Hank: (knocking on my bedroom door) Mama?
Me: Come on in, pal.
Hank: Mom, I wanted to apologize for my behavior.
Me: I thank you for your apology and I want you to know: I hear you.
Hank: I feel bad for acting the way I did.
Me: I agree that there is a better way to handle your sadness and disappointments.
Hank: It just boils in me.
Me: I am listening.
Hank: That is all I have to say.
Me: May I say one thing?
Me: I heard you. You were overwhelmed about your test tomorrow, about the fact that you had homework in addition to your test, you were overwhelmed realizing you could have spent more time this weekend preparing for your test tomorrow, but you forgot and you are hurt by kids at school, the things they say and that you are being seen more now than you ever were in primário (K-4th grade).
Hank: Everyone has something to say about me and I hate it.
Me: I am listening and I cannot imagine how difficult that is for you.
Hank: I hate school.
Me: I understand. May I suggest we try making your home your very best place where you can recover from school?
Hank: I can’t help getting upset! I can’t help it! I want to when it is over, but…
Me: While it is happening you just want to watch the world burn.
Me: I know. I see it in your eyes. I remember that feeling.
Me: Tomorrow, can you take the first 30 minutes when you get home from school venting? You can vent to me, you can phone a friend or you can write all of your big feelings out in a notebook. You can say whatever you want in that notebook and papa and I will respect your privacy, but you have to show me that is what you are doing. No more YouTube when you get home. You can’t escape these big boiling feelings. You get home and you handle your heart and your responsibilities, then you can spend the rest of the night relaxing. You get too overwhelmed by the clock otherwise.
Hank: What do you mean by write it down?
Me: Just that! Write everything that is boiling in you. “My mom thinks she knows everything about me, but she doesn’t! I hate it when she doesn’t understand, but thinks she is so smart! I HATE IT!”
Hank: (mouth open like a codfish)
Me: Every kid resents and hates their parents while they are learning and transitioning! It is perfectly normal, because we think we know what is best for you and you think you know what is best for you and that creates conflict. Getting those feelings out doesn’t mean that they are true always; it means they were true in that moment and it’s better to have them on paper then eating a whole in your breaking heart.
Me: And you can do the same for the kids at school. You were telling your papa that some 8th grade boys were messing with you.
Hank: They called me ugly and made fun of my clothes and my hair.
Me: And what else?
Hank: Some eighth grade girls said, “Oh, is that the boy with lips like car break lights? He’s always wearing lipstick!” They don’t understand my lips are chapped and I can do nothing about it.
Me: You have sensitive skin and especially lips, you have to apply chapstick all day every day! I get it! This you get from me.
Hank: I could write that! I could write, “I am so mad at my mom for having stupid sensitive skin and lips! Now kids see me and make fun of me!”
Hank: (smiling) I’ll think about it, mom.
Me: Thanks for considering my idea, buddy, because we have got to get a handle on your emotional control. I am not making light of your situation now because…
Hank: It sucks.
Me: It does, IT SUUUUUUUUCKS, this bullying childish asshole behavior from others, it never ends. You cannot control how other people treat you, you can only control how you respond. People bully to feel powerful.
Hank: I know and that is why I don’t say anything and then come home and I am so ANGRY!
Me: (nodding) And I respect your choice to not engage, but I do not respect your choice to come home and take your anger out on us. I know you are attacked by the bullies at school, but that doesn’t give you the license to attack us.
Hank: (unconvinced and sassy) So I need to attack a notebook?
Me: It’s worth a try.
Me: Thank you for listening to my suggestion. I appreciate this respect and I am willing to be wrong. I don’t have all the answers, Hank, but I am willing to find the best one for you. I am willing to try anything.
Hank: Thanks, mom. I am going to do better, because I am not doing my best.
Me: School is something you have to survive and since you have eight years left let’s figure this out now, shall we?
Hank: Yah. Night, mama.
Me: Night, Hank. Love you.
Hank: Love you, too.