Saturday, December 5, 2009

Children Are Marvels (A pondering of boys and their antics)

Trouble is unavoidable most times; it always seems to find one at some point or another.

What about my children? All we can do with our kids is hope they listen, but let me say I make it hard for them to avoid knowing what they do. I make a point to show my kids what they are doing to someone else when they act selfishly. I'll tell my sons to look at their sister, who is crying over some silly spat between them... and then I ask them how angry they would be if someone else made her cry that way. Then I ask them what gives them the right to make her cry that way. I'm not going to coddle my children into yet another bunch of self-indulgent nothings. I don't just require that they grow up. I require that they grow up right. It doesn't matter. Let them be hurt by their actions. Let them know the consequences. Point them right to it and say "Stand up and take what you get."

I'm not talking about punishments. Those are more for atonement than anything. They have to know what the hell it is that makes it wrong, not just that it is! I'm talking about teaching responsibility and a sense of right and wrong. And how my boys make me ponder how the hell I can make a lesson out of some of the fantastic crap they do.

As mothers, parents in general, it's so easy to say, "Not my child." Oh man, I've wanted to. I've wanted to not believe something my son has done at school, trust me. A food fight in the middle of the office, with another little girl's project (made out of cake!!) was something I'd have never dreamed I would be getting a call from the principal about. I was dumbfounded, I mean... I could see either of my boys getting into a fight. A fist-fight. But a food fight baffled me. I never thought my child, at the age of 10, would throw food when he was already in detention in the first place.

I wanted to say No way. I think I even asked the principal if she was kidding me.

So my son was suspended from school. He did chores throughout the day and made up his classwork. I made him write an essay about respecting others (destroying another kid's project, which counted as 5 grades, was unreal.). I wondered what made him think that would possibly be an okay thing to do.

Then I thought about it. It was fun at the time. Daring. He's 10. He could be doing worse things than throwing a cake.

But no matter how hard I tried to justify it, it came back to the same thing. My boy was out of line and I didn't go easy on him. I made his life miserable with grounding for two solid weeks and didn't let up. He didn't talk once on the phone, he didn't have his DS or his computer or his ipod shuffle. A 10 year old's version of hell, according to him.

Still, a week before Thanksgiving, the boy tries to piss on two other kids.

So am I doing something wrong? I start to doubt my methods.

But it's consistency. It's sticking to my guns. So, another grounding with extra chores for the entire week. Lecture... yawn. The kid ain't listening, y'all.

So I'm tripping. My son's behavior is progressively worse, I'm out of my head trying to find what will work for him.

But like my personality, my rules, and just good morals in general, are set in stone.

I fully believe in there being shame involved in consequences.

I hear people say, "You shouldn't shame your child, it'll damage their self image."

You got to be kidding me. If my child causes hurt in another, I am ashamed of them. So much used to depend on a good family name and now that it doesn't, what is it? What have we gained from cutting shame out of how we raise kids? They should be ashamed of themselves for even behaving that way.

A world without shame will be a scary motherfucking place. You watch and see.

I'd rather teach my child to be shameful of wrongs done and actually be sorry when they do so... than raise men and women that will never be sorry for anything they do in their whole lives. There is so much hurt going around already, I want my kids to be remorseful when they add more. I want them to give a damn about others. I do.

I dunno about other people, but I don't think compassion is a bad trait for anyone. If I can instill this in my kids, I'll die a happy woman someday. If I manage to make my three kids into caring, humble people, aware of their own self worth without giving up their sense of right and wrong... I'll even throw a party when I go.

So I ask my son, "What's going on with you? You're acting like a hellion."

His universal answer is always "I dunno."

Yay me. Another battle won, y'all! I'm getting somewhere--he's not shrugging and rolling his eyes anymore.

Me: Why are you trying to pee on people?

Him: I wasn't.

Me: You were caught with your doodle in your hand and aiming, son, I don't think it was a mistake.

Him: I was just goofing around.


Pause for reaction y'all. Epiphany forthcoming.

I'm over reacting, maybe. He was goofing around with a couple friends. He still shouldn't do it, but my kid isn't losing his mind. He's just getting into mischief.

Him: They put some on my shirt, Mom. It's gross.

And the boy opens his mouth!

See, he wasn't goofing around. He was actually going to urinate on those two boys. As if, by some mysterious thing, balance would be restored by him pissing on them.

For fuck's sake. How am I supposed to point out to him what pissing on someone would do to the ones on the receiving end? I mean, I'm not going to invite him to do so just to teach him what he needs to learn?

This is one of those wonderful times I just have to let it ride with punishment. You got to pick your battles too.

I totally got off track and have no idea what I was talking about, so I'm done. But yeah... there you go.

Peace & Love, y'all


  1. As someone who is seriously considering not having children, just because of the amount of hooligans I see on the street, and worry that no matter what I do, my kids would turn out like that, I admire your methods and I wish more people would do the same.

    Here in UK at least, there is so much mollycoddling, and teachers aren't even allowed to yell at a child to discipline them or do anything in fact that kids feel they can do anything and no one will punish them - which is quite true. So it does come down all to the parents. Unfortunately, a lot of parents either just don't spend the time, or they also think "oh he is just a child"

    I know there are plenty of wonderful children, teenagers out in the world, but I think they are outnumbered by the self-indulgent ones who think the world owes them everything. And if we as a society don't do something, I can see things going even further down the drain with next couple of generations.

  2. Thanks for sharing so much of your life here. I agree that shame is a powerful motivator. I mean, isn't that what peer pressure boils down to? Kids know how to shame each other better than anyone.

    And I believe healthy shame in a loving family environment leads to true remorse. Certainly makes you think twice before you act.

    Good luck with your son.

  3. if we as a society don't do something, I can see things going even further down the drain with next couple of generations.

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