Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fuck Zen

This morning sucked.

My oldest son Kaz is hitting puberty, and puberty is a NIGHTMARE. Imagine toddlerhood tantrums happening in a child who is as big as you, and stronger than you. Imagine further that he is a terribly emotional person already and has ADD, which is driving you insane because hormones + ADD = bad bad bad.

Look, you all know that when my hormones are out-of-whack, I lose my mind. Hormone rollercoasters are bad, but even worse when LD/ADD/mental issues complement the mix. Girls are most often diagnosed with ADD when they hit puberty because their behaviour is so out-of-control, and the best cure ever, is to put them on the birth control pill continuously, and only let them off the pill for a week every six months, and during that week off, batten down the hatches, and coddle them. (And yes, they still need Concerta or Adderall, or whatever...)

Well, boys with ADD have a terrible time as well, except that there is no birth control pill for boys. Sigh... The only thing you can do is send them out into the wild for the teenage years like they did with the Spartans. Or, my fantasy----from the TV Show Alien Nation, where the aliens put their kids into cocoons that hung from the ceilings during puberty and the teenage years. They were allowed out when they were biologically ready to act like adults. Sounds perfect to me this morning.

So what happened? Well, Kaz has made a rule about not letting his little brother in his room. You will note that I did not say that is a parental rule in our house, because it isn't. We want Mac to ask permission and we want them both to show respect for each other's stuff, but I'm not going to make some absolute rule about it because as I've explained to Kaz a dozen/hundred/million times he is just making his room into forbidden fruit and ten times more attractive to Mac.

And frankly, this isn't his house to make rules in. He is the child, he does not own this house, and he is not in charge and can't make any rules. We are the adults, we make the rules. I'll listen to him, consult with him, be open to change, but in the end, we make the rules, because we're the grown-ups. We're smarter and more mature and we know how to run the family better. And someday when he gets older he will realize that we have his best interests at heart, but right now, he just has to live with it, and try to control himself.

This morning, Mac went into his room and was dancing around and waving the plastic vines he bought for his art project, and yelling, "Look at this, isn't it cool" yadda yadda, and then he'd walk up and touch something in the room with one finger and say, "haha, I'm touching your stuff."

All of which is wrong and provocative, blah blah blah but frankly, so fucking what? Kaz is older and knows it's no big deal, nothing was being broken or harmed or wrecked. He should've just gotten dressed and talked to him, and when Mac didn't get a reaction, he would've left. He could've called me, or his Dad, or he could've handled this in a dozen different non-violent ways---all of which I have coached him to do on on numerous occasions.

Instead he started screaming and throwing things at Mac to drive him out of the room and slamming his bedroom door so hard, it almost came off the hinges, and the vines got caught in the door and came apart....and I came up the stairs and discovered Mac in tears, and Kaz in a horrendous rage, screaming and freaking like he had been violated by the mere presence of a family member in his precious air space.

He sense of perception was completely out of whack, and he has somehow gotten the idea that his privacy is more sacrosanct than the cardinal rules of our home.

Number one rule: The most important thing is to always be kind to others.

Number two rule: Reread number one....nothing trumps that, regardless of the provocation.

As part of these rules, violence is always unacceptable. ALWAYS.

I've never hit Mr.Cotta. He's never hit me. We don't hit/spank/or manhandle our kids, and they can't hit us or each other or random strangers who piss them off. Hitting includes throwing things and slamming doors and frankly, doing anything that could put another person in danger.

Obviously, I expect more from older kids than younger ones and more from adults than children. Kaz headbutted me when he was 5 months old and killed one of my teeth. I had multiple root canals and skull surgery from a subsequent infection, but I never remotely blamed him for hitting me beyond once again telling him to be gentle. Same for all the dozens of bruises, scars, and cuts I suffered at his hands and Macs when they were toddlers. As they got older, and they hit, I kept reminding them to be gentle, and then made them sit in the corner, or took their favourite toy away. I gradually expected more of them as they were more capable.

But something got screwed up along the way, and we have not been as consistent with Kaz as we should've. We told him a long time ago that if he slammed the bedroom door, he would lose the door, and that if anyone, his little brother, or anyone else, ever got hurt because of his inability to control his temper, then he would lose EVERYTHING. Every privilege, every toy, every fun activity, his life would be shit.

And then we didn't enforce that. He slams the door, we repeat the threat, maybe we take away a privilege, but we haven't removed the door. We have not kept our word, so he just takes advantage. Part of the reason why we have been inconsistent, is because Mr.Cotta and I disagree about this. He thinks the slamming of doors and violent ourbursts are terrible, but he blames Mac for going in his room and provoking it. Which is blaming the victim, and allowing him to avoid personal responsibility, IMO. We can learn to control our tempers even if the other person tempts us. And if Kaz can't, then he needs to learn to. I think it's because Mr.Cotta treasured his own room, and his own privacy, growing up with 6 brothers and sisters. He views being alone in some kind of nostalgic glowing light, and conveniently forgets how lonely he was as he got older and how happy he is to be in a group of people.

