My son Eric picked out a Hulk backpack for kindergarten. Even though it is so big that it hits him below the knees when he walks, it suits him. On the outside Eric may look like your everyday adorable six-year-old. But under that calm freckled exterior lurks the strength and determination of a superhero. He is much tougher than he looks and he is not nearly as cute when he is angry.
“Mommy!” His voice will rumble through gritted teeth as he holds his clenched fists by his sides “I tode you not to do dat! If you don’t listen to my words I going to be very angry of you!” I admit his diction could use some work, but he never has any problem getting his point across or standing up for himself. I recognize the progress he has made in his anger management. His fists are not up, he is encouraging the use of words, and he is expressing his feelings relatively calmly.
He has always been more physical than my shy and studious older son, Paul. Even though Paul is two and a half years older, he is more sensitive than Eric by far. When the two fight, it quickly turns ugly and, while I try to give them an opportunity to work out their problems themselves, I fear for Paul’s safety more than Eric’s. By the time the screaming becomes intolerable, I enter the room, afraid of what I may find. Sure enough Eric will have Paul pinned and be pounding him with both fists.
Eric fights dirty. He has this one move where he uses both fists and hits Paul squarely on the chest and the back at the same time. Ouch! Not to mention his solid one-two punch stepping forward with the appropriate leg for leverage. He doesn’t just run at Paul; he runs through him. Standing more than head and shoulders over his younger brother, Paul still doesn’t stand a chance.
Recently I was hiding out, trying to read a book while they were playing together quietly. Too quietly. Suddenly I heard Eric screaming. This shocked me enough to jump up from my hiding spot and race upstairs to investigate.
“It was an accident!” Paul sobbed, “I didn’t mean to!”
My husband was holding a towel to stop the blood that was pouring from Eric’s nose. Paul was clearly more upset than Eric.
“Tell me what happened,” I pulled Paul onto my lap as he cried against my shoulder.
“Well, Eric was hitting me …”
“And I hit him back …”
“And he said that it didn’t hurt!”
“So was that when you punched him in the nose?”
“So how was that an accident?”
“I didn’t mean to make him bleed!”
At that point Eric walked into the room holding the bloody towel against his nose. His eyes narrowed defiantly.
“Way to go Paul!” He chided sarcastically.
That is one tough little guy.