The other day I started a fight with my son.
I didn't intend it. I simply ran out of patience and used force, unaware in that moment that force is a form of violence, even when it causes no physical pain. I forgot to grant the autonomy I would like to receive. From my care about my neighbor's comfort, and without verifying that I was contributing to that comfort, I took the easy road of picking him up and moving him.
Trin responded in kind, hitting, biting, and kicking me, and defying my demand. I felt very frustrated. Sad. Angry. And scared that Trin would use violence carelessly and hurt someone badly because of it (even though, or perhaps because, he was responding only to my own use of violence).
It took two days for me to get over it, and during that time, any time I asked Trin to do anything, I got a scowl and open defiance.
When I was a kid, I never defied my parents – at least, not that I can remember. When I chafed under demands that I perceived as unjust or arbitrary, I responded by acting sullen and with passive-aggressive resentment. I reluctantly did as I was told, and felt ashamed of my weakness afterwards. That resentment and shame slowly festered and spread poison throughout my relationship with my father that lingers to this day, two years after his death.
The passage of time has helped to shift me from the sadness and frustration of that argument several days ago. I see now how arbitrary my demand was, how unnecessary it was for me to use force in that moment. I did it for my sake, more than my neighbor's. I see that I started the fight, not Trin. I used force – violence – first, and not for his or someone else's safety. He merely responded in kind.
He stood up to an authority figure three times his size and weight. He refused to back down, even with no real hope of winning. He stood alone in front of a tank, and I felt completely floozled.
Despite (or because of) the challenges, I'm glad he's my kid. I'm learning so much.
I admire him.
I'm proud of him.
And I'm glad he doesn't go to school.