by Sheri Horn Hasan
“Put your hands down and let me pass!” I told my thirteen year-old son Zacharia, who stood glaring at me as—arms outstretched from wall to wall—he blocked my way in our hallway.
“I want all of my money!” he persisted.
“No! You can’t have it,” I replied, trying to remain calm.
“Yes I can! It’s my money and I want it now!”
“I told you that I’d give you what you need when you need it,” I said, becoming agitated. “You don’t need to have it all now.”
Zach was now my full height—five foot two inches, and as he leaned forward in an intimidating fashion, arms still outstretched, he repeated, “I want my money now, or else!”
That was it. I lost it. “You need to put down your arms and get out of my face!” I told him. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you—if you got up on the wrong side of the bed today or something–but you’re not getting all of your money!”
We were now eyeball to eyeball and I was shaking with anger. As we stood glaring at each other, I hoped he’d back down so we could quickly de-escalate this whole ugly incident.
“Give me my money!”
There was a split second during which we both hesitated. He stood there in his menacing position, defiant. Suddenly the dam broke.
“Get out of my house!” I screamed. “Get out and don’t come back—I don’t want you in this house! Don’t you threaten me! You can live somewhere else if you’re going to act like that! Get out!” With that he turned and ran out of the house, slamming the door behind him.
The money in question was birthday money he’d received two months before, and which I’d doled out to him little by little. In truth, I might have honored his request for the remainder of the money–somewhere around one hundred dollars–but his combative stance was one I couldn’t abide.
Shaken, I was glad he left and in truth at that moment didn’t care where he went. I was tired of his defiance, rebelliousness, tired of him…I knew his father would be happy to take him in. Divorced for nearly five years, his father always said he wanted more time with Zach, but he was a workaholic, and often ended up not being home. Well, now that will have to change, I suppose, I thought.
Wanted: Dictator of a Small Country
Zach’s due date had been May 6, and I’d fully expected a sweet, calm, serene Taurus baby, kind of like, well—me….Far from being born a snuggly Taurus baby who’d absolutely want to cause little fuss, arrive on schedule, and immediately sleep through the night and nap regularly, Zach is in fact an Aries child. He thrust himself upon us three weeks to the day early from his estimated due-date, and it was clear he’d chosen to be born under the archetypal sign of the ram: the warrior, the athlete, the competitor, the winner. It surprises me to this day how differently he turned out to be from what I’d originally planned.
As an infant, he’d never lie down in his stroller, always had to see what was going on and, still pre-verbal, would scream, cry, and throw tantrums well before he hit the stereotypical “terrible two’s” era. At only fourteen months, alert and ever-conscious, he’d refuse to sleep until he was an exhausted screaming mess.
He seemed to have the uncanny ability to know the difference between brands of orange juice, distinguish one bottle nipple from another, and understand that he’d been given the “fake” keys to play with instead of the real ones. He’d have none of that, and vociferously make his displeasure known to anyone and everyone within his vicinity!
Exasperated, I’d finally separate the rest of the keychain from my car key, and hand it to him. Then, and only then, would he contentedly play with it and spare mommy one of his screaming and crying fits—complete with attempts to eject himself from his car seat–for the entire forty-five minute trip to grandma’s.
I was never awake before him, no matter how late he’d gone to sleep the night before, and always woke to him screaming from his bedroom down the hall. Other miraculously well-rested mothers would tell me their toddlers went to bed, woke up, and napped like clockwork, and I’d think wow, why isn’t that my kid?
I realized how different he was from other toddlers when I’d speak to various moms at the park, at mommy and me classes, Gymboree, you name it. They’d give me advice, tell me to try this or that, and always I’d say “thanks, been there, done that, didn’t work…”
I felt like an outsider, a foreigner in the world of mommies. Why was my child so different I wondered. Why do the other babies and kids seem so compliant, but Zach so difficult?
Impatient, persistent, energetic, and willful—in short, exhausting—Zach ran this mother ragged. I used to joke that if there was ever an advertisement for a position as the “dictator of a small island nation” Zach would be virtually tailor-made for the job!
One Size Does Not Fit All!
Constantly exhausted, I sought help and advice from a social worker who led me to several eye-opening books. Simultaneously, I took up the study of astrology, something in which I’d been interested since I was fourteen, but too busy to ever pursue seriously.
