My Son, The Devil

My son may or not be demon spawn.

Look, I’m a die hard Boston sports fan. And even though that means I’m wicked fucking awesome, it also means that I overreact. A lot. To everything. When things are going well I gloat and talk like there will never be another bump in the road. Everything is perfect, and will remain so for all of eternity. But when things go south (which can happen even in the same day on special occasions), I go way too far in the other direction. I curse my team, all the players, question my own existence and wonder how the hell I will ever watch sports again.

My behavior as a parent has not been unlike my sports fan tendencies.

I picked Will up on Wednesday and was concerned to see my daycare provider in tears. She’s been having a lot of personal issues lately so I thought something was wrong in that department. But oh no, it had nothing to do with her. Instead, I learned it was Will causing all of her woes.

In short, apparently he’s a little asshole.

Yeah, yeah. I know. I called my kid an asshole. Get over it. I’m not one of these parents who pretends their offspring can do no wrong. And in this case, it’s true. Because Will hates other kids. Hates them. This goes well beyond Will not sharing (which he doesn’t) or not playing well with others (which he hates). This is about Will not even being able to be in the same room with the other daycare kids. She says they try to engage him in conversation and play with him, but as soon as they get in the same room with him he throws a goddamn fit.

I guess he’s only happy when he’s left to play all by himself. Most kids, when they see a group of other kids all having fun together, immediately run over to play with them and be included. Not Will. He truly doesn’t give a shit.

And because of that, apparently he’s making our daycare provider and all the other kids miserable. She said his behavior has negatively impacted everyone else to the point that he’s unapproachable and the other kids cry at the mere sight of him. And that has led our provider — who loves us and loves Will — to a spot between a rock and a hard place. She wants him to stay and that’s why she’s put up with this for a month now. But she can’t keep him there at the expense of all the other kids’ happiness.

While she was relaying all of this to me, I had conflicting emotions. First of all, I wanted to punish Will. I wanted to ring his neck and punish him for acting like a miserable sociopath. But then my provider started asking me all these questions about how we deal with Will at home. What he plays with, if he watches too much TV, if we spoil him, if we work on sharing, etc. And suddenly I had a whole new range of emotions.

First of all I automatically went on the defensive. I was thinking “My fault?? You think this is my fault? You think I did something? Bullshit. I did nothing wrong. I’m a great parent!!!”

Then, searching for someone else to blame, I thought maybe it has something to do with how every single one of his six grandparents spoils him rotten on a consistent basis. Yeah…that must be it. With the blame off my shoulders, I began to feel better immediately. Until I got home and realized that’s all bullshit, because as parents we accept all the praise for the good things our kids do which means we need to step up and take responsibility for the bad.

Instead of trying to blame other people, I sucked it up and took a long, hard look at how we raise Will. And I realized we need to do more. For starters, there aren’t a lot of other kids around here so he doesn’t get much exposure. But I need to find more time to take him out socially and play with people. Even if he doesn’t like it. Second, just because he doesn’t have any other kids to share with doesn’t mean we can’t practice sharing. So now we make sure we share toys every 30 minutes or so, and he doesn’t get them back until he stops crying and asks to share.

Lastly, I implemented a new program for Will. I call it “Big Boy Points” and basically Will gets a Big Boy Point (BBP) every time he does something positive. Whether that’s sharing, saying please and thank you, helping mom and dad, sitting in his booster seat when he wants milk or sleeping successfully in his big boy bed (sorry, forgot to mention we transitioned to from the crib to a twin mattress), he gets a point. In the future, a point will be a sticker or a star on a whiteboard. And he needs to earn stars in order to play with toys, go play outside, etc. When he gets a certain amount of points, he gets a new Thomas toy.

I’m kind of making it up as I go along, but so far it’s working. He had a better day at daycare today, and he’s starting to share more. But I wish I hadn’t been so delinquent in addressing this and letting it get this far. For the first time I really feel like I’ve failed as a dad. And I know this is probably just a phase and most kids go through it and blah blah blah. I know this. But I don’t care. Because I overreact like an idiot and right now I feel like I’ve been derelict in my dad duties.

I just hope he doesn’t get thrown out of daycare. I’m sure that goes on his permanent record and the he’ll never get into a good facility. With that black cloud following him around I highly doubt any school — even a public one — will take him. He’s going to be a kindergarten dropout who doesn’t even know his ABCs, and while that still qualifies him to work at most fast food restaurants or in government, his options will be severely limited. He and his stuffed monkey will end up living on the streets, and it’ll all be my fault.

Either that or he’ll soon grow out of the Terrible Two phase and everything will be fine. At which point I will surely blog about his unbelievable intelligence level and how he is bound for greatness.

CHECK OUT DAD-BLOGS AND FATHERHOOD FRIDAY, AND READ ABOUT  FATHERS WHO ARE ACTUALLY RAISING THEIR KIDS WITH SUCCESS.

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22 thoughts on “My Son, The Devil

  1. “…or in government,” LOVE IT.

    It is my personal belief that any good parent feels like a failure at some point. It’s because you care. And you are a great dad. Really.

