Sunday, December 03, 2006

I hope it was just a bad evening

Our reactions seem to be a bit extreme.

Brian and Evan are at each other again.

Evan is sick and tired and without patience. It seems to me that he will accept nothing less than subservience from younger Brian.

Brian has been though youngest for years. He has had a series of older brothers. He has had enough of being treated like the little kid. He does not like being pushed aside. He can be abrasive when he is in the right. If an older child does not know how the microwave works, Brian can be quite annoying as he demonstrates how very simple it is. Really, a baby could do it. "You didn't see how this works? The button is right here."

So he is annoying.

And Evan is tired and has no patience. Evan has not taken a course in de-escalation. Evan feels threatened. Evan is an alpha male and anyone who does not speak to him the way he believes they should must be put in his place.

So Evan yells at Brian.

Evan's anger seems to me out of proportion with what Brian is doing. Worse, I know that being yelled at like that, being pushed down and being told to shut up will only make Brian worse. He will work harder at finding innocent-looking ways to piss Evan off.

Evan is the imperialist general and Brian is the guerilla warrior.

And me? Well, I try to talk to each of them separately, but they are both committed to their roles. I want for Evan, being 19, to make the effort to see the pattern and change his reactions.

But I have my role too. I am the protective mother who gets angry at either of them when they go too far. I sympathize and lecture each when I can get them alone.

And I am also the abuse survivor. I have in me the little girl who sees an adult-size male justifying yelling at a child because the child has smart-mouthed him. I see fury in the eyes of the adult who tells me that he does not have to treat the child with respect if the child does not follow the adult's expectations. I have to remind myself that Evan is not an adult. He is large, but he is an adolescent, not an adult.

He is an exhausted, stressed, tired teenager who grew up with men who demanded deferential behavior in the children around them and who were willing to use whatever threats, and eventually whatever actions, necessary to guarantee that deference. I know he is trying. I know he wishes to learn another way. I know that it is a long journey.

I look also at the 12-year-old boy who has had too many older brothers, who has become too good at geurilla warfare. I worry for the habits he is developing. I want for him to have older siblings who will not inadvertantly feed his behavior, but who will instead model mature and honest ways to interact, and I know I expect too much from the older boys.

Evan has been sick and therefore home -- all the time. For about a week he has been home. Two (three?) days this week Brian and Evan stayed home alone together. Neither of them complained to me about the other, so they must have worked it out.

Maybe it is worse when I am here -- maybe my reaction to it makes it worse. Perhaps where I see repeating psycho-dramas of dominance and resistance, there is only the sniping of boys who have been spending too much time together.

Dear Lord, I hope so.

1 comment:

  1. we have a brian, his name is beau, and he is fourteen. the bit about the microwave sounded just like him. i think a lot of it is just a little brother thing. beau has been making jon's life a living hell since he learned how to walk and talk. as i don't have to live in the same house with it, i quite enjoy the circus that is beau!

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