Friday, April 16, 2010

Ugh. Just, UGH.

Over the past week or so, Patrick's behavior has been in a steady decline from the realm of Regular Boy Stuff into the area of I'd Rather Not Appear With Him In Public. Usually it's kids who don't want to be seen with their parents, I think, not the other way around, but sadly, this is where we have been.

We hit rock bottom the other day at piano lesson. Josie and Patrick have the same teacher, and their lessons follow each other, with Patrick going first. Based on his sullen mood over the past few days, I knew it probably wasn't going to be the greatest lesson, but it turned out that I was WAY overestimating his good-behavior potential. He did everything from averting his eyes constantly, purposefully ignoring the teacher, banging on the keys too hard more than once and having to be told to stop, and, the piece de resistance, when the teacher put his hand on Patrick's shoulder to get his attention because he was rudely staring at the piano bench, Patrick (I am ashamed to even type this), did that thing that kids do when they're being bratty; he slouched and slid away like the teacher was putting a crap crown on his head. I could have DIED, I was so angry and embarrassed. For the record, the teacher was really polite about it and dealt with it well, but internally I was EXPLODING.

I usually try not to interfere when the kids are being instructed by someone else, but I couldn't take it and scolded him right after he did that little action. The piano teacher then ended the lesson - ten minutes earlier than usual - and I told Patrick that he should put down his things and follow me out to the front stoop as Josie took her place at the piano. He knew he was in for it, obviously, but he had no idea what he was really in for.

I reamed that boy a new orifice. Usually I try to go for the more placid approach, ask what has happened to him that day, etc, but this time, while I did maintain a regular level of voice, I took that boy up one side and down the other, with a little in between for good measure. I told him that I didn't know what his problem was, but that if he ever acted that way again he would never touch another musical instrument, never mind have lessons, and that he should be ashamed and humiliated at his own behavior, treating an old man like that in his own home when all he was doing was being kind. I said that I was horrified to see that he thought it was appropriate to treat someone that way, and that as a result, he will no longer own a DS or be watching Pokemon, because until I can see that he can treat real people well, in person, there will be no interacting with electronic people. He can only use the Wii if he's playing with someone else. Obviously, I made him apologize once Josie's lesson was over, too.

He's had behavior problems before when he's played his DS too much, so this punishment ends up being an appropriate one. I'm a firm believer in trying to make a punishment fit the crime, and this is as close as I can get. I took away the Pokemon show because I think it's feeding into his overly-dramatic tendencies; both the japanamation and the obviously formulaic boy cartoon style provide examples of constant over-the-top actions and reactions, and they're rubbing off on him. He's really into it, and I'm sorry to take something he likes away from him, but maybe I'll be able to compromise and let him read the books instead.

I know that all of this is mostly my fault. I was falling down on the parenting job, letting him play his ds too much and spend too much time with these character he likes but yet can't interact with. It's not like he sat around the house all day playing, more that he'd wake up early in the morning and probably play for hours before I would see him doing it, realize it had been too long, and tell him to do something else, added in with car trips, etc. I understand the desire to do that, because I love to use my ds, too (yes, I have one, so there), and sometimes will play for hours, but as an adult I can walk away and still be nice to people afterward. I feel bad that it was probably my inattention to detail that allowed him to travel that bratty path to begin with. Sigh.

However, since being told that he can't have it back until he can prove that he can be nice to real people again, he hasn't asked for it once, and in fact yesterday sprang out of the car to go and play with the little girl (who is 4) and her baby brother in their yard across the street! Josie goes over there routinely - she likes to be a little mommy - but usually Patrick isn't that into it. He's been really into reading a new book that I gave him, one that Josie and I just finished reading together at bedtime about two weeks ago.

When these things happen, though, I worry. His teacher had that ADD-insinuating a few months ago, and he could very well have inherited OCD/depression from me. Any of those things could induce the behavior we see rear its ugly head in him. He's my only boy, and I have no siblings or cousins, so I have nothing to measure him by. I see his friends, but that's not the same. Do your boys act like this from time to time, or am I maybe seeing the blossom of something that needs to be carefully watched??


Anonymous said...

I have nothing to offer in the way of wisdom, but I do want to say I admire how you handled it. I am so tired of seeing people let their children act like buffoons and not do a damn thing. Best of luck to you both as you figure it all out.

Fiona Picklebottom said...

OK, I THINK I may have some things to say here, but it's hard to say anything without knowing his behavior on a continual basis. Anyway, I have a GIRL who acts like this... to the point where we STOPPED going out in public for a while. But her behavior was way beyond what's being described here. Without knowing more, it just sounds like Patrick had a bad day. Yet I know that if that's all it was, you probably would have known that and wouldn't have written about being concerned with ADD and or OCD.

Let me say first that my daughter would have horrible meltdowns, like a toddler tantrum, but she had way outgrown the toddler stage. Turned out she has OCD. She is now in behavior therapy and on medication, both of which are helping. More recently, she has been showing more and more signs of ADHD. She's always been EXTREMELY hyper, especially at night, and while I THOUGHT she had no problems paying attention, I recently had it pointed out to me that I tend to say "Look at me," over and over again until she does before I give her an instruction. I don't do this with the other children, and I had never noticed that I did it with her. My "but she does great in school," was rebutted with, "she's so bright, she doesn't actually have to pay complete attention to pick up what's going on." And her teacher, who is WONDERFUL and who my daughter LOVES, has been having a LOT of issues with her. So now, we're looking at possible ADHD to go along with her OCD. I won't be surprised, as ADHD and OCD run rampant in both my husband's family and mine. It is TOUGH to deal with, though. If you want to talk or ask me any questions, please feel free to email me. Hang in there.

d e v a n said...

I don't really know, but I think you handled it well.

Kristin.... said...

Oh ugh is right.
I don't have anything brilliant to say. I avoid taking my tribe out in public because they all act like twits and frustrate me.
My kids have an issue with too much tv~they behave horribly when they're done watching so it's very limited here. VERY limited. And when I agree to let them watch more, I always ALWAYS regret it.
I hope you find answers.

Not Your Aunt B said...

You handled it so well. And I think TV/DS/computer/Wii etc. all make them a little this way when they have too much of it. My kids are probably the opposite of ADHD (which has it's own frustrations at times), but if the get too much tv or computer time during the week we know. They just aren't nice.

creative kerfuffle said...

i think you handled it very well, probably much better than i would have. i don't have advice--both of mine (girl and boy) have bad days/weeks, though usually it's at home and not in public. of course they're a little older than patrick too.