I've got a runner. This is what happens: The Boy messes up. And he realizes it. And he blurts out that he's sorry, gets a total panicked look on his face, and then takes off. Literally. Running. And then you either have to chase after him or ignore him until he comes back.
So on the one hand, this is a way to take the pressure off. I get that. He runs off, people come after him, and it isn't about how he's in trouble anymore. So I say to him, "Buddy. You've got to stop running away from stuff. You've got to stay and face up to it."
"But I'm just not that type of person!" he wails from downstairs (where yes, he'd run away to).
"What type of person is that?" I ask.
"The good type of person!" he sniffs. "I'm the other type of person! I'm the bad bad bad type of person!"
No, I tell him, you aren't. But why do you run off? If you run off, you can't resolve the situation. I give him some examples of times he's run off so fast that he hasn't given the other person the chance to tell him it's okay and they aren't even upset. "But," he says, "I have to run away. Because I feel bad. And then I feel like crying." The tears start squeezing out of the corners of his eyes. "And I can't cry! I run away so no one will see me cry, because I can't help it, and only babies cry! And I don't want to be a baby! Everyone will know that I'm a baby!" He's crying really hard now, and covering up his head with the covers.
Where did this come from? Damn this American Man Shit. But I don't know, and he won't or can't tell me, where or from whom in particular this notion has come.
"That's completely not true," I insist. "I cry all the time."
"No you don't," comes the muffled response. "You never cry."
So much for all those sleepless nights thinking I'd scarred my kids crying while I was making dinner or reading them stories or wiping their butts. Hmm.
"Parents usually try not to cry in front of their kids, honey, because they don't want to upset them."
"Well it wouldn't upset me! It would just show me that it's okay!"
So I promised him I would cry more if he would promise to think about the fact that crying was actually something that everybody was made to do, and that it was good for you, and that if you never cried you couldn't get out the sad stuff. I am baffled.