October 11, 2012 by talkaboutyork
We were warned. The school said that by the end of first half-term our children would be completely overtired and particularly vile. Until this week I hadn’t seen a massive amount of evidence of this, just the normal amount of small boy attitude.
Then Monsters Inc. arrived in the form of our eight year old who in a spectacular morning two days ago managed to a) bite his younger brother leaving teeth marks on his arm b) refused to come and see me to discuss this incident and c) when he finally realised that he was digging himself a deeper and deeper grave, pushed past his brother while saying, ‘F***ing Hell’.
So that was nice. Especially as I’d had a whole two hours of sleep (central heating keeps belting out tropical heat at 2am leaving me lying in a pool of sweat) and this is what I was awoken to.
I was in no fit state to come up with a suitable punishment, so I told child to go to his room while I spoke to his father. I called said father who was in London. We debated long and hard. Should we ground him all weekend? He thought yes, I thought no (mainly because it means we’re grounded all weekend). We considered taking away TV/Wii/screens of any kind. But we agreed that that again makes our life much more difficult as you have to be a super vigilante to ensure he’s not sneaking a screen in some how. And he doesn’t have a toy or anything that he’s particularly worried about losing.
Then we struck upon a genius idea. The child is the picture of archangel Gabriel at school. There’s obviously a reason for that.
So I spoke to him.
“We’ve considered grounding you all weekend. You’d have to stay in your bedroom.”
“I don’t care. I don’t want to spend time with you anyway.”
“We’ve also considered talking to your school and saying that you’re not allowed to play in your rugby match this afternoon.”
Cue: Shock. Horror. Wailing. “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”
Knowing full well that there is no way I’d ask him to be taken off the team because they probably wouldn’t allow it, I said, “Well what I will do is speak to your teacher and tell her that you are to stay in at break time to write two letters of apology. One to me, one to your brother.”
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! No, you can’t tell her”
“I can and I will,” said I with brutal maternal love.
He sobbed all the way to school. He sobbed as I asked his teacher to please keep him in at break time because he’d been badly behaved at home. (She, bless her, played her part brilliantly and was just the right amount of stern authority). He refused to kiss me goodbye and walked off muttering, “You’re so mean….”
When I collected him he hadn’t finished the letters as break wasn’t long enough. So I said he could do them in the evening, before he did anything else – no food, TV, playing, nothing. If they weren’t done, I call the deputy head of the school. (Sometimes you just have to pull out the poker face and straight up lie).
He came home and without needing reminding, went straight to his room and wrote his letters. They read as follows:
To (little brother)
I’m sorry I did not let you have a go on Fifa 13 on the Wii. And I did not mean to steal your blanket. Now I know why not to bite. I’m so sorry. I won’t do it again. From son 1
I’m sorry I didn’t do what I was told and come up. And I’m sorry I swore. I won’t do it again. I did not need a scrum cap. Sorry, from son 1
(the scrum cap comment relates to a whole other argument!)
He has since been the very essence of a model child. I am so pleased to have found something that actually works. It might sound mean but sometimes tough love is called for.
But during the Big Fight™ he said something very telling. I asked him why he thought he could behave this way at home when he doesn’t at school. He replied: “Because I can.”
And it’s so true. They have to follow the rules to the letter at school, so when they come home, they’re like fully blown balloon, stretched to the max, just waiting to be released so they can whizz around letting out steam. I’m glad he feels comfortable and safe enough at home to be himself.
But I’m also glad he’s slightly more pleasant now. Another chapter in the parenting annuls.