Friday, November 21, 2008

strike three

We've just gone another nine rounds, me and Sasquatch. Nine rounds of the same old shit, nine rounds of everything I do that is wrong and everything he does that is just a rational response to his crazy, melodramatic mother. The irony of him being downstairs bellowing "Oh, my god. OH, MY GOD could you be any more melodramatic?" is completely lost on him, as it usually is.

And what has prompted this? The attempts on my part to lay down some firm lines in terms of me not doing virtually everything around here. The two younger ones get it. But not my eldest. Not by a long shot. The palm that is extended for entertainment money is curiously unable to do any work for it. The mouth that inhales every speck of food I cook is curiously unable to say anything to me that is not hateful and cruel. The child who compulsively says he loves me every time he leaves my side is curiously unable to do a damned thing to prove it. Everything that is important to me is mocked, everything I do is taken for granted, everything I say is twisted until I don't even recognize it anymore. By the time we finish one of these arguments, he has me really believing that I'm as awful a person as he says I am. I don't know how much longer I can do this.

The fact that the two younger ones get it doesn't mean they actually do anything about it. It just means that they feel a little guilty that they're not doing anything about it. I've collared each of them individually and told them all to set aside some time on Saturday for a good, old-fashioned family meeting. Things cannot continue the way they are around here.

I think I'm about to go on strike.


WT said...

Going on strike is just the start, withholding funds should also be considered.

Rudee said...

I second WT. Next time one of them asks for ANYTHING, say, no thanks. That doesn't appeal to me right now and walk away.

I hope things get better soon. And, just because the boy knows how to push your buttons, doesn't mean he thinks you're horrible. It's only that he is astute and uses that as a weapon. Who knows why he does that? He just does. Use the green stuff as your weapon.

Maggie May said...

That is the worst age to have a boy go through. There's no way they can reason like an adult. Seems to be something they have to go through. He will emerge a really thoughtful and kind lad. Its just that he's at the crysalis stage now. Will emerge a butterfly. Possibly at 19yrs!

the planet of janet said...

you go, girl.

with your words and with your wallet.

ciara said...

it's time to start taking away some privileges, r.c. take away things that maybe computers or computer time, spending time w friends, ipods, whatever teens feel like they can't live without. talking & reprimanding doesn't usually work (i know, i've done it, too). once i started taking things away, they're slowly coming around. i took mini-me's laptop away for a cpl days once, she nearly went nuts lol definitely don't give them money.

consider this, too, kids who have gone thru or going thru div know how to play both sides of the fence. he's laying guilt trip on ya...time for some reverse psychology.

laurie said...

it's a really tough age for boys.
and girls. and moms.

but think about supernanny. no drama. no shouting, just rules. if the rules aren't followed, there are repercussions.

make a chart. divvy up the chores by day, or by week, or whatever

if they don't do their chores, they don't get (a) computer (b) ipod (c) spending money (d) whatever.

remind them that you're not their best friend, and a family is not a democracy. you set the rules, they follow them. that's the way it is.

you don't want to send a boy like this out into the world with such manners. now's your chance to help him become a man.

and save your sanity in the process.

laurie said...

ps. don't argue with them.

do not tell them your troubles, or say that this is becaus you're exausted or whatever

just tell them that there are new rules, and here they are.

you do NOT have to explain yourself to them. you're their mother. you get to call the shots.

DO NOT ARGUE WITH THEM. this is key. because you will lose.

Flutterby said...

Here are a couple of observations: Sasquatch pushes buttons because he can. He wants someone or something to push against. He is a drama queen and desperately needs an audience and has to be the center of attention no matter what it takes.

A couple of questions: How does he treat his brothers? How does he treat your dogs? How does he treat his friends? Could you send him to live with his father?

And I think Laurie and everyone else has great suggestions. There, that's my two cents worth.

softinthehead said...

