I’ve been thinking about cruelty, which is treacherous ground for me because I can get stuck in dark mental loops sometimes. The following incident falls into the "boys will be boys" category, or perhaps the "big siblings pick on small siblings" category.

Sunday night, after we returned from Strawberry, they boys took a shower together, as they often do. Lucas needs occasional reminders of why he’s in the shower, but can basically do all the jobs (washing hair and body) himself. Asher requires washing assistance provided by an adult, and mostly just plays in the water. Usually they have a wonderful time together and we hear shrieks of joy and giggles wafting through the house at this time of the evening. Since they have very different days and are often separated, having this bath/shower time to play together is good for them.

I recently bought Lucas a new type of body wash: Method body wash for kids. It comes in a cute bottle and you only have to squeeze it a little for the soap to squirt out the bottom valve. I’ve read that this brand contains no harmful chemicals and is cruelty-free.

Well it wasn’t cruelty-free on Sunday night.

Lucas squirted the body wash soap directly into Asher’s face. Asher cried and cried with soap bubbles all over his face, in his eyes and mouth. At first Ian told Lucas, "help him!", by which he meant, help him rinse the soap off gently. I think Lucas splashed a bunch of water directly in Asher’s face then. Nothing gentle about it. This didn’t help and made Asher feel madder and more freaked out. Meanwhile, Ian jumped in the shower to help get the soap off, but of course, the process of rinsing it off was also traumatic—Asher doesn’t care for water in his face. Even after Asher was cleaned up, his eyes were red and irritated and he was all amped up.

We came down on Lucas like a ton of bricks. Lots of shouting. No bedtime stories.

Neither Ian nor I could believe he could be so careless, so thoughtless, as to do this to his baby brother. I think Lucas simply didn’t think it through, and acted solely on mischievous impulse. There are a lot of mischievous impulses coursing through him these days.

Of course, Lucas repented when he saw how angry we were. Many tears were shed. Much pleading and begging ensued. "Are you going to put me out on the front lawn and make me find other parents?"

I almost, almost didn’t snuggle him. Withholding my loving attention is not something I do lightly; it is not a punishment I approve of because I generally believe parents may disapprove of a child’s behavior, but must never, never disapprove of the child. We had a long, long talk about why what he did to Asher was wrong. We told Lucas that we needed to trust that he would be kind to his brother, to trust that he wouldn’t hurt Asher. We laid it on pretty thick. 

"I promise, Mommy. I’ll never, never, ever be mean to Asher again. I promise. You can trust me. I’ll always be nice to him. I’ll never do it again."

I told Lucas that there was one thing that would never be tolerated in our home: cruelty. Cruelty to people, other family members, to animals, to parents. And especially not to Asher. Cruelty has no place here.

I made sure he knew what the word meant: "being mean on purpose to hurt someone."


2 Responses to “Cruelty”

  • mickibean
    September 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Thank Goodness there are parents like you guys in this world:) Its inspiring~


  • lunagirl35
    September 30, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Good for you for disciplining him while leaving his dignity intact. I know it’s a challenge not to get into power struggles but know you are doing the right thing by being firm but friendly


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    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

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