22 April 2011

The Post I Was Too Weary to Write

I felt lame. Julie has stuff going on, and she writes her blog everyday. There have been many times Lucy had a difficult day, and posted anyway. And today, Delia shared about surviving her cascade of crappiness, and it amounted to more than four sentences. So, here's a real post.

In an effort to save my sanity, I have been trying a new course of action with Three. He's a tricky dick, always has been. He's a nice kid, athletic, friendly, curious. But there are some underlying issues. A few years ago, he was home from school for months with crippling anxiety. That's better now. But we continue to deal with his real inability to read a situation, and choose the right path. This is a boy who, right after telling me he had failed math this quarter, asked if he could sleep over a friend's house. What the frak?

We've been dealing with this exasperating behavior for so many years, we're worn out. We just keep waiting for him to mature, and "get it." But a few weeks ago, when he once again said the wrong thing at the wrong time, I decided to change my tactics. Instead of freaking out, I used that maddening moment as a teaching opportunity. I told Three I was going to walk him through our entire conversation, and point out where his responses had been inappropriate. Then, I would tell him what he should have said, in order to keep his mother from losing her freaking mind. In turn, this might eventually get him what he wanted. These are called social skills.

So, last night,  Three came to me while I was writing the blog. He had done something, and he knew it was wrong. There had been moments as the event unfolded, where he could have stopped, and prevented things from getting worse. But he didn't. And he wasn't accepting responsibility for his actions. It was...depressing.

After the fall-out, Three went downstairs, and asked One to buy him cigarettes. One promptly came upstairs and told me. I'd been sitting at the kitchen table in a funk, having erased the draft text of my post which, ironically, was about Three overcoming anxiety at his baseball game. I gathered myself up, and went downstairs to talk, because of all my children, Three is the likeliest candidate for addiction.

"What makes you think smoking will make any of this better?"
"I thought it might take the stress away."
"No it won't, because then you're addicted, and you have to spend like ten dollars a pack for more cigarettes. And that's stressful."

We reviewed the wrong choices Three had made, and what he could have done instead. We talked about using a seven second delay, like they do in broadcasting, in case someone curses on live television. Instead of acting on impulse, maybe he could learn to pause for seven seconds and think. It's sad, because Three knows right from wrong. He just doesn't always make the right choice. But I must. And I choose him. So, I'm just going to keep talking, and talking. Even when I just want to go to bed.

15 comments:

  1. Get him a pack of gum for me. I'm a highly addictive person and sugarless gum has protected me from many a vice. An employer once told me that chewing gum was obnoxious to look at. My reply: It's better than being a drunk which is what i'd be without my trident.

    I offer hugs in the face of your dilemma...good for you going with the teachable moment instead of ::headdesk:: which i'm sure was the impulse.

    Any chance you can give me patience and perspective lessons? I fear I would have started shrieking like a banshee and lost all credibility with the children in that situation.

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  2. I have much sympathy for you. When my brother or I did something my parents didn't like, they slammed down on us like a ton of bricks. Not very educational.

    I have a friend with an almost-13 year old daughter. Last year, she caught said daughter (who unfortunately blossomed out like a 16- yo ate age 11) sexting a boy she only knew thru Facebook. Luckily the kid's mom saw it first and called back, and my friend was in the room when the call came in. The mothers dealt with each other and their ends and now the daughter is under electronic lockdown. But my friend talks with her, walking her thru what she should have done. For some kids, the switch that translates "should not do this, it is wrong" into action or inaction doesn't seem to work. Her daughter knows when she is doing the wrong thing, but that doesn't stop her. She wants something and that's all that matters. Until afterward.

    My sympathies. I think you are doing an awesome job.

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  3. I bitched and then put up an eighties video. I'm not sure how that inspires feelings of lameness. I am sure that you're being too hard on yourself. You're exhausted. Anyone in your situation would be exhausted. I'm exhausted just reading about it. So please, take the time you need. You're an awesome mom, and I'm totally brining you cookies at conference.

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  4. Um...bringing. I'm bringing cookies. No one wants brined cookies. That's just gross.

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  5. @Delia: Actually, I think that would be a PMS dream-chocolatey on the outside, salty on the inside. Methinks you may have stumbled onto something!

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  6. @Lora: You teach second grade, so I don't know that you need lessons in patience. And believe me, I've tried the banshee method. It is only because it didn't work that I'm trying something new.

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  7. @Skye: Yes, Three is definitely missing that switch! Which is why I worry about him. We had a long talk recently about how his generation has no sense of privacy, and so they don't understand how that can get them in trouble. I'm sending good vibes to your friend!

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  8. Ah in the teaching business we call that "the consequences chip" and some of them are missing that...some just ignore it.

    As in, "Junior stuffed another kindergartener in the bathroom trash can. That kid didn't come with a consequences chip." (true story)

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  9. PS As a mom will I ever lose the near-overwhelming urge I have as a teacher to bug out my eyes and go "Are you SHITTING me with this? Seriously?"

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  10. Remind me to show you a good chart for choosing good and not so good choices. It may help as a visual reminder for Three and less words needed from you...
    XXOO
    B

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  11. @Megan, Now that you mention it, I'm not above topping a nice chocolate caramel cookie with a little fleur de sel. It's the soaking I can do without. ;-)

    @Lora, No. That urge will continue plague you every day. Even the days when you give in to it. Sorry.

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  12. Megan, you are an awesome mom. Five boys, and you haven't sold any of them at garage sales, shipped them to military school, or paid to have them sent on the first preteen boarding school adventure in space... you amaze me. I only have one boy who will not pick up his belongings, turn out lights, remember half his homework, throw laundry in the hamper, and otherwise acts like a typical preteen boy, and I feel insane sometimes.

    Have you tried encouraging Three to journal? My best stress-management methods with my son are journaling (you can write whatever you want as long as you are civil to my face), manual labor (raking and mowing the grass are excellent stress relievers) and helping others (a day doing chores for grandma really improves attitudes). That's all I got.

    At least your oldest told you about the situation and did not go buy cigarettes for his brother. Sounds like you're in the award winning mom category to me.

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  13. No no no... don't use me as inspiration! I am a hapless, unemployed, empty-nester, slack-ass for gawdsake. When the witchlings were growing up it was a good day if we were all dressed! True story, we went to visit my brother one summer day when Dan was at work. Just as we got home the phone rang, it was my sister-in-law. She noticed that after we had left, there were FOUR pairs of shoes out on her patio. How the hell did we all get home with no shoes?! And Mom (me!) didn't even notice.... yeah, you are not lame, you are Wonder Woman in the House of Penii. And you totally can take any damn day off you need (or just want) to.
    Julie

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  14. You have such a complex job, Megan. So many moving parts and intricate personalities. I really like the 7-second rule. I hope that it helps to give Three a new tool for dealing with his decisions.

    Thanks for sharing with us, even though it would have been much, much easier to wait until you felt stronger. (And I should point out that we would have completely understood if you had.)

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  15. It saddens me to think of the Threes in this world who don't have you as a mother, and the Captain as their father. Bless you both.

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Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.