Thursday, August 28, 2008

Too weary for a title

My children are back in Thomas' room "playing together." There is a lot of suspicious banging, some screaming, and the sound of a football hitting the mini-blinds. But I am sitting here calmly (lie) not getting involved, because I am not a helicopter mom.

Well, I don't want to be one, anyway. There's something about the nature of my relationship with Thomas that has turned me into a control freak, and it's not something I'm proud of. His ADHD combines with his attachment issues to make our relationship very contentious most of the time. I love the boy and have always felt like God picked him out specially for us, but he has the power to make me madder than any human being on earth. That seems to create a vicious cycle: I tell him to do (or stop doing) something, he refuses, and I decide that I. must. win. this. battle. I threaten him with consequences (usually loss of video game time), and he acts out more. I take away the video games, he yells, "Who cares?" (he does), and the original behavior never changes a bit. We may not be related by blood, but our stubborn streaks look a lot alike.

We have given Thomas relatively little independence for his age, but he will be 13 before long and I want to give him the chance to make more choices for himself. I've got to stop worrying and micromanaging--so what if he screws up and it goes on his Permanent Record? (Has anyone ever gained access to their Permanent Record?)I certainly screwed up plenty myself.

The backlash of the videogame-taking-away system is that without his prized electronics, Thomas is glued to my side. "Mom, watch this. Mom, listen to this." And of course, "I don't have anything to do." I suggest that he read the library books he begged me to take him, he doesn't feel like reading. He has long wanted to be able to ride his bike around the neighborhood alone, so I say, "It's a nice day. Why don't you go ride your bike?" No, that's a terrible idea...he doesn't feel like it...blah blah blah blah.

Naturally, today when it is 65 degrees and pouring rain, he wants to ride his bike. And look! Look at me letting him make his own choices! Not hovering. But I start to worry when he's been gone an hour and a half. All the other kids in the neighborhood are back in school. Where could he be? I imagine his skinny little wet body lying in a ditch after he skidded off the wet road. Then I wonder if he has ridden, against our orders, up to the big road and over to the shopping center.

Just as I am pulling out of the driveway to look for him, he rides up. I manage to keep my mouth shut and get him dried off and warmed up. I make him a grilled cheese sandwich (he swears mine are the best ever), I listen to him play a hundred or so songs on the electronic keyboard, we play some cards, and wait for Annamarie to come home.

By bedtime we will be adversaries again, me directing and him balking, both of us yelling. And I will go to bed as I have every night for the past 10 years, praying for forgiveness and vowing to try harder tomorrow.

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