3 S.R. Johannes: The Grinch Who Stole EVERYTHING from a little boy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Grinch Who Stole EVERYTHING from a little boy.

On Sunday, my parents brought down an electric train to go around our Christmas tree. They found it at a store and knew my kids would love it.

You see, my 3.5 year old son LOVES trains. I think he even wants to be a conductor when he grows up. He was thrilled when they walked in with the box. His eyes lit up and he jumped around. I think he even squealed.


We told him that it was for him AND his sister so they both had to "the s word" --- SHARE.

Then, the devil took over my beautiful angel boy who is usually the first to say "Thank you", "Please" and "excuse me."

Now, Devil turns to my parents and asks them to take back the train.

I was mortified.

I asked him to thank his grandparents for the train --and he REFUSED. So, I told him he was not allowed to play with the train until he showed some manners. He proceeded to have a hissy fit asking my parents to take back the train! So I calmly walked him to his room and told him to stay there until he wanted to come out to apologize to --and thank --my parents

2 HOURS LATER - my son still REFUSED to be polite and was actually very rude. This was not your average kid just not saying thank you b/c he was shy or tired or didnt know better. He was mean.

My parents ended up leaving, my son ate dinner in his room and went to bed quietly, while I stayed up and steamed.

What kind of child have I raised that he would be that blatantly disrespectful?
Why was he doing this?
How do I teach him to be grateful?

The next morning, my son woke up and... what do you think he wanted to do first?
.....you git it....play with the train.

Grinch - "I'm sorry but you will not play with the train until you call and thank mimi and papa. do you understand?"

Son - "Yes."

Grinch - "Do you want to call them so you can play with it?"

Son - "Not yet."

This went on for a couple hours.

Now, I am not the strictest of parents. I tend to talk my kids to death and listen - probably too much. But the way my son was behaving was unacceptable to me. I tried to explain that no matter what people give us, we need to be grateful b/c they are thoughts wrapped up in gifts.

So I say: "If you cant be grateful for gifts, then you are going to lose other privileges. Every half hour until you do."

Son (while shrugging) - "Okay."

Grinch: Do you want to call mimi and papa so you dont' lose anything?

Son: "No"

This unsuspecting threat started the beginning of the end of this loooonnnggg day. Let me say upfront that I had NO IDEA the will power of this child, especially a 3 year old. I really did not think he would make it for 3 minutes after I took his trains or cars out of his room. I was sure he would cave.

So - in hind site - I've learned - be careful what you threaten b/c we all know from Dr Phil and Oprah that if you SAY you are going to do something, you HAVE to follow through with it.

So - my son was sent to his room because his sister earned a movie that he was now not allowed to watch. He started playing in his room - happily.

Meanwhile 30 min after that, I began to remove things from his room. All the while steaming mad, grumbling to myself....begging him to make the call...praying to God that I was not going to have to empty the room because then I would have to clean it all up!

(for those tallying - we are now at about 3-4 hours now, not including the 2 hours the night before and it is about 11 am. Oh yeah, and for the record - I am already exhausted due to daughter having strep throat all weekend and me fighting a tummy virus. In a nutshell - I am NOT HAPPY!)

About an hour later -- --my son comes out and hands me a couple of toys.

Son - "Mommy, you can take this one."

At this very moment I lost it. Mommy left my body and the Grinch took over.

"That's it. Forget every 30 minutes. You lose everything until you can apologize for your behavior and thank mimi and papa!"

I began taking EVERYTHING out of his room. Toys, 200 books, Christmas decorations, broken crayons, stuffed animals, even dust bunnies were tumbling for cover. Side note: Not to mention I realized how dirty his room really was - even though a cleaner comes in every other week. Its amazing what you will find when you clear a room.

I dont even think I left a light bulb. I was the Grinch who stole EVERYTHING. I literally was chunking stuff over my shoulder into the hall repeatedly saying"I cant believe you're making me do this." Tears fell and yelling commenced. It had been 4 hours at this point and I wanted this to end so I could put my sick kid and the Devil in front of the TV so I could rest my tummy.

The hall way was now impassable. So I fall over everything to get into kitchen and try to calm down.

Grinch (face red instead of green) : "Don't come out until you are ready to be polite and grateful for your things! I will slip your food under the door. I will break you!!!!"

Now maybe this sounds harsh to you. And for the record - I have never claimed to be mother of the year. But besides the fact that I forced a kid to stay in his room with nothing - just because he didn't thank someone or was rude isn't the real problem. Because believe me - at this point I am wishing I could take it all back and sing Kum Bah Yah with my kids holding my hands.

The real problem? I said this is what I was going to do so now I am backed into a corner. I either follow through or lose control of kid forever and he becomes total psycho and doesn't respect authority when he gets older. probably in jail. Yes that might be extreme but that is where my head was in the moment. Definitely in a state of insanity.

