Monday, May 25, 2009

Why my 13 year old owes me five grand

Mentally I've started this post quite a few times over the past few days. Ever feel like you're on a speeding train and can't get it to slow down? That's how I feel. So many things I need/want to get done and I either run out of time to do it or just lack the motivation. I feel like I'm on a hamster wheel and I can't make it stop.

So frustrating.

During the past few weeks we've been having issues with Beaver. He does his homework but doesn't turn it in. He doesn't do his homework. He forgets to bring home things that we need to see or sign. Then when questioned he's dishonest about it. I really thought I had just reached the end of the line in terms of my patience. It just seemed that my baby boy had disappeared and I wasn't too fond of the person that took his place.

I have considered several times over the past several months that maybe Beav should live with his dad. The constant need to constantly check on him is overwhelming and dealing with my mom's death has just left me with nothing. However, after several conversations with my ex, having Beav with him full time just isn't an option. He believes that Beav does all this on purpose and his answer is he needs more meds.

Thursday night was the open house for Beav's school. After visiting all of his classes, picking up his progress reports, all with D's, one less than 2 percent away from an F, I went to the car and just started to sob. My son was almost flunking the seventh grade. I was so upset, disappointed, angry at myself and at Beav. I didn't want to be the mom of "that kid." Just saying that out loud to my hubby made me feel even worse and then I cried because I felt like such a horrible mother.

When we got home we talked to Beav in depth and over the next twelve hours found out that he had been dishonest with us several times over the past few days. Everything else I can deal with but the lying, it was just too much and I was brutally honest with Beav about it. It was as if I was looking at this boy that I didn't know any more.

Hubby took over a bit and contacted the school the next day. Beav isn't going to flunk, but he has to keep his nose very clean for the next week. The nice thing about him being in private school is that the teachers are really compassionate and understanding. The negative thing is that all I could think about is that I've paid over $5000 for my son to earn D's.

This kid is not stupid. He's super bright. He tried to tell me that he was doing poorly because school was too hard. His progress reports show different. When he does his work AND turns it in...when he studies for a test...A's. When he doesn't turn in his homework...F's. His grades are either F's or A's. No middle ground.

So...I decided that perhaps Beav needed to understand all this and explained that he owed me $5400. I started a tally on a spreadsheet and on Saturday he began working it off. I took him to my office and he did a couple of hours there and then I brought home some work and he spent the rest of Saturday doing that.

I could tell he was frustrated and we had a very candid talk in which I explained a few things:

1. I hate punishing him, but dishonesty deserves punishment
2. When you constantly lie to someone that loves and care about you, you can do irreparable damage to that relationship.
3. Without trust, it's hard to feel close to someone you love.

He pretty much started sobbing and I think (hope) that perhaps he understood how damaging dishonesty can be. We had the same conversation last night and he told me that he felt physical pain at the hurt he had caused.

I'm not going to make him work off $5400, but he'll be working off a couple of hundred, at least. I did let him watch TV, but only today and with Einstein and myself as a family activity.

Hubby is out of town and I'll be dealing with all of this by myself until he returns next weekend. I'm FAIRLY sure I can deal with it.

I just want my baby back.


Anonymous said...

I take some small comfort in knowing I'm not the only mom who goes through things like this, although I have yet to hit the teenage years. My oldest is not yet ten.

The Introvert said...

I'm not a mom, but I do remember the 7th grade very well and it was awful for both me and my parents. I went from an honor student with perfect behavior to a sullen, mouthy teenager who got put in ISS for punching a guy in the mouth in History class. I think kids go a little bit insane during that time. This too shall pass. However, I do think you're handling it really well. My parents are awesome, but I wish they would've been more strict with me during that time. I needed it.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you... my parents had 5 of us teenagers at one time (talk about insanity) and I still don't know how they did it! It sounds like you're doing good by being honest with him. I remember the few times we did make my mother cry in frustration - it didn't happen often, but it usually signaled the change of something. It's a tough time to be growing up, that's for sure. Keep up the good work :)