Pokemon Boy is an awesome kid. He's loving, empathetic, creative and silly. Unfortunately, he inherited a double sided whammy of anger and worry. Both his father and I have had our issues with temper tantrums. Some as kids, some as adults. And we're both pretty big worriers.
This week, PB has gotten his Nintendo DS and computer put off limits for 4 days. Then two more days were added. Then he got grounded for the first time ever. For a week. He will also have to do some kind of "community service". He'll help his teacher after school on Monday for one piece of it. And for the other, I'm not sure. I'm toying with having him pick up the dog poop from a neighbor's yard.
This is just a ton to dole out in a week. At least for PB. He very rarely does things that actually require consequences beyond losing his DS for a day.
The first incident came on Monday. He was told to put away the laptop in class. When he didn't, a friend started to do it for him. The friend didn't realize that turning off the laptop just lost PB's unsaved work. PB lost his cool and pushed the friend, yelling "I wasn't done with that!" The email I got said he hit the friend. But in school, pushing or hitting, it ain't cool. So that lost the gaming screen time (DS/computer) for 4 days.
On Wednesday, he had to skip recess to make up 2 assignments that he had forgotten and left in his desk. When his teacher told him he'd have to work through recess, he had a big anger thing. It was bad enough where she had to escort him to the library for study time (he usually goes on his own with no problem). So for this one, it was two fold. We've been working on remembering to bring things to and from school. Nothing was working so a month ago, we agreed that, for each assignment or thing he forgets to bring home or take to school, he'd lose gaming time for a day. Since this was involving two assignments he left in his desk, he got the added 2 days of no gaming screen time. For pitching a fit that required his teacher to escort him to study time, he is doing the "community service" of helping her in her classroom after school on Monday. I actually think he'll have fun doing it. But he's worried about it so it fits the consequence bill for me.
Then, Friday, he told me that he had another physical altercation with a classmate. It was the classic "Hey, I was here first" thing when getting lined up. PB actually thinks he may have been wrong so he felt doubly bad about it. But he ended up shoving the classmate. And this just after we'd had a talk about this. I told him that, since we had just addressed this in the same week and the gaming loss wasn't driving it home, I grounded him for a week. In my house, laying hands on another kid in anger will not fly. You can call me wimpy or over-reactive. Knock yourself out. But in my house? Boys will be boys. Boy will NOT be little hooligans.
I watch little boys pummel each other on the playgrounds all the time. In school, too. I know teachers ignore quite a bit of it. But I also see an unspoken agreement between those boys. It's part of their play. But PB is not a pummel-player. We have never allowed anger-based hitting or pushing. I would never allow another kid to do it to either of my boys. I certainly won't wave this off when he's pushing another kid just because he can't control his frustration.
We talked a long time about how the gifted math program is stressing him out. I asked if anything else was stressing him out - waiting to see if he mentioned missing dad or my being out of work. But in his conscious mind, the advanced math is what's frustrating and stressing him out the most. I do wonder, though.
My brother-in-law, TallGuy, mentioned to BigSis that PB's recent issues with stress and anger are classic child-of-divorce stuff. I hate to admit it but I definitely think that's a factor.
Each time we've had to address any of these issues, his self-esteem has been in the toilet. Each time, he is a mess of worry. Worry about how angry I'm going to be. He told me that, every time he gets in trouble, he thinks this will be the one that makes me really really angry. He actually told me once that he wonders if each time he's bad, this will be the one that makes me stop loving him. When I started one of the discussions this week, I said something like, "PB, we need to talk about..." and he quickly added, "...that I'm a bad kid." He really has an amazingly low self image at times. And other times, his ego is off the charts. I don't really understand it but I do. If that makes any sense.
Someone recently told me he just needs to stop being so overly dramatic and move on. Yes. There are times when he's just being the drama king. But these other times - like this week - it's real. And it's deep seeded. I'm not going to ignore this and expect him to just move on. He's nine. He's in a world of stress. Even if some of it is created in his mind, it's real to him. And while I won't enable it, I won't ignore it.
I'm praying a lot. I don't have all the answers. I get good feedback from friends and family. But as anyone knows, even the best advice may not fit you perfectly. I really want God to show me exactly how to be the best mom for PB. I want PB to enjoy this advanced math opportunity. I want him to appreciate that not everyone gets this chance. I want him to know he's special without becoming arrogant. I wish he could see himself the way I see him.
This is quite rambling. Sorry.