He Hardly Hit Me

Jan 20 2012

He ran through the house to find me, his little legs nearly outpacing his indignant wail of outraged frustration. I knew – the way we mamas always know – that Cael had been Wronged. That Someone had Done Something. And that he was about to Tell.

“Mom!” Cael shouted, all angst and fury. “Cai hit me!”

Now, we don’t have a No Tattling Rule at our house, despite their popularity, because I have five kids and my mommy eyes can’t be everywhere at once. I rely heavily on a broad network of spies and informants to keep me up to date on the household minutia.

Our rule? If you or someone near you is at risk of physical or emotional harm, immediately begin Tattling Protocol #1: The Danger Initiative. Find a grown-up, STAT.

If, on the other hand, no one is going to be irrevocably damaged – like, say, the dog has a giant poo dangling from his velcro-like fur, or your brother spilled another vat of vibrant red juice by the front door – please do NOT turn on the flashing lights or blaring sirens. This is the time for Tattling Protocol #2: Calm Notification of the need for parental involvement. I assure you, the words “poo dangler” or “juice deluge” are enough to ensure my full, undivided attention.

I worried for a while that allowing tattling would undermine my kids’ reliance on each other, but I underestimated the value of giving my kids Meany McMeanpants parents against whom they stand united. Typically, when the tattlers Tell, it’s because they genuinely need help.

“Mom!” Cael shouted, all angst and fury. “Cai hit me!”

Cael’s little legs skidded to a halt, and he pressed his face into my belly, wiping his angry boogers on my shirt. And if you think I don’t mean that his boogers were actually raging mad, then you haven’t hung around a 5-year-old boy child. Their boogers are very in touch with their feelings.

“Cai hit you?” I clarified. It’s always important to make sure I am, in fact, dealing with a Level 1: Danger tattling.

“YES,” Cael answered emphatically. “Cai hardly hit me.”

Hardly. Huh. Well, that put a wrinkle in things.

“Sooo… you’re saying that Cai hardly hit you, but you’re still telling on him?”

“YES!”

“Oookkaaay,” I said skeptically.

And that’s when burst into tears.

And that’s when I knew I wasn’t getting it.

Because this kid isn’t the manliest man-man boy in all the world, but he has four siblings, at least three of whom on any given day are less than sedate and gentle, so he’s learned to take a hit and keep on tickin’.

“Cael. I’m sorry I’m not understanding, baby, but I need some more information. If Cai hardly hit you, isn’t that something you can work out together? I mean, can you and Cai talk about that?”

“MOM. I told him to stop, and next he hit me.” Snuffle snuffle.

“But if you’re not hurt and he hardly hit you…”

“MOM! I AM hurt. CAI HARDLY HIT ME. Really, really, really HARDLY.”

Really, really, really hardly. Hardly.

“Oh, baby. Cael, are you saying that Cai didn’t hit you softly, but instead he hit you hard?”

“YES!” Cael said again, collapsing against me in communication exhaustion. “Cai didn’t hit me softly. He hit me really, really, extra hardly, and he hurt me really bad. I tried to tell you.”

“You did, sweetheart. You hardly tried to tell me.”

……….

P.S. I hardly like talking to my kids. Really, really, really hardly.