A binge of bad behavior

GRIN # 264

I might as well be honest and disclose that infantdom was a terrifying experience for me. I really didn’t enjoy the first few months of motherhood. I kept wondering, “When is my shift over? When do I get off duty? When do I get to sleep?” The only answer: Welcome to your new life. Oh, and by the way, it’s FOREVER. It was an, uh, adjustment let’s just say.

But things got dramatically better.  I didn’t even mind toddlerhood. And once T hit 4, my favorite age, it’s been joyful. Being a parent is by far the most joyful, amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.

But lately we’ve been on a binge of bad behavior, and I’m in uncharted waters. I wrote about the Tobacco Trail on Monday. Tyler’s sweet note. Yeah, well. Monday was fraught with naughtiness as the kids are tracked out and we found out a group of them were guilty of several things. It was like Watergate–with us moms calling around, cornering our kids with demands like “Tell me what you know!”

Anyway, I found out later Tyler lied about something, which really made me angry. He was scared, he said. This whole, “Tell me the truth and you won’t get in as much trouble” is really HARD! If they tell you the truth, you obviously have to punish them but not so much that they learn to keep their mouths shut and take their chances, which, frankly, is what I used to do.

It’s like the mom who says (as mine did), “You shouldn’t be having sex at all! But if you do, I want you to come to me.” What she was trying to do is say that while she didn’t condone it, she wanted me to have all the facts, to be safe etc. It’s the same thin line and I’m not at all sure how to navigate it.

So I went a little light on Tyler because he finally did tell me the truth and he admitted he was scared. But the next day, he was a butt AGAIN at the movie theaters. And that, my friend, is when I (as one of my good friends says) “dropped my basket.

I was like something out of the Godfather, dragging him out of the theater, pointing my finger in his chest and hissing in his face. Not my proudest moment, but it happens. (Doesn’t it? Please say yes). Back home I made him clean my shower (that’s the worst job I could think of!) and he was in his room for the rest of the day. Where he called out to friends from his window like a POW.

“Stop that!” I yelled. “YOU ARE GROUNDED.”

My heart hurt. I doubted my abilities as both a parent and a person. Was I being too hard or too easy? Did he get it?  What was I doing wrong–or not doing–that any of this had happened in the first place?

By dinner, I’d finally calmed down. Tyler and I talked one on one. I didn’t think we’d be facing peer pressure yet but it’s starting.

“As you get older there are always going to be people who want you to do things you know aren’t right. You have to be brave enough to say no.”

“But what if they call me a baby?”

“That’s just it, Tyler. You have to be willing to be called a baby. You have to be willing to walk away because you know whatever it is they’re asking you to do is not right. That’s what dad and I are trying to teach you.”

Unexpectedly, we started role-playing. I thought up all kinds of situations and then helped Tyler come up with good comebacks–from “I know you are but what am I” to the complacent “Whatever, dude.”  I don’t know if any of it helped, but at least he has some tools now where before he had none.

It remains to be seen if he’ll be the comeback kid. Here’s hoping.

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2 Responses to “A binge of bad behavior”

  1. Wow Chrissy, it seems to me, you did a great job with him. Giving him tools, practicing your own bag of mom tricks. As I witness all my friends parent their kids, I am seeing the wisdom in my mom’s theory that you have to do your best and what you need to do so you can sleep at night. Good luck, though it seems to me you are off to a good start.

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