Wanted: Your Parental Two Cents

Help! 

This is a touchy subject.  I wouldn’t be broaching the subject if I wasn’t at my wit’s end.  The whole thing embarrasses me… and Daddy-O.  Apparently, though, it doesn’t embarrass the one person it should!  Frankly, I just do not know what to do about my oldest son.

He steals.  He takes little things from stores – things he can fit in his pockets unnoticed like lip balm or those stupid silly bands.  He pockets small objects, toys mostly, from his cousins – though he is always quick to proclaim innocence and ulterior action.  I believe he pilfers erasers and pencils, etc. from the school book fair but can’t actually confirm it.  And, most recently, he has taken candy from a friend.

This has been going on in various manifestations since he was 3 years old.  The week before his 3rd birthday we went to the party store to buy stuff for his birthday party.  He asked for a mylar balloon.  I said no.  When I put him into his car seat I noticed something sticking out from the pocket of his sweatpants.  He had stuffed them full of latex balloons.  I immediately marched him in to the store and made him return them to the cashier and confess (in front of a long line of customers).  The cashier was embarrassed and dismissive.  “It’s not a big deal”, she said to me in front of Ben.  I stridently disagreed, took my son home and spanked his bottom (with my hand, thank you very much overly-concerned-about-corpal-punishment people). 

A couple of years later he took some lip balm from the local surf shop.  Then went out of his way to show me the item as soon as Daddy-O brought him home.  Busted by his own bragging.  He’s cute but not the brightest bulb in the pack.  Off he went with Daddy-O; back to the surf shop.  We asked that the owner call the police.  (There had been other incidents here and there that I just can’t remember now.)  The owner refused but did give a very appropriate lecture on the distrust for a petty thief and how they will be followed every time they enter a store.  We also made him pay for the item as well as return it.  Hit him in his pocketbook, so to speak. 

Fast forward to the last few months.  I suspect, though cannot prove, that he pilfered copious amounts of pencils and erasers from the book fair at school.  I can’t prove it because he says he bought them.  And he does have money from time to time.  And I don’t keep an inventory of what he has in the art supply category.  So I looked at him suspiciously and asked the question and raised my eyebrow at his response then let it go.  I dropped the ball, I guess.  Perhaps I should have followed up with the school… but I work and I’m busy and gah… that just seems like so. much. trouble….  and maybe a little bit I didn’t really want to know anyway.  sigh.   Same thing with those ridiculous silly bands all the kids are wearing these days.  Daddy-O bought him one pack.  One pack.  Next thing I know he has about 300,000 of them on his arms.  Where are they coming from?  Traded them at school.  Bought them at the market.  Blah, blah.  Again, no proof.  No pudding.  No trust. 

At Christmas time, he lifted a few flies from the Fly Shop in Redding.  I caught him pretty quickly when my Mom-Radar was activated by his suspicious behavior when I walked in the room.  He received a nice and appropriate bare-bottomed spanking and, again, he was taken to the store and forced to confess and return the items. 

Then last night he took a roll of Lifesavers from his buddy.  Stupid Lifesavers! And from a friend!  He’s losing his electronics through the weekend.  He’ll go over tonight and have to look his friend in the eye and tell him he took something from him.  The thing is, I don’t think it’s the first time he’s taken something from friends.  There is a suspicious PS2 game at our house when we never had a PS2.  He says his friend at Nana’s house gave it to him.  I don’t believe him any more.  On the other hand, why would he steal a game for a system we didn’t even have? 

So here is where you come in.  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t seem to get anyone to call the police on him.  Obviously, talking to him and shaming him in front of the merchants isn’t working.  He’s getting to that transitional age where things cease to be “stages” and become traits set in stone.  It’s a dangerous, messed up path he’s on.  I have a few ideas gathered from friends over the years of dealing with this.  Most are pretty harsh, which I like.  I feel like it’s going to take a rather large shock to break this cycle.  Here are some of my ideas.  I welcome beg for your feedback and suggestions.

Solution #1:  AN EYE FOR AN EYE.  Take away something of his each and every time he takes something from someone else.  Perhaps give said item to the victim as a form of restitution. 

