Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fall-out and failings....

Last month, I lost Matthew at the mall.

This month, I am dealing with the fall-out of losing Matthew at the mall and it's not pretty.

My bright, observant, eager-to-please and sensitive Firstborn has developed a real and HIGHLY unnerving habit of "protecting" his younger brother.

Sweet, right?

Not so much.

Matthew is so concerned that Luke will get lost, run away or otherwise disappear, that he now runs after Luke, hollering and crying. As soon as he reaches Luke, he either yanks him backward by the hood or blocks him from all movement by a) wrapping his arms around him and/or b) tackling him and wrestling him to the ground.

Luke, to his credit, tolerated this new behaviour rather well.

At first.

But now, Matthew's overwrought hysteria only spurs Luke on and he too, will start screeching and either a) running faster and/or b) lashing out at Matthew as soon as he gets close. This week, he's been biting his brother as they sail to the ground in a mess of limbs and tears. Last week, it was kicking. Today, he raked his nails down Matthew's face all while screeching, "Don't STOP me!" at the top of his lungs, drowned out only by Matthew screeching that he was "too far from Mummy! STOP RUNNING AWAY!"

It's no longer sweet or cute or even remotely funny. Mostly, it's disturbing and sad and  I worry about both boys: Matthew because he is clearly traumatized and Luke because his freedom is being curtailed by his idol and their frustration levels (and mine) are rising rapidly.

I have tried reasoning with Matthew, assuring him that nothing bad will happen. I have been stern, reminding him that I am the parent, not him and protecting his brother is NOT his job, it's mine. I think that Matthew simply doesn't TRUST me to protect his brother - after all, I lost him, didn't I? -  and so therefore has taken on this task himself.

A teacher at the school who witnessed a Matthew-in-Protector mode take down yesterday, suggested that I find him a therapist. I nodded in miserable agreement because really, was else is there to do?

 I know that it could have happened to anyone and that it was NOT my fault, that he was lost. I know that shit happens.

But I feel like an absolute failure that I have been unable to appease him since - that my reassurances are not enough to pull him from this trauma and let his brother go.

And it's an awful, awful feeling.


  1. I don't know about the therapist, Belly. It might make a mountain out of a molehill. He is not traumatized. He is just a bit more sensitive than you are expecting.
    I think its sweet that Matthew is protective. How about allowing him to be? Just not to tackle Luke so. Or that you tell him that he needs to teach Luke to be protective. Divert him. Give him something that will put his protectiveness to good use. Or how about teaching Luke how to handle Matthew's protectiveness?

  2. I agree with smitha- i think this like most things can be managed with a good game of little people go to the mall played on the living room floor- re-enact scenarios- give matthew the job of daddy and of lost child and of store person. He probably needs to work it out but i wouldn't be bringing him to a therapist yet. I think it is great that he is taking the role of protector- and great that luke is not allowing himself to be trampled on- the intricate balance of how that will co-exist will work itself out i'm sure.


  3. Have you told him that adults get lost sometimes too? Because we do, and its no more fun when you're 20 than when you're 5. ...Although, I don't know if that would help him or just scare him more... I hope you don't think of it as a failing though! It was just an accident with a fortune ending. I'm sure my mom probably lost me plenty of times in malls and since I can't remember any such instances, then that's probably a good omen about the effect of this event on Matthew's long term psyche.

    Lisa :)

    ps I'm sure in person/to a mother it is not at all funny, but through your mental-image-inspiring descriptions, Matthew pouncing on little Luke is too cute and hilarious.