Friday, December 9, 2011

The Making of a Monster

This topic has been floating in my head for a good week or so and I've avoided writing about it because to do so would be to admit I've been wrong, and, well, who likes to admit to their guilt? So, I've pushed it aside to blather on about other subjects this past week but I keep hearing this voice, nagging, every day, to write it out, get it down, so here it is so that stupid voice can finally shut up. Is a little peace too much to ask???

Anyway, so, the truth of the matter is that I have created a Michael Monster. There--are we happy now? I said it. He is my one and only and it's been very easy these past ten years to over-mother him. I do a lot for him that he can and, by now certainly, should do for himself. I remember years back, when we were still in Ohio, so Michael would only have been three at the most, a friend talking about her three year old twins making peanut butter sandwiches for themselves for lunch. Three! Making sandwiches! Michael is now ten and has never made himself a sandwich. Finds himself completely incapable of spreading peanut butter on bread without tearing the bread to shreds. So...I make his sandwiches for him. Why not? I mean, I'm his mom, what else do I have to do that I can't make my child a sandwich?

Then, last weekend, I hear whining from his room, "Moooooommm!! Can you pick out my clothes??" Really? Okay--I have laid out this child's clothes every day of his ten year old life. Mainly out of my own OCD obessions rather than trying to make his life easier. Justifying this in my head, I rotate his clothes: jeans, shirts, jammies, etc. so that everything gets even wear and not just his favorites. Not that I think he actually has favorites, but if he did, I tell myself that is all he would wear so I'm right in my own mind for doing this. I did tell him that morning he could actually dress himself, but he retorted he didn't know what he should wear. Play clothes. He didn't know where his play clothes were. Yeah, I gave in and went and put out clothes for him. He did say thank you.

So he's been having trouble at school keeping quiet and being attentive like he should and as a consequence he loses so many minutes of recess time, depending on how disruptive he's been in class. I only found out about this at the parent/teacher conference a few weeks ago, so I worked out a plan with his teacher that she was to write in his homework planner how many minutes he'd lost each day so that he would also have a consequence at home and hopefully realizing he had to be accountable for his poor behavior would stop misbehaving and shape up. Well, the first week into this plan, he lost a few minutes the first couple of days and when he also lost a quarter off his daily allowance, he actually stopped talking and drawing in class. For about a week. Then he started up again. He didn't seem to care so much about the quarters anymore, so I threatened to make him stay home from bowling on Saturday. Well, he continued to carry on that week, and unfortunately, we had to turn in fundraiser money at bowling that weekend, so I caved and let him bowl. He was happy as a little clam, proclaiming what a wonderful mother I was who always let him have fun. I could feel a sharp jab in my heart, knowing exactly where this was headed....

Every day this week at school, he's lost minutes not only for talking, but also for using inappropriate language, which he didn't want me to see written in his homework planner so he actually FORGED my initials for his teacher and conveniently 'forgot' to bring his planner home until yesterday. He at least confessed he'd lost minutes, though he always had someone else to blame for why he'd gotten into trouble: Sebastian made him 'fake talk' on Monday (they just mouthed talking, didn't actually say anything so he didn't see how this was disruptive...) Tuesday Lakota was poking him in line and he told her to stop, then lost minutes for talking to tell her to stop....Oh, he even lied about losing minutes on Wednesday. So, we have inappropriate language, forgery, and lying. And he's very definitely lost bowling this weekend.

You would've thought the world was coming to an end the way he carried on at the pronouncement of this punishment, even though every morning before he got on the bus I told him not to lose minutes or he'd lose bowling. Yeah right, Mom, I let him go bowling last weekend....So, I had to lay down the law with him and tell him that even though I was wrong to let him bowl last week, he had to face his punishment this week. Period. No caving. We do have to run in and pick up the hoagies that he sold for their scholarship fundraiser, but he most definitely will not bowl.

Maybe he'll get it next week and do better in class. Maybe I'll get it next week and stick to my word. Maybe one day I'll make him make his own sandwiches and pick out his own clothes. We're making progress. Slowly. Lesson by lesson. I know I don't need to be such an over-mothering mom. It's just he's my baby and it's how I love him. But is it love if it's not helping...?

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