Even though it was over something small, the argument was a bad one. His mother wanted him to change out of his school clothes and put on old ones, before he went out to play. He didn’t want to waste the few minutes it would take to do the task. He just wanted to be outside with his friends. She asked him nicely, the first few times. He responded by yelling that he wouldn’t do it, she couldn’t make him. His mother, who was getting angry herself, took a few deep breaths before she spoke again.
“If you don’t change your clothes, you won’t be playing outside.”
That was all it took. That one statement sent him over the edge, into a fit of rage. He started to scream louder and the dogs started to bark. They never could handle it when things were so out of control. Tears started down the boys cheeks and he left the small living room and ran down the hall to his room. His mother waited, also teary eyed, and she knew what would come next.
When she heard the first crash, she walked down the hall and stood in the doorway to his room. The dogs were already there they were barking at him and then came to bark at her too. She noticed that he had overturned his book shelf. It was leaning against his bed, the books were scattered on the floor. When he seen her, he screamed some more and pushed his TV onto the floor.
She knew she had to stop the fit before he hurt himself or did more damage to his room. She yelled at him to stop, but he didn’t listen. He started to take a drawer out of his dresser. Before he could grip it enough to throw it she was on top of him, trying to restrain his further movements. He was a teenager now and it was hard. He fought against her restraint. She wasn’t strong enough and had to let him go. The dogs were still barking and were jumping on both the mother and the son. She couldn’t close them out because there was no door, he had ruined that months ago.
He told her he was leaving and he wasn’t coming back. She stood in the doorway so he couldn’t get out. She loved him and worried that if he did leave, he really wouldn’t come back. He lunged for the window and managed to get himself half way out before she pulled him back in. He pushed her and she fell back into the wall.
“I hate you!” he screamed. “I never want to see you again!”
Before she even thought about what she was saying, the words just popped out,” I hate you too! Leave and don’t come back!”
He ran from his room and she followed behind. He left through the front door. Again she followed behind. He ran down to the beach and she ran behind him. He was on one side of the walkway and she was on the other. She kept the same pace as him. They were far apart, in more ways than one. She didn’t say anything at first. They were moving so fast she couldn’t think.
When they reached the broken part of the walkway, his pace started to slow. She slowed down too. She looked his way. He looked straight ahead. She could tell he wasn’t ready to talk. She decided it would be best not to say anything. She would wait for him to speak first.
They walked past the neighbor’s houses and further away from home. As the minutes passed the pace of their feet slowed. She had many things running through her mind. She felt horrible for the harsh words she said, but it was too late, the deed was done and she couldn’t take them back. She started to believe she should have let it go. Was him not changing his clothes really worth a fight? Was it worth the harsh words, trashed room and upset it caused the family and the pets? Yes, she believed it was. He had to learn that he couldn’t always have his own way. There were things in life that he would have to do even if he didn’t want to.
She looked at him again. This time he glanced back at her. It was progress, although it was small. They had reached the small, white church. He stopped suddenly, and turned around. She followed his lead. He had started walking on the broken pieces of pavement. She was still on the side. “It’s not safe to walk there,” she told her son. He shook his head, but moved to her side.
She wished she could hear his thoughts. Maybe if she could it would help her understand him more. She knew there were reasons for his behaviors, but sometimes it was hard for her to deal with them. It had been going on for so long. The doctor’s told her the medication would work, but they didn’t. She had tried different behavior rewards charts. They didn’t work either. She had tried different ways of approaching him, but obviously hadn’t found the right one.
She was lost in her thoughts when she felt it. She looked down to find his hand around hers. He was now walking beside her. They were almost home. “I’m sorry for what I did and what I said,” he was wiping tears from his eyes with his free hand. She knew he was serious. He really didn’t mean to do it. Most of it he wouldn’t even remember.
“I’m sorry too, but you have to change your clothes before you can go play.” She knew her words weren’t enough to take the scars she left away. She knew he wouldn’t remember trashing his room or pushing her out of the way, but he would always remember the words she said. They would never go away.
When they reached their driveway and entered their home, the dogs were glad to see them. He went to change his clothes and she helped him pick up his room. Then he went out to play.