Attempting to Understand My Child

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Don’t you just think that this motherhood stuff is hard? This parenting stuff is hard? I do. Not just the waking up at 5am, which I am currently doing thanks to my two youngest kids, but the even more so the stuff you deal with that doesn’t immediately come with a name. My 10-yr-old is the most difficult for me to parent. He pushes my limits, tests all my patience, and knows exactly how to rile me up. It has taken so much time and reflection, mostly after I have blown up, for me to get to where I am better able to see the storm before it starts. I am better able to know what is setting him off or making him anxious, and sometimes even when I see it coming the attitude that comes with it is enough for me to ignore everything I have learned.

Yesterday was like that. He was supposed to stay after school for Run Club. I wasn’t waiting for him, but it happened that we were still at the school playing on the playground with siblings when he came ambling out 20 minutes after school had let out. He forgot. He had gotten in trouble and had to stay after school which caused him to forget. When I asked about all of it he just broke down. Eye-rolling, sighing, throwing himself on the ground, yelling at me. His whole day was horrible, the worst ever, I didn’t even care, I was mean, he didn’t want to talk to a mean person, I hated him, he hated me, and he was just going to go home. I ended up walking him into the school to see if the Run Club had left yet and they had. I had previously told him he had to basically suck it up and get his stuff together, which further confirmed for him that whatever was bothering him didn’t matter to me. This time I tried to reach him by saying I knew he was anxious about going late but it would be ok and I would go with him. This didn’t help. More anger was thrown my way. I responded, “Well, I don’t care what you want to do. You are going, and if you don’t do it because you are in Run Club you are doing it because I said so, and I am going watch you the whole time to ensure you are doing the laps.”  As you can imagine he didn’t care for this at all. In the end he went.

It was after he got home and we tried again that I found out what had been bothering him the whole time. He had standardized testing and didn’t know how to do the math problems. He only completed 2 before he was sent to finish in the principal’s office, and he only completed one more before time was up. This stressed him out, made him anxious and nervous about the 2nd portion of the test. In his mind he had already made it harder, and he hadn’t even started it yet. He tried to begin the second part of the test early (which is why he had to stay after school) and again he only completed a couple problems before he was sent out to try and finish in another room. Again he didn’t finish. He feared he failed and would get in trouble for failing, and he felt defeated. So I gave him hug. It was all he needed.  I couldn’t make it better. I am not sure I had the words other than- ‘Yeah, that does suck, I am sorry.’ I could hug him though. So I did. Later that evening his dad took him out to play tennis, and he came home smiling. Hidden behind all the anger and frustration and hateful words was just a kid who needed to know his parents were still there for him even when the it felt like the world was against him.

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