Wednesday, October 2, 2013

That *Something* That Had to Give... Finally Did

I hit my wall this week.  It's been coming for months, and I've been trying to crack down on the kids, but yesterday was *The Cherry on the top of the pile of pecans on top of the whipped cream on top of the icing on top of the triple-layer cake, and today when the kids tried to add **ONE MORE THING...

I snapped.

And promptly called Oz and informed him that the inmates are only running the asylum until December (and in between now and then I'm calling a counselor because I'm clearly not getting through and need help), at which point in time, if there's no massive, noticeable improvement, the boy will be enrolled in public school and the girl will be given the option to do the same.  I'm calling the local school administrators sometime in the next week to find out what the enrollment process would entail and see if we can get the ball rolling.

*The Cherry:
The kids have had a tremendous lack of respect for anything and anyone lately.  Both of them are equally guilty (and given my stress level, I must take responsibility for my own short temper and lack of patience, which has lead to some snarky, fairly disrespectful comments of my own, but at least I do respect their property and apologize when I do screw up).  Things really started on Monday, when yet again, Doodlebug felt that he didn't have to complete his school work in a timely manner.  On Tuesday he finished up Monday's work and brought Tuesday's work in the car to (theoretically) complete while Boo was at her violin lesson.  Boo brought my copy of Anne of Green Gables that she's been reading so that she would have something to do during swim team practice.

We got to swim (with all the gear, I might add), and Boo sauntered into the observation room and promptly tossed my book onto the floor.  Let me say it again:  She TOSSED my BOOK onto the FLOOR.  I freaked.  Not aloud, of course, but I instigated a discussion about respecting other people's property, and she apologized for mistreating my book.  I've had that book since 1991.  It was a birthday gift.  I have no intentions of letting her destroy it.  Anywho, she apologized; we moved on.

Now, in between swim team practice and the violin lesson, we have an hour to kill.  It takes Doodlebug about 15 minutes to get dressed and it takes us another 15-20 to get across town, but that still gives us time to spare.  There's a park just down the street from the teacher's house, so I park there and the kids either run or not, depending on their whims and caprices.  This week nobody wanted to get out of the car.  So we sat.  Doodlebug worked.  Boo stared out the window for a while.  Or, at least, I thought she was staring out the window.  Until suddenly Doodlebug yelled, "Boo, don't draw on the seat!!"


I whipped around from where I was reading a book on raising adolescents (excellent book, by the way) and watched Boo try to hide a pencil in her fist.

"What were you doing?!?"

"Um... "

"Yeah, don't even try.  What were you doing?"

"*sigh* I was drawing on the seat."

"Of our new car?" [Captain Obvious at work here.]

"Um... yes."


"I was bored."


She surrendered the pencil without comment, and I told her that she would be wiping down her seat and vacuuming out the car when we made it home.  She agreed that the consequence of her actions seemed fair.  We discussed, yet again, respecting other people's property.  She agreed that her actions were not respectful.

We get home.  She vacuums out the car and wipes down her seat, and Doodlebug comes inside and tosses his swim gear onto the couch.  I call him back to put it away, and he starts his prepubescent downward spiral.  He continues in that vein through dinner.  After dinner, Oz and I remind him that he needs to take his shower while his sister feeds the animals so that we can get through the bedtime routine in a timely manner.  He doesn't.  She feeds the animals and goes upstairs to take her shower, and the nightly fighting starts.  Usually I take care of it, but last night Oz stepped in.  Good man.  The boy, however, wasn't having it and promptly slammed two doors in his rage.  He had slammed several doors earlier this week, and I had warned him that any repetition of the crime would result in the removal of his bedroom door.

So Oz removed the boy's bedroom door and stuck it in the attic.  Boo finished her shower, and Oz told Doodlebug he needed to go take his turn.

"Yes," Doodlebug shot back. "I do." Whereupon he perched on his bed and stared defiantly at Oz.

Oz, to his credit, walked away.  We left the boy to his own devices for a while, because at that point I was ready for him to stay in his room till Doomsday if he so chose.  All was quiet.  I started reading our nightly chapter to Boo, because if the boy couldn't manage to take care of business, the natural consequence was that he missed what normally happened after the shower routine.  He eventually came down and asked if there was any way to get his door back that night (um... NO) and then went and showered.  I went up to tuck him into bed and say good night, and the door was back in his room.

"Look," the boy said proudly, pointing to the door. "I got my door back."

He put his door back in the attic, too.  And Mama came downstairs and drank half a bottle of strawberry wine and ate an entire bar of chocolate.  Therapy, man, therapy.


Doodlebug got up in the middle of the night last night and got onto the XBox.  For hours.  Playing one of his sister's games that he pilfered without permission.  I can't do this again.  I simply can't.  I realized that with extreme clarity today, because as soon as I discovered that sneaking electronics had started again, I felt something break inside me.  Mommy is Broken.  See the first three paragraphs of this saga masquerading as a blog post.


To combat the lack of respect, we've started two new systems, the Respect Jar and the Put-Up Plan.  I'll outline those tomorrow.  So far so good.


Oz and I have been debating the usefulness of homeschooling for a while now.  When we first brought Doodlebug home, homeschooling was clearly the right choice.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Now, however, it's more of a 50/50 situation.  Yes, he's learning, and yes, he likes it here, but he's slacking off and taking things for granted and we just aren't sure whether it's good for him to stay here or whether he would be better off being held accountable to other people.

We shall see.  Right now, I'm going to drink my beer and try to unwind.  Lor' Have Mercy, what a week.


Common Household Mom said...

Parents have to have nerves of steel. This sounds so incredibly stressful - I'm sorry you are going through this.

All your actions/reactions to your kids' behavior sound right on the mark, but I KNOW how hard it is to maintain reason when they are being like that. When my oldest (now 20) was about 8 years old, she decided to be disrepectful all the time. It made me so angry, I would explode. Finally one day when I was calm, I sat down and wrote down 'The next 10 Commandments'. Stuff such as "11. You will not talk back to your parents. If you do, then X will happen" (X being the consequence for her). I posted it in the kitchen. The next time she misbehaved, I just pointed to whichever 'commandment' she broke, and calmly read out the punishment. It removed my anger from the situation.

But it's hard. Really hard. One of the hardest things was that I didn't think I was going to see that kind of behavior until they were teenagers. I wasn't ready for it.

Sorry such a long comment. Good luck.

Anonymous said...


Sarah said...

Thanks, ladies. CHM, I plan to do something like that. The book I was reading actually discussed writing a contract with each child and having him/her sign it. It was basically the same thing, but tailored specifically to the things you want to work on with that child. I'm trying to figure out what I want Doodlebug to work on the most (and the same with Boo). I figured I'd deal with things prior to the teen years, but I don't like that both kids are doing it simultaneously. It's times like these I remember that other parents are amazing resources.

May said...

wow. just wow. You are one strong lady. I'm going to go a have a beer in your honor. *hugs*