It was not about "Thank you's" anymore. It was now a "battle of the wills". This was setting a precedent for other issues to come.

Hubby says while sitting in lush office at work 30 miles away. "I don't care what happens, don't cave. His entire life is riding all on your shoulders. Stay strong. I gotta go take some clients out to fancy lunch. Have a nice day.

Grinch - "Eat some lobster for me."

Daughter said: "What is wrong with Gray? I've never seen him do this. He's crazy. I'd never take it this far. Especially with my toys."

So - where were we. Oh yes. 3.5 year old sitting in a room with four walls, a flat pillow, a bean bag, and a few scared dust bunnies.

How long do you think he lasted with NOTHING?

Do you know he sat in that room for...4 more hours...

yes a 3.5 year old held out against his mom with NOTHING (not even a bathroom or bread and water) for a total of 7.5 hours!

I've never seen my son take anything even close to this far. For 4 more hours this kid came out 1,000 times, tried to sneak toys back in his room, threw a car at me. It was insane. It was exhausting. I was baffled.

I was like a lion trapped in a cage, pacing back and forth in front of hall door, staring at my clock mumbling (and probably drooling with insanity), "I cant believe this. What am I going to do" over and over and over. For 4 more hours.

At 3 pm (this started at 6:30 am) , I slumped into a chair and sent in reinforcements - yes - my 7 year old daughter. She wanted it to stop as much as me.

Daughter - mom can i go talk to him?

Grinch - "Sure honey. See if you can stop this insanity."

Daughter goes to see incarcerated son - "Gray, mommy is sad. Mimi and papa ae sad. Yo need to stop this craziness. It's gone too far. Please please, say you are sorry and think you so you can come out and play with me."

15 min later - he comes out and yells with a big smile on his face (as if he's ready for a baseball game or a trip to get ice cream.) "Mommy, I'm ready." This is after me sitting and talking, begging, yelling, taking things away. His sister begs him to stop so she can play with him and he does just that.

He called both my parents - apologized and thanked them for the gift. And his day went on as if nothing had ever happened. me? Nervous breakdown and emotional eating.

So what did I learn from this?

1) My will power sucks - After watching a 3.5 year old hold out 7.5 hours - I realize that I can't even go a day without chocolate. Not to mention, I was just about to crack when he did.

2) Once again - my mothering capabilities. Do you know i scoured all my child raising books during this 7.5 hours and could find nothing of help? Who do you turn to?

3) I am convinced my son was a monk or a hobo in a past live - someone who fasted without food for days and could stare at blank walls for 7.5 hours without going insane.

4) my son looooooves his sister.

5) my son has made all Tauruses proud.

6) I am in trouble when he is a teen. let's hope my daughter's will power is much weaker.

7) Never EVER EVER say you are going to do something unless you think through the consequences. Unless you can truly back it up WITHOUT going insane. You never know how far your kids are prepared to go.

It might just be further than you think.

Tell me - have your kids held out for a long time like this to stand their ground? Have you taken everything to prove a point? Please tell me I am not the only one.


Anonymous said...

Oh, man, I feel for you. I'm glad you didn't cave. Congratulations on YOUR willpower!I hope your family has a merry Christmas.

Kelly Polark said...

Good for you for sticking to your guns. I know it's hard! I've been there! My kids have lost priveleges/toys etc and it's (hopefully) made them learn a few lessons (or at least made the room less cluttered with toys ;).
Merry Christmas to you and yours, Shelli!

Artemis Grey said...

Wow you get super huge kudos! Serious, my mother teaches preschool and her number one complaint is that the children have little or no discipline because the parents never ever follow through with their rules/punishments. My mother would hug you :)

As for dealing with this with my kids... sort of. See, my 'kids' are 1100 lb horses... That said, you DO have to say what you mean with them. Meaning that if you ask them to, say, walk into a stall and back out, then they had better walk into the stall and back out, no matter what it takes to accomplish the task. Otherwise, a horse (like a child) will learn in 1.5 seconds that they can buffalo you and do whatever they want.

Now, when I was a kid... um... my mom deserves to be nominated for Sainthood. She had identical twin girls, and we were so fraking stubborn. I've sat for 4 hours at the dining room table doing nothing but daydreaming. Mom could take EVERYTHING, or promise ANYTHING, and we just sat there. I don't remember ever having devil moments like this, but there were hours of lost time butting heads...

Rena Jones said...

OMG -- this would make an excellent picture book. Parents all over the world would be fighting to buy copies. I've had my kids be stubborn, but not to this extent. Then again, those 3-years can be real doozies and very trying.

