I’ve discovered that stress comes from more than just work. Of course, I knew that already. But as I ease my way ever so carefully back into the work scene, the greatest source of stress has come from home. My lovely refuge of 15 months is no more.
From the informal polling I’ve done recently, I assume that if you have, or have had, or once were a nine year old boy, you pretty much know what I’m talking about.
Actually, that may not be fair. There are plenty of lovely nine year old boys. Sadly, mine is not one of them at the moment and a number of people I’ve spoken to seem to have had or are having a similar experience.
Which experience exactly? Well, in our case, two calls home from two different teachers two days in a row. Disruption of class. Arguing with the teacher without backing down. And now something that is for the moment a mystery but will, I fear, turn out to be something equally serious when the teacher and I do finally speak.
This all follows on from last year’s final report card which now appears to have been only an indicator of problems to come, though at the time seemed pretty serious and worthy of the consequences meted out (no activities during the week, parent-imposed homework).
So, now he’s off the school soccer team and grounded for a week. But I have this dreadful premonition (based on what others’ experiences have been and this mystery call I’m expecting) that this is only the beginning.
And then what?
How many more consequences can we dream up?
And why can’t he just be a nice boy who behaves and gets to do fun things?
We are very close, the boy and I, but this might be part of the problem. I think our closeness has given him the impression that he is part of the parenting team. That we are a team. When what he needs to see is that my husband and I are the team, the team that is responsible for teaching him the way to be in the world. We love him but parental love is about the hard decisions made for the greater good. And I’ve been too forgiving and too easy up till now. And look where that got us.
My husband has been trying to tell me this for years. At first, I thought he was too harsh. I thought I understood my son and what he needed. But now I see what I didn’t see before. The error of my ways. My hand in the problem.
It’s hard to turn back 9 years of damaging leniency, for him obviously but also for me.
I doubt myself.
I feel terrible.
I can’t think about anything else.
It’s hard to write (so I’m giving in and writing about the problem at hand).
I have tortured dreams about him, his teachers and, for some reason, oil falling apocalyptically from the sky.
Even worse, he’s a good little manipulator. He grips his head and tells me I can’t imagine the pressure he feels. He says he doesn’t know why he does it. He looks at me with big eyes and says maybe he should go to a psychologist. I’ve taken him, by the way. There’s nothing wrong with him, nothing a little discipline won’t fix. Quite simply, he wants to do what he feels like doing. He’s impulsive and he’s had no incentive until now to curb those impulses. He’s smart but his intelligence is misplaced. I wish he’d use his powers for good instead of evil.
At this moment, I’m sitting in a local coffee shop on a rainy Saturday while he and two fellow Navy Cadets stand in the grocery store next door raising money for their cause. It’s a long day. They’re on their feet for eight hours, smiling and saying little more than “Thank you sir, thank you ma’am” and representing the Navy. I’m hoping some of the respect and discipline of that institution will rub off and make a difference.
In the meantime, I’m shaking from caffeine, frustration and anticipation of the showdown to come, and wishing that I could have instead made the most of what should have been a perfect, relaxing writing day.