Posted by: Tricia | Sunday, June 10, 2007

"I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, ya know!"

I don’t think I’m gonna be getting a lot of sleep tonight. The RK has his friend over spending the night, and he’s giving me a hell of a time going to bed.

The RK was over at this friend’s house a couple of weeks ago, and he called me asking if he could spend the night. Friend’s mom said they were having so much fun, she just couldn’t break it up, and it’s totally fine with her if RK stays over. The next morning, he gets home and goes right to sleep on the couch. He said that he didn’t get any sleep; that Friend got up in the middle of the night, turned on the TV, and started watching ‘Adult Swim’ on Cartoon Network. Nice. It’s called ‘Adult Swim’ for a reason, and I’m so glad that my boy isn’t easily phased by freaky stuff like what he told me he saw on there. But I was rather irritated that he had gone all night without sleep.

So tonight I’m paying back the favor. This kid is nice enough, but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. My first clue into his mischievous ways is that he has a habit of saying “Trust me” all the time.

Yeah, right.

Lesson #1: Never trust an 8-year-old kid who says ‘Trust me’ all the time.

Earlier in the evening, I made it be known that I was setting a 10:30 bedtime. A few minutes later, in comes Friend saying he’s usually not tired until around 12:00. I respond by saying that if he’s going to spend the night in my house, he must follow my rules.

10:30 comes around, the boys are already in their jammies and have brushed their teeth. They’re climbing into the fold-out bed in the loft, when Friend says he wants to sleep with the light on. I tell him I’ll move RK’s nightlight from his room to out there where they are, and I also let him know about the nightlight in the hallway not too far away. He says it’s ok.

Within 10 minutes, he comes downstairs, asking what time I’m gonna drop him off at his house tomorrow. He has a baseball game, and he’s not sure what time it’s at. So I tell him I’ll give his mom a call in the morning to find out.

Then he asks if he can use my downstairs bathroom. I tell him he can use the RK’s bathroom upstairs. But he really has to go NOW. OK fine, whatever. He uses the bathroom down here, and goes back upstairs.

Maybe a minute later, yes, a piddly sixty seconds, he comes back down with this line: “Umm….Mrs. IH? RK asked me to come down to tell you that he’d really like to watch some Disney Channel.”

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME????

This is such a ridiculous lie on so many levels. First of all, RK doesn’t ever watch the Disney Channel. Second, he’d have absolutely no problem coming down and asking me himself. Third, he knows better. He follows my rules, with only rare disagreements, and even rarer breakage of said rules. So I told Friend flat-out that I know RK didn’t ask him to do that. He tried to back-track a little bit, but I held firm. I told him that I know I’m probably a bit of a bummer, and that if he keeps this up, he won’t get to spend the night over here anymore. (I don’t think that’s going to happen again, anyway.)

OK…had to run interference again…as I was saying…

He heads back upstairs, and I can hear all kinds of whispering, bed creaks, etc. This really isn’t a big deal to me…pretty normal. The noise level starts to escalate, and from time to time I give a shout up the stairs to knock it off. Finally, it starts to get quiet. It turns out RK had gone into his room, undoubtedly because Friend wouldn’t leave him alone.

And here’s where my blogging got interrupted.

Friend comes downstairs, saying he’s scared, that he shares a room with his brother at home, and he doesn’t like sleeping alone. He says the house is making weird noises. He says that RK wouldn’t leave him alone. Again…saw right through that last one. So I go upstairs and talk to the RK, and ask him if he’ll give sleeping out in the loft one more shot. He maturely agrees, and I state my case to the two of them that if they won’t let each other go to sleep, I will let RK go back into his room, and I’ll be giving Friend’s mom a call to come pick him up. Friend kept trying to get me to let him turn on the TV, saying that his mom always lets him fall asleep with the TV on, and then comes and turns it off after he’s fallen asleep.