It sounds like you need a drink. Or maybe some chocolate. Or maybe a chocolate-flavored drink! I don't know how you kept your cool for so long. I would have skipped the Grinch all together and turned into Mommy Dearest herself.


Al said...

Wow. First of all this is nothing to do with you, this is your son trying to exert some control over the world.
This sounds so much like my middle daughter.She had an amazing capacity to keep escalating a conflict. We came to recognise that the only response was to set an appropriate punishment and send her to her room. Any attempt to get her to see sense when she was in that mindset was a waste of time. It was the argument that she wanted. We were the only ones who ended up upset in that situation. The only solution we found was to starve the conflict by not playing her game.

And I entirely sympathise with the "what kind of parent must I be" emotion, I must have felt that every time she decided to draw a battle line.
This stuff is so hard, so all the best with it.

Jemi Fraser said...

I feel for you - been there and done that. My daughter had a huge stubborn streak and could hold out forever too. It was exhausting!!!!!!!! And it only seemed to happen when I wasn't feeling well too. It does get better. In fact my daughter stopped those kinds of fusses around age 4 or so. GOOD LUCK!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are my new hero, Shelli. I'm impressed. You did what you had to do and your son knows you mean what you say. Job well done!! :-)

Melissa Gill said...

This sounds exactly like the kind of conflicts my sister and her son have. I can totally feel for you, because she calls me saying the same things. She acts like she's a terrible mother because she puts her foot down and stays firm with him. I tell her:

If you were a bad parent you wouldn't have even expected him to say Thank you, share, or anything. Or you would have told him to say Thank you and then blown it off when he refused. The fact that you didn't back down, that you held out to the bitter end, even though it was harder on you than it was on him shows that you are a stellar parent.

My sister keeps a special stash of chocolate just for these occasions. It's a critical element for coping.

I applaud you and all the parents out there who remain firm in their expectations for their kids. I'm 110% sure I could never have done it.

Unknown said...

Wow. I'm not a parent yet, so I have no room to talk, but--in my humble opinion--you were incredible. I mean, your kid's got some serious stamina, as well, but I think a lot of people would've buckled! And I think it's a seriously GOOD THING that you showed him how serious you were. I'm sure you had one heck of a stressful day, but you did the best thing you could've for your son. I think even Supernanny would approve. :)

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh my goodness, Shelli ... you did GOOD! Especially considering you weren't feeling so well and it went on for SO long! YOWZA! I had to chuckle when you mentioned tripping over toys, etc. My hubby and I have cleared out our youngest's (our daughter) entire room ... full toy boxes, books, etc. - just like you - and had to trip over the enormous pile of stuff in our room for days after it! I can relate! :-) Loved this post ... you deserve LOTS of chocolate and a very calm, happy Christmas! :-)

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

You poor thing!!! I think you did the right thing, for what my safely-distant opinion is worth. Hugs to you, and may the next week go smoothly.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I don't have a child, however a friend of mine told me a story about her daughter.

This little eight-year-old kept telling her mother 'FIne" about everything, and did what she wanted. Her mother, completely over this attitude says 'if you say fine, one more time, you will have to give me a quarter out of your piggy bank.

Her daughter looked quizzically at her. "Fine, she said and stormed off to her room.

A moment later she came back with the piggy. Opened it up and spread all the quarter out then, piled them in rows. Taking a few in her hand, she looks at her mother and says "Fine." and handed her mother a quarter. She did this for over an hour. Gave her mother another quarter, said "Fine," put the remaining quarters back and went to her room.

My poor friend hadn't a clue on what to do next. So you are not alone. Raising children is not easy, One has to remember there little creatures are people with there own minds, likes, and dislikes.

You mentioned your son is a taurus. Stubborn is their middle name, ESPECIALLY when they are young and don't know it's wrong. I was a little taurus devil when I was a kid. When I acted like that I craved attention and love. Little taurus boys love to be loved. Hugged, kissed, and made a fuss over. Of course, what he did was totally inappropriate and you had every right to discipline. Sending in his sister was the best thing, Actually she should have asked him why he didn't want to share with her? I might have cut the problem at the knees. I'm no expert. It's just my insight.

I am sorry you had to go through all that. Just to let you know.... Your taurus son, in later life will be a huge joy to you. He will keep is family close to him and he will always adore you and his sister.


storyqueen said...

Oh Shelli!

What a story! I would not have wanted to be in your shoes...but you did well. Every mother has been there, in one way or another...

Happy Christmas, you little grinch!


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Pretty awesome parenting, seems to me. By the way, I remember reading that 4 years old are WAY more difficult than the supposedly difficult twos. Four and five, with my son, were exhausting. But you set the groundwork for him and you made his world a little safer because it's now predictable: when Mommy says something, Mommy follows thru. Way to go!

