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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You're an idiot!

So here I am, coming back to talk to you after all this time and I need to make a confession to clear the air.  I am going to take a little break (I know it's already been like a month since I last posted) from my life story (hey, it's my blog and I can write what I want anyway and anyway, who cares about my life story, cause this is my LIFE, damnit!!) and tell you that today was not one of my more stellar parenting moments...
I am sure that when we enter the realm of motherhood, most of us picture ourselves as potentially being the best mom anyone could ever want.  We will never commit the HORRENDOUS  mistakes our own mothers made (well, mine anyway) and we will be patient and understanding and loving at all times...like this...
I pictured myself as potentially a great mom because I knew what NOT to do and also, I was smarter than those short people who would, one day, potentially, inhabit my home.  I pictured my perfect house, perfect children, perfectly coordinated, nutritious-meals-on-the-table-with-the-whole-family-sitting-around-every-day life and just KNEW that it would be that way because that's how I was going to MAKE it!
So fast forward to my actual life...Everything (EVERYTHING) is the opposite of how I pictured it!  My pregnancies were rough, births (well, they are a whole other story), colicky babies, breast feeding difficulties, night terrors, precocious toddlers, biters (Lee), bad restaurant manners, messy boys who gave the most delicious, sloppy kisses, said "I wanna HOLD you!" all the time and inherited the truck gene despite my best efforts to properly socialize them.  
The boys are going to hate me for posting this, but what good is my life if I don't contribute properly to their future need for therapy.
Motherhood, to say the least, has been a constant reminder of the fact that I am neither perfect, nor patient, but, in daily acts of monumental self-restraint, I have avoided being carted away in handcuffs for the things I imagine doing to them in my mind by taking many deep breaths and counting to 10 or 1500, depending on how annoying whatever they did was.  I have not always avoided speaking my mind to them (unfortunately) which leads me to the need to confess today.
Lee, my oldest son has ADHD.  We just found this out in December.  He is on medication which has tended to help him quite a bit.  When he first went on the meds, it was as if a miracle had happened!  He went from being distant, uninterested and smarmy (I think that is the word for describing a smart-mouthed, know-it-all pre-teen who talks back and has the answer for Every. Single. Thing. You. Say. and if that's not really the word, just pretend it is for the purposes of this blog entry, okay?) to helpful, courteous, involved and kind-hearted...I KNOW!  A miracle, right?  Although this miracle drug came with a price tag of $118 (after insurance!!) it seemed MORE than worth it considering the change in my kid!  I was shaking my head in wonder at all the people I have heard making remarks over the years (myself included!) that we are over-medicating our children and not letting them "just be kids."

So anyway, he's on this medication that, at first, helped him be a thoughtful kid who actually started doing well in school again (he had been failing up to that point after always having made A's and B's in elementary school...did I mention he's 12 and in middle school?)  But along the way, the effects of the miracle drug have dulled and he is somewhere more near to the person he was before, only able to remember and concentrate a little better in school, although not well enough to compensate for anything he is not interested in or finds "boring" like homework.  Now, homework happens to account for half (fifty percent!) of his grade.  The fact that he doesn't tend to do it and turn it in means that he is constantly on the verge (or actually) failing most of his classes at any given moment.  The fact that his teachers only post his grades on the computer every week or two means that, by the time I find out he hasn't been turning in his assignments, he is already deep in the hole.  

