I’m worried about the boy.
I don’t know why, because he always seems to pull through every situation that infancy and toddlerhood have thrown at him. He weaned himself off the boob, he weaned himself off the suss and he practically toilet-trained himself. Heck, he’s even over the obsessive-compulsive disorder that plagued him for a year.
I thought I’d learned that it wasn’t worth the effort to stress over him, because he always worked it out on his own.
But lately I’ve been noticing a certain kind of behaviour that troubles me. He refuses to talk to us when he’s upset. I know he’s only 3, but I find it strange that he’s emotionally-driven enough to cry at the drop of a hat, but he can’t tell me when something’s bothering him.
Last night at dinner, he suddenly decided he didn’t like what I had prepared. I didn’t blame him because I pretty much thought it sucked, too. But I told him that if he was going to want dessert, he had to eat something for dinner. Instead of responding, he just pushed away his plate.
When I asked him what was wrong, he just shook his head. I told him it’s okay to be upset, but he needs to learn how to talk to us about it so we can help him figure things out. He just got up from the table and said, quite forcefully, “Leave me alone.”
Leave me alone?
He’s a very sensitive kid – cries easily, laughs easily and is incredibly compassionate when it comes to others. He’s scared of everything from tiny insects to falling off the slide. Whereas this drives my father-in-law crazy, I was never so bothered by it. I figured that the plus side was that he’d always be able to communicate his feelings and not keep things bottled up.
Like some other people I know.
But as it turns out, that’s not the case. Being sensitive, caring and compassionate doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to communicate.
When he gets a time out, he cries. But when I go over at the end of 3 minutes to ask him if he understands what he’s done wrong, he can’t even look me in the eye. Forget about articulating why he was punished.
And when he gets angry or frustrated, I see his jaw clench. Or his fists tighten. Sometimes, he even does this little shaky thing with his shoulders. And when it gets really bad, he leans over and hugs his sister.
With clenched fists.
I can’t figure out if it’s a “you’re my size, maybe you get me” kind of hug, or a “when they’re not looking, I’m going to strangle you” kind of hug. It makes me think the kid’s a sociopath.
And when he’s sad, it’s just the saddest thing on the planet. It breaks my heart to see disappointment or unhappiness on his face, or in his eyes. And I try to tell him that if he could just use his words and tell me what’s on his mind, we could go through whatever is bothering him together.
The funny thing is, the kid’s got a fantastic vocabulary. He comes out with sentences and articulates thoughts like nobody’s business. So many people comment that he’s like a 30 year old in a 3 year old’s body. But he can’t tell me what’s on his mind.
It’s important to be able to express yourself, to be heard. It’s important to realize that you can derive comfort from the love and support of others. And it’s just toxic to keep things bottled up.
Is it just his age? His current stage of development? Because from his other traits, I thought for sure he’d be like me. It’s already evident the girl will have no trouble speaking her mind.
But the boy.
What about the boy?