Susan's Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sometimes I hate this job

Dinner out at the same restaurant we’ve all been going to for years. Years ago at this very same restaurant, Nat demanded that Max remove his knit hat. But Max was at the age where a boy wants to wear a hat. So he said he didn’t want to. I squirmed, wanting Max to be able to wear a hat if he wanted to, and wanting peace. While I squirmed, Nat reached over and clawed Max, drawing blood. I felt as if I’d been stabbed. I blew it, not acting in time. Not protecting Max in time. Not figuring it out. What was the right action to take?

Okay, full disclosure, it turns out the hat Max was wearing was one that had been given to Nat for Christmas. Max had borrowed it, without a word, and none of us thought Nat would mind. Or maybe even notice. I don’t remember anyone asking permission. So here’s a stupid question. Do you think that Nat minded, and was that the reason he wanted Max to take off the hat? If you ask Ned, no. If you ask me, probably not. Nat does not seem attached to objects like hats. Well — it still wasn’t right for us to let Max just wear the hat. But most likely the thing that upset Nat was that he needs things to be a certain way, rather than the fact that it was his hat.

Either way it upset Nat. But Max had a right to keep his hat on. (But it wasn’t his hat.)

We gave Max the hat as a punishment to Nat. Max wore it for years. That was the last time Nat ever hurt him.  The memory of the whole thing makes me feel sick and terrible.

So then tonight, same restaurant. Nat sat down and watched, wide-eyed, for everyone to take off their coats. Ben was slow in taking it off one shoulder. I watched, wishing he wasn’t so slow, remembering the other time. Nat watched, too. “Don’t worry, Nat,” I said, “Ben’s taking off his coat.”

Ben stopped taking it off and stared through his lanky hair. I actually said in a cringy begging voice, “Ben, come on, please?”

Ben just stared. Nat stared back. Ben said, “I’m cold.”

I looked at Ned, unable to deal with it. Ned said, “Nat. Ben is going to keep on his coat. He is cold. Okay?”

It’s not going to be okay it’s not going to be okay it’s not going to be okay, people are going to stare, and we are going to have to leave. And I was ready to sacrifice Ben’s comfort to assuage Nat. But now Nat’s gotta feel uncomfortable and that sucks, too…

But then Nat said, “Okay,” and then smiled.

I asked Ned about it later and he said, “Well, I think that for it to be okay with Nat, you have to feel certain that it is okay yourself.  If you’re calm and certain, he’s calm and certain.”

Hat’s off to that.



I literally could feel my body tensing as I read this. I couldn’t help but break into a smile as I got to the end. I so know that feeling. The “Just do it, just do it before it all explodes!” feeling. Ugh! But, I’m a sucker for happy endings…

— added by Teresa Packard on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Hoping there was also a glass of wine 🙂

— added by Jody on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm

“If you’re calm and certain, he’s calm and certain.”

Ah, yes. I tensed as I read this, too. Yesterday I took my son to a play, and we were running late (I know better!) and I was so worried. Finally, I said, “Hey, Alex, we might get get that after the first song. We’ll enjoy the rest of it if we do.” “Okay.” As it happens the play started late. FTW.

— added by Dixie on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 7:31 am

All I had was whine last night.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 7:44 am

In our house if my eldest had taken the youngest’s hat – and has – he would have gotten whatever got dished out to him by the younger. The elder picks at him constantly, and it’s rare, but every so often he retaliates. IMO the elder had it coming and was warned multiple times.

One day they were in the living room on opposite ends. I walked into the kitchen to do the dishes and not 5min later the elder comes in demanding I punish the younger for kicking him in the forehead. Seems the elder thought he’d go and take the DSi from him… the little one never said anything (usually makes lots of noise b/c he knows I’ll come and fix it) and just swung his foot at him. Needless to say, I turned back to the sink and told him for the millionth time “what goes around, comes around and you know to leave him alone”.

The younger is easy going, the elder is my behavioural one… The younger takes a lot of harrassment by the elder that I’m constantly stopping.

Ned’s right. I find it I’m matter of fact, this is how it’s going to be… the younger settles down fairly quickly. I had to negotiate yesterday a different time to go home b/c his toys had to be returned from “school”… Oiy!!! Took a bit to figure out what the problem was and thankfully we were only next door at Grandma’s.

— added by farmwifetwo on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 7:45 am

Farm Wife: Ned and I got a good chuckle out of this!

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 7:50 am

same with my little guy..”tone” makes all the difference. I have trouble finding that tone unfortunately after being too stressed.

— added by steph on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Your boys are lucky. My mom will not permit me to wear a coat or a hat in a restaurant.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 5:46 pm

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