Saturday, March 19, 2016

What To Do When The Thirteen-Year-Old Calls You a "Fucking Idiot Retarded Bitch" and Almost Takes a Swing at You.

It's evening. It's Saturday. You just want to sit down for dinner with your husband. The younger kids have been watching TV for over an hour. You ask them to turn it off, please. Your children appear to be deaf.
"It's after 8:30--time to turn off the TV now!" you say brightly. Occasionally you let them watch later, because you dread the sullen looks, the begging, or the insults. But tonight you say the box must really go off, and then the kid, who looks extremely sleepy, says, "I'll go upstairs at 9:00," which would normally be okay but tonight you just think he looks tired plus you know he's not particularly interested in the show plus you'd like to clean the table and make it look nice for dinner. So you say, "I'll be back in a few minutes--you watch another couple of minutes--and then I'll turn off the TV." But when you do, the kid yells.
So you throw out a threat: I am going to unplug your computer and remove a few items from your desk unless you move.
This is, incidentally, exactly what all the best books on childcare tell you not to do. My favorite, How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk, which you can see here:
wasn't lying around on the coffee table near which the teen was cussing me out, and I was too rattled and sad to come up with anything better than "You can't talk to me like that," which he'd already succeeded in doing, and "you have to apologize," which he wasn't about to do. So what do you do? Well, you don't beat the kid to a pulp, though I must say the idea is tempting. Nor do you actually unplug his computer. But you do keep talking to the kid, and then you do something that takes a very long time indeed when things aren't going well: you wait for him to grow. P.S. When he was really little, say, age three, the other book in the same series, about younger children, told you that when the little one flops down screaming and won't stop, you can hand him a crayon and a piece of paper and ask him to draw what is making him mad. Worked like a charm. Aren't there charms for managing boys who turn fourteen very soon? Perhaps not, except in the world of Harry Potter. Meanwhile, I'll keep investing in hair dye, since about ten more of my no-longer- blonde tresses went gray during the above-described encounter. 

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