Megan Miranda said...

Oh, Shelli, you are not alone! Today my 2-yr-old was furious that "them won't let me rip the presents!" Because, um, hello, they're not for him. So he repeatedly knocked over stacks of presents and refused to apologize.
Luckily, I can still bribe him with juice. Yes, juice. Woe the day when the juice trick fails (oh, and for the record, I am obviously not above bribing).
Oh well, I wasn't in the running for mom of the year anyway...

Shari said...

You are so not alone. And I think you do qualify for mother of the year. I hope you could taste the chocolate from the emotional eating.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wow. Just wow. I don't know how you held out, but you get a ton of gold stars. That was one tough day, and you aced it.

Jess of All Trades said...

...is he a Taurus? :D

MJ said...

By the way, my mother used to use one of us as middlemen with the other - it's a terribly dysfunctional way to communicate with the child who really needs the communication most. As an adult, once I learned that this was what was being done, I finally had to tell mom, "No, you need to handle this yourself." - I'm so glad I did!

Kass said...

This is a great story. None of us knows how to parent. It does become a contest of wills and I think that's what we teach them. How do we teach gratitude without at the same time teaching insincerity? Can you force someone to be grateful?

I made tons of mistakes with my kids and they still turned out pretty decent. Love is the big equalizer.

MJ said...

Ooops - looks like my entire previous post was trashed. Highlights:

Kudos for sticking with it - I had a similar event with my daughter that lasted *three days*

Having your daughter settle it: terribly bad idea. Leads to a pattern of making her responsible for his actions, of allowing him to hold the family hostage to his whims, of belittling you as the mother, shortchanges you in learning how to handle things, and eliminates the communication that neeeeds to be going on between *you* and your son, not her.

Now is the time of his life for *you* to never, ever lose a battle. Not one. Not ever.

It was never about the Thank You's or the battle of the wills - it is about you teaching him to be a responsible, normal, like-able human being.

You can do this!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

excellent point Marna - I totally agree. I have never done that before. Since she asked - I think it is good for siblings to be able to talk to each other so I didnt stop her.

But you are so right! Thanks!

Unknown said...

Awesome story. I have a 3.5 year old and have never experienced anythig to that extreme. I'm certain a similar scenario is coming for me soon.

I did want to say that I admire your courage under fire to stick to your guns though. And you're right... once you threaten it, you have to make good.

I LMAO when you said the bit about him coming out and handingyou toys "Mommy, you can have this one."
I nearly had tears in my eyes on that one.

Merry Christmas!

Little Ms J said...

As I read this I was hoping he wasn't a Taurus. My little girl will be a Taurus and all I've heard is that they are the most stubborn, bull-headed little punks when they make their mind up about something. My sister is a Taurus and she could be a hellion. We have our work cut out for us.

Adam Heine said...

I think you did the right thing, Shelli. We once had a girl with RAD (Radical Attachment Disorder -- essentially uber-defiance wrapped in an inability to accept love), and what you described was every one of our days. Sticking to your guns was smart.

The only thing you can do is try to let it be their problem. It's hard (I know!), but once they're in their room and paying, just let them pay while you pamper yourself. (If he's sneaking toys back in, that's really hard, but you can take steps to defend against that sort of thing). Watch a movie, eat whatever you want, treat their punishment like a break for you.

Last thing: his willpower is a good thing, potentially. It just needs to be directed at the right things. If you stay strong, it WILL get better.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

Oh. My. Hell. Lol! I'm sorry but I could not stop laughing! I thought my kids were strong willed but this goes way beyond anything I've every experienced. Sorry that I can't comfort you that way, but I have to say kudos to you for not caving. Seriously, I think that was the best thing you could have done. And well, maybe you're son will grow to be a super motivated, determined kind of person and this is actually a good thing.

Jennie Englund said...

Well, points for honesty!!!

And, I think you did GREAT! It sure isn't easy, but you followed through. Your clever little boy just wanted to see where the line was. And he did!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Oh, Shelli -- never doubt the will of a child! If it's any comfort, having a mind of his own will be a good thing when he's older. Really :)

Hope the rest of your holidays went more smoothly!

Kristi Valiant said...

Oh, Shelli, you're my hero. My little one is just about to turn a year old, so I'm pulling loads of wisdom from you!

C.R. Evers said...

(((((you poor thing)))))) I've had to deal with some terrible melt downs too, so I can relate.

Good for you for sticking to your guns, and how wonderful that your daughter was able to help. It's true when they say that it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes they respond to different people in different ways for different things.

And for the record, I have no idea why the "terrible 2's" have such a bad wrap. In all of my children, I've found that the 3's are far worse!

more ((((hugs))))