Thursday, February 25, 2010

You're small fry, stop baiting your mom

I think I'm a pretty good mom. I don't beat my children, and I give them dessert once in a while. I work hard to be painstakingly fair. I let my oldest daughter borrow my shoes. I take my son to the mall to buy a used video game he desperately wants. (even though he was grounded from the Nintendo at the time). I cuddle and read and go fun places. I strive for consistency. But these days, it feels like my children hate me. This is a sample of what I have heard this week from my little guppies:

  • You're so evil!
  • I wish you were dead!
  • Get off my back!
  • Leave me the hell alone!
  • I don't have to listen to you!
  • Go away go away go away!

I recognize it's not always going to be unicorns and rainbows and lollipops and cotton candy, but it is disheartening. I don't particularly like fishhooks and sea monsters in trade. Maybe just a little cotton candy once in a while would be nice.

My son is 11 now. And I can't stand him on more occasion than not. He is belligerent and snotty and just generally thinks he doesn't have to listen to me half the time. The other half the time he spends begging me for:

  • money
  • a ride somewhere to buy something
  • more video game/computer/toy time/snacks/insert whatever the hell he wants at any given moment

I have no idea if this is typical behavior, or if it is perseveration from the Asperger's on his part. He is like a mongrel dog with a piece of meat: once he gets hold of something in his head, I dare you to try to reach out and pull it away from him. It's just not going to happen. And if you try, be prepared to lose a digit or two. He doesn't back down, and he says what he is thinking. You know all those things we hold in our head that we never speak? He speaks them. At least to me. He just doesn't seem to get it. He doesn't quit. He generally says what he is thinking, no matter how hurtful it may be. Two days ago, he made me cry by calling me names. I tried something new: I grounded him from all electronics. He won't shut up about wanting to play video games. I have mentioned, "I said no, geez, stop badgering me!" Only to hear, "badger, badger, badger…." (oh Internet why must you taunt me so?) I have added more time, and he still won't stop asking, over and over again, whining about how mean I am, and just generally being a boil on my backside. I told him, "Son, you are completely in control of how this plays out. Your mouth is what got you in trouble. Once you stop, it stops." He doesn't have that limit line that most of us have, at least when it comes to me. It concerns me because if he has this attitude now, what will it be like when he is sixteen?

Speaking of sixteen, it sucks, thank you very much. I am not so old that I don't remember what it is to be a teenager. I know that it feels that your parents are on your case constantly, that you can't do anything right, that they think you are stupid. I know how much you yearn for independence and wish you could do things on your own without everyone watching to make sure you complete homework, make deadlines and do chores. I know that feeling. BUT. As a teenager, there is a lack of concern for the above. Priorities don't always match up with what you think is important. So, the internet may appear to have more appeal than say, getting an assignment done for school. And maybe, in my daughter's case, parents have to step in and make sure that the distraction disappears long enough to get said assignment done. And in doing so, that parent may end up feeling exactly the way they swore they never would based upon doing the exact thing they swore they never would. (By the way, this is probably where I say "SORRY MOM!" if you're reading this..I guess you were right and I was a shit as a teenager). Anyway.

I admit since I have been home from New Zealand, my tolerance for crap has been extremely low. I have stepped up my game and been more firm, because I am seeing that not setting clear boundaries for my children is starting to bite me in the butt. I am not a pushover, but I never saw the value in what I saw as authoritarian parenting. I always listened to my children, let them logically discuss issues. These days, that flat isn't working, and it is like living with lawyers. If there is a weak point or a loophole in my argument, they will find it. And you know what? I am just too damned tired to argue with them. Sometimes, you have to do things you really don't want to do. That's just life. And you don't get a choice, and you don't get explanations of why the dishwasher needs to be unloaded in the morning first thing (because if the dishes are clean, there is nowhere to put anything and the the dirty dishes just pile up in the sink, making more work for everyone for your simple convenience of doing the dishwasher later because you "don't want to, and if you want it done right now, why don't you just do it yourself" And? I'm the MOM).

