Monday, November 13, 2006


This morning my son woke up in tears.

"I don't want to go to school," he cried. "All the kids are mean to me!"


Some of this could be attributed to extra morning crankiness. We had a long weekend, filled with all sorts of activities, including a surprise birthday party for Puddle on Sunday afternoon.

But there was, I know, some truth to this.

He had told his mother as much in the middle of last year. But this was the first time he's admitted it to me.

I'm still working on the feelings I have about this. Why did he reveal this to STBEW and not to me? I hate to admit that this bothers me, but it does. But that's my problem.

His problem is that he's selfish. And self-centered. It hurts me greatly to admit this, but it's true. I know, all kids share this trait. Some more than others. And he has it in spades. Especially compared to his sister, who it the exact opposite. Some times to her detriment. But that's another story.

So how do I talk about this with him? Especially since he doesn't really want to?

First, I did nothing until tonight. Then I kept it short. I told him that I know he's sad, and angry. I also told him that I know he knows this too, and he doesn't need to hide this all the time. And then I told him he's ok. That this is not unusual. Then I told him that one reason all the kids seem to be mean is because a lot of that sadness and anger is coming out of him sideways, and it's affecting the way he deals with other kids, and they aren't going to put up with his shit the way I sometimes do.

Then I told him that he can change. But, I said, it can only happen if he really wants to change, and no one else can do it for him. But I will be there with him helping him if he wants me to. But he has to make the first move.

A little later in the evening, I told him that there would have to be some changes at my house, too. He could no longer be as bossy as he had become in the past few months. He didn't have to change anything else, but that part of him was in my control, and it was going to change. The only question will be will he go along, or drag his feet.

Since this is my second go-around with all of this* I'm aware of what happens, in a general sense. I dealt with the same problems with Lt. Trouble and Puddle, obviously with mixed success. I know I've been living in the eye of the childrearing hurricane, and I see the far wall approaching rapidly. In a year or two, I give the next talk. No, not that one, although I will have to deal with sexuality soon.

The next talk will be about the upcoming years. I'll tell them that, in many ways the next few years are going to suck for them.** And me, too. I'll suddenly get dumber, and I'll never let them do any of the stuff they can handle, and they won't like me, and may even say they hate me.

And that will be ok. Just like this is OK, too.

I want to show my son that he's been given a gift. He's been shown at a relatively early age how our own behaviors can come back and bite us in the ass. His lesson may be a bit harsher than some, but harsh lessons aren't easily forgotten.


*Third, if you count my own experiences.
**But, I tell them, once they get through them, the decade or so after that can be really, really cool.


Blogger Jessica said...

Don't forget to mention that some kids are just plain mean. Don't be one of those kids. Bullying is traumatic and it's not his fault. All the more reason to be a nice kid.

Does he have a positive connection with anyone at school? One friend? A teacher? A coach? A secretary? A lady who spoons out the mashed potatoes and always smiles? This one fleeting positive moment can sometimes help kids get through the day.

11:59 PM  
Blogger ell said...

it's tough when your kids are hurting. and trying to find those magic words to make them feel better can be a challenge.

good luck, my friend.

p.s. who said parenting was easy?

1:53 AM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

I do hope he listened!

He seems to suffer from something that most intelligent kids suffer from: too wrapped up in his own smarts to see the rest of the world.

He's going to turn out just fine.

Now everybody breathe.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He sounds so much like my daughter, it's scary. Maybe it's the age? Mary doesn't tell me the kids are mean to her, but she has told me that she "hates" several people. She also hates at least 3 of her teachers. Arggh. I may blog about it, but for now suffice to say that I just got home from her school, after spending a little time with the vice principal. And Mary won't be home on the bus today because she will be in detention...

You gave him some great advice - I may use that tonight with Mary.

I'm not surprised he told STBEW. She is his mother after all and without knowing them personally, I would expect him to talk about this with mom before dad. Or maybe he just felt like talking about it and he was with her and not with you. You never know with kids!

3:03 PM  
Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

whoa, heavy
I think that's really deep how you dealt with that. I prolly would have told him, 'well you gotta go to school anyway'

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're a good dad, pirate.

and the way you describe your kids? scary how much that describes my brother and me, right down to the genders. interesting.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Balloon Pirate! You post on such difficult subjects!

