For the sake of embarrassment, I won’t name my child who is the subject of this post, instead I’ll refer to him as “Charlie.” Last week I got not one, not two, but three calls from three different teachers regarding my son Charlie. By the third teacher I was ready to drive up to the school, pull him out of class and beat his butt!! Why must this child insist on getting in trouble?!
So what he did or didn’t do is not the issue, the issue is me. I am a Mom to “that kid.” “That kid” who has been labeled a troublemaker! You know, “that kid” who gets the eye rolls, sighs, and shoulder shrugs from the teachers who mention his name. “That kid” whose parents get called and emailed at least 3x a day because he’s at school goofing off. “That Kid” who is always making excuses and blaming others, but never taking responsibility for himself. “That kid” who is most times alienated from his parents, his siblings and his friends because it is sad and exhausting to be around someone who gets in trouble all the damn time. “That kid” who chooses to do, whatever the hell he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it, without concern for consequences. YES, I am the Mom to “that kid!”
I love my son with all my heart, but there have been times when I have totally disliked him. What kind of kid causes everyone around him that much grief? For him to be so freaking smart, like off the charts brilliant, he doesn’t the dumbest, absolutely stupidest crap I’ve ever heard of!! Up until last year, I thought if his Dad didn’t kill him (not literally), I was going to have a nervous breakdown or we would send him off to military school. The year before last was the absolute worst as I swear his teacher, principal and counselor had me on speed dial. They were calling me every day! EVERY. DAMN. DAY. You think I’m joking, but literally it was every day, except the days he was suspended for.
And the problem is, once your child has been labeled a ‘troublemaker,’ that’s it! Any and everything they do, will be noticed. I grew up in a house with educators, I know how this works. Teachers are friends and friends talk about their students, the good ones, the bad ones, the ones they love and the ones they feel sorry for. Unfortunately for Charlie, he is the bad one and it wasn’t until I got a phone call last year when the principal sarcastically implied that she felt sorry for me that I got pissed off enough to get the revelation that I’m an awesome Mom.
I can’t remember exactly what she said, but I do remember snapping back saying, “Ummm, I have five kids…Charlie is the only one that gets in trouble. In fact I get emails and calls from my other kids’ teachers complimenting me on them being leaders and outstanding students, so what Charlie does is not a reflection of my family, or how my husband and I parent.”
And that’s when it hit me, “that kid” has an awesome Mom!! This has been a journey, a long, painful journey-and we are still on it- but I have come to accept that: I, the mother of Charlie, cannot and will not, be looked down upon, felt sorry for, judged, held responsible or feel inadequate because of Charlie’s actions.
I will no longer question what I was or wasn’t doing as a Mother, as if it’s my fault that he is disobedient. ‘Am I showing him enough attention? Does he feel like he’s being left out? Did I take my prenatal vitamins while I was pregnant? Does he have ADD? Should we medicate him? But if we medicate, will he turn to drugs as an adult thinking they will solve his problems? What this….What that?’ Nope, that’s freaking stressful and I’m done thinking about it!
Charlie is certainly old enough to know better and at some point, he’s going to have to figure it out. That’s not to say I’ve given up on him, but I have four other children who I’ve neglected at times because I was so stressed out, crying hysterically, or simply exhausted because so much of my energy and focus was on Charlie. I won’t do it anymore. I will continue to pray for him, encourage him to read the Bible, and let him decide if he wants to continue to steal his own childhood. If he wants to keep missing out on playing video games with his siblings, going to the movies and games with us, missing out on friends birthday parties, and hell, even his own birthday parties sometimes…then that’s his choice!
So last week when that third phone call came, accompanied by an email and an 8am Saturday detention, I suggested the teacher read my blog! Then I laughed and said that out of my five kids, the odds are, that it was bound to be “that one kid!”
I’m a woman of faith, Charlie will be ok…
Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.