My thoughts:  All for it, except I am usually the one buying his stuff so I’m really hurting myself.  Him, too, of course.  It’s hard for me to agree to giving away items I’ve worked hard to buy. 

Solution #2:  CAN’T TOUCH THIS.  Make him walk with his hands behind his back whenever he’s in a store/at friend’s house.  Stop him before leaving and publicly search his pockets.

My thoughts:  This one is going to happen regardless but I just don’t think it’s enough. 

Solution #3:  HUMILIATION.  My old sitter suggested this one.  When she had the same problem with her daughter she made a sign that said, “My name is _____ and I am a thief!”  She then had her march in front of the victimized store (I think it was a grocery store) for 30 minutes during rush hour.

My thoughts:  I really, really like this one.  I just don’t know what to do about location.  March up and down in front of his friend’s house?  Or maybe location isn’t the important thing…  Maybe in front of the grocery store for maximum exposure… 

Solution #4:  FORE WARNED IS FORE ARMED.  Make him (or us, perhaps) announce to store managers or parents upon his arrival that he is a thief and bears watching. 

My thoughts:  Nice.  But equally as humiliating for Daddy-O and I.  Don’t know if I’m that strong for the long haul.

Solution #5:  HUMILIATION TAKE TWO.  Make him a t-shirt to be worn either to school for a day or out and about on errands that says roughly the same thing as Solution #3. 

My thoughts:  Schools may deem this abusive.  And I do have concerns about alienating all his friends. 

Now it’s time for YOUR thoughts.  Please, please help. 

Note:  Drive-by’s wishing to only snark at my parenting skills without helpful advice are not welcome and can kiss my, well, you know. 

A Timely Reminder

It has been a trying day around here.  Emotions have  been running high since last night and the unfortunate Flaming Marshmallow Incident which resulted in the burned cornea of one of Ben’s good friends.  We’ve all been feeling on edge.  And Ben decided not to take his ADHD medication this morning. 

I suspected as much when I first woke up to him pesterizing his little brother.  Wrestling.  Playing.  Wrestling.  Teasing.  Wrestling and teasing some more accompanied by an endless stream of noise, words, taunts, vocalizations, words, words, words ad infinitum.  I asked him if he’d taken his meds.  He said he had.  I checked his pill box and saw Friday’s and Sunday’s squares were empty.  Hmmm.  Obviously something was amiss but my coffeeless brain wasn’t up to solving the puzzle.  After re-asking over and over only to get a more adamant version of the same answer each time, I let it go.  It usually takes close to an hour for his pills to kick in after all. 

The moment I stepped through the front door after being at work for the afternoon, I knew I’d been had this morning!  It’s hard to explain the subtle differences in Ben’s behavior when he’s unmedicated.  You can almost tell just by looking at him!  He talks more, for one.  On and on.  And there is a defiant air about him.  And he confronts.  If I ask him to come to the table for dinner on meds he’s more likely than not going to completely ignore me/not hear me until I force him to look me in the eye.  Off medication, he pipes off instantly asking what’s for dinner and proclaiming he doesn’t want that before I can even finish my sentence. 

Tonight was no different.  He pushed and pushed to the point that he practically had to be drug to the table.  Then things got worse.  At one point, Daddy-O was standing behind him forcefully using a hand-over-hand to get him to cut up his own waffles.  The entire family was done eating before Ben had even taken a bite.  He went to bed without dinner at 7:30. 

Ironically, when I finally settled down to check my email I had a comment notification  on a blog post I’d written two years ago:

Aisha, on September 5, 2010 at 7:04 pm Said

Why don’t you get your poor kid off meds and go from there!

Why don’t I get my poor kid off meds?   Because I want him to have a childhood that doesn’t include detentions, perpetual groundings or juvenile hall.  Because I want him to be able to read when he grows up.  Because I want him to be respectful of others and a productive member of society.  Because I don’t want him to struggle for approval and acceptance only to ultimately find it in a group of kids existing on the fringe of what is right.  Because I want him to have more options for friends than those Fringe Kids.  Because if he doesn’t have to expend all his energy fighting the rules he can focus on ways to lift himself up.  Because I love him

I’m sure that tomorrow Ben will take his medication and it will be a better day.  Thank you, Aisha, for giving me reason to pause during a troublesome day and remember how much I love my son and just exactly why it is that I don’t get the poor kid off meds.

