The house is once again silent…the busy mumblings of nonsense have walked out the door towards the bus stop. Every morning is the same…the consistent talking to himself in tones and beeps…”That’s enough” ,”Calm down” are repeated with regularity.
I let so much of this annoying babble “go in one ear and out the other” hoping he will stop on his own. I shake my head and reach for my coffee! Today was better than most days! Some mornings the noise level is excruciating and it is just my youngest. We have tried explaining that most of this is not needed and he should try to focus on controlling himself. I have told him stories about when the boys were all little and how the noise level was quieter than he is all by himself. My words just fall on deaf ears. “Speaking of ears…we had them checked! Perfect hearing!”
I feel like Oliver, cautiously holding my bowl up, Please Sir…Could I Have More?
What I want more of:
When someone asks you to calm down or stop doing something that is consistently bothersome…could you at least try! Respect for your elders was what I was taught as a child. My boys were taught the same thing. My youngest…well I do not know what he was taught before he came to live with us. There is a 7 year window that we really have no clue what his life was like. Situations were documented by case-workers and law-enforcement giving us a peek but nothing else. Eating habits, when he took his first steps, when he started talking are all things we are totally in the dark about. The simple forms of respect are absent! We have tried taking baby steps to bring him up to speed on respecting others and yourself. “Can you say Brick Wall?”.
The typical activity of bringing bugs and collections of lizards indoors is of no concern now. I have not had this issue with this little boy. My mother was gracious when she taught me the importance of fresh air and the poking of holes in the lid of a jar. Out of my four siblings, I was the one who had the nature collections. There was always a jar for my use and a place for my collections set aside “outside”. I collected lizards and rolly-polly bugs…I did let them go! I played with grand-daddy long legs. ( those are the long- legged spiders) I lived in the creek and would build forts in the woods behind out house. I was adventurous when it came to riding my bike and I had the injuries to prove it. “I was the perfect “Tomboy”!
The challenges of raising this unique spirit inspired my creative side. Sadly, the only collecting he does is from the garbage can. Really! The items he treasures make no sense…
His behavior deviates wildly, swinging from concept to concept, as he is shown how to respond and behave. He cannot remember the simplest of instructions. Common sense make no sense to him. Examples:
Norm: You want or need something…just ask!
Child: Take and sometimes hide the evidence.
Norm: Privileges are lost and earned back
Child: Lost the privilege of his computer and TV in bedroom and does not try to earn them back
Norm: Basic manners
Child: none…unless with sarcastic smile
Norm: We do not throw desks and chairs at teachers
Child: Throws desks and chairs at teachers, raises fist and moves to strike. (Yes..he did!)
Are we wrong in our expectations? I do not want a little robot…We want a creative little boy who is able to enjoy life and not destroy the lives of those around him. We understand noises that are related to imagination. Our 18 year old had the best lawn mower and weed-eater sound effects. My favorite was his chainsaw! He would go out into the yard and work…make the noises…and even broke a sweat. He was 3 when he started this! He now works a side job as a landscaper. “Hmm!” The presence of unique sound effects our 18 year old includes into average conversations just flow from his personality. Being a mother, who has been working with children since childhood, I have seen all types of personalities. “Except this personality from our youngest!”
The world does not revolve around you…there are five other people in this house!
Bedtime means bedtime…you need your rest and you get up very early!
Calm down…this does not mean get louder and get into things you have been told to stay out of.
He does not understand consequences and does not see the problem with the way he acts. He thinks the kids at school approve of his actions…sadly he has no real friends. There are a couple that play with him on our street…but he is never invited anywhere and does not ask if someone can come over. My other boys always had friends over…they played and ate…watched movies and ate..they would shoot hoops and eat some more. I miss those days! Most days there were at least 4-5 other boys here. Football games in the front yard were a weekly occurrence. I was everyone’s other mom…but not with this little boy!
He is a very bright mind with inventive and creative tendencies. I want him to be able to roam the neighborhood, with friends, as they play and eat at each other’s houses. As it is he cannot be trusted to cross a street correctly and has not been able to show us he is ready to do this. He gets so scattered and forgets the time…we know that can happen…but every time! He gets turned around and does not know where he is…that worries us! He finally memorized the phone number but still has trouble with the address. A dear friend brought him home from church…my son told him he was going the wrong way…my friend, being who he is, called me and put it on speaker. “Did you move and not tell me?” “Not that I am aware of…why?” “Your son does not know where he is!” He had been with us for two years when this happened. He does not seem to understand the baby steps that need to be respected and understood before he can go, out away from the house, by himself. He will be 12 this summer but acts much younger.
Disclaimer time! I have worked with many different types of children, including special needs, during my teaching years. I grew up believing there was no such thing as a bad child…just misunderstood. I am moderately ADHD and have learned to control myself…for the most part. ( okay, those of you who know me personally, stop laughing and get back in you chairs!)