I read How to Raise Your Spirited Child : A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, and it was a life-saver! In its pages I found Zach—intense, energetic, and most of all, persistent. It always amazed me how many times I’d say “no” to him, only to hear him continue to ask again and again for whatever it was that he wanted.
Meanwhile, as I began to study astrology, I dug deeply into Zach’s natal chart looking for answers. What I discovered surprised me, explained a lot, and validated for me so much of what I’d thought initially was abnormal behavior. I began to see it was simply who he was, and that as a child, he possessed many seemingly unpleasant traits that would actually serve him well as an adult.
I knew his was an Aries Sun. An Aries–ruled by the planet Mars–acts first and learns from the reactions of the world around them. They place huge emphasis on their ability to freely express their personal will. In astrology, the Sun represents one’s ego identity. In Zach’s case, his Aries Sun/ego takes on the flavor of Scorpio because it resides in Scorpio’s natural house in his chart.
Turns out Zach is also a “Moon/Pluto” individual. The Moon represents one’s emotions—what one needs to feel secure in this world—and it was easy to see early on that Zach’s emotional nature was that of a Scorpio: intense, volatile, passionate, and control-oriented. Since the Moon was in the sign of Scorpio as it approached Scorpio’s ruler Pluto in the sky at the time of his birth, the emphasis on his natural emotional Scorpio nature is further compounded.
Let’s put it this way: the combination of these energies–Mars/Aries and Pluto/Scorpio (Zach’s Sun and Moon/ego and emotions)–when negatively manifested translate into a power-hungry, competitive, manipulator who brooks no interference and who wants to rule the world! An Aries-Scorpio on steroids!
In short, Aries individuals learn by being free and unrestrained, and Scorpios are not happy unless they can probe deeply into life and focus their laser-like attention on getting to the bottom of whatever interests them. Scorpio individuals want to know—really know—what makes people and things tick; the deeper essence of the meaning of life.
An astrological chart analysis shows the energies inherent in a person at birth. A snapshot of where all the planets were in the sky at the precise moment and location of one’s birth, it’s like a blueprint for the soul. What’s fascinating about astrology is that an individual can consciously choose how he or she wants to manifest these “birth” energies.
So, I learned that Zach could choose to be a secretive, competitive, power-seeking, dictator, or that I could guide him to learn to manifest the high side of these same energies. This would allow him to express himself both emotionally and physically in a powerfully competitive, potentially positive transformative way.
By the time Zach was a little older, I began to see how his intensity translated into useful, productive–even artistic endeavors, as he became intensely interested in performing magic tricks, and took up the Japanese-based art of origami, or folding paper into intricate shapes representing animals, flowers, etc. At nine years old, he’d craft intricate figures out of paper that would amaze me and other adults. He’d spend hours perfecting a sleight of hand magic trick. I encouraged him in these and other endeavors, and recognized them as positive uses of his innate energies, even though he sometimes drove me crazy!
I watched as he took up sports and recognized his need to be physically free. As he progressed through school, it became clear that his way of looking at things was different from his friends. He often provided that alternative viewpoint and had the guts to express it. In short, I became proud of his persistence to get to the bottom of things, and recognized that once he was free to move, he was less liable to act frustrated, impatient, and controlling.
Zach returned home that summer after spending a full month with his father, instead of going back and forth between us weekly, as usual. It was a well-needed break for us both. We’d gone to the therapist and Zach now understood that his behavior had been threatening. He knew I feared that one day he’d be bigger than me and if he didn’t control his anger and impatience, I couldn’t allow him to live under my roof.
Upon his return, I sat him down, told him I loved him, and that we needed to work together and trust one another. I told him that as long as he communicated calmly with me I’d do everything in my power to support his desires. He apologized and told me he loved me.
Zach has brought many gifts into my life, among them the awareness that we are not all the same. Though I’ve struggled to understand our differences, I now accept him for who he is, appreciate our similarities, and applaud him for his individuality. As I cheer him on into adulthood, he knows I’m his biggest fan. We still have a ways to go, but one thing I know for sure: no matter how old he is, he’ll always be my Moon/Pluto baby!