“Well, that’s not how we go to sleep in this house…sorry.”

Now a few months back, another mom in the neighborhood hosted a bit of a slumber party for her son, RK, Friend, and another boy the same age that also lives here in the sub. She dropped the RK off the next morning, and said the last thing she heard from the boys was somewhere around 2:00 AM. And she seemed to be OK with that, like it wasn’t a big surprise, or even a big deal. It wasn’t a big deal for me then…it was a special event for RK, and one night of little to no sleep isn’t gonna kill him.

So am I being just a big stick in the mud here? I guess I’m being such a nazi on the no TV thing because of what the RK described to me that Friend was watching that night he spent at his house. And just the fact that Friend isn’t above telling blatant lies to me makes me not trust him or hold him to any sort of an honor system. I am absolutely not OK with kids under my supervision getting up in the middle of the night to watch God-knows-what without my knowledge.

I thought I was being quite lenient and generous in giving them a 10:30 bedtime. Plus, I already had an idea that it wasn’t going to be easy to get them to go to sleep, and hopefully they’d finally be out by midnight. I want RK to have lots of friends, and I want them to feel welcome and comfortable in my home. But this kind of behavior will not fly with me. And frankly, I think the RK is on my side. He wanted to go to sleep, too. He’d gone back to his own bed, after all.

Yup, I run a tight ship. And I know that’s why I have such a well-rounded, well-behaved child. I’m really quite curious now about what life in Friend’s house is like. And I feel quite sorry for him. He obviously doesn’t have nearly enough boundaries being set for him, and I can totally see him heading down some very dark and dangerous path when he gets older. And while I’m not going to forbid the RK from playing with him, their relationship is definitely going to be used as a teaching tool. Hopefully the RK will have enough self-respect and self-confidence that he just won’t want to hang around someone who doesn’t make very good choices in life.

I grilled hamburgers for the three of us for dinner tonight, and while we were eating, I learned that Friend’s mom & dad have been divorced since he was about 2. That tells me so much right there. He said the last time he saw his dad was when he was four. His mom has remarried, and Friend has three younger siblings. I’m not sure how many of them are full-blood and how many are half. But I have a feeling the reason he is lacking enough boundaries is a result of those circumstances. And I’m learning so much from this. It’s definitely a lesson in what not to do when it comes to helping my family adjust to life after divorce.

Oh man, I can’t believe this point in parenthood is almost here. Peer pressure. THE talk. Now’s when I really start praying over that boy, that his heart and mind are protected from the temptations that will undoubtedly come knocking. While everyone has made some less than desirable choices in their youths, so many of us still somehow manage to come out OK in the end. But so many don’t. How do I go about making sure that my child will be in the former category? I treasure my still close relationship with him, and I hope that as he hits those awful teenage years, he doesn’t alienate me like so many kids do to their parents. And I hope that I’m able to equip him with what he needs to at least keep the high road in sight, so he can ultimately find his way back to it.

I’m gonna go check on them and see if they’re asleep, then maybe I’ll try heading to bed myself. I’m definitely exhausted now.

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Responses

  1. I know you are probably not up for this, but if you blog and put it out there, prepare to get feedback.
    I stumbled upon your blog by accident and began reading your post with interest; I’m a single parent of a boy. I thought I’d find some commonality. I just want to comment that I think you’re being very judgemental when you find out that this Friend’s parents have been divorced since he was two.You begin making all sorts of assumptions about this kid’s future because of what you heard.
    I know you’re mad that your son went to this kid’s house and was exposed to some bad TV, but it sounds to me like you have control issues. If you raised your son so well, you shouldn’t be angry at all. He should be able to distinguish right from wrong, right? And one could question why your son is into hanging out with this boy. Doesn’t like attract like?
    Or is it, that as parents we all try our absolute best and although we may not agree on other parenting styles, we should still respect the other person and their child.
    I just felt like you were attacking any parent (me included) who isn’t super rigid on rules and who is divorced.
    Are you the better mom because you’re getting a divorce when your son’s nine?
    I just hear so many women ripping on each other and this just touched a nerve.

