A few minutes ago, I saw E really angry for the first time. He’s under a good deal of stress. Last night his social worker gave him a letter from his dad, which clearly raised lots of tension and anxiety and conflicting emotions for him, and he got up exhausted this morning, saying he hadn’t fallen asleep until about 1:30. He’s also having some issues with his math teacher (which is also his worst subject, so even more trying). When he got off the bus today, he was revved up, complaining about her, but he had calmed down after some discussion about the teacher and detention and all his frustrations. He did his homework without issue, and then helped me put down a new area rug in the dining room.
One of the cats somehow got anxious or cranky or freaked out about all this, and started swiping at E (cat was in a dining room chair, E was standing behind leaning on the back). E told him to knock it off, that he wasn’t in the mood, but didn’t move. When the cat did it again, E screamed at him. His face was all red–he had clearly gone over his patience limit and lost control. I have so far had almost no reasons to discipline E or set hard limits, but this was a no-no. I looked at E and told him calmly but firmly that he may not yell at the cat. He still looked mad, so I said, “I understand you’re frustrated, but you may not scream at him like that.” The cat, of course, had run away, so I went to find him and give him a little “don’t scratch” order and squirt with water. E stormed off to his room and slammed the doors.
I mean, on the one hand, I get it. I’ve reached frustration levels like that myself sometimes, and have even yelled at the cats once my patience wore out. But I hate when I do, and don’t find it acceptable behavior for myself. And I also understand he’s tired and hurting and frustrated about stuff with his dad, but while I feel bad that he’s feeling that way, I don’t feel bad about setting that limit. I want him to feel comfortable sharing his emotions and expressing himself, but there are appropriate ways to do that, and screaming at a cat who doesn’t understand when you tell him you’re at your limit is not it. Period.
He just came out to go to the bathroom, and proceeded to slam his bedroom door again when he went back in. I got up from my chair, thisclose to going back there and letting him know that the slamming can cease, but I decided to let it go. I slammed my share of doors at his age, and it doesn’t hurt anything, really. One of those “choose your battles” moments.
Having said that…he may very well be going straight to bed once he gets out of the shower after basketball. Less for punishment and more because he obviously needs it. Sigh…