Monday, October 5, 2009

Big boys do cry

My son is 4, and he is sensitive. It's a trait I love and admire in my husband, a skill that makes him gentle with animals and children. But I haven't learned yet to be the mom of a crier.

Because, let's admit it, our society is not very accepting of boys who cry. And it bothers me. Why should my daughter be able to express her feelings but not my son?

I've fumbled about with this for a while. When a boy from Donovan's class pushed him in the swimming pool at a birthday party, I let the boy's mother con my son out of crying with a string of banter that distracted him from the intentional injury her son inflicted. And I regretted it later, wishing I knew how to better soothe my son and offer his support to calm himself without reinforcing the behavior.

This is one of the toughest tasks I've tackled so far. Because the crying can be, frankly, annoying. This morning at the community center he cried because he was sword fighting with his balloon tiger and the tiger became separated from his leash. Donovan was so distressed we removed to the bathroom and then, when he couldn't calm himself, to the car to head for home. There's a special sinking feeling as you do that walk of shame out of a building. "What did I do wrong?" you think to yourself.

I'm a book person, so my first step is to head to the bookstore to learn the right coping methods to help my sensitive child thrive. I need the tools to feel in control. But I also want to act responsibly and remember, there's nothing wrong with my child. He just needs my help to deal with the high stimulation of the world around him.

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