Sunday, November 10, 2013

Would you like your answer loud or soft?

When we were little, and exasperating, my dad, instead of losing his temper or throwing up his hands (or pulling our his hair or our own), would say, "Would you like your answer loud or soft?"

So we'd giggle and choose.

If we said soft, he'd whisper, "No!" and then tiptoe away, all in a hush. More giggling..."LOUD!"

He'd roar in this big, pseudo-monster voice, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

And then we'd collapse with laughter and, I just realized, as I am typing away, that this was a very good way of distracting us with humor. (The apple doesn't fall that far from the tree, does it?) I don't remember ever nagging him for whatever we wanted after that.

I had to work again this weekend, and what sucks is that when I work on a Saturday, we don't take a day off during the previous or following week. Yes, I know, poor me, I'm not out digging ditches, but PEOPLE WEAR ME THE FUCK OUT, and when I have to put on an event on a Saturday, I haven't decompressed by Monday.

Anyhow. I thought I'd surprise the kiddo by calling him up and inviting him to come out to coffee with me. I thought that would be decompressing enough. (I can hear all of you parents of teenagers laughing.)

As soon as I call, he starts ranting and telling me he doesn't want to eat if he can't have exactly what he wants...he had thrown a tantrum with staff again because he couldn't have his way. So with any other kid you'd say, "Fine, don't eat," and then wait for them to cave. But with a teen who has eating disorders, who pulls this stunt often enough that I don't know how I have any hair left, that just won't fly.

I got into it with him on the phone (basically saying, "Go eat RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW! Or I won't take you anywhere!" And he did.) And unfortunately, I realized that I am going to have to be parental in some more ways because the carrot-stick method is the only thing that seems to work. Someone I know through work has a son the same age and she said, "It's not his right to have the phone. It's a privilege. And right now, he's not earning it."

So we had a meeting with his program person and agreed that if he throws tantrums like these, he loses phone privileges for a bit. He agreed to this but I still feel like a jerk. I'm trying to do this as a reward and a motivation, not a punishment, but it's a defacto punishment, isn't it?

Speaking of punishment, he thinks it's totally unfair that his group home supervisor has to meet his girlfriend's parents.

"Why?!" he asked. "That is sooooooo embarrassing!"

I replied, "They have to make sure she doesn't live in a crack house."

And apparently, life imitates sarcasm, because the program guy explained that in a previous home, they didn't have the "meet the parents" requirement. One day he inadvertently gave one of the teens in his charge a ride to a ... wait for it ... crack house!

The kid told him he was going to a friend's house. The supervisor said he'd come in with him and introduce himself. There were people milling around outside who were obviously completely out of their heads on drugs. A guy who was completely high answered the door: "You don't have to knock! Come in!" (They didn't.)

So the moral of the story is...every smart alec comment must have some basis in reality? If that's the case, I'm wiser than I thought.

19 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

My father had a short answer and a long one. Short answer? No. Long answer, No, and when you have finished (insert vile chore here) you can go to your room.
Short was so much sweeter.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I guess it has to be that "NO" means "NO!", with NO room for wiggling about....I like your fathers way, a lot!
It has to be very hard to have NO day off at all-----you really need that break. One day for yourself and your needs---without it, it's too exhausting....!

Granny Annie said...

I had to "meet the parents". My kids hated it too. Tough. No teenagers can be trusted and many parents of teenagers cannot be trusted. It's a dog-eat-dog and listen-to-the-cat world.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hahahaha, what did you think the "stick" was in "carrot and stick"? It's the soft voice of punishment.

Charles Gramlich said...

Although to a lesser extent, I have to get into this kind of thing with my students sometimes. It amazes me what people bring in to college.

Lynn said...

I admire you for taking on that responsibility. Love the lol cats you chose for this one - they say it all. :)

Birdie said...

My teenagers are going to be the death of me and they are actually *good* teenagers!

Memphis Steve said...

If every smart alec comment has a basis in reality then I am a very wise man, because I am most definitely a smart alec. In fact, I think I'm going to go down to the court house and change my name right now to Smart Alec.

lotta joy said...

I am SO DAMN GLAD that my "kid" is now 43 years old. And I thought it was tough THEN.

Supervise him. Video tape him, and have lots of crime scene tape handy. You never know.

G. B. Miller said...

You do know, I'm enjoying every single bit of your trials and tribulations with said young person.

Having said that, I think its completely appropriate to meet the brand new other in his life.

Because do you really want to have the following conversation taking place.

Me pointing to female sitting at the kitchen counter and asking son, "Who's this?"

Him: "Sheila".

This is how I met my son's girlfriend, two days after she had arrived.

Cheryl said...

I love the soft and loud answer approach. That is adorable.

RK, I just have so much respect for how you handle things. Most of us "grow" into our children from birth and hopefully have figured out how they operate as time goes on. You are dealing with things you had no part in creating and it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job. Everyone needs consequences for bad behavior but it is sometimes hard to dole out. I appreciate that you are trying to make your interactions with this boy pleasant.

Crack houses??? Really...what has become of our world that children go over to see friends at crack houses???

DWei said...

Yeah, my Dad pretty much answered no to everything.

We eventually learned to just ask our Mom.

Lee said...

It is obvious you inherited your father's wisdom, sense of humour...and patience, RK...even if you think you lack in the latter...you don't. :)

Betty Manousos said...

rk, you are one of the amazing souls i've had the pleasure of meeting here in blogland. and i am grateful.
your posts reflect your unique personality in so many ways.

the lol cats made me smile! thanks!

Mike_D said...


Crack houses have such great curb appeal.

You and parental....hmmmm

A Beer For The Shower said...

I've never visited a crack house but they sound like a pretty terrible place to congregate.

And hey, I remember this story of your dad. Wasn't this portrayed in a certain awesome kids book, or was this just exchanged via e-mail while talking about said awesome kids book?

Riot Kitty said...

Heh! Thanks everyone.

ABFTS: Thanks! Yep, it's in there. Art imitates life ;)

Lady Lilith BloodCrave said...

It can be really hard feeling like you have to punish you child but I am sure in a short while, he will learn the better way to handle the situation and come out the better person.

Riot Kitty said...

LLBC: Hopefully.