  2. Hey…thanks for taking the time to throw out your two cents. It has given me some food for thought, but I think you did just as you are accusing me of…making snap judgments.

    First of all, I absolutely am not judging his parents over the fact that they are divorced. I have no right to, given the fact that my boys and I are now going through it as well. I just think it might possibly offer up an explanation for Friend’s less-than-desirable behavior. Divorce is such an unbelievably difficult and heart-wrenching thing to go through for all those involved, especially the children. And let’s face it – so many parents often try to make up for it in not-so-healthy ways. The only judgment I have made is to guess that this might be the case for Friend and his family. (And it’s just that – a guess.) I am not making a judgment about his future just because of his past…I’m making this judgment based on the fact that he demonstrates to me that his current life at home appears to lack some rather important boundaries. He showed me very little respect by trying to be so deceptive and argumentative, and I sincerely doubt that I’m the only adult around which he behaves this way. I do respect Friend, and his parents, and when I made the comment about it probably not happening that he’ll spend the night over here again, I didn’t mean because I would forbid it; I meant that Friend probably wouldn’t want to, given my drill sargeant style of supervising sleepovers at my house.

    Second, I am not ‘mad’ that RK was exposed to ‘bad TV.’ I never said I was mad about that. I believe my exact words were “…I’m so glad that my boy isn’t easily phased by freaky stuff like what he told me he saw on there. But I was rather irritated that he had gone all night without sleep.” The only thing that truly bothered me about that particular incident is that Friend prevented RK from sleeping by turning on the TV.

    Thirdly…we live in a brand new neighborhood. We were one of the first families to move into the sub, and Friend and his family came in a few months later. So all these friendships that my son has are still very new, and they’re all still feeling out the different and unique personalities. Generally, he doesn’t spend most of his time with Friend; he has already made some closer friendships with other boys who have moved into the neighborhood as well. And I really took offense to you suggesting that just because RK has formed a frienship with a kid who might not be the most well-behaved, then he must be the same way. That really was a big-time snap judgment on your part.

    I am trying very hard to set rules that are rigid for the sake of my son, but I don’t overly-shelter him or try to isolate him from all that is bad in the world. Because when he grows up, that would only put him at a severe disadvantage. As he matures, he is going to come across some people I’d rather he not hang around, and unless I keep him completely isolated, there’s nothing I can do about it. My goal is to instill in him a strong sense of self-respect and confidence that he will ultimately decide on his own that he’d rather not spend his time with such people.

    Parenting is a delicate balance. And while there are many other areas in which I am severely lacking all the answers when it comes to RK and how to do what’s best for him, I am pretty confident in my stance regarding his overall behavior and social skills. But let me also say that I do not think of myself as perfect, and I’m always willing to consider viewpoints currently different from my own. I’m learning everyday, and hopefully improving as well.

    Please understand I’m not trying to ‘rip’ on anyone or their parenting styles. This blog is for me to state my particular beliefs and methods of how I want to parent my boys, and I absolutely have no intention of criticizing or judging other parenting styles, yours included. Again, I do appreciate you feeling free to offer up your thoughts on my post. I hope you’ll stick around, and even though we may disagree, I don’t mind if you continue to comment on my posts, either.

  3. Gee, Anonymous seems awful sensitive like you struck a nerve close to home. Your not judgmental in my opinion, your insightful. I raised a couple of kids so ain’t a virgin when it comes to parenting. Oldest is a sheriff and has done two tours in Iraq. “Friend” is a manipulative kid who has learned how and is used to getting his way. Rules are the foundation of life and learning to understand and obey them is the key to having a good one.
    Oh, thanks for the link to my blog. Just followed a thread to find yours. Your doin well from what I can see. Hang in there.


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