You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I am bringing laundry upstairs.

Isaac, Alexander and Keenie are in the kitchen. Keenie and Alexander are eating some Mac and Cheese. Isaac has made himself a bowl of ramen noodle soup using the electric tea kettle the way I taught him.

Alexander is screaming his head off.

I stop by. Ask what is wrong. Alexander can’t tell me. I ask Isaac.

“Alexander wants some soup. I told him he can have some after I am done.” Isaac says.

“Why is he so upset?” I ask.

“He wants some right now. I told him ‘you can’t always get what you want.'” Isaac tells me. His voice takes on a hard tone when he quotes what he has said.

I sigh.

“Isaac, I know that someone in your life has been using those words with you when you are upset.” I say. “If you were in Alexander’s place right now, what would you want to happen?” I ask.

“Well he’ll have some when I’m done.” Isaac starts off. Then he thinks for a second. “You know what? Can you get me another bowl?” he asks.

I get him another bowl. He uses his spoon to ladle out some soup for his brother, then he goes to get him a spoon.

No. You can’t always get what you want when you want it.

But a person always has the ability to make a compassionate choice when someone that they love is upset over a situation that they feel isn’t fair.

As for Alexander’s screaming… That is not something that I want to reinforce. Usually I have the hard and fast rule that we don’t make changes until everyone has calmed down so that we can talk about things. When Isaac has been away for visitations and re-joins our family, Alexander and Keenie both have a lot of emotional overwhelm and feel like Isaac ignores their personal boundaries, doesn’t listen to them, and is not treating them well. They become more raw. More quick to anger and more easily frustrated.

When it comes to sibling interactions I try to intervene in a way that will help the relationships that they have with each other. Sometimes that means putting my personal rules off to the side to remind them that they love and care about each other and that they are ultimately really good friends.

Sometimes Isaac will hold fast to whatever outside lesson he is trying to teach them. At that point I will provide them with comfort and help them weather the situation until Isaac remembers that isn’t how we do things in our house.

One thought on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want

  1. You’re an amazing woman and I learn something from every one of your columns. Thank you so much for taking the time to share these wonderful vignettes with us so we too can learn the way to treat everyone fairly.

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