Monday, February 18, 2008

Wicked Mom

I was a wicked mom today.... But the story starts a few weeks back. And of course we are back to the ongoing saga of the messy room.
Sam has had a messy room for about a year. Not that it never gets cleaned, but it is always a disaster with in 24 hours of the cleaning. So I instituted "Friend Day", where Sam could have a friend over if he cleaned his room the day before. This worked for a total of two weeks and he forgot to ask his friends to help him clean up before they left, and so I think in his eyes Friend Day was more of a contributing problem than a reward.
About two or three weeks ago Friend Day came along and he hadn't cleaned his room. And it really wasn't that messy so I told him if he took a few minutes to clean it up he could still invite a friend over. Wasn't that nice of me?
The same old thing happened-he wanted help. I said no. Only this time, either because he was tired, sick of the same conversation, I don't know what, but this time he said he was going to run away. As soon as he said it he got a really sad face. I could tell it made him sad just to say it. Then the phone rang and it was Matt. I said, "Hi Matt, Sam is about to run away. Would you like to talk to him so you can say goodbye before he goes?" I know this was a mean thing to do, but I really thought he was bluffing. He wouldn't talk to Matt so we hung up. I had to drop something off on the next street over so I asked Sam if he wanted to come with me. He said no, so I locked the door on my way out and on my way to the car it opened and he stepped out clutching a bag of gold fish he had recieved from a classmate that day. I asked him if he changed his mind and he said no, he was running away. So I got into the car and drove away. He started making his way around the block.
When my business was done 2 minutes later, I went back the way I came and saw him walking and crying, down the street. He saw me. I kept driving. Well, I went down a ways and then flipped a Uy (sp?), and I started to follow him from a distance. What could I do? He wasn't breaking any rules. We never made a rule to Not run away. So I just followed, and I think he suspected that I was because when a car was coming up behind him he turned around really quick to see who it was. At the second car he spotted me at a distance but he wasn't sure it was me and he kept turning around to look. So I pulled up and followed about 10 feet behind him. He started walking faster.
I was wondering where he would go. He's not allowed to cross the street alone, so I pictured him walking around the block over and over. But no, that little stinker looked both ways, and crossed the street! After stopping at the stop sign I pulled up next to him and told him he broke a rule, that he wasn't allowed to cross the street alone and that he needed to get his booty in the car! He came to the window and said he didn't want to live with us any more. I offered to find him a new family, so he got in the car. As we drove home I asked him if he thought his new family would let him make big messes and not clean them up. He was sure they would. I reinformed him that they would want him to clean his room and probably do more chores than we make him do. He thought about it. And to my surprise came right into the house.

Fast forward to today-room still a mess. I told him that Dad and I were going to clean his room. He got so happy. I told him he might not have any toys left when we were done and that he had one more chance to go in and do it himself. Nope. He was fine with us cleaning up his toys. And the threat, though an empty one, didn't bother him in the least. (I swear he can see right through me) So we cleaned it up. And while we did we hear a call from the couch down stairs,"Thanks, Mom and Dad, for cleaning up my room!" That little stinker!
When we were done we called him up and told him he doesn't get to play with any toys until he can show us that he can take care of his stuff. We directed his attention to a list of rules. It said:
Get dressed.
Put dirty pajamas in the hamper.
Make your bed.
Go brush your teeth.
Put on pajamas.
Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
Brush your teeth.

We told him if he does all this for a week he can have one bucket of toys back. We will add to the bottom of the list: Put toys away.
If he can do this for a month he gets his toys back. I marked today as the starting day on his new transformers calendar, and a week from today and a month from today. But the list is staying up longer, and I am thinking about putting up some other lists around the house. Something to this effect:
Brush teeth.
Turn off the water.
Put lid back on paste.
Clean your spit and paste chunks off the counter and out of the sink.
Turn the water off again.

Even though I felt totally wicked all day, he seems so much happier. And this morning after he made his bed and got dressed he said,"Mom? Do you forgive me for running away?" I assured him that I already had, and he looked happy about this, but it just about broke my heart. Still I am sticking to what we said about the toys and the list. I have heard it takes three weeks to make a new habit, we are giving him a month to relearn this routine. We'll see how it goes.


Holley, Dane Brien & Wesley Berry said...

Good for you Julie! Have you ever read the poem "Mean Mother?" You can find it on the internet and its a really good read. It talks about how this mother was really mean because she demanded that her kids eat right, learn how to work, act respectfully and responsibly and then at the end the kid who is telling the story talks about how appreciative they are for the fact that they had a mean mother. Kids need boundaries and rules. They need the security that a routine gives them. You are doing a great job. Be proud that you are a mean or in your case "Wicked" mother. You are doing your job and its not an easy one either!

Cote Corner said...

I remember one time telling my mom that I was going to run away. I packed my suitcase ( i had all the essentials (or so I thought.. toothbrush, paste, clothes..) I started walking down the street when one of Matts friends said, "hey, I think she's really running away!" I think Matt then came up to me and looked through my suitcase and saw that I really was going to "run away!" he then took me home to my mom!! :) What a brother!! He saved me from the mean world out there!! Anyway, I do have a point, and it is that this is TOTALLY normal. Every kid thinks his/her mom/dad is the meanest mom/dad EVER!! It took me awhile to learn that they were only doing what was best for me and that they were the best parents ever!! and I can only hope I'm a "mean" mom too! :)

Jeanna said...

Oh Sammy, I laughed so stinking hard when I read this post. You painted such a vivid picture. I'm a mean mom too. I think I remember at least one of my kids threatening to run away but they never made it out the front door. I think I called their bluff. You have to credit Sam for following through at least for a while. It would have been fun to find some personals ads for parents looking for a new kid who doesn't like to clean his room.

Becky said...

I love that kid.

Anonymous said...

While you have never met me (I am a friend/neighbor of Jeanna), I loved this post and think I will be implementing this in my own home with 4 of my kids! You rock! Keep up the great parenting!

Anonymous said...