Maybe the answer is just..because I said so. God, how I hate that I have turned into that kind of mother. But. I am tired. Really, really tired. And I cannot explain one more damned thing to ungrateful little yuppie larvae. It just so happens they were spawned by me. Doesn't change the fact that I just can't do it anymore. So.

Just. Do. It.

And, oh God, here it comes…Because I said so.

Or I will take you to Laguna Beach, and so help me, I will feed you to a really big fish.*

*I wrote this before the Sea World catastrophe, and while it may not be in the best taste, I am not changing it. It's humor. Deal with it.

T, who is at a loss

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8 sent chocolate:

Anonymous said...

UG Tina! I hear you!! I had to take away computer from Derick after I got an email from his math teacher stating that he was missing 40% of his homework assignments. Derick just "didn't feel like" doing them. @@ But I must say, that out here in the south, my kids go to a little public country school (preK-8th) and they are strict in the old fashioned sense, which made me have to step up my game. No laid back CA attitudes here!


Tony Letts said...

But Tina - they want money - they want rides - they want video games - this means you have power and control -right?
(If only it were that easy)

David B. Cruz said...

Just keep in mind the billboards for Parenthood: "Hearing 'I hate you' and knowing you're doing something right." Oh, yeah, and there's still chocolate. ;^)

Nat said...

Lizzie waited till the day before her monthly book report was due to start reading a chapter book yesterday. In the 3 hours I was gone working, she read 12 pages. Needless to say, the book report didn't happen. I wish parenting didn't have to be so hands-on, but if I don't stand over their shoulder, not much happens. Keep up the hard work. David's right--it's working.

Toodles From Suz said...

Hey sweetie -- it'll be okay -- and eleven is the worst year with boys -- by twelve it's better and by thirteen it's great.

Go back to the basics -- make a list of work for morning and electronics don't come into play until morning work is done -- no discussion, no debate -- just point to the list and say "dishwasher"

Stranded said...

If you are mindful and authoritarian when it is required then a thoughtful child can be made.

As long as parents remember that growing up is the toughest thing ever, they won't go over board with the authoriatrian stuff. Don't hate what you are turning in to. Just when something is working, kids will change the game. Parents train and endlessly retrain for their job I feel. No pay, no benefits, totally accountable for end result. Its a shit job sometimes, but no one else can do it better, they are your larvae hehehe (loved that bit).

Spot said...

I agree with Toodles from Suz, eleven is a rough year. My youngest has ADHD and a genius IQ. The two paired together can make for some very nasty insults and sarcasm. And he never seemed to have a filter either. He completely told people exactly what he thought. I cried alot. Now, he is a fantastic sixteen year old. Sometimes, he can still be mean but it's much rarer and he seems to have finally figured out how to filter.

Personally, I think you seem to be doing a fantastic job. You're facing more obstacles than parents of children who aren't touched by autism and yet you seem to be handling it better than those other parents handle their children. I think it's just been a tough month. But the light at the end of the tunnel will show itself soon. Hang in there.


Tina@ SendChocolateNow said...

Dianne: does the school help at all? Academic work is a struggle here at times with JBear, my 11 yr old. He just doesn't see the point. Since he is homeschooled, this can be a challenge.

Tony: suuuure I have control the way a snowball controls its descent down the mountain. At first, no problem. But once it gets going, get the hell out of its way!

David: Thanks for the encouragement. Chocolate? Did you bring enough for everyone?

Nat: there are times when if I got my "hands on" my children, they would be sorry. I take a step back at that point.

Suz: that is so good to know about being eleven. I am ready to sell him to the highest bidder at times. Nice to know he will probably settle down.

Stranded: seems that parenting is the career choice that comes with little preparation instructions and much on-the-job training. Even data entry has a tutorial!

Spot: thanks for the vote of confidence! There are days I wonder if the St. Bernard from Peter Pann wouldn't be a better guardian for my children. Nana had it all, man.

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