Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jekyll and Hyde

Doodlebug. It's a dang good thing I love that boy, because he is either spectacularly calm and lucid or bewilderingly unstable and illogical this week. There is no middle ground. Boo hasn't been easy, but she's at least been herself. My Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde son... I don't even think he knows who or what he is these days. He swaps back and forth too quickly to settle into a single persona.

Warning: This post is long and fairly rant-filled. I suppose that isn't entirely new, but I felt a warning was in order.

On Monday, Doodlebug decided (decided? Maybe that isn't the right word. Maybe he was simply uninspired. I've no idea) not to do his schoolwork. Because he'd been generally horrid on Sunday evening and again on Monday morning, screaming at me, his father, his sister, and anything that happened to tick him off, which included pretty much everything, I ordered invited him to spend the morning doing his school work in his room where he couldn't be interrupted, distracted, or otherwise disrespectful to anyone or anything. I always print out the week's lesson plans in advance, so he knew what he had to get done; at lunchtime, he had one subject ready to be checked. One. Along with this he felt, with all the know-it-all-ness of an almost-11-year-old boy, that this was not a problem, because surely Mom would be perfectly willing to cater to his every whim and do school on his schedule, not hers/when it needed to happen.


At 2:30, when he finally managed to get that first subject corrected but hadn't accomplished anything else except the eating of the food and the going to the bathroom and the multiple getting of the drinks, I calmly informed him that the rules of the Sunnyview School Education Plan are thus:

1. All work listed for a single school week must be completed no later than Friday evening at 5 p.m. This gives the teacher (me) time to grade and him time to correct any mistakes before dinner that evening. Because, ya know, the teacher is also the cook and he likes to eat, right?

2. Swim team is a privilege. If he wishes to attend swim team practice, all of Monday's work must be completed prior to Tuesday's practice time, and all work from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday must be completed prior to Thursday's practice time.

3. Teaching and explanation of assignments happens between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. I will not explain/help with anything outside of those hours... because I can't do it. I can't be 'on' all the time. And nobody likes Mama when she hasn't gotten her 'off' time.

He listened sullenly, as preteen/teen boys are apparently wont to do, and then uttered his current catchphrase. "OK." Actually, I lie. It wasn't even that much. It was, "'K."

By 5 p.m., he'd completed four of his assignments. Ordinarily he's done with that much by about 11 a.m. and through with all this Monday work by about 1:30... 2 at the latest if he's struggled or lollygagged. He did know, however, that going to swim wasn't going to happen if he didn't get his rear in gear, and so he went back upstairs and worked after dinner to get more done before bed. Dr. Jekyll had returned.

On Tuesday he actually applied himself to his work, but his brain was scattered. Dr. Jekyll was still in residence, but Mr. Hyde's residual effects hadn't entirely worn off and threatened to return at any moment. This was made plainly evident when we got to swim. We were running late due to the fact that Boo had lost her glasses and had spent a frantic 20 minutes trying to find them (no luck), so I told Doodlebug he would have to change quickly and not spend his normal 15 minutes playing snap-towel or whatever it is that he does in the locker room that takes him so long. Boo and I sat down in the observation room, and I watched for him to emerge. No boy. Practice started... still no boy. About the time I was about to march around the corner and use my back to open the door a smidge and start yelling, he walked into the observation room... still fully clothed.

"What's up?" I asked, having a fairly good idea what the answer would be.

"I... um... can I have the keys? I need to go out to the car and look for something."

I handed over the keys, and out he wandered, showing no urgency or distress whatsoever because apparently it's in the pre-teen code that to be seen hurrying and/or distressed would result in utter disgrace and humiliation. He meandered back a minute later, empty-handed. I reached for the keys, eyeing him, "Well?"

"Apparently... I forgot my jammers."

I'm about 99% sure my eyes bugged out of my head at that point, because I had point-blank asked the child before we left the house, "DO YOU HAVE ALL YOUR SWIM STUFF." And yes, I do use that tone of voice when I ask that question. It used to be effective at making him actually think about things. Apparently that is no longer true. Score one for selective hearing abilities.

We left swim. We went back home, Boo dismantled her room in the search for glasses (I came up when she reemerged downstairs in tears, claiming they were gone forever, and promptly picked them up from between her nightstand and her bed, which was, of course, the first place I told her to look), and the boy finished his Tuesday school work, squawking incessantly.

On Wednesday morning, I couldn't move. I couldn't get out of bed. I was pretty sure my body was holding me there, unable to function, until my stress level was somewhere below critical. I was actually scared of what I would face. I finally forced myself out of bed sometime around 9 when my bladder gave me an ultimatum.

It wasn't pretty, but we did make it through the day, the worst and best part being when the whiteboard jumped off the wall and tried to attack my son, because if even inanimate objects feel like mauling him now and then, I think I'm off the hook for having similar emotions.

Today has been quiet other than the anger that surfaced when I told him to go outside and enjoy this gorgeous fall day before it starts raining this weekend. How dare I suggest he get fresh air? He went out and sulked for a while before he decided he'd had enough of this whole sunshine thing and came back to cocoon himself in his bedroom with the last book in the Eragon series (never mind that I suggested he read it outside... outside doesn't have beanbags and does have things like clouds which are horribly distracting). I'm about to go fix food to feed the beast. If only I knew which beast would arrive at the dinner table...

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