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LJ Idol Season 9 - Week 19: Kindling

A Day In The Life

Perhaps I shouldn’t have procrastinated writing an entry.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have given in to the FOUR DAYS of fighting with my son – who I could refer to at this exact moment with several nasty, uncomplimentary, hateful adjectives that no parent should think to call their child – to clean his fucking bedroom before it qualifies for an episode of Hoarders.

Kindling.  The concept is perfect to develop the next episode in the serial I’ve been writing about Mara and Jalon.  But it’s too perfect.  It would be trite and clichéd, predictable even.  I could come up with something, but I’m not feeling it.

The recesses of my brain keep singing the chorus of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, and while it seems quite apropos, I can’t bring myself to write about current political events and weather possible drama and comments of differing opinion.  I don’t have it in me.

That fucking bedroom.

Fucking mental illness.

That’s what it always comes back to.  I start out with a calm request, “Oh, by the way, you need to get your room cleaned today.”  Suggest methods to make it easier, “Just get around your bed and the TV stand today.  You can work on other parts tomorrow.”

By day three, with absolutely no response, the request becomes more impassioned.  “You HAVE to clean that room today.  It’s a pigsty.”  Day four brings the threat of consequences, “If your room isn’t cleaned by the time I get home from work this evening, I’m taking away your TV.”

All this is laid in anticipation and with fervent hope of NOT starting a conflagration.  It never works.  It is kindling, no matter how hard I try to avoid the outcome.  It is exhausting.  He plays with his phone, it is taken away.  He hollers, screams, and tells me that he’s not going to do anything until he gets his television back.  I tell him it doesn’t work that way.  He doesn’t get to make demands of me.  I am the parent, he is the child.  He bangs his head against the wall, throws more trash and junk on the floor, tears papers and drops them; all the while looking at me like it will hurt me.  Next come the swear words and name calling – words that no child should call their parent, let alone say in front of them.

Tempers are both extremely high at this point.  He gets a drink.  He goes to the bathroom.  He tries to get a snack.  He smokes a cigarette.  He flashes white suburbia gang signs and pretends he's smoking a joint - trying to push my buttons.  He puts a plastic bag on his head, puts his finger to his temple mimicking a gun, and tries to choke himself with his own hands; thus letting me know that death would be better than cleaning his room.

Then comes realization that his behavior is only making things worse and his half-hearted, seemingly insincere attempts at apologizing still contain the ultimate outcome of not cleaning his room.  The bi-polar switches come so fast I know he didn’t take his medication today.  He denies it, but later admits it.  He’s coming down, calmer, resigned, working on the room.  I’m still at Defcon 5.  He tries to joke, it doesn’t fly.  I’m not ready.

It takes him two hours, and constant re-direction, to finish.  He's calm, I'm calm.  The flames have been doused before the entire house explodes in fiery ball of rage and hatred...until next week.

This is my entry for therealljidol Season 9, Week 19.  Something a little different this week: my attempt at a meta that has morphed into a non-fiction piece, completely inspired by the events of my evening.  Not pretty, but reality seldom is.  There are other entries here, if you would like to read them.  Concrit is welcome, as long as it addresses my writing, not my parenting.

Comments

( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
bellemistoire
Aug. 26th, 2014 07:27 am (UTC)
Good mom!
tatdatcm
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)
halfshellvenus
Aug. 26th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, gosh. This is a really challenging situation-- so much harder than most of us will ever have to know.

Your firmness in dealing with him, and with recognizing the signs that he hasn't taken his meds, were so key to resolving this. I'm just sorry it isn't easier. :(
tatdatcm
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:10 pm (UTC)
It's a definite challenge and it makes hopes and dreams for him different than they would be for another child. I wish it was easier sometimes.

Thanks. :)
lauriempress
Aug. 27th, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)
*hug* I think you did fine on both fronts (writing and parenting).
tatdatcm
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you. *hug* :)
reckless_blues
Aug. 27th, 2014 07:48 am (UTC)
Damn. I wouldn't know how to handle that. It sounds exhausting. It's good that you're parenting him and not just throwing him to the dogs.
tatdatcm
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:11 pm (UTC)
It is exhausting, and this is only a small part of what we go through day to day. I'm trying, because I know there are others who would have thrown him away.

