A couple of weeks ago, Arvind and the Viking had an awful bust-up. This never happens. Why? Because –
a) I do all the exploding and the screaming and yelling around here, unless I’m too busy being bored. In fact I’m pretty sure that this is a formally ratified clause in our Parental Roles Contract thats lying around here somewhere. As is my wont, I also grovel and apologize like a mad person about five minutes after said explosion and wail, ” I’m awful. I’m sorry. Forgive me.” The concerned gent will then roll an eyeball in response. Except Armaan, who claps his hands and licks me. I command all the respect in this home. Really.
b) The Viking is a non-violent Gandhian type in the finest sense of the word. He has no wierd issues with food and/or sex, but believes passionately in non-violence and non-violent resistance. Though I bravely attempt to beat the crap out of him for his various lapses on occasion, it looks a bit like this.
Yeah, I'll fight you!
Only, we don’t normally don skates and like I said – he never has to get this fierce because I back off and run and hide in our cupboard.
As most of you know, active and peaceful resistance the key to non-violence. In layman’s terms this means that the man has principles that he sticks to. He will dig his heels like the stubborn mule he is to defend them. He will argue passionately and logically till the cows come home, but he will not raise his voice unless really pushed and he’d never raise a hand. Being an excellent listener, he can and will be swayed by very convincing, rational arguments.
This is why I get nowhere with him.
All this background to say that you’d have to push a dozen buttons to get him to fly off the handle. And while I can do this since I now know the code, the kids are rarely, if ever at the receiving end. The thought of physically hurting a child is totally abhorrent to him. He does all the loving-but firm-stuff they do in those award-winning child rearing books without ever having read a single one. Listens patiently, questions, explains and tells them without fail that as much as he can dislike what they do, there is nothing they can do to not make him love them. (This is normally used as damage control, right after I tell Arvind that I have called the police on him and I hope he enjoys lock-up food. Hasta la vista and all.)
So back to two Sundays ago. I am in the garden wrestling some weeds, and the Viking is putting Armaan down for a nap. Arvind, I imagine, is upstairs occupying himself. Suddenly, I hear arguing in the bedroom, the arguing gets louder and the Viking’s angry voice booms out, shattering the afternoon silence.
“Why, you little TWIT!” he booms. His swearing is so lame I’m embarassed.
I rush in for the scoop. I see Arvind in defiant tears, and the Viking, red with anger and steering Arvind firmly out of the bedroom. Then I see Arvind send a few more kicks and punches the Viking’s way. At this point, I intervene and carry the protesting young man into his room like a sack of potatoes.
The conflict: Arvind was bored. Like most six year olds, he gets perversely bored. It seemed like a good idea to stir up nap time to make up for the lack of excitement in his life. Dad is upset by the disruption of nap time. Arvind manages a few well-aimed blows to the shin to show Dad who’s boss. Oops.
So there we are in the bedroom, Arvind trying to impale himself on a helicoptor rotor in his utter rage, and out of nowhere it comes to me.
The resolution: “I get it, ” I say, “You’re mad. You’re mad as hell and you want to hurt someone. You want to hurt yourself a bit. Right? Ok. Now here’s a piece of paper and here’s a crayon. I want you to get out all your anger on this piece of paper. Tear it or scrunch it up if you want to. Or you can draw what happened. I’m going to sit outside your room till you’re done doing whatever you want to do with this paper.”
After just about 90 seconds of furious drawing/scribbling, Arvind comes out beaming. Anger forgotten and incredibly pleased with his effort. Here’s how he recounts the event in his own images and words:
“I was under the duvet with Pappa and Armaan. And Pappa kept shushing me so Armaan could sleep, and I didn’t want to be shushed. Then Pappa started thinking about throwing me out of the room (pointing to thought cloud). And then I kicked him.
Raging Against the Dad
And then Pappa got very mad at me and called me a Twit, because I hurt his leg. Now we’re outside the room and Pappa is still very mad (points to mad mouth in picture) and I’m still trying to kick him (points to super extendable leg) and you’re wondering whats going on. (Yes, I was wearing shorts, though I wouldn’t blame you for thinking my legs were amputated.) And I drew the door and the big key because Pappa wanted to lock me out of the room.That really made me mad.”
Long story short, the six year old is happy and feels that the situation has been resolved to his satisfaction. Apologies are made and hugs are enjoyed. The toddler naps for two hours out of sheer exhaustion and relief after all the drama and the Viking is impressed by his wife and commends rare instance of wisdom.
“Dude, that’s me,” I say, “99% Mommy perspiration and 1% inspiration. Only its for-effect perspiration because you know I use a kickass deo.”
And with that I saunter off to find a suitable alchoholic beverage to celebrate the occasion.
*Lovely dinosaur courtesy of flickr.com