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No Joy in the DC Metro Area

May 10, 2012

Maybe baseball isn’t helping.

Honey Badger got a mediocre report card. He knows the material on tests but won’t do the other work and isn’t behaving well in class, and that has consequences. I know it’s better that he see how these things work now, rather then when we’re shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for college tuition. (Assuming he goes, which I shouldn’t assume, and yet I do.) And when he gets a job, I don’t want him to be the colleague who sulks about the injustice of having to do things he doesn’t feel like doing. I understand that natural consequences aren’t supposed to be fun, but the theoretical nonfun is so much more tolerable than the actual experience of the nonfun.

If it had just been bad grades because he doesn’t complete classwork, we would let it go. But his behavioral problems in class aren’t just his problem; he’s making things worse for his classmates, and that is completely unacceptable. So I went in to talk to his teachers, who told me that actually, he seemed to be behaving better lately, and I was feeling somewhat more optimistic until one of his teachers asked if he was in group as well as individual therapy. No, I said, because the group at the practice we go to is for kids with social difficulties and he doesn’t . . . . Oh.

Evidently he does. I don’t know if this is a new issue or just something that no one noticed when his other behavior was so awful. If it’s what he needs, we’ll do it, but I am not happy at the prospect of having him missing more school so he can go to group and of me missing more work so I can take him. At least it doesn’t matter that our provider is out of network, because our insurance doesn’t cover group therapy.

Meanwhile, from the annals of ineptitude, where my acts of “Shit, did I just do that?” are forever engraved on my heart, comes the tale of a mother who just can’t say enough good things about baseball and what it has done for her kids, and yet can’t seem to remember that when her irritation reaches a certain level.

Came a night when Honey Badger was — no, really! — refusing to do his homework. And I was so annoyed by this that I said, “Well, if you aren’t going to do your homework, maybe you shouldn’t go to your game this week, because it’s the evening before your test.”

[pause for cheering and applause]

We all agree, I assume, that physical activity is important for kids, and that you don’t take it away as though that will bring about better behavior? I know my Peerless Spouse, for one, agrees with that theory, because he was almost as mad at me as I was at myself.

And then for the rest of the week, Honey Badger did his homework without complaint. I am trying so hard to reinforce good behavior and extinguish bad. He is taking the opposite approach, I guess. That probably shouldn’t surprise me — it is Honey Badger, after all — but when I do what I’m supposed to and it doesn’t work, I tell myself, “It just hasn’t worked yet.” When I do the wrong thing and it works, what do I tell myself? That it’s working for now, but soon it will blow up and things will be worse? It’s a natural consequence, I suppose, but can’t we skip the natural consequence just this once? I am tired of things getting worse.

  1. May 17, 2012 9:54 am

    It is so hard, SO HARD, when one thing after another DOESN’T WORK. Or when it SOMETIMES works like AWESOMENESS, and other times TOTALLY DOESN’T WORK, and what on EARTH??

    • May 20, 2012 4:28 pm

      All I want is for parenting to be logical and predictable. Like people always are.

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