On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who gets the punishment in the end?

Sissy is in her room, fuming. Or sleeping. One or the other. At least it's not screaming. We've had enough of her crocodile, two-year old tears for awhile, thanks very much.

Using our color system for behaviors, if Sissy gets bumped down a level from green to yellow (caution) then she is to do a journal entry about said behavior that got her to that level. I prompted her before lunch, "after lunch, if you want to move back to green, you'll need to do a journal entry." She said, "OK" and then it was time to make food.

Well, that was a hullabaloo. Ugh. She has to have the last word, she has to correct everything I say, she doesn't know when to shut her mouth. After FIVE attempts to therapeutically correct her (all while just making lunch so... in five minutes?) I raised the tenor of my voice to drive home the point. She squeezed her eyes tight and proceeded to produce an infantile cry and tears (and really, it sounds exactly the same as an infant crying for a bottle, it invokes the same maternal instinct to nurture and soothe only an 11 year old doesn't need a bottle so instead of oxytocin levels, it raises my adrenaline.)

I finally said, "I'm going to say it once more and then you're going to answer with only two words - 'yes' and 'ma'am'. If you cry over me so you can't hear me, I'll send you to timeout. Do not talk back. Do not correct mom. Do not get the last word. And now you say?"

Glaring eyes and a guttural tone, "YES MA'AM!"

I wash it away emotionally and return to a neutral tone, "please take your lunch to the table."

She said nothing while I prepared my meal, AB finished up and cleared his place (WG is at her Grandma's for the week so she has been spared this nonsense). I finally sat down and Sissy says, "Can babies drink soda?"

My turn to glare. "Sissy, don't ask a question you know the answer to."

"What? I don't know. Can they? What about toddlers?"

More glaring followed by ignoring.

"Well, can they? Can toddlers have soda?"

"What's the answer Sissy. You know."

"No. They can't."

"Don't ask questions you know the answer to."

"I didn't! I didn't know?"

More glaring from mom.


I took a deep breath and resumed my meal, not making eye contact and trying the ignore tactic the therapists are asking me to work on. Sissy muttered to her own lunch, "really. I didn't know. Why does everyone always pick on me? It's not fair. I didn't know. seriously."

I bit my lip and continued to ignore.

She started with the infantile whining again.

"fine sissy," I jumped in. "I'll just return the favor. All day I'm going to ask you questions I already know the answer to just to fill up the space."

"NO! That's not fair, that wouldn't be nice, that's mean!"

"So... it's not mean when you do it to me?"


I resumed eating and said to my lunch, "Do you have brown hair? Do you like the color pink? Do you sleep in a bed? Are you a girl?"


"It's not fun, is it?"

*more grunting*

"Do not fill up space with questions you know the answer to." Then I added as an aha afterthought, "Sissy, being corrected about a behavior doesn't mean my love stops. In fact, if I DON'T correct your behaviors, then I wouldn't be loving you."
I waited to make sure I had her attention. "I need you to stop having the last word, talking back and correcting me. You need to know that behavior needs to be corrected. I still love you when I correct you."

Then the air was clear in the room and we finished our lunches. All was well until it was post-lunch and time to write in the journal.

Rage fest.

I said, "fine. don't write in the journal. i don't care. I just can't change your color back to green until you do."

"FINE! I don't care if I'm on yellow!" she quipped back.

So I upped the ante, "Just know that if you're yellow for four shifts, I automatically change it to red and your privileges are revoked."

"WHAT!?!?! You can't do that! That's not fair!!!!"

"If you're going to scream at me, then you need to go to your room.

So currently she's fuming in her room (or sleeping to avoid), refusing to write in the journal. This after twenty minutes of infantile screaming. The Dad and I disagreed at first, he feels she should be forced to write in the journal. I argued that then WE get the punishment because it would turn into a day-long standoff rage fest, her way to prove us wrong all while she continued to get her way.

If I put the pressure back on her, then I'm not the one being punished. I haven't done anything wrong, which is the point. RADishes don't believe or can't or won't believe that they need to change something about themselves. It goes against their innate nature to survive at all cost. Today, it's costing Sissy a color change and tomorrow, it might cost her loss of privileges and a move to red. But one thing's for certain, I won't pay the cost anymore.


Integrity Singer said...
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Lisa said...

Wow, I get it. I feel like I am always the one being punished when I try to correct any of my son's behaviors. He just screams for hours in that same "I want my mommy" (he has even screamed this comment and I assure you, he did not mean me) kind of way. It's like a mantra, "give me, I need, I want, I have to have - NOW" over and over for hours. i can't stand it either. My son always has to have the last word, can't answer a yes or no question with one word and continues to HAVE to be right about everything (when in fact, he's rarely correct about anything - not being mean here, just stating the facts).

It is so exhausting for all of us and it seems like such a waste of time to me.

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

My daughter's behaviors aren't as extreme as yours, but MAN, everything you described here sounds like my daughter. So very similar! I'm so sorry you're dealing with all this!