If someone were giving out the “Crappiest Mother Award,” I wouldn’t be in the top three million, but I might be somewhere toward the bottom. I am great at giving my son all the love I have to give, but when it comes to discipline I suck. There, I said it. I suck when it comes to disciplining my son.
The reason being that I border somewhere between the Lazy zone and the Uncomfortable zone. I’m lazy about disciplining, because most of the time it means I’ll have to get up from my computer no less than fifty times in two hours, and I don’t wanna.
I’m uncomfortable when it comes to discipline, because I hate raising my voice, or threatening, or having to use “the tone.” It gets my delicately-balanced biorhythms all out-of-whack. When I ask, or tell my son not to do something, I shouldn’t have to tell him a thousand times over again, right? I shouldn’t receive backtalk for it, should I?
And yet, for years I’ve been dealing with my son’s potty mouth when he plays video games. He’s ten. So when “Son of a bitch!” or “Motherfucker!” flies out of his mouth, I’d say it’s inappropriate. Even more so when it shot out of his mouth at age seven. I did the whole soap thing à la A Christmas Story; I even poured Tapatío on his tongue to no avail. My son is stubborn, and a bit obsessive-compulsive. I almost think he can’t help himself.
Example: He had an 8 am soccer game this Saturday. He hates being late. He also knows I am often late. From the moment we woke up, he was telling me to get ready. “We’re gonna be late. Get dressed,” he said.
“Mommy needs to make her coffee first. Mommy’s ugly when she hasn’t had her coffee,” I told him.
He anxiously paced in front of me. “But after that, you’re gonna get ready, right?”
“As soon as I make you breakfast, honey.”
“No, no, we’re gonna be late!” he yelled. “We need to leave!”
Seven minutes later, after breakfast had been served, I happily informed him I was going to get dressed.
He popped his head into my room a minute later. “Are you ready to go yet?”
My right eye started to twitch. “Almost.”
“See, you’re not even ready yet! We’re gonna be late!”
I could go on and on, but you get the gist of it. For the record, we were not late, but my nerves were shot by the time we got to the field. I would love to hear how someone else would have dealt with that situation. I didn’t want to yell at him to “leave me alone or else,” but reasoning with my son doesn’t work, nor does ignoring him. And my brain just can’t think of privileges to take away from him at 6:30 in the freaking morning. So what am I supposed to do?
Back to the foul mouth problem: I was proud of myself a few months ago when I came up with: “Every time I hear a bad word, I’m shutting the Wii off for fifteen minutes and you’re going to your room.”
But after the sixth time it happened, I got lazy. So I reverted to yelling, “Ay!” from my chair whenever I heard any vileness. Which was about as effective as me walking naked through a room full of eunuchs.
Let me tell you what did work, however. Two days ago, his father called his son to say he was sending him one of those prepaid phones for Christmas. You would think my son had just found out he’d won an IV-hookup filled with never-ending soda. He was thrilled. I’m sure he was thinking, Hey, now I’ll be able to text all the bad words I say to my friends.
His dad called again yesterday, and I complained to him about HIS son’s language. After he gave me the “He wouldn’t do that if I was still living with you,” spiel, which I always ignore, he asked to speak to the boy. When I got back on the phone with him, he said, “I told him you would turn off the game for the entire day whenever he said a bad word.” (Scary thoughts of not being able to get any work done on the computer charged through my head.) “And I told him no phone.”
For the rest of the day, all I heard out of my son’s mouth were “Shoot!” and “Dangit!” Oh, the mystical power of a father’s voice. We’ll see how long it lasts.