Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Choices, choices, choices.

We make hundreds of them every day.  Possibly even thousands.  The thing is most of them are tiny, like what socks to wear, which pen to use, how many gallons of milk to buy at the store and so on.  These choices really don't have much of an impact on our lives. 

Other choices do impact our life.  Some of these choices are ones that a mom can't fix.  My goal is to have the kids making good choices here at home so that when they don't have the parent safety net they continue to make good choices.

Our dear little Spark is not a good choice maker.  Put a good ole serving of stubbornness on top of that and you can have disaster.  He will make himself miserable just to avoid doing something.  He reminds me of  a little kid who is always testing, testing, testing to find out where the boundaries are.  We have several things that we battle about but the following are the two biggest.

He is behind in math.  To motivate him to catch up we told him that he will not be playing any video games.  None.  Not even on the weekends.  This was back in September.  Do you think he will even try to catch up on his math?  No, we are going in the other direction.  He has make the choice almost every day to sit for two hours with his book and get one page done.  One page for him can mean ten problems.  Two hours!  I can not image being so stubborn that I would want to sit for two hours just to prove the point that I wasn't going to do it. Then when he decides to do it, he is done in five minutes.

Today we had a go round with his room.  It is bad, we can hardly get the door open and there is no way anyone can walk in there with stepping on stuff.  I have been telling him for the last few weeks, okay months, that he needs to clean his room or I am going in there with garbage bags and clean it all out.  When we cleaned it this summer it took us three full days to sort everything out and get back in order and I am not doing that again.  He made the choice to not only not clean his room but, in the last week or so, has dumped everything on the floor.    Out came the trash bags and it was all packed up.  Everything on the floor and what was stacked on his dresser went into the bags.  He howled, promising to pick it up.   It all went out to the garage.  He lost a lot of beloved Webkins, Legos, clothes, shoes, and lot of other good stuff. 

The next part is where I struggle as a parent.  I want to teach him that his actions, or lack of actions since he gets into trouble much more often for what he doesn't do compared  to what he does do, have consequences.  At the same time I am sad he doesn't get to play video games, partly because I like to play them with him.  I am also sad because now most of his possessions are gone. 

In the past I have shown him mercy so that he will hopefully learn to be merciful to others.  It only taught him that I don't follow through on what I say.  Not exactly what I was going for.   At age 10, and heading into the teen years, this type of mentality is not going be productive for either of us to come out on the other side of 18 and still be standing.

We have stood firm on the video game playing, but what to do about the tennis shoes, clothes, snow pants and so on.  He has offered to buy them back but I told him I don't want money, I want his room clean so he can find his things when he needs them and because a messy room gets dirty and invites unwelcome guests such as bugs or mold from wet towels.  I also don't want him to get the idea that he can buy his way out of a problem.  You can buy your way out of traffic tickets but it isn't a good idea to get them in the first place. 

What to do, what to do?  I hope someday we look back and laugh at this when he is a contributing member of society.

1 comment:

jugglingpaynes said...

If it is of any help, what I do with the rooms is to tell them to clean one section at a time, rather than the whole room. I am thrilled, for example, if my son gets his desk clear, or the floor clear.

I've also tried to impress upon them that if they don't make choices, the choice will eventually be taken from them. That work of art will become dirty, crumpled and torn if they leave it on the table. That toy might get lost or broken if it is left on the floor. It's a slow process, but eventually they learn to take responsibility.

As a former stubborn child, I know I put my parents through the wringer, but that stubbornness has served me well in adulthood. I don't fold easily under pressure and when I set my mind to do something, I usually get it done. :o)
Happy Thanksgiving!
Peace and Laughter!