Lee has a science project that is due in a few days.  The project was assigned a couple of weeks ago and had several dates for which students were responsible for turning in things along the way...first the subject matter, then the hypothesis, procedure, etc. all culminating in the final project due at the end of this week.  With each and every step so far, there has been prodding on my part for him to complete the task by the deadline.  Now, mind you, I have usually thought of the project on a sudden impulse and followed the thought with, "Do you have anything due on your project?"  Which he always answers with, "Uh, I don't know...I don't think so.  It's not due yet."  To which I reply, "You had better look at your timeline and make sure."  Which ALWAYS results in, "Oh, my (fill in the blank here) is due tomorrow."  Followed by my rhetorical question, "Well, what have you done on that?"  Which is always then followed by, "Uh, I'll do it now."  You see where this is going?
Last night at about 6:30, I am sitting at Jack's baseball practice and I get a call from Kurt.  He's asking me about what he's supposed to cook for dinner (Jack's practices start at 5:30 and last until 8:30) and during the conversation, I ask him to check with Lee regarding whether or not anything is due on his science project for tomorrow (for some reason, I had the date of May 24th stuck in my head as a due date) and Lee, of course, responds with the usual (see above.)  So I ask Kurt to check the paperwork packet and sure enough, Lee's data collection is due tomorrow (today.)  Knowing that my son has yet to perform the experiments necessary to collect the data that is due, I ask Kurt to put Lee on the phone and proceed to go through the above dialogue again (I know, I'm a glutton for punishment) all of which results in him asking me to stop by the store to pick up the materials he will need to conduct his experiments and do you understand how badly I wanted to beat the living daylights out of my son at that moment people???!!???
(I know it's another picture of a woman pulling her hair out, but, as you can see, this one is not only frazzled, she's ANGRY as well!)

So, after informing him that he better get that project done or else (I didn't know what the "or else" was at that moment, but I was working on it) he put his father back on the phone and Kurt (sweetly and much to his credit and future spousal points) said that he would take Lee to the grocery store after they ate dinner.  So I sat (and fetched stray foul balls) at the practice and complained to the other moms there about my lazy son while getting the (much needed) nods of sympathy and the occasional, "Girl, I don't know how you do it..." (a soothing balm to my weary, nagging soul) only to arrive home at 9 pm to find my son sitting on the sofa watching a rerun of Two and a Half Men (which my son finds hilarious and informative and I find hilarious and annoying).
Glancing from the sofa to the kitchen, I saw an array of boxes, cookies, papers and what have you on the counter tops.  I calmly asked Lee if he was finished with his homework and he replied, "I couldn't do it because I needed more people to taste the cookies and cereal" and that is when I started losing my ability to be calm and rational.  Still trying though, I asked him what EXACTLY he needed to do to finish the assignment for tomorrow, he told me that he needed Jack and I to eat two different cookies and see if we could pick which one was the brand name and then sample two different cereals for the same reason.    OK, fine!  So we both did as he asked (incidentally, I was able to pick out the Oreo, but not the Cheerios) and he (supposedly) documented the data.  Shortly thereafter, he asked me if I would type up a 5 paragraph essay he had written for Language Arts that was also due tomorrow because I was a faster typist than he...at which point, I lost my mind.  Since it was now 10 pm and I was tired and frustrated, I told him that not only was he going to type up his own paper, but I was going to go through his classes on the computer and look for other missing assignments which he would then be required to complete tonight as well.  He looked at me as if I had just lost my mind (which, as I said, I HAD!) and sat down at the computer to start typing.  

