Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cruel and unusual

I feel like shit. It's the thing he loves the most: soccer. His last game of the season is the Sunday, and I just told him he can't play.

But he earned it.

He's been been testing boundaries ever since The Man moved in last September, in both subtle and blatant ways. Trying to be sensitive to the stresses an 8-year-old is under when mommy's boy friend moves in, I initially reacted to The Kid's "tests" with compassion. Maybe a little too much compassion, and somewhere along the road that compassion began to look suspiciously like leniency.

The Man and I discussed the issue and the discipline began to return to a more normal place. Still, I tried to pair the discipline with plenty of conversation about feelings and appropriate ways to address those feelings. The Kid's behavior hasn't been perfect - or even back to normal - but it's been improving.

But tonight a minor homework frustration escalated into a short but violent tantrum. Dragging The Kid to his bedroom, he threw himself on the floor (dragging me down with him) and started flailing his limbs. And while his intent, I don't believe, was to hit me, I was definitely in the line of fire.

The heel I took to the shin didn't feel good, but even more disturbing was the tantrum itself. HE'S ALMOST 9! We are waaaaaaaay past the age of tantrums. I stood staring at him, shell shocked. What the hell was the matter with my kid?

His punishment: no video games for a week and no soccer game. This is his standard punishment. The video games are always taken first, and the mere threat of losing his soccer game has always pulled him together in the past.

But not tonight. Tonight, due to the severity of the crime, both punishments were given. And he is beside himself with grief and remorse.

And me? I am bereft. I've never had trouble handing down a punishment before; never quite understood why parents were so fond of saying "hurts me more than it hurts you." I've always been quite certain that The Kid's punishments hurt him way more than they hurt me... given that they didn't hurt me at all. They were, in fact, quite satisfying most of the time.

But the loss of his last soccer game really hurt him. Those were real tears of real disappointment, instead of the usual tears of anger and indignation. I know how much he looks forward to his weekly games, and I knew how much it would kill him for it to be taken away.

Plus - and I know this is silly - but I feel like I'm losing him a little bit. This new baby has made me acutely aware of how grown my boy - my baby - is. And I worry, more than I should, about what my relationship with The Kid will look like when he no longer my only one. I feel like our relationship is about to be forever changed, and we only have a few short months left to enjoy each other as mother and only child. I'm not really sure how or why these feelings made tonight's events so much harder to take, but they did.

I don't regret the decision I made. I believe the punishment fits the crime. But damn, that really did hurt me more than it hurt him.

And so here I sit, hiding in the basement in a mostly unsuccessful attempt to hide from the sound of his crying, stuffing jelly bellys in my mouth and sobbing and hating life right along with him.


BigSis said...

I am preparing a post about almost the EXACT SAME THING with my almost 10 year old. Eerie.

My big dilemna with baseball was whether it's a privilege to take away or if he's made a commitment to the team and (even though he enjoys it) has an obligation not to let them down.

Thankfully, he has a great coach and we worked together on the situation. But, I feel your pain - it is as hard on us as them! Especially when we take away TV :)

T said...


This made me cry.

I remember going through this with my baby who was 3 when I was pregnant. SO MANY TANTRUMS. I was exhausted and worried and sad.

Have you told him that you want to cherish this time?

With you. This will pass...

Amanda said...

My mother's boyfriend moved in when I was about eight, and I believe I reacted in the same way. I acted that way because I was afraid. It had always just been my mom and me and having this new strange man in the house was uncomfortable. My tantrums were always worse when my mom and he showed affection toward each other. Even them just holding hands would totally freak me out. I also felt like I didn't know him very well and I didn't trust him at all. I finally came to terms after a few months when I realized he would be around for a while. I am seventeen now, and my mom's relationship with that man didn't turn out, but looking back on the situation I would have just liked to have known him better. He frightened me because he seemed unreal, and if he had seemed more human I'm sure that would have helped immensely.

I'm sure you know most of this, but if it could help in any way, I'm glad. :)

Single Mom Seeking said...

Oh, mama, I just wrote a post about the EXACT SAME THING, too!!! As you know, my kid is going through this transition as the man gains a more permanent, lasting place in my life -- and in my kid's.

The tantrums are expected, I hope you know. FEAR is potent. Be strong, and also be there for him when he cries... Believe me, I know it's tough (especially when the kid is acting out with you). Big hug.

jeanie said...

Just found your blog through singlemomseeking and can so relate to what you said - my daughter was about 8 when V moved in and it was a very rocky road.

V had to work hard, I had to work hard - and she had to shift her whole world, so only understandable.

It has gotten much better for us since then (its been 4 years total now - she is 10 and the baby is 6 months here) and, while we worry about teen years, are all enjoying the mix.

It will get better - as it appears from your last post - and while it won't be smooth sailing the whole way there, celebrate the good moments because there are, and sometimes they join together and become hours, days and even weeks.

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