I’m lucky. My boys are pretty darn good. They’re compassionate, empathetic and just out and out nice kids.
Except for about 10-15% of the time. Then I wonder where I went wrong.
Sunday was one of those days. We went to Disneyland (we have annual passes) and while we got a bit of a late start, things were going well. Right up until it was time to go. It wasn’t just a meltdown. It was… oh, the return of the Little Rajah. In The Secret Garden, that’s what the main character Mary thought her cousin was acting like when he threw fits and bossed everyone around. So that’s the nickname I’ve chosen (TheBoy calls it him the Little Prince).
My son stamped his foot, and demanded that we do his bidding. And we said no. It escalated and escalated until at some point in time, I wanted a drink. And I don’t really drink.
Though in many respects, the Hulkling is a better description of it. He starts to get angry and goes from my mild-mannered song to a howling creature.
This was honestly much worse than it sounds. I… well, part of me doesn’t want this to possibly follow my son as he gets older, and it’s painful to write about. I’ve tried so hard to make sure that my kids think of others, that they say please and thank you, and that they learn that they’re a small part of a big world. And I didn’t think I spoiled them. We explain that not everyone gets to go to Disneyland or the zoo as much as we do (and we honestly hadn’t gone to Disneyland for months before this summer). I don’t buy them all the foods they beg me to get. I don’t take them to fast food places when they ask. I don’t buy them toys all the time.
Yet. Here we are. They are spoiled, though not intentionally. My in-laws like to buy them little presents. Nothing big. A coloring book here and there, a plastic boat or water pistol… but in retrospect, it’s something they think they’re entitled to.
Though at least it seems he only acts it when he’s tired, and his brother sees how we react, so he doesn’t freak out very often at all. That’s some consolation, right?
By the time we got home, I was furious enough that everyone in the house (except the kidlet in question, weirdly) thought I should go out for dinner. So TheBoy and I went out for dinner and I had a drink- which helped me forget my frustration and at least help me start to look at it a little more openly.
I realized that I take his meltdowns so much harder because it’s one of the many ways he’s like me. (If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ve probably figured out which kid it is by now) I will be completely honest, I was a bitch when I was seven years old. Granted, I was a sly bitch and had figured out that I couldn’t have meltdowns outside of the house and keep up the image that I was this perfect adorable little doll of a girl… but I would throw epic fits at home. I learned to control my temper, mostly by learning to recognize when I was tired or hungry- the two things that usually led to outbursts.
I’ve been laboring over this post for the last couple days. Worried I said too much, worried I said too little. I’m not perfect. But I’m paying attention to the mistakes I’ve made so that I can correct them.
We’ve implemented a chore chart. I figured that this way he’ll learn that he has to earn those fun trips to Disneyland or the LA Zoo, so he won’t feel entitled. If he completes enough of his daily chores, he’ll get the green light for something fun. Could be a trip to a regular park, or something bigger- but it won’t be his choice. His brother has to do it, too.
So far it seems to be working. We had our first real test today when he had a huge meltdown after he stepped on his cheap water pistol and broke it. He didn’t want me to throw it out, he wanted me to get him a new one- it was only my realizing that he’d actually cut his foot on it that got him to calm down, and even then it wasn’t calm by much.
When we were divvying up the points, I asked if he thought he deserved the check mark for “behavior.” He thought about it, and admitted that he didn’t. He asked me if it’s okay to get upset about things. I pointed out that he could be sad about the water pistol, and even get upset. But there’s no reason to scream loudly enough that the entire neighborhood could hear.
So there’s that, at least.