It’s dinnertime. I’ve spent time I didn’t have to cook tonight, because the meat was getting dangerously close to the throw-it-out-before-you-even-open it stage. And I cooked, knowing full well the kids would refuse to eat it. Most of it.
Sure enough, they did. They complained, they muttered, they made nasty little comments. The Destroyer pushed his chair away from the table in disgust and walked away (he refuses to eat beef) and the other two whined because there were tomatoes on the table. Just sitting there, minding their own business in their own little bowl, not threatening the kids’ plates at all.
Back talk and grumbling
Their whining escalated quickly into fighting. It always does – they love spending time with each other and they hate spending time with each other. There’s no middle ground. And I, dealing with the recalcitrant Destroyer, yelled from the living room to “sit down and eat!”
More back talk. The two of them, united against a common mom foe, mumbled words they don’t dare say to my face. Then the Engineer loudly proclaimed that “mommy is being mean again” to his sister.
You could probably see the steam rising from my ears. Mean? MEAN? Child, you have NO IDEA what mean really is!
I should be glad they’re ignorant. That they don’t understand what child abuse is, what neglect is, or what it’s like to live with hunger. I still wish that they were a little less naïve. A little more appreciative. And a lot less defiant little snots.
The difficulties of being 6
The Engineer has had a lot of trouble these past few weeks with his attitude. He’s stuck in teenager mode and we parents have lost any shred of sympathy we might have originally felt. We’ve learned that if we don’t nip the little twerp in the bud, he escalates quickly into straight up blackmail and threats. I’m not sure if he’s truly serious about causing harm to others or stuff, but he says it, and I have to treat it as serious business.
But instead of taking responsibility for his actions and feeling any kind of remorse or repentance, he flips it to become the victim. And that makes me see red, because that’s one of my triggers from my own background. I desperately want him to say “I’m sorry” of his own accord, or to be grateful for the things he takes for granted.
I don’t even know how to talk to him about this, because he views any kind of discipline as us being mean. He complies under protest, acknowledging that we are the stronger, more powerful overlords. That makes him the little guy – the puny, down-trodden victim. Persecuted by parents, required to do chores, and forced to eat vegetables. How sad.
I’ve tried explaining that it’s our job as parents to teach him to be a good person. To teach him right from wrong, to live without hurting others. Somehow he heard “I get to do what I want” rather than “I need to take responsibility for my actions.”
It’s a situation made far more perilous by his amazing grasp of nuance. You really have to watch what you say around him because he will latch on to the slightest hidden meaning and extrapolate that to a whole new level. “But mommy, you TOLD us that we could go watch a movie!” Um, no, I never said that. I never even thought that.
Parenting this child is a whole new level of hard
He takes free-spirited and headstrong to a whole new level. This child will beat his head against a brick wall, insisting that it’s a doorway and you just have to make it open. He’ll insist until he’s blue in the face that he’s right, that he knows what he’s talking about. Which is a whole other level of annoying when your six-year-old is telling you how to drive. Wrongly, I might add.
In some ways I really respect him for this, because he will never do something just because someone else does. He will go his own way, blasting a trail through the jungle. An independent, free spirit. And a pain in the rear for his parents.
Still, I have to burn personal responsibility into his brain or he’s doomed. You see, bull-headed independence requires introspection. He isn’t always right – he can’t always be right – and when he’s not, he needs to be able to see that. To fix it. To own up, accept responsibility, and to make it better.
To do anything else is to make your life a lie. To believe that you are always the victim, and that the problem is always someone else’s fault. There’s a term for that – I believe it’s called narcissism. It’s toxic. It’s horrible. And it’s no way to live. It’s certainly no way for those around you to live, and I know this from personal experience.
He really is a good kid, I promise!
I re-read this post in the editing phase and realized that he sounds like a horrible brat. He’s not. In fact, he’s a joy to be around most of the time, and his teachers all think he’s a wonderful kid. He’s smart, curious, giving, and he’s becoming a big kid right before my eyes. This is just growing pains. Hopefully it’s a stage he’ll grow out of fairly quickly.
I really hope so, because his four-year-old sister is trying her best to copy him. And I can’t handle two of them!