  2. Good post man. Like me, you’re probably you’re harshest critic and it’s so easy as a parent to feel like an absolute failure at some point (in my case, even weekly). It’s huge that you are working to change things and accept responsibility. It will also help when little Will has some new competition at home.

  3. When my daughter was two we went through a phase where I thought she was channeling my mother. I hate my mother, she is evil. Because they shared that wonderful way of slicing you up with their words. Luckily the kid is not evil it was just a painful phase. I am sure my option will change when she’s a teenager.

  4. Good job stepping up and trying to set things right. Stick with it – it will totally pay off down the road. It’s the kids whose parents just let them do what they want/be who they are going to be that turn into psychopaths that no one wants to deal with.

    Oh, and brace yourself. Three year olds truly suck.

  5. Wow! Maybe your kid DID steal Apok’s mail. Hey… At least you are accepting responsibility and care enough to work to make things better. That make you a better parent then most out there. Plus, I’m more worried about you being a Boston (anything) fan than being a parent. Maybe you can work on that next. :)

  6. There is a word to describe kids like Will who at two years old with no siblings have a hard time sharing and playing well with ohter little kids. It’s a technical term. It’s called “normal”.

    Daycare is where only children start to learn how to share. Sharing with adults is different from sharing with kids. Adults are bigger – they have the power. If they decide it is their turn – then it is their turn. This teaches the little kid that the bigger the person, the more power they have about sharing. So when Will is the biggest person invloved in the sharing, he figures – hey, it works for them, this is my turn.

    This doesn’t mean you don’t have to teach him to share or work on the stuff you are working on. That’s all good.

    As for the grandparents – sure, we spoil him. That’s our job. Yet amazingly, kids survive this over the centuries. Hell, even I gave him two timeouts the past Monday and Tuesday he spent with us. He looked at me like I was Johnny Damon gone over to the Yankees, but I still did it. The kid is two – this is what two-year olds do. They push boundaries. They establish their territories. Yes, he needs to share – and he will. Yes, he needs to play well with others – and he will. But be careful, because suddenly having a new set of rules at home can be more confusing to him than anything else.

    Let him play with older kids who can push him around a little, and some of that will go away. And some of it will get worse.

    I have bad news for you – you have a two-year-old and he is acting like a two-year-old. He is a smart, strong-willed kid. He is not going to be little Mr. Perfect. Except, of course, when he is with his grandparents.

    A two-year-old who doesn’t like sharing and playing with younger kids – OMG, you have obviously completely failed as a parent. You and 99% of all other parents. Stop calling my grandson the “devil’s spawn” or I’m going to have to kick your ass.

  7. theoldguy,

    I love you, but your opinion is completely disregarded in this realm. Your “Will blinders” are too cemented in place for you to look at this rationally.

    I know 2-year-olds don’t like to share, and I know they have trouble getting along. But this goes beyond that. For the last 1-2 months he has gone completely bonkers when other kids are around. Even kids who want to play with him. He doesn’t talk to any other kids, with the exception of much older girls (which, I won’t lie, makes me kinda proud). He has shown a complete inability to function around kids his own age. And when our daycare provider — someone who’s been doing this for many, many years — is on the verge of removing him from daycare despite the fact that doing so would absolutely break her heart, then that’s not being a normal 2-year-old.

    Not to mention he is VERY smart, but also extremely manipulative. Bordering on diabolical. I love him, but not putting our foot down here in an extraordinary situation would be downright negligent.

  8. I guess the asshole doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Just kidding. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sounds like you recognized that there’s a problem and you’re working hard to figure it out. From my own experience and the little bit that I’ve watched of the Nanny, behavioural problems are usually more nurture than nature — i.e., it’s our fault, not theirs.

    Good luck.

  9. hi Aaron,

    So this is what I get to look forward to in the next few months. AWESOME.

    I’m not there yet, but I will be so you can take this with a grain of salt. What about enrolling him in other classes as a “practice” over the weekend? Gymboree, the Little Gym, swimming lessons, I even think there are art classes for 2 year olds. Something that is structured, that gets out his energy, but you (or MJ) can go with him to not only see how he interacts, but correct it if he’s not misbehaving.

    Maybe this way, he will learn how to behave from you and MJ—the people he loves the most (sorry Bill) and not want to let you down.

  10. Liz: It’s a good idea, but tough to implement. My work schedule is so unpredictable I barely manage to pick him up on time most days during the week. I could never do a scheduled class because half the time I’d end up canceling. And MJ doesn’t get home until 7 p.m. most nights. Then MJ and I both work on Saturdays. I have Will in the morning while she goes to work, and usually we go to a playground or something (not a lot of kid stuff here in Retirement Land). Then MJ comes home and I immediately leave for work. And on Sundays we like to all hang out because it’s our only day of the week where we all see each other at the same time, minus the hour every night during the week just before Will goes to bed.

    But you’re dead on about the not wanting to let us down. That’s what we’re harping on now and it’s working. He says “Make Dadda happy” whenever we want him to behave a little better, so he is trying. It’s just going to take more of a concerted effort on our part.