I'm projecting too. I get very very upset when this happens because I remember growing up and living in fear of being hit when even the tiniest thing went wrong in the house. It has made me jump and cower for years, and seeing it where I live all over again? Not good for my blood pressure, not good for my anxiety, not good for me or this baby.

So we are stuck, and I am wondering what to do. I'm thinking I'll edit this post a lot and send it as an email to my husband and explain that regardless of what we do, we can't tolerate this behaviour. I can't put a teenage boy on the pill, but damn I can make it clear that he has to learn to control his temper. I really actually do not give a flying crap about his hormones or his issues. I've tried to help him in a hundred different ways to find a solution that does not involve violence or anger and yet----he does not want to try my way. His way is not working, and it will never work.

Sort of like my attempting calm and zen do not work. My blood pressure is bad today and my head hurts a lot. The next time someone tries to tell you that if you relax you will get pregnant, stay pregnant, stop miscarrying, or have a healthier baby, slap them for me. And if this baby comes out alive and healthy, then hey show them this whole blog. Prove to them that anxiety ridden wretcheswhoareungratefulshittymoms can make a live baby too.

And my refrigerator repair man from Sears has finally shown up, and is an asshole of amazing proportions. Gahhhhhhhh.....


  1. I'm with you, my brother was add and that way as a kid, it never was dealt with and to this day he will get violent when he is upset. He figured out that being bigger and stronger, if he acted like he was goign to hurt someone, he got his way.

    I'd have the kid sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor, in my room for at least a week. No stuff, no fun, nothing apart from teh rest of the family.

    But that is just me, I am sure that your husband only wants what is best for the boys, maybe the male point of view is different on these things?

  2. When my sister and I got into the door slamming thing, my parents took both of our doors off, but allowed us to hang old sheets up as curtains.

    This preserved some degree of privacy, but clearly you can't slam bedsheets and they're not as solidly comforting as a door, so we were clearly penalized but not completely stripped of dignity.

  3. I've never had to live with a teenaged boy but I teach them so you know I have nothing but respect and admiration for you.
    I agree that regardless of what the rules are you and Mr Cotta need to be on the same page. I do think the door needs to come off today. I think that will make a big difference. Here;s hoping.

  4. I've been thinking a lot about anger and angry outbursts lately. I'm pretty conflict-averse myself, and hate hate HATE violent outbursts. And I see shouting and screaming as violence, even without hitting or threats of being hit.

    I ended up in a horrible fight with someone a couple months ago. It was awful for both of us, we both acted inappropriately, and the other person involved smashed a plate. I was told that I knew this person had anger problems and I should have expected the outburst (and the outbursts which preceded the argument) and not drawn the anger out.

    That really bothered me, and it took me a long time to figure out why. But then it occurred to me -- it isn't my responsibility to keep someone from acting violently when they are angry. Certainly I shouldn't attempt to goad someone on, but it is not MY fault if someone lashes out at me physically. That is abusive behaviour, and it is unacceptable.

    Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying I agree with you entirely. Good luck with the situation.

  5. Oh wow, boys in puberty are not fun. My son is soon to be 14, if he lives that long (kidding). He has a sleep disorder and I think he has ADD, but his father refuses to have him tests (because he has ADHD and refused to acknowledge the diagnosis, so if his son has it, he'd have to admit to having it himself, yadda yadda you get the picture).

    I wish I had some sage advice for you, but I don't - other than to say you need to live up to your threats (don't we all) and you can tell me to get stuffed whenever you like.

    I have a friend that has twins a year younger than mine. When they were 11, her son slammed the door after being warned and when he came home from school, his door was off the hingess in the basement for a month! Another time, the twins forgot to make their beds for a few days. They came home from school and found their mattresses on the floor and their beds dismantled in the basement.

    This wouldn't work with my son. The lack of a door would just motivate him to be more loud and obnoxious until I put the door back up to save my own sanity. And he'd probably love sleeping on the floor.

    IMHO, both kids need realize there are consequences to their actions. Kaz needs to know that behaviour like that will not be tolerated, and I think Mac's figured out there are consequences to his actions, too. Not much help,I know, but at least I can sympathize with you.

  6. So I am not condoning Kaz's actions at all, but I have to say I am sorta agreeing with Mr.Cotta. Not all the way, but a bit.
    Mac provoked Kaz on purpose. And there should be consequences for that too. I was an older child, and there was nothing that drove me madder than "you are older, you should know better." I swore to never ever say that to my kids. In the same light, I think yes, Kaz should definitely see consequences, but so should Mac. He was certainly not an innocent bystander in that. Especially considering that he was touching things and taunting Kaz about it. And I am sure Mac knows Kaz not to be a morning person. Doesn't justify violence, but can't be without consequences either.

  7. I like the bedsheet comment above.

    Having grown up in a fairly chaotic and occasionally violent household, I can understand strong aversion to outburts of anger.