Brilliant!

I was in a very foul mood today.  I am really getting tired of it, too.  I can only imagine how my poor family is feeling.  Personally, I think it’s tied to my lack of walking lately.

I was getting ready to head out on a (hopefully) mood-changing stroll while fending off Danny’s incessant questions.  When I explained that I was in a very grumpy mood he asked why.  I told him that his yelling, arguing and constantly telling me “no” made me unhappy which made me grumpy.

He replied, “Maybe you shouldn’t let me do that.”

Brilliant!  Why didn’t I think of that?

A decade ago… a decade to go.

I sit here today realizing that this day is the last of a decade that has changed my life profoundly.  So profoundly, in fact, that the me of the last decade almost seems to be someone else entirely. 

I eagerly awaited this decade past as The Begining of my “life”.  Ten years ago I was one year into my marriage and newly pregnant. I looked forward to a New Years Eve which would fulfill expectations set in 1982 by (the artist who would become formerly known as) Prince when he told us to “party like it’s 1999!”  Has any New Years Eve ever been anticipated longer??? I was fresh into a new field of Government work, living in our newly purchased home.   The changes forthcoming in the 2000s were unknown and exciting!

Now, a decade later, I am an “old married woman”.  I am the mother of two children who both define and and give meaning to my life.  They also limit the life I could would have.  Our previously new house is now a home cluttered with the comforts and debris of a life too busy.  I have an expertise in my job that only comes from longevity and have trained every co-worker in my office. 

My life has traveled a path in the last ten years I never could have anticipated.  Motherhood has proved more challenging and satisfying than I would have believed possible.  I have one child with ADHD and another who is blind and most likely autistic.  I marvel at the naive view I’d had of parenthood.  My life alternates between the whirlwind of activity that is work, school, sports, life and the frustrating slowness that surrounds a child with handicaps.  I have long since lost the surety of knowing my path and content myself with the newness of the changing scenery instead. 

I leave the “naughties” as a Breast Cancer Survivor.  This decade that ushered me into motherhood also brought me face to face with death.  I discovered reserves of strength within myself I never would have thought possible.  I also found a deep and abiding faith and peacefulness that fortifies me today. 

Ten years ago I looked to this past decade as a fulfilment of the promise of my life.  Today I see it as but an introduction.  The stage has been set, the players cast.  I can’t wait to turn the page and read my script!

Bring on the next decade!  Surprise me!  Amaze me!  Shock me!  I can’t be disappointed for time has given me life and life has given me more time.  I am anxious to see the me of 2019.  It is my only wish for the next decade.

The Accidental Victim

Or… How To Get Out Of Soccer Practice.
Or… How To Get Mom To Give Up The Good Meds.
Or… All The Fight With None Of The Fortitude.

Maybe you can come up with your own title.

I’m thinking Ben has a shining future if they ever make Injurious Diving an Olympic event. He’s really quite talented in that area; a natural. (See that semi-colon… Did I use it correctly? Because I really just never know.)

Let’s see, if I can recap for you…

Routine: Windmill Free Fall
Difficulty: 3 of 5
Timing: 5 minutes before brother’s First Birthday party
Presentation: masonry scrapes on forearms and legs and a large 3-cornered gash under chin (complete with embedded brick shrapnel)
Location: Block wall in backyard
Cry Time: 45 minutes
Score: 7.5

Routine: Tarzan Forward Somersault Belly Flop
Difficulty: 5 of 5
Timing: First day of school
Presentation: Bruised nose and buckle fracture of the wrist
Location: Rope swing down the street
Cry Time: None, unless you count clenched teeth and welling eyes.
Score: 9

Routine: Bunk Bed Double Gainer
Difficulty: 3.5
Timing: One week after first cast came off
Presentation: Stuck the landing directly on the under-bed drawer, greenstick fracture of same wrist
Location: Sleepover at friend’s house
Cry Time: 30 minutes at friend’s house and entire way home
Score: 6

Routine: Triple Handlebar Hand Stand Launch
Difficulty: 4
Timing: On the way to soccer practice’
Presentation: Popped bike tire, broken pedal, ripped seat, gash in knee, jammed shoulder, bruised ribs
Location: Into large landscape rocks, over neighbor’s mailbox, onto asphalt
Cry Time: 52 minutes plus every time the judges glance his way
Score: 8.5



The boy has incredible talent!!! Watch for him at the ER near you!