Yes I agree, it is time to earn his privileges, and going on strike is an excellent idea. I bet they won't starve!! And they might even learn where the washing machine is and hopefully how to use it. We all had to do chores at home, my mum was a single working parent, OK so we balked at it from time to time, but when we never actually went naked or hungry. More power to you RC. Do not just hand over money - nobody just hands it to you - he has to learn that lesson ..and quickly! Good luck. :)

Kaycie said...

Sweetie, you have to take control of this situation, no matter how extreme it seems to you. You should not have a family discussion on Saturday, you should have what we call here in the Bible belt a "come to Jesus" meeting.

You. Are. The. Boss. Do not forget that. A family is a monarchy and you are the queen. You are NEVER, EVER required to explain yourself. Make rulings. Issue edicts. Sit on your ass and instruct them on how to make you a cup of tea and bring it to you. Make them cook. Make them clean. Do not give them an inch.

When they rebel, which is inevitable, remove privileges. Take away mp3 players, televisions, dvd players, visits from friends. Do not just say they can't use something. Confiscate it. Put it into the trunk of your car and leave it there.

You can win, honey. Really. I have been there, done that. You just have to be firm and, as the old song goes, "cruel to be kind". They won't appreciate it now, but they will thank you for it later. I promise.

laurie said...

ps one more thing and then i'll shut up.

"going on strike" isn't the best way to handle this, because it's so clearly a temporary and dramatic thing.

it'll ratchet up the drama level, when what you really want is to ratchet it down.

and because it's so clearly temporary, they're going to wait for you to go off strike so things can get back to normal.

what you need to do is have a calm meeting. set rules and expectations. explain the repercussions. chart their duties, and put the chart on the wall.

and then stick to it.

no drama no shouting no 'getting back to normal.'

a new, calm normal.

ped crossing said...

What they said. Good luck!

aims said...

Perhaps it's time the X took him for a while.

Simply Jenn said...

Oh my! I have one of those at home!!! I am SOOO tired of constantly being ignored. Blatantly, irrefutably ignored. And then "I forgot" is supposed to cover it.

Whew, I'll stop there, but believe me I feel your pain!

Kaycie said...

You do NOT want the FX to take him for a while. You have to be the one to control things. If you send him to the FX, you are giving up. Don't do that, babe.

Be tough. Set your rules then stick to them. It'll be unpleasant for a while, but the end result will be better than you could imagine from where you are now.

Marti said...

I agree with what everyone says, RC. It is time you established the rules and the consequences. I really like the idea of the computer going into your trunk so it is missing from the house. Be firm and strong. You can do it and I think you will be pleased with the results.

Also, on the Saturday meeting, make sure it does not become a "let's discuss why we are displeased with you, mom" meeting. Set the rules. End of story. Let us know how it goes.


kathy said...

I put kids watch on the computer which puts limits on the amount of time and when they can use the computer. The parent is in control of the amount of time and who gets on for how long. We had it on for a while and the kids whined and moaned so much we took it off, but now all I have to do is threaten it and they behave. It's worth a try, and I take his x box controllers away.

Frances said...

Strike - if you think it will work .
My brother told me many many years ago that men will do the work eventually if women don't - and I think the place to hit them is food - if you really want to do it.
You know they want to eat. If they want to eat they have to do something towards it, shopping? cooking? food prep? cleaning up after - whatever you are realistically going to let them do without getting mad if they make a mess or don't do it right
(otherwise you give them the chance to say that they won't do it because they can't and tell you you are unreasonable)
If they don't do whatever you've said they have to do then you don't do it either. If they haven't taken the dishes out of the dishwasher when you come home, don't - DON'T do it yourself and get yourself riled up. Remember you are the only adult in the house and you don't need to answer to the kids. You tell them how it is - calmly and objectively.

