Friday, September 16, 2011

Choices and the Blame Game

I woke up about 2 hours ago (3:30 a.m.! Why is there even such a time?!) in a deep depression.  I sit here full of woe and pensiveness.  And also water, apparently, because my stomach hurts.  It's also larger than usual, which kicked off the slight depression a few days ago.  I got sick a couple of weeks ago.  A sore throat and a severe cough.  I let it go for a week.  The kids had it for a few days, and it went away, so I assumed the same would be for me.  Not true, Sirs!  Turns out I let bronchitis go for too long, and had an acute asthma episode.  I didn't even know I had asthma.  It hurts, though.  Waking up several times a night, unable to breathe and unable to do a breathing treatment because the machine is loud enough to wake up the house.  Plus weeks of waking up at least once an hour to have a coughing fit.  Consequently, that also wakes up the house.

HOLY CRAP!  The cat just scared the living daylights out of me.  I'm sitting in the bathroom, because it is 5:30 in the morning, and I do not wish to wake up the house (again with this), and he just attacked the bathroom door, ninja style. 

Anyway, long story short, I've been sick; therefore, I've been inactive; therefore, I am gaining weight.  I have tried some movement and ended up with chest and breathing issues.

This damn cat is now meowing at the door!  HE IS GOING TO WAKE UP THE HOUSE!!!  AAAAAAAARG!!

Seriously, though, I'd let him if Eric wasn't included.  He didn't do anything to me.  My depression was small because of my weight gain.  It ballooned because of the way I'm being treated in my home lately.  That includes being woken up by screaming and fighting in the mornings, complements of two growing boys.  I've half a mind to lock the cat in their rooms and let him wake them up with loud noise at 4 a.m.  Get offa my lawn! *shakes fist*

I won't do that, of course.  It'd be a bad choice.  Oh, look!  The meat and taters of the post!

Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head's teenaged daughter came home with a new boyfriend.
"Mom, Dad, meet my new boyfriend, Dan Rather."
"You can't date Dan Rather!  He's just a common tater!"

Ok, ok, in all seriousness.  We've had a rough couple of days here.  I'm feeling supremely unappreciated.  After vacuuming, cleaning up after the dudes, cooking their meals, getting them ready for school, packing delicious lunches, helping with homework, reading stories, hauling one to swim practice, etc., the parents of this house have been repaid by being punched, kicked, screamed at and lied to.  Requests for things such as, "Get your pants on." have led to 90 minutes of screaming (naked.  I nearly took a video, it was so ridiculous.)

Us:  Little Man, get out of the shower and put your swim trunks on.  We have to leave for swim practice in 10 minutes.
Little Man:  *sits in his room naked for 8 minutes*
Us:   We are leaving in 2 minutes.
Little Man: (after a couple of hours of being excited to go swimming) I DON'T WANT TO GO!
Us:  Ok.

It's at this point that the LM wants to assure us that he is the boss of the house.  He will get dressed and go swimming on his own time, not ours.  One, this makes us upset, which is fun for him.  Two, this makes Big Man upset, because Big Man will be late, and he likes to be organized and on time.  Little Man's favorite pasttime is upsetting Big Man.

That didn't happen today.  Truthfully, in this little display, it never happens.  Just like always, Little Man's fit got him nothing he wanted and only a time out.  I packed Big Man up in the car and got him to swim practice on time.  Eric, however, endured 90 minutes of nude screaming, flailing, punching and kicking walls and whining because Little Man did not get to go swimming.  He got zero attention for this behavior.  He threw his fit, and, just like always, when he was quiet and calmed down for 5 minutes, he was allowed out of time out. 

There was a similar exchange yesterday morning when I asked him to get dressed for school.  Here is the procedure.  If you miss the bus, I take you to school.  If you are late for school, school rules dictate that you miss recess.  Period.  Discipline does not stop in the mornings because you will be late for the bus.  If you choose to earn a time out in the morning and miss the bus, you choose to be late for school and miss recess.

