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Emotional Intelligence

Yoikes. It was just five days ago that I posted about Simon’s asking “Why am I so upset?” when he awoke crying in the night. Honestly, I assumed this was him mimicking our asking, “Simon, why are you so upset?” when he gets wound up. Still, it looked a lot like self-awareness, and I wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t.

Now I’m even less so. Today Simon got angry when I wouldn’t let him play with memory cards I was sorting for a game. It was close to nap-time, so he was getting crabby and was having a hard time controlling himself. He reached for a card, and I said “no.” Then he pushed a stack cards over, and I gave him a stern warning. Then he threw a stack of cards in anger, and I took him to time out without comment.

He was mad. I was mad. We had been enjoying a busy day together, but had clearly reached a point when we needed a break from each other.

I finished sorting cards while he whimpered on the staircase landing. After a few minutes, I called over to him.

“Simon. I’m finished now. If you have calmed down and think you are ready to play nice, you can come back in the living room with me.”

Head bowed, Simon walked towards me. “I’m ready to play nice, Mommy,” he said. Then he gave me a hug to make up. I hadn’t planned on saying anything more when he popped up with:

“Why did I get so angry?”

“What do you mean, honey?” I thought he was really asking why he got time out or why I got so angry. “You got angry and threw the cards. Sometimes it can be hard to control yourself when you get angry. I understand that. And when that happens, you go to time out until you get control of yourself.”

“I know Mommy. But what made me so angry?”

He was genuinely confused. It had happened just a few minutes before, but once the anger receded he couldn’t figure out what had got him so worked up. So we had a nice little chat about not getting what you want, bad moods, fatigue, and other things that can make you act out. He listened intently and seemed satisfied.

I’m beginning to think this kid is, in fact, asking me to explain his emotional states to him. Simon never does anything to make me think he’s a little genius, but he sure pops out with things that make me think he’s unusually emotionally cued in for his age. And whenever it happens I always think two things at the exact same time: (1) You will grow up to be a wonderful boyfriend/spouse/father; and (2) middle school is going to be torture.

One Response to “Emotional Intelligence”

  1. blg says:

    Without knowing Simon, but having had some related experiences, I think both of your conclusions are spot on.

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