Every parent at one point, faces some form of behavior problems in children, but nothing – compares to the complexities of a boy turned nine.
They’re bi-polar, I swear. One minute, they’re cursing you out under their breath because you won’t “leave them alone,” and the next minute they’re clinging onto your leg accusing you of abandonment when you’re fetching the laundry.
At least once a month, the teacher waves me over to address his “bad day”.
Is it that time of the month – for him? I think to myself.
Well, the truth is – it’s not just my guy. There are other boys among his class – his friends – and even in his Pack who sprout these demonic wings. It’s not boyish mischief – it’s adolescent rebellion. The, “I’m gonna push buttons until someone starts screaming at me so I’ll have a reason to lash out,” route.
To my nine-year-old, everything is stupid. Breakfast is stupid. Homework – oh, homework – is stupid. Practice, bathing, sleeping – even pooping is stupid. Everybody in the world is stupid, starting with his little brother all the way to Jaime Shupak, the traffic anchor on NY 1 News.
Excuse me, are you fifteen? Yes, apparently – nine is the new fifteen. And for girls it’s seven – according to my friends who have daughters.
After the last report from his teacher about his deplorable behavior, I did some research and found this helpful article.
It’s “The Three Skills Every Child Needs For Good Behavior” by James Lehman.
“Skill #01: Reading Social Situations” seemed simple enough. As a matter of fact, I assumed my boys already did that. “Look at someone, anyone, and try to guess how they’re feeling,” I said during our walk on Sunday morning.
Zuki promptly replied, “That’s stupid.”
But then he asked, “How am I supposed to guess how strangers feel,” which made it obvious that he hadn’t been “reading” situations at all – just reacting to them.
Inevitably, he ticked me off later that day to which I simply asked, “Look at my face and tell me how I’m feeling.”
Something clicked in his mind – it was clear. “You’re mad,” he said, “because I’m not doing my chores.”
Then he calmly picked up his clean clothes and put them away.
Eureka! Is this how Anne Sullivan felt when Helen Keller finally grasped communication? Not to compare our measly milestone with that historic moment, but there are times I wonder if my boy isn’t deaf and blind.
I just have to remind myself that it’s all a phase. For now, it’s the back talk, the rebellion, holding a breadstick like a cigar and sassing like Wolverine. He’ll find his calling. The next thing I’ll know, he’ll be turning eighteen, which would be too old for a behavioral problem, so that would make it the new – midlife crisis?