We have a fun family and love to laugh and joke with each other. Our older sons are liked by their peers and are respected in many differing adult groups. We also set reasonable limits of conduct and behavior.
What are we doing wrong? Is there something that we have not tried that will help us in raising up a strong and respectful young man? I would appreciate any and all feedback! Until then..I will go about my day, enjoy my coffee and try again when he gets home. Guiding and teaching, without his knowledge, in the everyday lessons of life hidden in homework and chores. I hope this has not been to negative…it is easier to smile when I get certain things off my chest. Have a great day…Really!
“Do you want me to pull this car over?”
“Leave your brother alone!”
“Don’t make me come up there!”
Words to live by! Everyday parents all over this great big world of ours experience frustrating situations with children. To bad we can’t act like they do. What if we acted the same way and said the same things? I venture to say the results would be eye-opening. I will list a few of the statements heard in my house on a daily basis. See if you have heard any of them before.
My children: Mom and dad:
I’m bored! Go play outside.
Can I have some coke? We are eating dinner soon.
He’s bothering me! Leave your brother alone
Why? Because I said so!
Whatever! I’m the MOM!
HUH! Treat people the way you want to be treated
Can I go _______? What time will you be home?
Why can’t I? Be home before dinner!
He won’t leave me alone! Do you really want to wear that?
I am going to my room. Clean your room!
Leave me alone! Have you done your chores?
But I just sat down… But I just sat down…..
I am so tired! You’re tired! (lol)
ZZZZ!! (napping) You will not sleep tonight.
You don’t know what I have to do! Do your homework, chores
You have no idea! You’re right…I never was your age…
“Alright already!, enough is enough!, What was I thinking?” If I, as a mother, said the phrases my children say to me; they would laugh. They might stare blankly at me thinking I had lost my mind. We find out, as we grow older, that our parents were not as ridiculous as we originally thought. Then, to our dismay, we find ourselves repeating the same phrases and logic to our children. SCARY! I recall a day when my three sons were really testing my resolve and I simply looked at them and said “I am going into time-out!” I retreated quickly to my bedroom and turned on the TV. I relaxed and thought about my next step. The next 15 minutes was very insightful. There was a timid knock at the door and a little voice asking if I was okay. There was silence when I did not respond. The concerned whispers began then a spirit of resolve. I checked my watch and I had been in my room for 20 minutes. I walked to the door and opened it to find the three boys sitting next to my door. Each of them were sitting quietly not knowing what to do. They figured by sitting at the door they would be safe. “I am sorry!” they each said and gave me a hug and went to clean the mess that had started the whole string of events. I acted as if nothing had happened and started dinner. When dinner was ready the boys were called. We sat down and said the blessing. It was my 7 year old’s turn to pray and this is what he said.
Thank you for the food and thank you for this house. Thank you for my mom who put the wrong person in time-out. She did not do anything bad. Help her know that we are sorry that we did not do the room and will be better tomorrow.
They had sat outside my door and worried about me while thinking about what they had done to cause this action. Punishment served! This lesson only lasted a little while. I never put myself in time-out again but probably needed to. I could have used the break! The limited view is beginning to expand as they grow up, thankfully. The older boys understand things with more clarity and I catch them giving parental phrase to our youngest…. I have to laugh and then stop them. “You are not the parent!” Where have I heard that before? I try to gently remind them that even though I appreciate their intention to relieve the pressure from me I still need to be the one who is in charge of the situation.
The phrases and words, repeated daily, may sometimes fall on deaf ears but they do eventually sink into the dark and ever expanding matter located between a child’s ears. Hopefully, as adults, we will continue to learn as well. Our ability to handle situations must alter with each new adventure and be tested by the world we live in. The life we lead is different than our parents and though the root of the problem may be the same the approach must adapt to the individual and circumstances. The influences are so vast compared to those of my childhood and the chances of sheltering a child from negative situations is an uphill battle. The basics are necessary and then we must go “step by step and day by day.”
I wish we could implant manners and not have to struggle teaching them. I wish respect was automatically obtained at birth. These two concepts would virtually bring conflict to a standstill and laughter would replace fussing, helping replace complaining. What?….a girl can dream! Right? Fortunately, I have had some of those times when the boys were, without any coercion, getting along and helpful. “Those are the days!” For now I will have to realize that my boys are respectful when around others and they do use their manners. “Words to live by” are just a way of communication. They offer the material to build bridges between children and parents. They can teach and remind, the parties involved, of past situations and feelings. Parents do not want to see mistakes repeated. We can only hope that one day they will be able to “Walk in our shoes” and understand the importance of these “Words to live by!”
I know I probably left some of the best phrases off the list. You probably have some of your own…What would be some of your “Words to live by”?