  11. Not a big deal. I got kicked out of pre-school. I beat the stuffing out of all the kids and bite the teacher hard enough where she had to go to the hospital and I turned out great!

    All kids are pure Id. Just little sociopathic, selfish, assholes. This just means your kid is smarter and has recognized the world for what it is. A cold, cruel mistress where only the strong survive.

  12. You are not a failure as a parent. You’ve seen the problem and quickly tried to remedy it. Two year olds are, well, two year olds. You can’t reason with them, you can’t ask them to explain their actions, and you can ask them to explain their inner psyche. Parents just have to wing it and hope they’re doing the best for their child. It’s apparent you love Will, and are trying your best. (Most parents do call their children wicked names, but usually under their breaths, or in their minds…)

  13. The first thing to do is to get him treatment for being exposed to the Celtics. I’d start with giving him a Laker jersey and let him watch Magic Johnson highlights. In no time at all he’ll lose the bitter celtic chip…. ;)

    The old guy isn’t completely wrong. Two year olds can be difficult, but it sounds like you are doing something about this. A lot of parents get defensive and then refuse to consider the possibility that their kid has done anything.

    It is not always easy to do the right thing- but you are doing it. And don’t take it personally, kids do a lot of things.

  14. Jack: I’m going to relish rubbing your face in the Celtics’ 18th championship when they beat the Lakers next month. Rondo vs. Fisher??? HAHAHAHA!!!!! And while Gasol is better than people give him credit for, the Celts’ D can handle him and the Rapist…I mean, Kobe.

    But yeah, I know kids do a lot of things that make you shake your head. It’s just that I ordered the Perfect Child, with a side of Halo.

  15. Like Jack B I think there is a lot of wisdom in the what the Old Guy had to say. Exposing him to older kids does help with some of that selfish anti-social behavior. Having admitted that you vacillate between extreme reactions, years of being a RedSox fan will do that to you, you are doing a great job of looking for what is yours to deal with and what is his to learn. Things will change as he gets older and acclimates to social interactions, but the things you are doing now to help that change will make a huge difference. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post and the comment that everyone is bringing. This is the best example of parents helping parent in this blogging sphere.

    That Celtic D has been great handling one or two dimensional teams in the East. You probably haven’t seen much of that team you D will handle but they are firing on all cylinders. Stopping Kobe means Gasol kills you. Championship #16 will be ours, and we will have a wheel chair on hand for PP to do his thing.

  16. My opinion is completely disregarded in this realm? And this is different from all the other realms – how? :)

    I was going to tell you to listen to Jack and Sahd PDX, but then they totally discredited themselves by disrepecting the greatest franchise ever – why do they have to be Laker fans?

    It’s great that you are working on helping him overcome this stuff, and not letting him get away with acting out. Just remember – he’s two! This is what they do. And for your information, I don’t have “Will blinders” – I can see just fine. I just have the luxury of not having to deal with the problems every day, and you don’t. This is the very definition of the difference between being a grandparent and being a parent.

    After all, it’s not like you have a kid who DIDN’T SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT UNTIL HE WAS 3-1/2 YEARS OLD!!! Imagine that – there is no way that kid could have turned out well! :)

  17. Well shit. I never like to see parents suffer. And I know (don’t think you’ve mentioned this or not) you look at your wife and her belly and worry if this is about to get better or worse (and I refuse to answer that for you – you don’t want my answer).

    That is the main thing with being a parent that exhausts most people (who give a shit and try like you)…. Parenthood is a constant. You never get a break. You never can just let your mind wander to far away places and daydream any more. You are always facing a problem to solve. REading books. Watching SuperNanny. Researching shit on the internet. And ONCE you discover how to fix that particular problem…BAM. Yea that’s right BAM. Another problem just took it’s place.

    never. ending. cycle.

    Wish I didn’t sound so ‘glass half empty’ but the last 5 years have kicked the shit out of me man.

  18. Great post man! Don’t be yourself up over it though. Failed as a Dad? Far from it!!! A lot of the things we teach or kids is a continual learning process for both child and parent. The fact that you were informed of the issue and acted upon it promptly is more than enough to applaud.

  19. This is a great post, but also the kind that makes my mother in law panic. “what if they read this later?” “What if someone else reads this?”
    Thanks for sharing, thanks for the honesty.
    T

  20. Good on you for trying a different way of dealing with your kid. In my experiences with many parents these days is that they try to hard to be the “friend” of their kid. For many of these parents its hard to hear the phrase “I dont like you” coming from their childs mouth. In the beginning being the parent is harder than being the friend. In the teenage years, being the friend will cause you nightmares as your kid will think he’s on your level and your decision making ability will mean shit to him. I remember the one time my daughter was screaming at me when I had here draped over my shoulder on the way out of the mall. “I dont like you”…….”Thats ok honey, so long as you love and RESPECT me”.

  21. HAHA – your Dad cracks me up. Just you wait. THREE is worse. It will make you WISH for 2.

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