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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sometimes he surprises me...

My son Lee is twelve years old.  He has been independent, difficult and a questioner of authority since he was little more than a year old and started saying his first words.  Way back then, I knew I had my hands full when I read my baby books and realized that not only did he have the required 10 or so words in his vocabulary to prove that he was developing normally, he had nearly 200.


Having read said baby book and realized Lee was a little ahead of the game, I started to keep track of (and write down) the words he said everyday.  By the time I took him in to his eighteen month appointment with the pediatrician, I had compiled a list of more than 180 words.  Mind you, "thank you" actually came out as "day doo" and "flower" was "fow" but there was no doubt my son was talking in sentences and getting his point across to me long before I was prepared to deal with what he had to say or answer his (many) questions.



As a toddler, Lee began having 2 hour temper tantrums (I am NOT kidding or exaggerating on this point!) and continued having them until he was 6.  The tantrums were a thing of wonder.  He would kick and scream of course, but his dramatics were on a whole other level than anything I had ever witnessed prior.  He would writhe and flail, he would not only fling himself to the floor, he would roll around as if possessed.  He would drool and twist his mouth up...he looked like a demon child in the flesh.

His tantrums would flare up at inconvenient times of course, like the grocery store for example, and at times I had to leave full carts of groceries abandoned in the front of the store as I made a hasty exit with him tucked under my arm kicking and screaming.  Having never given in to his demands during or after said tantrums, I am not certain why he continued having them, but he did continue...relentlessly.  At some point along the way, my mother in law (and me too if I am honest) started thinking something was wrong with him.  A psychologist appointment later, I realized he never had the tantrums in school and was therefore fully able to control them and was choosing to have them!


Shortly after this realization, I found myself standing in front of my (then 6 year-old-kindergartener) son when yet another tantrum began.  As I watched him, I found myself loathing my child, the little angel who had come from my own body.  I knew that I was not able to deal with yet another hours long ordeal.  At that moment, I thought about how I would handle such a child at the schools where I was, at the time, employed as a school police officer.  I considered the fact that, if I were working in a school and a child was behaving in such a way, I would restrain them until they calmed down (so they wouldn't hurt themselves or someone else) and, at that moment, I decided to try it.

Prior to actually putting the idea into motion, I warned Lee what I was about to do and he did not stop his tantrum.  I took him by the arm and walked into my bedroom with him, closed the door and sat down on the floor in front of my door, blocking it with my body.  Still holding Lee by the arm, I sat him down between my legs and proceeded to place my lower legs over his knees in order to hold him down.  I held his torso against mine and then held his arms out to the sides while I held onto his elbows.  Being stronger than he was (and a lot bigger!) I was able to hold him in place.  He continued to struggle and scream and demand that I let him go to no avail.  I repeatedly (and calmly I might add) told him that all he had to do was stop his tantrum and I would let him go.  He didn't stop.  He tried threats and pleas (such as, "I have to go pee!") to get me to let go, but I just told him to pee in his pants, that I wasn't letting him up unless he stopped his tantrum.

It took a full 20 minutes before Lee finally gave up and stopped.  That was the last tantrum he ever had.  Did you hear that?  That was the last tantrum he EVER had!  He was such a stubborn boy that he had been having tantrums that lasted 2 hours FOR YEARS because he WANTED TO!!  Do you start getting a mental picture of the kid I am dealing with here??

Lee has never let his dad or I get away with ANYTHING!  We could never make up cute kid type stories for why things were the way they were...death, taxes, you name it...he wanted and demanded the true story for everything.  Yet, he had a blankie (or "Diggie" as he called it) that he slept with and shoved up his nose or stuffed in his ear until "Diggie" was lost (I still suspect my mother-in-law threw Diggie away, but she has never admitted it.)

Sadly, this is the only digital photo I have of Lee with Diggie.  Here, he had just had his tonsils out and was passed out in front of his bowl of ice cream...poor kid!

He even still has a blanket that he carries around (only this one is not called by a name) and sleeps with.  I have been told by countless friends and neighbors that he is a sweet boy with a good heart, he just saves that stuff for special occasions and the occasional awkward parenting moments (click here) in order to make sure that those moments are special and not to be taken for granted.

Since arriving at puberty at the ripe old age of 10, Lee has kept his dad and I on our toes with his sex-crazed teen-boy behaviors and Johnnie Cochran-like abrasiveness and ability to argue his case in the Burfield court of justice.  So you'll understand why I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to get a text from my next door neighbor recently regarding my son's behavior.  Turns out Lee was, at that moment, sitting on the ground near the pool in her back yard "coloring" with her two children and one other neighbor's little boy.  All of the children I am referring to are under the age of 6.  In fact, the ages of the children in question are 4, 5 and 6.  My son, who drives me to distraction with his smarty-pants mouth and attitude, his lack of desire when it comes to school work, his laziness when it comes to house-hold chores like picking up his OWN socks, was, in fact, sitting with three small children in my neighbor's back yard coloring pictures with them and (get this!) teaching them how to draw faces!  I quickly called my neighbor and asked her if she was sure she was seeing what she was telling me.  She said she happened to glance out the window and catch the scene.  She told me how sweet Lee is and how her kids just adore him and look up to them and how they must be in heaven because he was paying attention to them!  (For real?  I mean...SERIOUSLY?  Do you KNOW my kid???)

Still not quite believing what I was hearing, I snuck over, camera in hand, in order to see for myself.  Look!  See for YOURself!

See?  I'm in stealth mode, taking pictures through the fence so he doesn't see me and stop what he's doing...
Seriously...sometimes, he surprises (and delights) me...

2 comments:

Ado said...

This was a great post. I love how you found a solution out of desperation for your son's tantrums - and it was a brave path to take, too. I am in awe that it worked and was his last one. I mean - holy shit. I also love how you went and SPIED on his good behavior! And I hope you are going to show him your photo evidence of how good you caught him being. (-:
This post was a real catalog of the ups and downs of motherhood, and was very honest. Thank you.

Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

Desperation is the perfect word for how I was feeling :) P.S. I did share the post with him and he was feeling pretty good about himself when he finished...I didn't even get any flack for mentioning that he still sleeps with, and carries around, his blanket!!