What a day this has been!

This has been a very, very long day.  The morning was the usual stuff:  swim meets, shopping, house cleaning, choral concerts, but the afternoon was a doozy.

I had my son’s birthday party this afternoon, and had invited only the neighborhood boys, who are a very nice, albeit somewhat rambunctious crew.  During the day, however, my son ran into another boy he knows and, in front of the boy and the boy’s father, asked to invite him.  Even though I know that the boy is a very difficult child, I didn’t see any possible answer other than yes.  In retrospect, “no” would have been a smarter answer, even at the risk of offending someone I had no wish to offend.

The boy’s dad dropped him off at the party and announced that he would pick him up an hour later than I had said the party would end.  I didn’t think too much of that, since parents often leave their kids with me while they run errands, and the kids just play together.  I have to say, though, the 2.5 hours this boy spent at my house were some of the longest of my life!

This boy “accidentally” (a) almost drowned one kid; (b) stomped on another kid’s back; and (c) hit a third kid with a pole.  I spent the entire party hollering at him “Kid!  Stop that.”  “Don’t throw that.”  “You may not jump on people.”  I also put him on several time-outs, to which he submitted meekly enough, although they didn’t deter him at all from engaging in the next round of bad behavior.

Halfway through the party, one of the neighborhood boys, as nice a kid as any of them, came up to me and said, “He’s a bad boy, isn’t he?”  I subsequently learned from the neighborhood parents that all of the boys went home with stories about this kid.

He’s certainly a very troubled boy, and I suspect that the trouble lies with a fractured family life and with parents who, while they truly love him, are too busy with their own lives to give him the minimal attention he needs.  So he gets lots and lots of attention by being all impulse and no control — something irritating but endearing in a 2 year old (’cause you know he’ll grow out of it and his scope is limited), and just awful in a 9 year old.

Needless to say, I’m quite tired.  It would have been an exhausting enough day under any circumstances, but having to police Dennis the Menace, while playing lifeguard for 11 children and managing a party was a bit more than I’d intended to take on!

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  • Mike Devx

    I don’t know if it would be worth it, but perhaps you could a phone call to the parent(s) describing the unfortunate incidents. Their reaction alone would tell you a lot! They *ought* to bring him over to your house to issue an apology to you.

    And if they didn’t offer to bring him over for an in-person apology, it might be worth mentioning at the end of your phone call, something like, “Well, it will be very difficult for me to allow him back into my home or yard unless I get an apology from him and some kind of assurance from him that he won’t behave this way again.”

    For one thing, this frees you up to say “no” next time, with absolutely no worries about discomfort or offense. The ball would be in their court.

  • Al

    Hi BW.
    Sorry your day was so hard. I agree with Mike. You should discuss the behavior with his parents. You would want to know if your son behaved in such a manner. Fractured families do increase aberant behavior in their kids, but it sounds like this poor laddie needs a neuro-developmental specialist.
    Happy birthday to your little one.
    Al

  • suek

    I wouldn’t discuss the behavior with the boy’s parents – don’t you think they know? I’d discuss his behavior with my son, though. I think I’d want to know if he had any idea about what kind of behavior to expect – and if he did, why he invited him. Maybe he’s just a good soul, or maybe he feels sorry for him…I don’t know – maybe he had no idea. I’d also want to know what my son thought about having such a person in his home again – maybe you handled the situation so well, that he didn’t really notice…he should know how unpleasant it was for you, and that you had looked forward to the party as well. What would your son do next time?

    I’m amazed the the number of children who aren’t “raised” …they are just provided for as they grow up. Does anybody ever watch “SuperNanny”? We do occasionally…absolutely amazing. I don’t know how people live with some of the children they have on the show. Part of the problem, I think, is that people have small families, young women – and men – have absolutely no experience handling children, and when they have children of their own, they have no idea how to deal with them. Then, if both parents work, it’s almost like having a rent-a-kid…2-3 hours a day…like babysitting and having no basic responsibility. Kids need _parents_!

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    I have to agree with Suek — the parents hear a lot about this boy through the youth organization in which he and my son are both involved. Anything I say will be redundant of something they’ve already heard. As to the use they put that information, either the boy is so difficult they can’t change his behavior, or they are so ineffective they can’t change their behavior.

    About half a year ago, I did a post about the difficult kids whose parents excuse away all of their bad behavior. Often, physicians oblige by given the kid a diagnosis — usually Asberger’s — but those who see the parents and kids in action see another diagnosis: parents afraid of disciplining their child.

    Often, there’s some trauma in the child’s life, such as divorce or a parent’s run-ins with the law, so that the parents are afraid to make the child’s life even more difficult. It doesn’t seem to occur to these parents that it makes matters even worse to add to this chaos a lack of structure and discipline, especially as the child’s worsening behavior eventually turns him into a social outcast. That’s what I suspect I’m seeing with this boy, who manifestly has within him the capacity to be good and kind and responsible — but who doesn’t seem to have too much incentive to break away from the negative, attention-getting behaviors.

  • suek

    >>who doesn’t seem to have too much incentive to break away from the negative, attention-getting behaviors.>>

    Which takes us back to the Albatross award, and Helen’s point.

    Sad.

  • Ymarsakar

    I spent the entire party hollering at him “Kid! Stop that.” “Don’t throw that.” “You may not jump on people.”

    Why can’t you beat the hell out of him and immerse him in water until he almost goes unconscious? That kind of discipline works and even if youcan’t maintain it cause you’re not his parent, I promise you that he will certainly remember almost being drown himself.

    I certainly do and it taught me many things that have been useful to me and probably will still be useful to me for the rest of my life.

    If you can’t control yourself, then all you are is some bag of meat in the water, which is in itself composed of mostly water and plasm. That’s a lesson every boy needs to learn, one way or another.

    The vanilla icing, though, is the rewards for self-discipline. You can punish someone all you want because they want to act out and be chaotic, but the lesson will never take unless they themselves realize that it is simply more rewarding and more attention getting to be disciplined. Otherwise, they are just like every other child, and that’s something these kinds of people really dislike being. They wouldn’t act out, after all, if they just wanted to conform.

    I also put him on several time-outs, to which he submitted meekly enough, although they didn’t deter him at all from engaging in the next round of bad behavior.

    That’s cause being given a time out is a reward for him, since otherwise he might get ignored and be thought of as a clone copy, of no consideration or worth.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Y, what you say is true, as a practical matter. In actual fact, though, in my neck of the woods, you can’t even do that stuff to a dog without getting arrested. Doing it to someone else’s child would see me as a resident of San Quentin, an institution I currently see only from the outside when I stand in my yard.

  • Ymarsakar

    That’s too bad, for a child without such experiences, from any source, will mostly grow up to be a violent knife and gun assailant or one of the sheep that becomes the victim of a violent knife and gun assailant.

    Hopefully they self-destruct and suicide before they take others with them, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

  • Ymarsakar

    They still got hope for themselves if they can do things like this.

    A spate of knife attacks also have occurred in schools, the worst on June 8, 2001 when a man with a history of mental illness burst into elementary school near Osaka killing eight children. He was executed in 2004.

    It’s not the severity of the punishment that deters, but the certainty of it. That means immediacy for those that wonder. Where there is life, there is hope. And where there is hope of a stayed execution or complications, then there is no certainty in one’s punishment. And there is also no certainty in punishment for others considering doing the crime.