On Trying Not to Raise an Asshole

This past week has been a bit rough for my son Henry.

He has struggled with with his behavior the whole week, which has ranged from being ungrateful, to rudeness, to outright defiance.  

Last Sunday, J and I took him to a trampoline park to meet up with some of his schools friends. It was a nice chance for us to get out of the house and get some pent up energy out. The plan had been for us to only buy 2 jumping tickets (it’s expensive). So, Henry would jump, and J would jump, and I’d hold the baby, and then J and I would switch. Well, we quickly found out that our plan wasn’t allowed. And, because we’re both poor teachers, we couldn’t afford for all three of us to jump, so I volunteered to sit on the sideline and watch. So, for an hour, I watched J and Henry bounce all over the place, and run, play and bounce with his schools friends, and it seemed like they were all having a great time.

Fast forward to when we were driving home, and Henry just keeps talking about the fact that he didn’t get to do any of the arcade games (we had no money for it), and how he’s so sad because he didn’t get to play, and how that’s all he wanted to do, and we wouldn’t let him. I’m just stewing in the front seat, and then I start to really get mad, because this kid won’t drop it! When I just can’t take it anymore, I whip my head around and let loose on the kid. I told him that he was being ungrateful. That mom and dad had to scrimp and save and pinch pennies to take him to the play date, and instead of saying “thank you,” you’re telling me how your experience is ruined because you didn’t get to play a video game? I go on to tell him that I didn’t jump because I didn’t want to, but because we couldn’t afford for me to. And, we didn’t say no to arcade  games because we were being mean, it’s because we didn’t have the money to do it. Be thankful for what you did get to do!

I’m not sure if any of that sank in for him, as he’s only 4, but it sure made me feel better to say it.

Then, during the week, Henry got 3 time outs at school (in one day) because he wasn’t listening to the teacher. That’s unheard of for him. One time out is odd for him, let alone 3. He’s usually the silly, yet respectful kid….So, more punishments ensued at home….No electronics for the day (no computer, tv or ipad – that caused major tears).

Then, on Saturday, we were all sitting down to dinner – having homemade cheese steaks, and Henry pretty much refused to eat it. This is a hot button for me. We spend a lot of money on groceries, and spend a lot of time cooking and planning meals, so telling me that you don’t like it and you don’t want to eat it, is a no go. I’m not saying that we make him clean his plate, we let him eat until he’s full and then stop, but he is going to be respectful to me and appreciative that I spent time and money to make him a delicious meal (and most of the time it’s healthy too – cheese steaks notwithstanding). I can’t abide comments like “that’s disgusting,” “ewww,” “I’m never eating that.” etc. Comments like that turn on my rage in 0.3 seconds. So, after giving him multiple chances to eat, he only ate about 1.5 bites, which is unacceptable. So, Henry left the dinner table and went straight to bed, 1.5 hours early. He cried and was upset, and he and I had a long talk about why this was happening and what to do in the future (when someone makes you dinner, you eat it, smile say “thank you,” no matter how much you hate it. It’s called manners.)

My usually sweet, sweet boy, was totally bordering on being an asshole all week, if not actually being an asshole. I really want to be a present mom, and to raise my boys so they are polite, respectful and grateful and to take into account people’s feelings before they make an off the cuff remark. I’m hoping that I’m on the right track to do that….Parenting is hard.

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