The back story to this outburst begins the night before and reminds me how Erin holds on to incidents where he feels, is, hard done by and then without regard for the (un)suitability of the context lets loose on those who have wronged him.
His step brother was the target of this out-burst. "You lied, Oliver. You said that (insert step-dad) said that I would be banned from telly if I got on to your bed again! And Mum said that he didn't say that. You lied and (insert jumbled angry words)"
"I didn't say that", said a walking away, cool as a cucumber, Oliver - who lated admitted that he did.
An assembly of parents missed this part but saw, a second later, Erin growling, holding his fists tight, pacing, climbing into the root system of a near-by small tree, climbing back out and growling some more. They looked at me, wondering, I'm sure, what this mother will do to 'handle' this child whom they wouldn't have seen act this way before.
Like the eye of a storm I stayed calm, still and made very little movement. I guided Erin towards me with my hand and remind him to breathe. "Take a deep breath", I said near his ear, being careful not to send my words directly down his ear cannel thus causing more distress at the yucky feeling of someone's breath hitting and wiggling into ear.
The next day, at pick up, I saw one of the more interested observers waiting for her son, she saw me and I watched as her eyes lit up as she asked, 'How is Erin going?' An innocent enough question I'm (not)sure and it's not as if this person isn't a genuinely nice enough person albeit one whom I have started each of the half a dozen conversations we have had over the last two years.
The twenty-twenty that hit me on the drive home told me that I should have used this as an opportunity to educate and advocate. I should have explained that Erin has trouble understanding why his brother would lie (so as not to get into trouble) and that for Erin - who can be painfully honest - this was a gross injustice. Further, and more importantly, that Erin isn't aware of the social rules, i.e. you shouldn't express such anger in front of other people, and an injustice is an injustice no-matter the audience.
Instead I did my best chicken impersonation and answered as though I completed missed the sub-context. "Yeah, he's pretty good. How's your boy? Is he looking forward to the holidays?" Total deflection, denial and more than a little chickeny.
What did I learn from this? How did this situation help me understand myself, my son and my step-son?
- The boys need their own rooms as soon as possible. Okay maybe I missed the point with this one....
- Staying calm, being gentle and activating my parent-judgement-deflector helps to calm the situation quicker than if I were to be blinded by the judgement that I perceive.
- The other parents may not have been judging me, it was probably just concern.
- While it is good to advocate and educate when you have the chance, there are many chances in a week to do this and maybe it's okay to look after myself, after all what harm can a little lie do? Oh yeah, that's right.