1 hour, three assignments and several bouts of yelling and screaming later, he stated that he was done with his homework (which I should say, he told me he had none when he walked in after school was out and I asked him if he had any homework.)  I told him that his reward for his behavior was that he was losing ALL electronic device privileges (TV, Ipod, computer, WII, friends' X-Boxes, etc.) until further notice and that if he came home with anything less than a C on his report card, the ban would last the entire summer and into next school year until such time as I saw fit to change things.  To which, of course, he responded that it wasn't fair, blah, blah, blah.
I know this is an old photo, but you get the point, it's his expression that was similar to the one I saw last night.
So this morning, I take Jack to school and arrive home to find Lee working on his science project.  "Wow!" I think, "This is progress!"  So I ask him how it's going and he replies that he only needs to add a picture and he will be done.  I look at what he has done and (having read the rubric the teacher sent home) gently suggest that I could help him make it a little neater and more presentable.  To which he replies, "It's fine Mom!"  To which I reply, "Honey, have you read the packet your teacher sent home?  This is worth 20% of your grade and I can see that you are missing some things and it could be neater."  To which he replies, "Why do you have to always argue about everything?" which makes me mad but I try to save it.  "Listen, this is good, but you are missing a couple of things the teacher wants on there, like a graph with your data.  Also, this just looks sloppy the way your cut outs have jagged lines and there is tape all over the place.  You just need to put a little more effort into this and make it look good so you get a good grade because you can't afford to mess this up!"  To which he replies, "Fine!  Then you do it!"  To which I reply, "Listen, I am offering to help, that's all, just leave it till after school and we'll work on it together."  To which he replies, "I just want to get this in today so I can watch TV!"  To which I so eloquently replied, "You're an idiot!  All you care about it TV!  You don't care about your school work or what your project looks like, just the stupid TV!  And I am offering to help you make your project better!  IDIOT!!"  And I then promptly leashed the dog and walked out the front door, slamming it for emphasis...

Like I said, not one of my better moments...

And then, after my walk and after he got dressed and ready for school, just to make me feel even smaller, my son...my thoughtless, 12-year-old-middle-school-pubescent-pain-in-the-butt-son, walked over to me and put his arms around me and gave me a hug while saying, "I'm sorry Mom, I'll try to do better...I love you."  And just that moment, I realized that, as stupid as I can be sometimes, I have managed to raise a pretty decent boy who, although he doesn't seem to care too much about his school work, loves me...in spite of the fact that I am an idiot.


Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

My good friend Robin (she is a police Sergeant who was formerly a co-worker and boss-lady!) sent me this awesome comment and gave me permission to share it with you. Thank you Robin, this made me cry when I read it and was just what I needed to hear:

Sister, you and I are living the same dream, and NO, you are absolutely NOT an idiot! Teenagers are rough, and teenage boys seem to be worse, especially when it comes to academics and failure to “own” their own responsibilities to them. Your plight is not an uncommon one among the majority of us, and to those Moms who shake their heads and blame us, I would gladly go toe to toe with you. Not every kid is a cookie-cutter academic, who letters in every sport, writes for the yearbook, is the president of student council and spends his weekends feeding the homeless and working on a cure for cancer…puh-leeeease people!

On the up side, your kid is a normal, God-fearin’, resistive, Mama-lovin’ boy, who on occasion makes you crazy with his absent-mindedness but remembers to “check in” on occasion and love (the ‘verb’ love) you back. You’re doing alright honey. A verbal slip apparently was just what the Doctor ordered… compliance AND accountability was your goal, and both were achieved. Point-mama! Keep sending the pain (and the love). We’re raising good men of outstanding character who will be good husbands, fathers, Christians, employees, employers, neighbors, and citizens. That doesn’t happen on accident… it requires intent, investment, love, discipline, and sometimes an occasional un-intended verbal mishap or an intended whack on the bottom! You’re a great Mom and you’re right on track. I love you, Sister.

Robin Griffin

AnnaMarie said...

I am so sorry that you have to go threw this every year with him when he is in school. It SUCKS ! You have the patience of an Angel though "." And I am so proud of you !! If tough love doesn't work tell that little &^&^%R&** angel of ours that I will be coming back to town and an Aunt Sissy's MILITARY BOOT CAMP will start IMMEDIATELY !!!!!!!!! Bruhahahahahahahaha :)

Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

Right On!!

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

OHMYGOD....I hate when the TV turns their little brains to mush! And it's some inane thing that is a total waste of time and energy and why don't you people just sleep your life away? At least THAT wouldn't waste *ELECTRICITY*!!!!!

Can you tell I know just where you're coming from? Oh my goodness...you are a totally awesome mom!

Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

Dweej, I know, that you know, that I know where you are coming from...fo sho!! Can I get a witness?