Tenderhearted Jerks


I am living with a couple of tenderhearted jerks.

Each and every day my two older boys beat up on each other. And each and every day it brings them to tears. Not because they get hurt, but because they can’t believe they have been so mean to their sibling.

“I feel like such a jerk,” “I think I am being so mean,” and “I am bad,” are just a few of my favorite phrases to come out of one of their sobbing mouths recently.

I don’t know where this is coming from.

Don’t get me wrong, I get after them when they pinch, kick and annoy the crap out of their brother. But it shocks me that they end up feeling so sorry for what they have done that they can’t stop crying and I have to send them to their beds where they continue to cry into their pillows until they can calm down.

It’s weird. Yet it’s sweet.

A month ago I took my baby in for his 4-month-old check-up and immunizations. I left my boys in a room with my mom while I went to get the nurse to fill out his immunization record. When I got back, my two oldest boys were bawling.

They kept saying, “I’m so sorry,” while hugging their baby brother. They hated that he had to get poked. He stopped crying long before they did and then stared at them curiously.

Last week my oldest son came to me apologizing profusely while tearing up because he “missed” the toilet and peed all over our bath rug. I don’t know what 6 year olds are normally like, but I would imagine some 6-year-old boys would have wadded up the rug, tossed it in the corner or flipped it over so that I wouldn’t have noticed.

Instead of getting after him for his poor aim, I ended up consoling him because he was so upset that he had done something wrong.

The other morning while I was riding my exercise bike (yes I was actually working out) my oldest accidentally head butted my baby. I ended up holding the poor little 18-pound guy while I rode the bike because he was crying.

But he wasn’t the only one.

My oldest sat there crying too. I didn’t even dare get mad at him for hurting his brother because he already felt so bad. Even though deep down I was super mad.

Recently while I was cooking dinner our baby was screaming and I couldn’t get to him until I put our food in the oven. My oldest kept coming into the kitchen asking me to help him cut out a paper snowflake.

I snapped at him and screamed that I couldn’t help him because I was busy.

Not only did I feel bad for not helping him make a simple snowflake, I felt miserable when I saw the apology note he handed to me after dinner.

“I am sorry that we got in a fite. I love you,” he had written in his cute first-grade penmanship.

Talk about tenderhearted. I could learn a lot from these kids.

I hope I am not the cause of their oversensitive emotions.

I want my boys to be kind, loving gentlemen. But I hope they don’t live in fear of me.

I don’t want them to grow up thinking they can’t ever make a mistake, or that they shouldn’t ever get upset.

And I definitely don’t want them to think they are “bad.” I tell them all the time that they are not.

I’m going to have to come up with a no-one-is-perfect pep talk to give to them during these pity parties.

Heaven knows I don’t want them to stop feeling sorry for antagonizing their siblings, but I don’t want them to feel as if they are going to be damned because of their actions.

And I definitely don’t want them to think they are jerks. Any 4 and 6 year-old who would cry harder than their brother did over his shots, or write an “I’m sorry” letter all on their own after their mother just yelled at them, could never be a jerk.

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