Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Gentle Art of Kamikaze Parenting

Courtesy D. Scott
I don't even know where to start. Last week was a gauntlet with no visible end. I lived thru it. That's about all I can say. One day my Facebook status read: “I think I'll call in you think I'll get away with it?” The next day it read: “Forget a sick day, where do I go to resign?”

We all knew it was a joke. I wasn't going anywhere except the closet of social media. I hate to say it out loud, but sometimes I don't need pharmacological help. Facebook is more numbing than any meds would be! Yea, it's true. I shoot up with Facebook and try to forget my primary job in this season of life: parent and HOMESCHOOLING parent at that. It works for about 10 minutes, but reality always comes back to haunt me.

I know I am not alone in my struggles. A friend and I spent some time together last night. Like me, she is worn and weary because of a multiplicity of stressors: finances, 3 kids with unique health issues, homeschooling grades K5, 2nd, and 7th grades in the same year, caring for aging relatives, and on and on the list went. Dark circles punctuated her eyes indicating how bone-weary she is.

Courtesy B. Creasy
If we'd been out in the country, I might have feared the coyotes were about to lunge since I'm sure our vulnerability would have screamed, “Separate me from the herd! I'm ready to be eaten!” Thankfully, the lights of the city held them at bay, and we were safe to laugh out our mutual fatigue and relentless journey toward better parenthood.

I'm telling you, it is a fraidy cat world. If we don't stick together, the coyotes are waiting at the door. It is not our tough old hide they want. They want our kids! I am thankful for friends that get me thru when I don't want to keep at it anymore.

This past week, I realized that some habits we developed after I broke my leg had to go. I would have broken us of them many months ago, but chaos followed crisis after crisis until it was easier to embrace them and let them flourish unimpeded. And so, they did until I began to prepare Son #2 for the world of work and driving in anticipation of his birthday this summer. When I realized his 9th grade school year was ½ over, my sense of urgency grew more compelling. My time with him is running out.

When I coupled his life stage with my desire to prepare for an empty nest by developing a speaking and writing career, I knew it was time to kiss old habits goodbye. I should have warned you to buy stock in sedatives.....cause between the 2 of us, we were going to need 'a few', I feared!

I took some steps to our new and improved, more orderly life. My husband changed some of our computer settings which limited Son #2's access to the internet to certain hours of the day. As you might imagine, that step was a ROARING success, especially when he found out the limitations included any technological gizmo that afforded him internet access.

I tightened up the reigns on our use of time. Kids with ADD, ADHD, and Aspergers can have real struggles with an elastic sense of time. Given the flexibility of our days as homeschoolers, I have been content to work around that issue and concentrate on other battles – till last week.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
As I explained it to Son #2, he is on the cusp of being able to get a part-time job. Thus, the time has come for him to focus on accomplishing tasks in a timely manner or expect consequences. I gave him 4 days to ease into a new routine. I was about as successful as I would have been had I tried to push a cooked pasta noodle through a keyhole. It was enough to make me crazy. And, he knew what he was doing.

He had me sized up pretty well...thinking if he dilly-dallied long enough, I'd work around him like I always have. I quietly disabused him of that notion when he least expected it on day 5. We have a monthly extra-curricular event that he looks forward to with much excitement. Friday came and with it his expectation that we would set off for the event as usual.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
The night before, I explained how our new routine would apply. Friday morning I set it in motion. He did as I expected and meandered thru the morning despite my gentle and ongoing reminders of our new system. Well after our time goal had expired, he came and indicated he was ready to move on to what I had requested.
He realized I was not ready to head out the door and began to panic. I looked up quietly from my work and said, “Oh, we are not going. Unless and until you begin to do what I ask you to do the 1st time I ask, we won't be going anywhere in the near future.”

I then endured about 20 minutes of raw emotion as he mourned his folly and begged for 2nd chances. I told him he'd had 4 days of those. He asked, “Help me! How can I calm myself down and get back to work?”

I replied, “I surely don't know. I hope you figure that one out. Let me know when you do.” To my amazement, the drama stopped almost on a dime, and he settled down to the tasks at hand.

I wondered how this week would go. Would I again have to assert my steadfast conviction that our new schedule is here to stay? I am thrilled to say that, so far, I have not. He asks each night what the schedule for the next day will be. When I set it in motion with the morning light, he is on board without much complaint. We are not running at 100% yet, but we have improved 1,000% over last week.

I have learned a few things about myself this last week. Why don't you come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you some secrets! Maybe I can keep you from making the same mistakes and having to learn the hard way like I have! Love you long and strong. See you soon! 

Galatians 6:  (NASB)
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.


  1. Oh, I would surely love some secrets, especially if they are a "how-to" of getting kids on a better schedule!

  2. I have got to get firm with my 16yro. She has got to get on a schedule and get things done. I have been avoiding the wailing and gnashing of teeth that I know are to come.

  3. Donna, saying 'no' is the hardest thing in the world. I say this knowing that I have to drop the 'no' word in just a few hours. :-/ Wish me luck. ;-)