It seems to me that the issue here is your feelings, your exhaustion and your stress levels. You can't do all this stuff and you need help.
Rudee is right - the kid pushes your buttons because he understands you very very well.
I'm going to say some weird things now. They may be waaaaay off the point, I don't see what is happening at your place - so just ignore me if I am talking garbage.
You two are probably very similar emotionally and his way of defending himself from dealing with the fact that you really can't cope and that it may be his problem is to push those buttons and distract you from getting anything constructive said.
Maybe even making you over-react so that you feel bad about it afterwards and nothing is truly resolved. That way he gets your attention and doesn't have to take any responsiblity. I guess he is behaving like that because he can, because he is mad at everything and you are the person he can attack because you will still be there tomorrow. Because he is disturbed about the state you are in, he can't cope and he loves you a lot and doesn't know any way of dealing with you because he is too immature.
You know you love him and he loves you.
You are his Mommy underneath all the crap he is giving you. He's seen you hurting and being sick and getting tired and he doesn't want his Mom to be like that.
Or he is just a little b....... and has no redeeming features. I don't think you believe that. He will come through this and so will you.
Family meeting, fine if you can avoid getting irritated, upset, frustrated. Can you be clear and calm? Do you know exactly what you want the kids to do? Or do you just want to bawl them out?
You may have guessed by now that I have had some issues over here, now over, my kid has come through the other side - but it was hard to do it all. I feel with you.
You have so much to deal with and I think you are a bit too tired and stressed to do it all at once. I wish we could all come over and help out and take some of the pressure off.
Main thing is. cut yourself some slack. Lower your standards. Relax. Have some good time with your kids. Show them you love them and appreciate them in some way at least, otherwise they are set up to go out into the world kids who think their mother doesn't like them.
Most of us have been there, or are - and we all worry about your well-being.

Daryl said...

I agree with WT ... close the purse!


sharon said...

I have survived 2 goes on the teenage son merry-go-round. Here's what 'we' did...
1. No chores, no money. The chores and payments for them are set by you, not them.
2. Dirty washing not in the correct receptacle does not get washed - go and do it yourself if you need it.
3. No ironing if they aren't going to bother to put clean, pressed stuff away properly.
4. Stuff left laying around the house goes into a garbage sack - whatever it is - and goes out for collection on the next garbage day.
5. Periodic bedroom inspections with the garbage sack treatment for non-compliance with reasonable standards of tidyness and hygiene.
6. All of the preceding rules are non-negotiable!

My sons are now 29 and 24, and both now live independently. They can shop, cook, and clean (themselves, their clothes and their homes) and willingly admit that I was right to take them to task and make them help out at home. They are also grateful that they know how to clean, shop and cook etc. It isn't easy but I don't think it's an insurmountable job. Stick to your guns - and good luck!

sharon said...

Ooops, should have said re Rule 4 that they get the opportunity to put away the stuff in the garbage sack but, if they don't bother, then it's 'bye-bye' whatever is in the sack at the next garbage collection.

Akelamalu said...

I agree with what everyone else has said.

Take away all their priviledges until they do the chores - works every time. They don't get rewarded for doing nothing.

Good luck.

Devon said...

I missed this post yesterday, so I'll chime in a bit late...Haven't read the comments so sorry if I repeat.

One of my kids is very hard to communicate with also. I had some luck by comparing the running of the house to a sports team. She is athletic and got the concept.

We all have to do our part to make it work. It would not be fair to sit on the field while your team mates are running the ball without your help.

Basically, we all do our part without one person carrying the major load. It may not be fun always, but it is fair. Also, it helped to specifically let each person know what they need to do so there is no ambiguity or denial later.

Sorry if this is too long, I feel your pain and hope your family talk went well today.

By the way, just because S. says you are something doesn't make it so. He is young, immature and his opinion of you is only his opinion. Not truth! It doesn't make him bad, just young.

I don't know you but through your honesty in writing can tell you are not the person he is describing to you! You are good, hold your head up and just smile, chocolate also helps with this.