Monday, April 18, 2005

Hugs are Contagious

There has been an altercation, and Zach is crying. Darcy stands to one side, looking very guilty. Even had I not seen what had happened, the evidence is clear. Nonetheless, I play dumb in an attempt to coax Darcy, normally a very gentle and taciturn soul, to understand and express what has just happened. I draw the sniffling Zach onto my knee and put one arm around Zach. Darcy was the aggressor, though, so I'm not about to give him the first and best attention. I speak to Zach, but of course Darcy is really the intended audience. "I bet that hurt, didn't it, Zach?" "Yeah," a self-pitying whimper. "It's not nice when you get hit. Do you want me to kiss it better?" "Yeah," a little perkier now. "Feel better?" He nods. "Darcy is a big boy. Soon Darcy will remember to use his words when he's upset." Then I turn to Darcy. "Were you upset with Zach?" "Yes. He sat onna rocking chair, and that was my chair." "You wanted him to move?" "Yes, and he didn't move!" "Did you ask him to move?" "Yes, but he wouldn't." "So then what did you do?" Long pause. He looks down at the floor, he looks up to the level of my chin. "I hitted him." "You hit him. Was that the best thing to do?" "No." "What else can you do when you are upset and someone doesn't listen to you?" (All right, so maybe Zach doesn't have to vacate the chair just because Darcy demands it of him, but we're looking at it from Darcy's perspective just yet.) This is not the first time Darcy has participated in, or overheard, such a conversation, so he doesn't have to be prompted for the response. "I can talk to you." "That's right. You can come get me for help. That would be a good thing to do." Time to wrap up. Zach is ready to move on, and Darcy has walked through the process with me. I smile warmly at the two of them, snuggled within my arms. "Okay, Darcy. I think Zach is feeling better now. Now tell me, what are hands for?" "Hugging." "That's right. Hands are for hugging. Much better than hitting!" "I can hug Zach." "What a good idea!" Darcy wraps his arms round Zach, and they share a smiling hug. I give Darcy a hug, and then he trots off to play. Zach is unwilling to give up such a good thing. "I hug Arthur now?" he asks, the first time he's spoken since he was walloped. "Sure, if you like." They hug and laugh into each other's faces. Arthur looks down at Zach, playing the kindly big brother to the hilt. "Did that make you happy, Zach?" "Yes!"

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