My child wants to stab somebody and I’m a little concerned.
Out of respect for that child – and fear of losing future playdates – let’s call the child, “Sylvia.”
The other day my boyfriend, Scott, was in the playroom with the kids and “Sylvia” said very matter-of-factly, “I feel like stabbing someone.”
Scott shot “Sylvia” a look of horror.
Sylvia saw the look and said “Uh-oh. Am I in trouble?”
Scott, that hippie man of mine, didn’t want to get “Sylvia” in trouble for sharing her “feelings” – even if they were about maiming someone – and calmly said “No. You’re not in trouble. I am curious though…are you angry about something?”
“No. I just really feel like stabbing someone.”
He sat “Sylvia” down and explained to her why stabbing is bad. It’s not right. It could really hurt someone. And saying you want to “stab someone” means you want to cause someone a lot of pain. “Do you see why stabbing is wrong? You don’t really want to stab someone, do you?”
“I still want to stab someone.”
Scott was out of his league so he brought “Sylvia” to me. I was in my room folding laundry and he said “Sylvia has something to tell you.” Standing at the foot of my bed covered in folded laundry, I could only see the top of Sylvia’s head as she said “I really want to stab someone.”
“Pardon me?” I said.
“I really want to stab someone.”
Was my kid some kind of psychopath? Maybe she was just expressing emotions of anger. In a world where our children are bombarded daily with easily remedied violence in the media, this was normal, right?
We’re told we shouldn’t engage our children if they say “I hate you” or “I wish you were dead” or “I want to kill you.” Did Sylvia’s laissez-faire attitude toward “stabbing someone” fall under that category? Do I punish her for her feelings? Squelch her freedom of speech? I mean, wasn’t she entitled to “feel” like she “wanted” to stab someone just as long as she knew she wasn’t supposed to actually stab someone? Hey, I’m divorced, I have an ex, I’ve been there.
So I said to her “Why do you want to stab someone?”
“See Scott???? I told you if we told her she’d want to know “why”?” Sylvia was pissed.
I looked at Scott. Yes. Sylvia was a psychopath.
Scott, standing arms length away from Sylvia, said “Sarah…Sylvia didn’t want to tell you she wanted to stab someone because she knew you’d ask her “why” and she has no idea “why”.
“Oh. Well, Sylvia, do you know what “stabbing” means?”
Sylvia made an “I told you so” face to Scott and was silently tilting and jabbing the head in my direction. Like I was the problem.
Scott explained to me that in their previous discussion in the playroom, “Sylvia” and he discussed what “stabbing” meant, why it was wrong, and that she didn’t know “why” she felt this way. She only knew she wanted to stab someone. I could see she was frustrated.
Not really knowing what to do, and trying really hard not to freak out, especially since…well, she hadn’t actually stabbed anybody – and because letting your children express their emotions is supposed to be a “good” thing, or so they say – I said the only reasonable thing I could think of.
I asked “Are you going to stab someone?”
“You know you shouldn’t.”
“Yes. I know. But I still want to.”
“Do you want to talk about anything?
She was totally exasperated with me. “Noooooooo!”
“Alright. But you’re not going to…uh..stab someone?”
“Okay then.” I shrugged. “You can go.” As she walked out of the room I added “You can talk to me if you figure out why you want to stab someone!”
“Yeah. I know!” She shouted from down the hall.
I’m not sure if I handled the situation the right way or if I should take her in for psychiatric evaluation, but I think I did okay. After all…no one’s bleeding.
But maybe I’ll only give her plastic knives just in case.