Changes

First day of Preschool 2009. Danny was so excited to start school again this year. That’s a far cry from the reluctant daily school boy of 08-09. The only reluctance he showed today was for Mom’s incessant photo-snapping. “I don’t like pictures!” And who can blame him? It’s not like they have any meaning to him.

Ready to make a break at the slightest sign of
weakness from the photographer.

I have never been prouder of my little man than I have been in the last few weeks. He has been through major changes that would have any normal 4 year old reeling. Our Wonder Sitter quit suddenly the first week of August. She has watched Danny since he was 4 months old. She has aided for him at preschool for the past two years. I think her dog, Izzy, is his best friend.

Making his way to school
from the parking lot.

Yet, Danny has risen to the occasion. I was prepared for regression. For more potty training “accidents” and refusal to comply with tasks he associates with Wonder Sitter. Boy, was I mistaken!

A recurring issue for our family has been Danny’s refusal to do things at home that he does readily for the Wonder Sitter and others when away from us. Things like use his cane or a fork and spoon (not interchangeably). A biggie for me has been the potty training issue. For well over a year now he has been fully trained away from home but the moment he’s home it’s as if he’s never heard of a toilet. I have been at wit’s end trying everything I could think of to rectify the situation. Low and behold, Daddy-O and I just realized that Danny hasn’t had an accident since Wonder Sitter quit.

I don’t know what to think of that. I don’t want to read too much into it or I’ll make myself crazy.

Using his cane like a pro.
It’s a good thing he doesn’t need to see where he’s going…
because he really needs a haircut.

He also doesn’t shut himself away in his room listening to music for hours as soon as he gets home for the day anymore. His scripting (repetitive phrases and conversations) has actually morphed into real conversation and age-appropriate pretend play. Most of the symptoms of autism that he was driving us crazy with are gone. In fact, two nights ago I switched up or bedtime routine without notice. Instead of asking him what music he wanted to listen to I sang the question in a baritone operatic sort of voice. Without skipping a beat, Danny answered me in the same sing-song style; engaging in a varied back & forth for a good 10 minutes. No repetition. No mimicking. No autism in sight.

Danny with his awesome VI Instructor, Marlene & Eileen,
checking out the play kitchen.

And he has taken to his new daycare like a duck to water. He is the oldest one there. He’s never been the oldest before… I think he loves it.

Circle Time where we meet all our new friends
for the first time.

All of this just goes to reinforce that change isn’t always bad and that God gives us what we need not necessarily what we think we want.

My Week in Pictures

Last Tuesday Ben broke his collar bone. He was doing something horribly dangerous… walking a dog. Yeah. I know. Oh course, he threw a pine cone for the dog while holding her leash and promptly found himself sunny-side up in the middle of the street feeling very glad he’d unwrapped the leash from his hand as instructed. Now he suffers the natural consequences of his lack of forethought. Below see his guinea attempting to hide in his sling.


I’m thinking it’s going to be an early fall in these parts. Not only has it been an unusually mild summer (barring the last week or so) but all the wildlife are out en masse already. Earlier this week I saw two spotted fawns grazing all on their own by the side of the road as I left work. And me without a camera. I. Know.

So the next day when a whole flock of a dozen or so turkey casually strolled along the side of the road on base I was ready. This fella is mighty plump for so early in the season.

Wonder Sitter took Danny to the County Fair today. He loves riding on all the rides! He had his first taste of cotton candy and declared it to be “fuzzy”. He also kissed a sheep, hugged a cow and asked to take them all home. He threw darts at balloons and, best of all, allowed his face to be painted for the first time in his life!!!



It was quite the busy week…