Sometimes I amaze myself. Usually it’s not in a good way, but more in the "wow. I’m so astonishingly stupid" way. And, the thing is, I’m not stupid. I just sometimes forget to remember what I know, instead acting on impulse or habit or laziness or autopilot and not doing what I have learned will sometimes work.
Well, the past two days Lex has been a total ass. (He knows how I feel about his recent behavior, and while I’ve pulled way, way back on writing about the specifics when it comes to the older kids, I’m just going to lay this one out there.) He’s been throwing elbows, telling his siblings that they are stupid and disgusting, that he hates them. I was asking him about something (I don’t remember) and he said to me Yeah, what the hell ever.
OH, YES. He does know better.
It’s been really awful. I’ve sent his friends home (only to chase after them to come back to play when Nathan became really upset) I’ve confiscated his cell phone, tonight he wasn’t allowed chocolate when the rest of the kids got some because he was being so mean. He’s had a lot of time in his room to smoulder.
And, I KNOW that punishing someone for being mean will only serve to make them meaner. I know it. If I take his phone away for being a shit to his brother, he will be pissed at his brother (and at me) and it won’t help him to be nicer.
But, apparently I forgot, and I kept all weekend trying to make him be nice.
Then tonight, I went outside to take out the recycling and call the boys in for supper. They were in the driveway, leaning up against the van and talking. We started back for the house and I pulled Lex back, suddenly seeing so clearly what he needed. I put my arms around him and hugged him and said, "Hey — you’ve been acting really mean the past few days. And I love you. And I know that you love me. And your brother and sister."
He didn’t tell me what is bothering him, but he hugged me back and apologized, a real one, for being so rotten. He let himself melt into our hug a little bit, and then he took a deep breath and touched my hair. He said he felt better. It’s funny — he’s out of here every chance he gets, and if he’s here, he has a friend over (seriously). But I think what he needed to snap out of it was just a little attention from me. I do know a few of the things he is struggling with. A couple of them are sort of a big deal and I worry. I just hope that I can keep remembering to be kind with him when he can’t be. And much more attentive with him when he is.
oh, mama. it is hard. temper tantrums make sense to me at 2 & i could deal with them, but emotional outbursts & arguing at 4 make me crazy & i lose it. thanks for the reminder.
If you can remember that older kids and young teens are going through changes that are a lot like the terrible twos, it might help. They need affection so much but are unable to ask for it, so you just have to get in there and load it on.
Just keep letting him know you love him, like you did, while setting boundaries and trying to have a sense of humor about the meanness. You’re totally on the right track.
This is a hard time for him and the stakes are only going to get higher, so whatever you have to do to keep the lines of communication open, just go for it.
I think I read somewhere, when mine was this age, that the one thing young teens want more than anything else (surprisingly enough) is the love and approval of their parents.
Eventually he’ll find more positive ways to individuate himself. Just hang on! You’re a good mom.
it’s like you are at my house
Owie! Sounds like tough stuff. I just did a book review for an incredible book, and this author would be applauding you for how you handled it. (I’m having a contest, if you want to win a copy.) Thanks for sharing, because you remind us all to take a step back and remember what we already know!
I feel your pain on this one. Mr 17 and Miss 14 are both in the “I hate my siblings and everything else” stage. Mr 17 still has extreme and lengthy bursts of it, but the closer he gets to his 18th birthday the more light I can see at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there, take deep breaths, remember their younger years and look forward to a few years from now when the monster lets go and he is back to just being himself.
but it’s so hard to be nice to them when they are acting like little shits. (that’s really mean of me, but i can’t help it. griffin’s doing the same damn thing and i’m sick of it.)
This was brilliant, dollin. You should submit this for print. Seriously.
They do melt, don’t they?
xoxoxo to you
Boy, you are one smart momma!
Great comeback for your son and yourself.
Never can give enough hugs or tell them you love them.
I have to remind myself sometimes with my 13 and 11 yr. old sons.
They are still my babies.
I often wonder how much longer they will let me do it.
It is amazing how a hug can melt them. Sometimes they are so awful and it is just their way of asking for some love. This is a beautiful post.
I’ll have to remember this post soon – Dylan is nearly 9 and gets like that. Great advice, Mama.
Tears in eyes…this is so true. Hugs to you and yours.