Sunday, July 19, 2009

Futility

Parenting sucks. At least it did today, in this house. Any modest parental triumph achieved in the past 7.5 years is eclipsed by recent events. To adapt a phrase from the Borg (Star Trek's Voyager), parenting is futile.

No matter how many times we preach, model, lecture and talk about respect, disrespect continues. I am humbled to the core.

Last week the J Boy did something to Sydney that is one of the biggest taboos: he bit her. I know, what is he? Three?

I only found out about it a few days later and had a sleepless night where I wondered where I went wrong. I yelled at him, spoke to him quietly, issued an ultimatum, lectured and made it clear, in the certainest of terms that is was NOT TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

It happened again. Today.

I am at a loss. Where does he get this from?? We have no know vampires in the family. What am I supposed to do, give him a teething ring?

While our J Boy has his emotional tendencies, they mostly result in slammed doors and chairs knocked over. I guess we see the occasional shove with his sister (and he receives in kind), but that is where the physical aggression ends.

Telling the lad not to bite is not working. Futility. He knows not to bite, yet he does it. Futility.

I thought that in dealing with the biting last week, which by the way he denied both times even in the face of incontrovertible forensic evidence, we had not been emphatic enough.

No more. Not today. We needed to dig deep. Persevere. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

J was sent to his room. I told him he had dug himself a big hole and he had to do a lot of things to get out. I wrote him out a list:

1. Calm down (that means no screaming, kicking the door and being able to have a conversation).
2. Write Sydney a note of apology that says more than "I'm sorry". If must talk about what happened.
3. Write out 50 times "I will NEVER bite."
4. Have a talk with Mommy or Daddy (your choice) and talk about this until we understand why this happened.
5. Clean up anything you messed up while in your room being upset.
6.Agree to whatever limitations and punishments Mommy and Daddy have for you.

He scrunched up the list and threw it at me. He denied all biting.

I posted myself as century outside the door to his room as he made attempts to escape. When he wouldn't remain in his room, I locked his door.

When he found things to open the lock, I repeated took them away until he ran out of things that would work.

Then he tried to beat down the door. I told him if he broke down he door we would put him in another room with a door and he would have to pay for the door out of his allowance.

He asked how much so I googled and told him $117 plus tax.

He said he didn't want to save up for anything anyway and kept banging.

He finally fell silent and I asked if he wanted to start working on the list. He said he would never work on the list and he had realized that he had to calm down if he wanted to think of new ways to defeat me.

I told him that he had HURT his sister. He said he didn't care. And that biting didn't hurt. He bit himself to prove it. You could take a dental impression from his arm.

He eventually agreed to let me read him Sydney's victim impact statement which read "You hurt me and made me angry when you bit me on my elbow". No response.

I think boredom took over and he eventually agreed to have some tentative discussion with me over the biting. "Why did you bite your sister?"

"She was being super annoying." [I resisted the urge to point out that he was admitting to the biting]

"You can't go biting people when they annoy you. That's no way to get through life."

"I only bit because she was super annoying, not just regular annoying. She's the only one in the world that is".

"What is you grow up and have a boss that is super annoying, will you bite him or her?"

"Bosses aren't super annoying."

We deferred the discussion and he agreed to start typing out "I will NEVER bite" on an old computer. But not before he said that wasn't much of a consequence for biting. I said it was just a start.

He then moaned and felt very sorry for himself for about 45 minutes saying 50 times was too many. Then he showed him a long list of "I will NEVER bite", 168 of them to be exact. I didn't know he knew about cut and paste.

He did show some remorse and apologized to his sister. I asked Sydney if her heart felt better.

She said "Y-E-S." [who knew she could spell??]

We had a long discussion over the whole incident which was no doubt the MOST painful part of the whole exercise for him.

He's lost a bucket of privileges which really only punishes the parents as we have already had to listen to an excessive amount of moaning about boredom and it's only been a few hours. But that's our penance for not being there to intervene (darn British Open playoff).

The kid did accept his consequances and didn't squawk once over the computer or his before-bed tv show. He published a couple of his own books and now is reading through a stack in his bed.

He has also agreed to enter into a non-biting contract which will have sanctions the likes of which North Korea has never seen. And will include a limitless lecturing by Mommy clause.

5 comments:

Momof5 said...

OOOOOOO how I hated the biting stage! My kids didn't ever really bite, but the kids I babysat used to do it. You feel out of control when it happens, like slow motion to stop it! You handled it so well! Too smart the cut/paste thing! God Bless you and your beautiful family!

Ellie said...

Great job. You handled it beautifully - it is soooo hard to endure all of that and stay strong. I am in awe, and I'm taking notes.

mags said...

Hang in there my friend. That was absolutely one of those days that a mother could "choke on". You and John are thoughtful, loving parents. I agree with Ellie. You handled it beautifully! I love S's "impact statement".
Your children are blessed to benefit from your wisdom and life experiences!
I know I learned a few things!
Hugs

natesmom said...

Great job!

As a parent of an overly emotional child who definitely takes out his frustrations on his younger brother (still at the age of almost 12 he does this!), I KNOW firsthand how frustrating this can be. I do feel for you and think you handled it very well!

Konnie said...

Mom of 5, Ellie, Mags and Natesmom,

Thank you for your comments. I debated whether to post this blog as I feel a little laid bare ... what kind of mother allows a SEVEN year old to bite. I appreciate you ALL taking the time to comment. I don't necessarily think I deserve all the affirmations but I will take it. Need to store them up for the next upset.

K.