Yesterday I became The Bad Guy. If you’ve yet to understand what that means just go back to a day when you really despised your parents for something. They became the mean people who just didn’t understand, weren’t listening and who took away your favorite things. They became the Bad Guys. So this is what I became yesterday when I took away all of my sons favorite things for the near future: his phone, his computer, his game system and his freedom.
I didn’t want to ever become The Bad Guy. In fact I tried with all my might to not ever become that parent without ever doing the “friend parent” thing. I was understanding, I went easy, I listened and allowed him his feelings even if he was angry at me and wanted to slam the door. I would try to understand why and we would sit and work things out. He always came to me about everything, anything and was so full of questions. Then one day he just stopped. He grew up and in some ways realized how to use all these good things to his advantage. I’d never swamp him down with chores or a million things to do because his #1 most important thing was school. That’s all I ever cared about. So when yesterday I found out he was failing, again, no matter all the things we’ve tried to do through the school and with him, there was no other thing I could do but become The Bad Guy.
I grabbed my coffee, had a few bad habits and we stood in the kitchen one on each end. I explained to him in the most understanding way about how I know it sucks but this is the only choice he’s left us now that he’s failing 7th grade. No more computer, no more games, no more phone unless it was to call his Father or receive calls from him and the biggest blow I had to give would be that if the school allowed summer school he would forgo his trip to NY to see his Father on the only time he had in the US for a year so he could try and make up the grades. That broke him and he cried. I wanted to say I was all wrong and he could have whatever he wanted back. I wanted to just do whatever I could to make him stop hurting but I dug my nails into the counter and instead I said I was sorry, but this was the decision we’d all come to. I hugged him and said he could have some time to himself if he wanted. He left and went outside to sit on the porch.
Cody is incredibly intelligent which is why we’re all dumbfounded, the school included. He’s forgetful and disorganized and rather uncaring about school as is his usual but he generally tried to always do his best. I would blame everything on his X-box 360 and his Computer games if I could, but I am his Mother and those things are regulated by me. I’m not one to blame inanimate objects I have control over. He just doesn’t understand how to balance himself and he’s at an age when his hormones are racing and he can’t think. In truth I was never really hard on him discipline wise and never had given him the necessary things to learn responsibility in oneself as well as to the world outside of him. These things are more important than they seem (Chores, etc). It was never that Cody didn’t know what he was doing in school or how to do the things he was given, it was that he would just forget in comparison to what he thought was important. A teenager has NO idea what is important in life, by the way. Regardless, he’d just not turn in work. I would check to make sure the work was done and 80% of the time it was completed. It just never arrived at it’s destination. The school has went above and beyond in trying to help my son and we’ve done what we can to work together but you cannot force a child to “think”. He had too many distractions and I was too easy on him. When he’d be doing really well I would slack off. These things don’t work well together.
At some point after being The Bad Guy and being sad all night that I was this horrible person, my son came up to me while I wasn’t paying attention in the kitchen. He put his arms around me and he said he loved me before disappearing off into his Kid’s Cave room again. I think he knew it was hard for me, just as it was for him, to deal with the reality of the circumstance and the consequences of it. I was still The Bad Guy but in his way he let me know that that was okay, he was still my Bear and I was still his Mom. At least that’s something neither of us can fail at.