Today was supposed to be Feats of Speed, but when I suggested it, Zephyr wasn't into it. "We're having a Pokemon battle," Zephyr said, and I didn't want to get in the way of him playing with his brother. So I watched them play a bit.
However, it descended into them fighting with each other. Way not cool. Zephyr took a toy from Lyric, Lyric grabbed it back, and Zephyr took it again. And then Lyric hit Zephyr in the face, and I immediately sent him into the corner for time out.
Zephyr was really upset (as would be anyone who was hit in the face). He had that delayed reaction, as if he couldn't believe what just happened, and then he started crying.
Importantly, I tried to remain calm. I didn't want to show too much sympathy for Zephyr, I wanted him to toughen up a bit and accept it.
This can be a hard lesson to learn, but that's my feeling on fighting: Brothers are going to fight. You have to allow that's going to happen. Obviously you can't encourage it, but you have to let them learn lessons from it. Let them learn to defend themselves, how to deal with adversity, how to respond, and how to forgive.
Zephyr is very sensitive, in so many ways.
- His immune system is sensitive: He's been highly allergic to eggs and dairy (although he's gotten over those) and peanuts and sesame.
- His nervous system is sensitive: he's EXCEPTIONALLY squirmy at the doctor's and dentist's office. His mom is a redhead, and as we found out during her pregnancy, redheads have been clinically proven to need 25% more anasthesia than people with other hair colors, so it's possible he just feels pain more vividly (Of course, Zephyr himself isn't a redhead, but those genes are very present in him).
- Zephyr is definitely an emotionally sensitive young kid... he feels things very deeply. He's not at Wells For Boys level, but man oh man did that skit just NAIL it.
Sensitive people need to be able to experience the world on their own terms and they deserve that, but when you're raising a sensitive child you have to allow them to take a few hits and realize it's not the end of the world. So I didn't rush over to Zephyr, but instead kept my distance, verbally reassuring him that I saw everything and would handle it.
Zephyr really wants to be the one who can punish Lyric, but that responsibility is of course for Mom and Dad only. However, as sensitive as we've established Zephyr to be, I think on a certain level Zephyr is starting to see these moments as opportunities: getting toys through punishment. This is because I've started using the power of toy-taking justice.
For example, when Zephyr lost one of Lyric's Pokemon cards under the neighbor's rug, I decreed Lyric could take any of Zephyr's Pokemon cards in return. I felt like King Solomon on that one, I could tell just by their reactions that the judgement was fair and true. They're at an age where their individual property means a lot to them, where correctly dividing their stuffed animals between their bunk beds is of tantamount importance. So legislating who has what is a valuable chip to have over them.
So I sent Lyric to time out in the corner and talked to him, in front of Zephyr, about how wrong it is to hit your brother. I stressed how conflicts should NEVER come to violence. I forced them both to run down the hall for Feats of Speed. And I told Zephyr to leave the room while I had a moment alone with Lyric. Zephyr hit Lyric a bit with the door on the way out, which I bet was intentional, but I allowed it.
I told Lyric he has to get better at letting things go, and he has to be nicer to his brother. And I held him and put him in my lap to help get on his sneakers. And then we went outside to race in the hallway.
My neighbor was throwing away something in the compactor room. We waited for her to get back in her apartment, and then gave Lyric a five second head start. And then Zephyr ran to catch up with him. It looked pretty tight, and then Zephyr pushed past Lyric and Lyric fell to the ground, crying. Again, looking back on it, I think this also probably was intentional retribution by Zephyr. But that's allowable fighting for brothers.
I comforted Lyric, checked for him that he was okay and not bleeding, and let them try racing again. Our other neighbor's kids had come out to see what we were doing. The tears stopped and everyone went to race together.
Lot of lessons learned this morning.