Curtis is not a morning person. He is not. This is becoming more and more apparent in his old age. I mourned the day we had to switch him to share a room with his early-rising big bro, because he used to sleep in late. Though he does not wake up grumpy, it takes only the most minor thing to upset him in the morning. And by upset him, I mean, send him into a screeching, wailing, inconsolable crying fit.
These things include, but are not limited to: any one of his brothers talking to him. Any one of his brothers touching him. Me not letting him play with my phone (which he is NEVER allowed to do in the morning). Having to pee. The dog touched him. The dog looked at him. The dog might look at him. Sponge Bob is on TV. Sponge Bob isn't on TV. He has school today. He doesn't have school today. It's cold outside. We are out of milk. He doesn't know which sock goes on which foot. He wants to wear "scratchy" (athletic) pants. His drink is in the wrong color cup.
At times, this is extremely inconvenient and aggravating, but mostly, I feel for the guy. I have always been in a fine mood in the AM, rarely, if ever, waking up "on the wrong side of the bed". So, I have no idea what it must feel like to wake up and be pummeled by 2-3 siblings, a loud TV, dogs, parents, school prep, and breakfast all while really wanting to sit and hear nothing. I try to keep this in mind, and give the guy a break. Talk a bit quieter with him. Have some patience before frantically expressing we have to get dressed and eat and leave by 7:30am. So, this morning, when we finally got dressed, made it downstairs and he had begun eating breakfast, it was extremely distressing to turn around and find that he had removed his socks! When did he remove them. Where are they now? But most baffling, and what I needed to know at that instant, was WHY!?
"Curtis!? Why did you take off your socks??"
He just looks at me, sheepishly. Not going to fly.
"No really Curtis, why did you take them off!? We have school. You need your shoes on. Where are they!?"
He is still silent and has now looked down.
"Curtis, why did you take them off?"
And then comes the little pouty lip. Oh no. Oh geez, poor sensitive Curtis. He is 4. He has no idea "why" he does anything 99% of the time, let alone, why he decided to remove his socks this particular morning. I try to stop the tears.
"Curtis, it's fine, we can put them back on, just don't take them off before school." I say, in the most loving, sympathetic, yet still authoritative voice I could find.
I wasn't enough. The sad, sad tears started. He felt so bad. He is so sincerely sensitive. Curtis very much dislikes tension, and even more does not like to be the root of causing his mother to be upset. His little brain could come up with no reason as to why he removed the socks, but he was so very sorry that he had.
I continued to try and reassure him that I was not angry, just confused. I hugged him. Put on his socks. Gently reminded him not to do it again. And have proceeded to feel guilty all day. I cannot get the image of my happy little boy's face turning to such sad tears.
Brock, in this same situation, would gladly have given me no less than 8 reasons why he took off his socks, and defended each one. He would have owned his decision. And for me to get him to feel bad about it, I would have had to yell, and scold and perhaps even cry myself (which I don't, this is just for comparison.) I would never feel guilty for sternly asking Brock "Why he removed his socks". I would have forgotten the incident ever happened...seeing as it happens, CONSTANTLY with him, and we all just get over it.
It is so absolutely true that parents treat each child differently, but their personalities require it. Curtis has a fire burning inside of him, but it could so easily be squelched because of his need for acceptance and love of peace. Brock's fire often gets stoked by conflict. He also, is extremely social, but is missing that need for others to accept him. Don't like it? He moves on (or obsesses about it with you until you give in and join him just to get him to shut up.) I simply cannot discipline the 2 oldest children in the same manner. It wouldn't work. I hope they don't feel their childhood "unfair", and I try not to make the parenting differences obvious. But someday, they might be...
...until I figure out what to do with my little morning angel, Curtis. Can I just start giving him some coffee? In whichever cup of his choosing?