Of course you feel hurt that he didn’t confide in you first or most of all. But don’t be. We don’t always confide in the person who means the most to us, but rather the people who will response in the way we wish. Could that be the case here? And sometimes it’s easier to confide in a person we don’t see every day. Don’t you agree? Maybe he is old enough not to want you to see all his weaknesses?

I hope your boy understands what you are telling him.

So many times when the boys I took care of where nasty: it was something else bothering them. Their meanness was just an outlet. A few times I actually found the patient to figure out the true cause of their anger. Boy was that nice!

A big hug for you for being a good father!

(I understand now that maybe it’s the right “choice” for me not to have any kids)

11:17 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Jessica said basically what I was going to say. I was a victim of bullying in school and 'm still getting over it. I would have given anything taken out of my school and put somewhere else, but my parents couldn't afford to put me in private school and we weren't about to move. In my case, I happened to be in a place where the adults believed that if child was being bullied, the could handle it themselves or there was a reason for it, and THEY would turn the other way, make rude remarks, etc... It's part of the reson I became EVER happens in my classroom. No matter how nice I was, how decent my attitude, how much I tried to fit in, and how little I responded to the taunting, nothing worked. I was tortured until the day I graduated. You gotta love small towns. My 10 year reunion is this weekend and when my husband told me he RSVP'd for us I threw up - no joke. If this has been going on for more than a few weeks, it's somethign you really need to look into. You might want to show up at your son's school and observe from afar before deciding it's something he's doing. I'm sure he could make some adjustments - we all can at some point - but also make sure it'll make a difference.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Thanks everyone.

My kid's not a bully. I know that. He just hasn't taken an interest in anyone outside of himself. Yeah, he's probably been bullied a bit. But the school he's going to is extremely involved in anti-bullying activities. Every adult in the school, from the principal down to the janitor, seems to know every kid by name and takes an active interest in them. I've never seen anything like it.

This isn't to say there's NO bullying, but with all these vigilant adults around, it's at a minimum.

The fact that my kid's plight so resembles heidi's, notso's and of course, terry's brother* fills me with...well, something. Whatever it is, it's not dread. It's defnitely a good feeling.

UWL: I'm truly sorry about what happened to you. But I'm not sure going to a private school would have changed things. In fact, it might have made it worse. We sent Lt. Trouble to a private Prep school, and Puddle to a public school, albeit a magnet school for the arts. Trouble was picked on mercilessly, mostly by some kids whose parents were economically better off than we were (which was pretty much all of them). Puddle had a few issues, but nothing to the extent of his brother.


*would he be Prince Regent of the Dorks?

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my brother's not the prince of anything. prince of assholes? prince of thieves? asshole of thieves?

but that's not going to happen to your son.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so scared of being a parent...


4:47 AM  
Blogger Pablo said...

Hey, this parenting stuff sounds hard.

8:42 AM  
Blogger mal said...

I think he told STBEW because she has no expectations of him. That is not a good thing. I think expectations have to be there or most people will rise to the minimum requirements.

You are doing all you can. Hang in. Never quit on them. Thats whats important

(you seem to be getting a lot of those from me lately *S*)

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good job


even if your help doesn't actually, "help" - it still might (if that makes any sense [heh] - but read on)


to my world view, one of the principle roles of a parent is to an interpretive filter on the world (even mine still do - even if i don't follow their advice, they are still my navigational marker - if i know where they sit - then i have an idea of where i sit)

when something happens in a child's life they learn about how to deal with it from how we react. they model on our behaviour.

if you tell a kid that everything is ok and then pace the room, they know that it is not. kids understand lying... if you are a person that spazzes over every little bit of stress, then your kids will learn that is how to deal with stress.

your reaction and interpretive filter will shape his view of how he addresses challenges. laying down and dying. attempting to escape them, like his mother (if i read what you say correctly). or recognising them and trying to face them, and make a change to determine his own outcome instead of simply being buffetted by a world that he has no control over.

even if he fails in his first attempt, with your guidance and you as an anchor, he will try again

and he will learn and change

you are a good parent

5:00 PM  

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