September 20, 2003 - Saturday
I've been thinking a lot about how absorbed Harry was the other night with the Little House on the Prairie chapter about Laura being punished physically. Perhaps because of that I find I'm in another one of those periods when I think I'm too angry with Harry too much of the time. I hear him talking to himself after I've scolded him for something and it resurrects some of the loneliest, arguably self-defining, memories of my own childhood. I don't want to take him there. So, last night at bedtime after I'd read a new chapter to him (he'd asked me to read again instead of mommy), I tried to ask him about scolding and tell him just how much I really love him and just how much I think he is such an incredibly smart and special boy. It didn't work out particularly well. It got sloppy quickly and Harry wasn't paying very much attention after that first little exchange.
I said something like "does it make you sad when I get upset with you?"
"Yeah," he said softly.
"It makes me sad, too," I said.
But, right about the same time, he said, "and it makes Jeremy sad."
Where did that come from? Is this little boy that perceptive of his brother's feelings? Am I was the evil ogre father terrorizing his children and Harry the oldest one standing up for his younger brother? I suppose it's more likely that Harry was just trying to deflect the attention of such a potentially focused discussion, one from which he quickly began more obviously to extract himself. Still, at least in some way, Harry is very aware of his sibling and his feelings, whether it was a defense mechanism or not. There is something humbling to his father in that little comment from that little boy, even if he didn't mean it quite the way it sounded. The funny thing is that even though the conversation quickly deteriorated last night and seemed like a bust, Harry seemed to be on his best behavior again today and so was I.