Monday, September 14

All Things Are Not Created Equal

Everyone knows that you love your children equally, of course you do. You love them exactly the same amount, but that is not to say that you always "like" them the same amount. I believe that the "liking" part sort of ebbs and flows over time. Sometimes they are pretty cool, other times, your worst nightmare, and still other times they are somewhere in between. Lately Jack has been accusing me of "hating" him. It breaks my heart to write that, hate is such a strong emotion and a strong word and to think my child feels that I feel that way about him is profoundly sad and wrong. But then I have to snap out of it and put his definition of the word "hate" into context. He routinely tells me he hates me, hates his sister, hates his father. He also hates vegetables, hates getting up for school. He hates bedtime, hates when his toys break, hates when he is cold, hates when he is hot. Basically he is a very black and white kid. I've mentioned before, for Jack it is either "the best day of his life" or "the worst day of his life" and there seems to be no middle ground. I have been working on explaining to him that hate is not a good word to use, that I know he doesn't actually hate us, even when he says he does (although some vegetables, like say, peas, yup, he really, really hates them).

So why such does he have such feelings of being disliked by me? Well, to put it simply, his sister is just generally better behaved than him. I'm not sure if this is true for all girls, or if it's just my kids. For example (and this is just 1 example of which there are dozens just like it), last Wednesday night after soccer practice, I let them have about 20 minutes in the playground. I warned them both before and during and over and over again that if they did not leave when I said it was time they would lose t.v. and computer privileges for the rest of that night (which after practice and a shower boils down to about 30 minutes). Although he is getting better, slightly better, Jack still has a tendency of, how shall I put it, not handling activities ending well. When he was younger the end of a play date was treated as if his entire world was crashing down. I've had to drag him kicking and screaming out of friends houses, movie theaters, toy stores, libraries, and of course the biggest culprit of them all, playgrounds. But he's 7 now. It should be getting better, right? Well it's not! This particular night I had to drag him, yes readers, DRAG this not very tiny 7 year old by his arm through the stones on the ground all the way out of the gate. On the other hand, Abbey walked out on her own after I said it was time to go. So do you know what happened? Well, he lost privileges and his sister didn't. This resulted in the never ending accusations that I love Abbey more, while I hate him and am always yelling at him. How can I not YELL at him when he doesn't listen to me? Should I try the "whispering" technique when you lower your voice and your kids miraculously quiet down to hear you? Well I've tried that too and it doesn't work! And how can I not give his sister praise when she does listen to me? Believe you me, he gets plenty praise when he listens too, probably more praise than I give Abbey because I sense he needs it more, but that is not what he focuses on. Nope, all he sees is that he gets in trouble while Abbey does not. What to do readers? What to do?

I suppose it doesn't help that Abbey tends to flit around with an angelic smile on her face, being extra helpful and extra sweet and extra good after Jack gets in trouble. Just in case he didn't realize that she was behaving better than him, she has a serious need to rub his nose in it.


Debbie said...

I swear sometimes I feel like I'm reading about my own son when I read your blog! You aren't alone.

Lindy said...

Sometimes we separate the reward and punishment and sometimes we combine them.

For instance if both kids want to do something and they both have to clean their room before they get to, we'll say if one isn't done - you both don't get to go.

We only do this sometimes but we find that they end up helping each other out so they both get what they want.

Anonymous said...

"HOW COME SUZY NEVER GETS PUNISHED?" was what I heard all the time. Parenting is the hardest job you'll ever do.
Carol B

Pam said...

My throat hurts from screaming like a banshee at my 2 BOYS for not listening, and you know what? Cam laughed at me....LAUGHED!

If you find the magical secret to taming boys please hair is getting white awfully FAST!

Now on to my 2nd Mike's.....