Photo by dawnzy58

It was a truly craptastic week. One of those weeks where I wanted to lock my son in a closet and keep him there until he turned eighteen. Course with the way kids are now, he’d be off to college for a few years, and then inevitably come home to live with me again. Leave for a year, then come home to live with me again; marry, divorce, and come home to live with me again. The joke nowadays is to wait until you’re forty to have children, because by the time they come home to live with you, you’ll be dead.

The problem with my son is his sassy mouth. He’s ten, and already I get “Yeah, whatever,” when I ask him to do something. I thought that kind of crap didn’t happen until the teenage years. The advice I get from everyone is: “You’d better nip that in the bud, ‘cause it’ll only get worse.”

When he says stuff like that to me, I have to squash my first instinct due to those pesky Child Protective Services laws, so I try the calm, reasoning approach, instead. “I am your mother, and you are not to speak disrespectfully to me.”

You can imagine how well reasoning with a child works. It doesn’t. I’ve tried the taking stuff away approach, too. No 3DS for a day. He could give a rat’s ass, really.

“Wait until your father gets home,” is usually the go-to for frustrated moms at their wit’s end, except in our case, there is no father coming home, so I continue to get the rolling of the eyes, and the “Nah,” when I tell him to do something.

I’ll admit I, as a person, tend to let a lot of things go until they build up to the point of explosion. My college ex used to call me an earthquake, and it wasn’t because I rocked his world in bed. I have a temper. It comes out of nowhere, and it’s nasty. It’s not something I’m proud of. Every therapist I’ve ever had has told me when I get mad, I need to count to ten before I speak or act. If I could count to ten first, I wouldn’t be sitting on their freaking couch talking to them.

My son’s father told me on more than one occasion, “You’re mean and nasty just like your dad.” Did I get my temper from him? Who knows, but taking meds has done nothing to curtail it, unfortunately. My ex tells people he left me because I slapped him across the face. He lunged at me and grabbed me. What would someone else have done? Count to ten, and in that time hope to not get punched?

My brain reacts; I think later. A few weeks ago, a group of twenty-somethings were hanging out on the grass in my complex, drinking. I had to pass them on the way to take out my trash. The diva followed me, and being the yappy Chihuahua she is, she started barking her little head off at these kids. “I’ll kick that fuckin’ dog’s ass,” I heard one of the guys say.

Do you think I counted to ten? Hell no. I flew off into REACT mode. I wasn’t thinking, period. I froze, and turned toward him. I said, “If you touch my fuckin’ dog, I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass.”

Now, there’s a situation that could have ended badly. Luckily, the guy backed down and denied saying anything, but let’s face it—I’m not very intimidating. I’m a 5’5” 130 lb. white girl, almost 45 (middle-aged, for God’s sake!), college-educated, from a middle-class background. My visible tattoo is frou-frou flowers on my back. The women who live around me are Hispanic, maybe have GEDs, a kid or two, or three or four, and their visible tattoos are skulls, and words written in script on their breast, like “Love is Pain,” and one of their baby daddy’s lips on their neck.

Moral of the story: One of these days I may very well get my ass kicked if I don’t watch my mouth. And watching what I say needs to apply to my son, regardless of how mad I am. Yesterday, we went to one of those Do-it-Yourself Recycling Centers. If you ever go to one, pray to God you don’t get stuck waiting behind homeless people who recycle for a living. When we were finally done throwing all our cans and bottles onto the tiny conveyor belt, I asked my son to take our empty bags back to the car while I settled up with Mr. Recycling Dude.

Son rolled his eyes, said “Whatever,” and walked to the car, empty-handed. Not only did Mr. Recycling Dude look shocked at the gross disrespect, but Ms. Homeless Gal even gave me a look like, “Oh no, he didn’t.” I stomped to the car, thinking “Ugh, I hate my life. I hate being a mother. Kill me now.” When I got into the car, I faced my son and told him, “When I ask you to do something, you’d better damn well do it, and if you ever disrespect me in public again, you will be sorry. That’s two days without your 3DS.”

And there’s where I should have stopped. But I didn’t. I had to throw in, “I will not raise a fuckin’ spoiled ungrateful brat.” I couldn’t help it, I was furious. Truth is, one of my biggest fears is my son growing up to be a spoiled, ungrateful, disrespectful,the world owes me, self-centered bratty adult. We all know everyone blames the parents when this happens.

So what am I supposed to do? Should we spend a week living on the streets in East LA, eating in soup kitchens, hanging with kids who only have rocks and broken toys to play with? Should he receive only a roll of toilet paper for Christmas? Ship him off to military school? Marry a drill sergeant?

All I know is at the moment, I’m at a complete loss.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Menopausalmother.blogspot.com
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 15:44:02

    Oh God I wish I had the answers here..there ARE no easy answers! They all go through this phase, and it lasts a few years, I hate to say. I just did what you are doing–took things away, grounded them, etc. For a long time I felt like nothing was going to work but if you stand FIRM on this, you WILL see a difference eventually. 3 of my 4 are young adults now and they are incredibly nice, polite and respectful—-but they sure as hell weren’t like that 10 years ago! I have an almost 17 yr. old still living at home and he can be a major pain in the arse with his mouthiness..but he ALWAYS comes back and apologizes for his disrespect. He makes me insane at times but I know now there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there and do what you have always done—love, support but be firm in your discipline..and as hard as it is, try not to lose you temper too much!


    • Tiffany N. York
      Oct 01, 2012 @ 17:00:22

      Okay, well you’ve succeeded in making me breathe a little easier at least. But everyone says the teenage years will be worse and I can’t imagine what that’ll be like. Sometimes I think I’m too soft on the discipline. I HATE disciplining, but if you’re too soft then your kids grow up to be brats; if you’re too hard, they grow up to be felons. Either way, you lose. Seems like back in the 50s, children (esp. boys) grew up respecting their parents more, never talking back, etc. Men from that generation have told me that if they ever said something fresh to their mother or father, they usually got beaten with a belt! Now, I’m not an advocate of that, but kids do seem more disrespectful nowadays.


  2. Cie
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 16:14:58

    Have you ever thought of enrolling him in an acting group or class? Maybe recognizing the self-discipline required (someone else besides you doing it), and feeling the joy of self-expression could broaden his world view.


    • Tiffany N. York
      Oct 01, 2012 @ 16:51:06

      I was thinking maybe instead of basketball this winter, we stimulate some of the other senses–like art. Perhaps I’ll look into acting as well, although God knows we don’t need a third diva in the family.


  3. Christina Ramirez
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 22:35:37

    I have an 18 yr old still in school and a 13 yr old. and there are days that I want to punch the older one in the throat because of his mouth. On those days I know there is a god because some force calmed my mind enough to resist he urge.


    • Tiffany N. York
      Oct 14, 2012 @ 11:03:59

      It helps to know I’m not the only one. There are times I wish I could sew my son’s mouth shut! I actually just had a meeting with my son’s teacher and I told her about the whole disrespect thing, and she said to keep letting him know that disrespect isn’t tolerated in the “real world” and that he will get fired from jobs for being disrespectful to others. So I need to keep reiterating that to him, or else he won’t be able to hold down a job and he’ll have to live with me FOREVER.


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