In the last couple of days, Little Man has gotten it into his head that it is okay to have a snotty attitude with me.  I will ask him to do something, and he will ignore me.  I will ask him to do it again.  He will give me a snotty, "All RIIIIIGHT!" or "I WILL!" or "I SAID, OKAY!"  This, I will not tolerate.  He was given one warning.  "If you speak to me like that again, you will earn a time out."  I told him to get dressed.  I came back 10 minutes later.  Still naked.  Bus time approaching.  I told him the bus was coming in 8 minutes.  Get dressed.  "ALL RIGHT! I AAAAAM!"  That, sir, is a 5-minute time out.

He refused.  I Supernanny'd his butt right in there.  Picked him up, zero eye contact, placed him in the corner.  He kicked me.  He got no response.  He hit me.  He got no response.  He screamed, "I'll walk myself!"  He got no response.  He threw himself on the floor.  I picked him back up and placed him in the corner.  No eye contact.  No talking to him.  He got out to the bus with one minute to spare.

Big Man does the snotty attitude, as well, just not at home.  His Mimi and his Mommy get the brunt of his bad attitude.  He, however, looked in my face and lied to me last night.  About something stupid.  "Yes, I cleaned my room like you asked me to."  I didn't check.  He's 7.  I shouldn't have to.  Two hours later I walked into the disaster area that was his bedroom to put him to bed, only to find out he'd lied to get out of doing it until tomorrow.  He hadn't cleaned a single thing.  This was the straw that broke the camel's back.  The thing that's keeping me up at night, thinking and wondering and pondering and pensivenessing.

Of course, the inevitable question is, why?  Why do they act this way?  Especially Little Man, which I hate to say.  Big Man is really easy.  He's a people pleaser, mostly.  He has his moments, and he's a super duper control freak, but he's generally respectful.  So, why, Little Man?  Why the 2-hour fits every.single.time?  Why, in the years you have been doing this, do you not understand that you never get what you want?

Here's where the blame game starts.  I blame myself most.  I quit my job to stay home and fix this behavior, mono y mono.  It isn't fixed.  It's better, but he still melts down like he's a toddler at times.  He's not.  He's 5.  I'm consistent with discipline.  It isn't working.  I'm doing something wrong.  I blame Eric.  He's consistent with discipline.  Whatever he's doing isn't working, either.  He's doing something wrong.  I blame their mother, grandmother, and great aunt.  They're consistent with discipline.  Not working.  They must be doing something wrong.  The blame game goes on, on all sides of the fence.  In private, the two households sling mud at one another from behind closed doors. (Of course, we never communicate this into the open) One's too strict, the other's too lenient.  THIS!  This is what we are doing wrong!

The bottom line is this.  These two dudes are 5 and 7 years old.  They are not babies.  They know the rules.  More importantly, THEY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.  They can see that we blame everyone else for THEIR actions.  Little Man did not kick me because I am a poor disciplinarian, though if you ask him why, he will tell you it is MY fault that he kicked me.  Both dudes were in the bath the other day.  They splashed water all over the floor, a violation of a rule that has been in place for years, a rule they haven't broken in years.  If you ask them why, they will tell you it is their MOTHER'S fault for leaving them alone in the bath.   Big Man threw a fit because he forgot his crayons in the church library the other day.  When asked why he was screaming and crying and acting ridiculous, he said it was ERIC'S fault for not reminding him of the crayons.  Little Man was asked to put away his laundry.  When he didn't do it, he blamed ME for not giving him hangers (he uses a stool to get them himself).

They've picked up on the blame game.  In their heads, it's everyone's fault but theirs.  Personal responsibility is a complete enigma.  They've not been held to it.  Instead, we wonder what WE, as parents, are doing to CAUSE this behavior.  We aren't causing it.  They are choosing it.  Little Man CHOSE to kick me.  He KNEW it was wrong.  They CHOSE to splash all of the water out of the bath.  They KNOW it was wrong.  We are long past the stage of, "They don't know any better."  Yes, they do, and it's damn time they act like it.  No more blame game.  They receive discipline, and it is consistent.  It is not my fault.  It is not Eric's fault.  It is not Mimi, Mommy or Unny's fault.

From now on, Dudes, it's on you.   I love you.  I do everything I can for you. I won't tolerate this hating myself because I think I've failed you.  I haven't.

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