We'd explained to the kids all morning that we would be going out for a walk, but for various reasons we'd been delayed. When we were finally ready to go F moved slowly from full on protest mode to annoying complain mode. This carried on for about half a mile, I was doing my best to ignore the verbal barrage Ali was receiving which could be summarised as: why didn't you do the lunch shopping yesterday when we were at the shops so I don't have to go the shops now? Followed by him trying to pick holes in any reasoning Ali put forward.
In exasperation Ali looked over at me pleadingly and overhearing the latest outburst I started teasing him:
Right so we're going to go and buy some lovely lunch for us four and F maybe we'll just buy you some tasty kidneys. Ali laughed and F got cross. An angry F is never pretty but armed with a stick as he can be dangerous, sure enough despite a futile NOOO!!!! He came up behind me and smacked me right accross the palms of my hands (which were trying to protect my delicate derrière).
I'm now pissed: what the Fxxx is wrong with you?
Ali interjects nothing's wrong with him, stop it.
F: Why did you tease me?
Me: You deserve to be teased.
Silence. F storms off down the road
As I heard myself utter those words, my heart sank, no one deserves that.
We caught up with him where some building works were blocking the pavement and after some struggles we managed to agree to a conversation. I got down to his eye level and said I'm really sorry for what I said, no one deserves to be teased. On the flip side no one deserves to be criticised like you were criticising mum and hitting is just not OK, that hurt.
Ali interjected: I should have just told you that you were hurting my feelings.
Just then, the penny dropped, I'm the parent and while my son was being really annoying, my automatic response to get him to stop, was to gang up on him and tease. Quite the role model, I felt very small right then.
I apologised again to F and after some further discussions we made up, so much so that we walked to the shops arm in arm.
Ali told me later that while in the bakery F came up to her and apologised for having a go at her, that he was still learning to control his emotions and finished with: Wasn't a building site a strange place for a meaningful conversation?
Rather proud of him.