Thursday, March 26, 2009


I honestly don't know that I can get through this post without breaking down, so you'll just have to bare with me if I ramble.  Or don't.  I don't care.  I'm feeling utterly ashamed and mortified already.  You can't do me much worse today.

For the last few weeks, Chago's behavior has significantly improved at school.  At home, though, it's been a completely different story.  He's been lashing out at his sister more than ever, ignoring or forgetting specific instructions (to pick this up or put that away), and rolling his eyes or making a series of increasingly disrespectful noises of exasperation when I catch and/or call him on either.

Typically, this leads to a timeout.  Huge infractions that result in, say, bleeding or bruising from a non-accidental whack, result in loss of privileges or favorite books or animals for a set period of time.

But the friggin' eye-rolling and the smart-mouthing has gotten really out of hand lately.  And I will admit, even my best positive-parenting efforts seem to devolve of late into a yelling and finger-wagging spectacle.

Recognizing yesterday, again, that that wasn't getting us anywhere, again, I tried to pull him aside, again, after we'd both calmed down, again, to have, yes, again, another talk.

So, I'm sitting on the floor cross-legged and I've got him in my lap with both my arms wrapped tightly around him and I whisper into his ear how special I think he is and how amazing he is and how everyday he surprises me with something new and fantastic that I didn't know about him.  And he smiles and his eyes fill with tears and he turns and wraps his scrawny little arms around my neck and squeezes with all his might.

"So what are we gonna do about this, bubba," I continue through teary eyes of my own.

And he pulls away and looks downward into his lap.

"What are we gonna do so that we don't end up in that place anymore?"

"I can try to listen when you tell me to do something the first time," he says.

"Sure, babe, but we've been here before, and you've said that before, and here we are again, so maybe we need to think of another way to solve this problem.  Because it really hurts me to be upset with you and to see you so upset with me.  So, what can I do to help us not get there that anymore?"

And this is when he breaks my heart.  Tears it into a million tiny pieces.  Drowns and dissolves it in a pool of my own salty tears.  And it's mostly because in this moment he is exactly like me.  He knows exactly what he needs to say.  He knows how powerful words are. He knows how to use them.  And, most painfully, he knows when.

"Mama," he begins, softly and timidly, but looking me right in the eye.  "Mama, it's that you remind me of a witch when you yell and it scares me so much that I don't know what I should be doing anymore."

And I can no longer breathe.


girlranting said...

I don´t know him on a day-to-day basis in order to fully comprehend if HE would be like that or not... But, and I hope you don´t take this the wrong way...

I did not get to be that manipulative until I was around 12.

There may be some truth in what he told you, because all children are frightened the moment their parents yell at them, but in truth, if what he does is roll his eyes when you´re doing it, like you said, then he gets over the fright VERY quickly and then proceeds to ignore you.

That said, I know it´s hard, but you have to stop yourself from yelling and simply give him yet another timeout involving something he just ADORES. I remember that what hurt me the most was not my parents spanking me or yelling or whatever, but when I couldn´t watch a certain show that I liked or I wasn´t allowed to buy a book I really wanted...

So, I hope that helps you a little bit...

growingupartists said...

I hate to say this, but going to school does this to a child. They lose all sense of groundedness in the family. I think it's more likely he sees his teachers as the wicked ones, not you, and he's trying to figure out a way to accept that he must submit to an authority that doesn't fully accept him. Like you do.


girlranting, thanks. We'll keep plodding forward. :)

growingupartists...really appreciate the insight. I think there's definitely some truth to that.

Not nearly as rough a weekend as I was expecting after this episode, so maybe our little talks are helping.

Denise said...

Ack! Another post where I didn't see that coming.

Since I don't know your son and I don't know you or your history, I'll refrain from giving advice. ;-)

I can only tell you that my thoughts are with you - and parenting is a hard job in the best of circumstances. When you're facing difficulties, it's an impossible, heart breaking job.

Hang in there and good luck!

Gail said...

Hey I just found your blog and that is a powerful post! I've been thinking a lot lately about how parenting is a job that you are bound to screw up. I never thought I'd yell at a child of mine, but I've done it plenty of times. And I know that it hurts her when it happens (even when she's been egging me on, I still think it hurts). I try to remember that that's part of life and the learning process too. Just like we have to learn to cope with the pains of falling down, we also have to learn to cope with the emotional pains. So I would try to remember that while you are bound to "screw up" as a parent, that's also a perfectly normal and ordinary thing to do and kids really can cope with it. It sounds like you do a great job as a parent!

We have a great book that someone gave to us called "Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild" by Mem Fox that's about a mom who gets pushed to the end of her rope by a toddler. It's a book for the preschool set and I personally find it calming (my daughter makes me skip "the mad part" though!)

BTW, I'm also a lesbian mom to one daughter with another child on the way in June. My wife and I blog at


Denise, thanks so much for your support. But really, will take all the advice you're willing to dole out at this point.

Gail, so funny that you mention that book. I'd completely forgotten about it. We picked it up for our daughter a few years ago when she and I were having trouble communicating, but maybe it's time to revisit it with the boy now. Thanks for that one!!

And on my way over to check out your blog now, too.

Thanks for your all, for stopping by. It actually does help to feel like I'm not going through all this alone. :)

Jo Anna