This post is a postscript to tonight's earlier muddling-out-loud Bad Mom post so you might want to read that first. Also, this is likely only interesting to people who are also dealing with 4 year old masterminds.
So tonight, after he got back from swimming (and I'd had a chance to stew my own juices out) ...
I tried to give him a hug, but he was squirmy. I asked him what was going on, and he was mad because I'd said no to a third bagel and suggested nuts instead. We had a pretty good conversation about the body, its needs, nutritious mix, and he reluctantly settled back into my arms.
Then the following conversation, which I am transcribing as closely as I can.
I said: I'm worried.
He said: Why?
I said: Because at school this week, you hit other kids and stole a toy. And you lied to me.
He said: Oh.
We sat for awhile.
I said: What could we do?
He said: Maybe, don't tell lies?
I said: Yes, that would really help. If you only tell me true things, I can believe you. That's one thing.
He said: Number two - don't hit!
I said: That's harder. Sometimes it's hard not to hit when you're mad.
He said: Yeah.
I said: What will you do when you want to hit?
He said: Um, stomp my feet?
I said: Good! You might want to tell your teacher that's what you're doing. Do you need help with that?
He said: No, I can tell her.
I said: Is there anything else?
He said: Don't steal.
I said: Yes, stealing isn't fair. How do you think that boy felt when you took his toy?
He said: I don't know. Sad?
I said: How would you feel if he took your toy?
He said: I would be so mad!
I said: Was he mad?
He said: No. I don't know.
I said: Do you think maybe you could tell him you're sorry to took his toy?
He said: Yeah. But I'm shy.
I said: Yes, it's hard to say you're sorry. It's up to you, but it would be a good thing to do.
He said: I'll try.
I said: So what are the three things?
He said: Only say what's true. Um...I forget number two
I prompted: No...
He said: Hitting! No hitting!
I said: And number 3?
He said: No stealing.
I said: You'll have to work hard to remember.
He said: If I forget, will you hate me?
I said: I will never hate you.
He said: Okay. (he settled more comfortably in my arms)
I said: I will always love you. Even if I'm mad I will never hate you. I love you no matter what.
He said: Thanks, mom. Maybe I'll have some nuts now.
So, we'll see.