grander scale than anything she's ever experienced without the support of a parent or partner before... and she was frightened. she didn't know how to communicate her need for comfort. her aggressive actions/judgments were the attempts of a desperate person who doesn't have the words for her feelings. she was essentially crying out "i am feeling something really big and really scary and i need your help to figure out what to do with it and for some reassurance about my safety!"
and there were no more assholes left in the house and there are no more assholes left in this story.
the mother told the boy how loved and lovable he is, how wanted and treasured he is, how safe and protected he is... and in turn she was loved and lovable again, wanted and treasured again, safe and protected again.
two assholes shared a car ride home from elementary school today. two lovable-perfect-exactly-the-way-they-are-beings cleaned up a bedroom together, did homework together, ate dinner together, and will snuggle up with a bedtime book later tonight.