After being exposed to the hardest thing, for a parent; coming to the realisation that your oldest child is just plain manipulative, at times, and actually admitting it to yourself, I discovered something harder.
When your child is sick or hurt, that’s so incredibly hard to deal with.
When you are the instigator of his pain, the cause of his hurt, that’s hard. And the guilt that overrides you is overwhelming.
I’m not talking physical hurt. I don’t do that.
I’ve – we’ve, cos we’re a team – had to let him know just how not ok his behaviour has been of late. “Tough Love” it’s called.
I fully accept that part of his behaviour is because we haven’t been as “tough” as necessary. We’ve given him chances. Accepted his apologies and promises that he won’t do it again.
And, basically, been manipulated ourselves.
The problem is .. yes, excuses, excuses … mostly, he’s a really great kid. He’s helpful. He’s funny. He’s well behaved. He’s a joy to be around. So he has a bad day, he’s revolting, he pushed boundaries, a punishement is put into place. Some result in the “that happens again, and you lose your LEGO for a week” (which is really, super-evil-parent, “I hate you” inducing punishement).
He’s good, he’s kind, he’s helpful, he’s a joy to be around, we laugh, we have fun, and he does it again and we’ve completely forgotten what we threatened. Or, sometimes, we say “He’s been good, we’ll let him off this time, but if he does it again …” Let’s be clear that this Nice To Be Around kid can last a full week. It’s not like he gets in trouble in the morning, sucks it up over lunch and is an arse again by mid-afternoon. It’s days of nice kid. Easy to forget. And forgive.
But now the boundaries need tightening and the shit has to stop.
We implemeneted some strategies and told him what would be happening; that there are no more chances, that when we say something once, that’s it and if it happens again, these are the consequences. That if he does A, B will happen. And if he goes so far as to see just how far these boundaries will stretch, then be prepared for some horribleness.
Then what happened is the thing I really, really hate!
The thing I find really hard to deal with.
He pushed. Hard.
And forced me into saying “Nice one. You’ve just blown it, and I’m not buying tickets to the LEGO thing. How’s that feel?”
Shit. Apparently. He felt shit. He told me he was a “stupid dick” and I had to agree. Cos he had been one.
It didn’t stop him. I don’t think he believed me. Or, maybe he was feeling really crappy. He pushed some more.
He lost access to the Toy Room. It has been a haven for him, and his Lego, to keep it safe from Chippie, but also to keep Chippie safe from the Lego.
Until he became the Toy Room Dictator and allowed and refused entry as he saw fit. Usually with some nasty rudeness to younger siblings, and a growing believe that it was “his room”.
I digress; he pushed, he lost access and was told to put ALL the LEGO away and make the room fully accessible and safe for Chippie.
He cried like I have not heard him cry.
He was so sad, he didn’t even tell me he hated me, or how horrible a mother I was.
He sobbed till he was nearly sick.
And my heart broke … I was responsible for hurting him so much he reacted like that.
I did something that caused him to be so sad.
Still, I realise he had left me little to no other option. I know this was not my fault.
I know I tried to prevent it with the warning it would happen if he continued.
The hardest thing is being forced to do stuff you don’t want to do.
I think I’d prefer to pout, stomp my feet, lie on the floor and kick and scream and yell “I DON’T WANNA!!!!!!”
But I can’t. And I won’t … even though it sounds WAY more appealing, and probably also way less stressful.
In fact, I can see that being a stress relief … can I do that instead?