Thanks. :)
bleodswean
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:43 pm (UTC)
You've really conveyed the exhaustion and challenge of parenting a high-needs child.
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
i_17bingo
Aug. 27th, 2014 06:18 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of on the opposite side of this (not quite as extreme, though), and whenever I come down--I think of it as sobering up--I feel terrible.

Though, have you considered tossing a grenade into his room and closing the door?
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
I try to see his side, but often am so consumed by my own that it is difficult.

A grenade may improve the situation. Thanks for the laugh. :)
rayaso
Aug. 27th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
This must be difficult beyond my understanding. You seem to have developed some really good strategies for dealing with these episodes, and I admire your firmness.
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
It doesn't always seem like they're good strategies, but thank you. :)
uncawes
Aug. 27th, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
I'd laugh at this if it weren't so close to home. None of my kids have ever been any use at cleaning their rooms. Well, the 23 year old does now - mostly cos she's finally looking to move into her own place.
If it makes you feel any better, you're not the only parent who fights this battle on a regular basis
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:10 pm (UTC)
My older kids are terrible at it also, but usually, when I would ask them to clean it up, they would. He puts up such a fight.
jem0000000
Aug. 28th, 2014 05:46 am (UTC)
*hugs*
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you. *hugs back*
jem0000000
Sep. 3rd, 2014 04:52 am (UTC)
You're welcome.
eternal_ot
Aug. 29th, 2014 09:52 am (UTC)
Whoa! that was some explosive situation and kudos to you for handling it well..*hugs*..pretty difficult, I know ,but you are doing great. Good work and nice use of the prompt..:)
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
whipchick
Aug. 29th, 2014 12:30 pm (UTC)
This is really honest and moving. I was a hard-to-parent child, and it sounds like both sides of this are absolutely draining.
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC)
I have so much hope for his future when I hear other peoples stories of success despite their difficulties growing up. Thank you for sharing that tidbit with me. :)
adoptedwriter
Aug. 29th, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
How old is he? This is so hard. My kid isn't bi-polar, but she has a hot temper. A real hot temper. Even when "we didn't start the fire", they somehow think we did. I feel for ya. Hugs.
AW

PS: love that song!
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
He'll be 17 tomorrow. :) The temper is a concern too. Especially as he's bigger than I am now and he does think I "start the fire". It irks me to no end when he tells me to "chill".

Thanks! *hugs*
karmasoup
Aug. 30th, 2014 04:04 am (UTC)
My heart goes out to you. I'm glad you stuck to your guns. I'm sorry it took so long, that you have to work so hard at it, and that it's so draining.
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
It wouldn't be bad if it was a once in a while thing, or once a month, but it is every week and that's what is draining.

Thank you. :)
fodschwazzle
Aug. 31st, 2014 04:11 am (UTC)
As excruciating as this was for you, you share it so well. I am reaffirmed in my decision to not have children, so another plus. Your patience is enviable.

I loved the way your sentence lengths reflected the tension towards day 4. In the last sentence, we stretch out again, calm enough that some ellipses are usable, if only to punctuate the fact that it won't last forever. I enjoyed this quite a bit.
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the compliments. I wrote with a lot of emotion, so I'm glad it worked.
alycewilson
Sep. 1st, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
I am not looking forward to those sorts of arguments with KFP! At least, for now, I still have the option of physically picking him up and taking him where I want him to do something!
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
I so miss the age of being able to pick him up and take him where I needed him to be. :)

I wouldn't wish these battles on my worst enemy. Hopefully your battles with KFP won't be so difficult. :)
alycewilson
Sep. 3rd, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
Hopefully not. He tends to be a pretty helpful little guy, most of the time.
roina_arwen
Sep. 1st, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC)
It sounds like he spends far more time fighting you on it and delaying the inevitable than it actually takes to clean his room! Would some sort of chore list help him stay on track? Like on Monday, clean the area around the bed, on Tuesday clean the closet / pick up clothes... that sort of thing?
tatdatcm
Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC)
He does spend more time battling with any chore than it would take to get the darn thing done.

We've tried all sorts of charts, lists, pictures, rewards, revocation of privileges, etc. It always comes down to battle. At 17, I expect some internalization of the reward of a clean room (or completed chore) and it never seems to happen. I think that is in large part due to his mental illnesses. It's just difficult to remember that he can't always help it.
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )

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