Friday, January 6, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Well apparently one person in our house doesn't. 

Being a parent is anything but easy.  On a good day, you may only raise your voice once.  You may only slip into the other room to get a little peace and quiet twice.  But those days are few and far between. 

The typical day is filled with lots of questions that have no explicable answers, incessant talking, large doses of whining, occasional crying, and petty fighting.  All of these things are mind-numbing and draining to say the least.  Somehow we survive and push on.  It's not easy but we manage.  We manage because we have the hope of a new day tomorrow and we know that our children are learning new things and exploring their limits.  They are sponges and it's our job to provide the water for them to absorb.

I get it.  I really do.  What I don't get and what I don't know how to deal with is arguing and not listening.  I completely understand and appreciate the adage, "what goes around, comes around" but I wasn't a kid who thought it was cool to tune my parents out.  When the tv was on and my mom called for us, I came running.  My sister, on the other hand, was so immersed in the tv that she was often asked 2 and 3 times to come before she finally heard (listened).  Even today, I'm just not capable of tuning things out.  I wish I was.  Oh how I wish I was! 

As of late, Colin has turned off his listening ears.  When we ask him to do something or get something, we're often met with a long dissertation of what he was going to do or why he doesn't want to do what we've asked of him.  As you can imagine, our patience wears thin quickly and our calm voices are quickly replaced with much louder voices, sometimes even yelling.  I know we yell out of frustration and it doesn't get our point across any better, but in the heat of the moment it's hard to remember that. 

We typically give a warning as to what will happen if he doesn't do what we've said.  Sometimes it's missing a book at night, other times it's missing dessert, but they all involve taking something away.  It's not working.

Wes and I decided last night that we were done with warnings.  They weren't doing anything but raising our blood pressure and making us that much more frustrated.  We decided that going forward, not listening would equal spending time in timeout.

Then, this morning as I was cleaning out his backpack from school yesterday, I noticed the daily report sheet.  On it the teacher wrote that Colin had trouble listening and following directions and thought it was funny when she tried to correct him.  Another teacher had to come in and talk to him and a couple other children about using their listening ears.

Yes, it's somewhat embarrassing to know that your child is the one misbehaving and being "that" child but I'm over the embarrassment.  How do I teach him to listen?! 

The whole laughing and thinking getting in trouble is funny just adds salt to the wound.  That just makes my blood boil even more and throws any rational thoughts right out the window.

So this morning I attempted to have a sit-down discussion with him about the note.  He willingly sat down to listen but just as I got to the note, he got that smirky grin on his face.  I tried so hard to remain calm and not let him win.  Wes assured him this wasn't funny and to quit laughing.  Then he turned his head and covered his face.  Wes told him to turn around and look at me.  He wouldn't.  I told him that was it, if he wasn't going to listen, he could sit there until it was time to go to school (about 20 minutes).  Wes proceeded to tell him he wouldn't get his blanket the rest of the day either.

Queue the flood gates.  The screaming crying began and later was turned into yelling.  Clearly we've got some anger issues buried in there too.  Then he said he was ready to listen and I told him it was too late.  I wanted to cave but I knew the discomfort of having to sit there was important.  Then he began, "I want someone to talk to me."

As my heart broke into a million pieces, I stood my ground firmly in the kitchen, staring at Wes.  I told Wes that ignoring my child, even his annoying ways, was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  He agreed but we both agreed we needed to prove a point and stand firm.  Finally it was time for me to leave for work and I went in, hugged him, told him I loved him, and said good-bye.  He sobbed some more.  My heart fell on the floor.

While part of me was in pain, there was another larger part that was hopeful.  I want so badly for the good days to outweigh the bad.  But right now, in the behavior department, they're not.  I want the sweet, loving boy to be around all the time but I don't know how to channel him to come and stay.

Being a parent is teaching your child right from wrong but there's so much self-teaching that goes on in the meantime.  I'm trying to take things in stride, not let things get to me so much, and let things go.  I want to enjoy this precious time with my children and not dread knowing which behavior I'm going to be forced with today.

Any thoughts, ideas, or inspiration?  Am I overlooking something that I could or should be doing?  Am I being unrealistic or unreasonable?  Help! 


  1. Everything you wrote was just real life. Colin is testing his boundaries and you are his front-line master of restricting him to those boundaries, alas. Yes, it will be tough. I always reminded myself that I was raising an adult so I had to hold the line. You know you got through to him because he caved. You are fortunate to have two on your side. Hang in there, girlfriend. The Bible says, "Foolishness is bound to the heart of a child..." It's just the way it is.

  2. Couldn't have said it better myself. I am walking in your same shoes. My very strong-willed 2 1/2 year old brought me to tears at Wal-Mart this morning. Yes, he won. Looking forward to any comments you might get. Just know you are not the only one who feels this way.

  3. Does your sons school have a counselor or psycholigist on staff? If so get an appointment.
    The only thing I wish I would have done different in raising our 6 kids is to get professional help sooner. A sesion with a family counselor can open your eyes to new stratagies you my never think of.
    Trust me it is worth it.
    The book So You Want To Raise a Boy by Cleon Skousen was written in the 50's and is just as true today. Get it ASAP, it is a boy raising bible.
    Good Luck.

  4. Thanks, Cindy! I will definitely look into that book!

  5. Danielle, I feel so many of the same things you have expressed. You are not alone! I felt like Brody's whole entire 4th year was a struggle. I was so worried that I was raising a delinquent. I spent so many nights crying to my husband. We made an appt. with a child therapist, but decided not to go. I swear, like magic, when Brody turned 5, he seemed so much more happy and well-adjusted. I think he was dealing with a lot of new "firsts." A new sister competing with him for all of our attention, a new house, new city, new preschool.... Since being in Kindergarten, he has really settled into a great kid. I'm not saying we never have those "bad" days. Because we do, for sure! But now, the good days greatly outweigh the bad days. He still deals with jealousy problems regarding his sister. That is what gets him in the most trouble. But, I feel that is just normal sibling rivalry. Good luck and hang in there! Parenthood is so hard and exhausting!!!

  6. Danielle, You are doing a fabulous job! My two still have trouble doing something the first time I ask them. Part of it is they are doing something they want and then I ask them to do something I want them to do. Not surprising they wouldn't jump right on it. But, it can be so frustrating. Wish I had a good strategy to change it, but patience is the only stategy that works right now :)

    Also, you may just want to have his hearing checked out. My youngest has never been a good listener. For his kindergarten checkup, we learned that he couldn't hear much in one ear. That only exacerbates the problem. Can't hurt to at least have it checked. Good luck!