Sunday, October 14, 2007

Difficult Day

So let's see....

The computer is still in the fix-it shop so we are a WoW-free house. The kids still get three hours electronic time per day on the weekend, and Frankie must use it all as soon as he gets up. During his three hours he got frustrated with one game after another and finally collapsed on the floor crying and saying that he was terrible at everything and there was nothing that he could do.

I tried mirroring and saying, "I can see how frustrated you are." I remember that sort of thing worked really well with Andrew when he was young, but so far with Frankie it just feels like I am perseverating right along with him. It doesn't seem to help him get out of the loop.

Finally I have him a choice between going into another room and talking with me and going to his room to cry. He refused to choose, and just lay there crying. Finally I announced that he had chosen to go to his room and so he needed to go. He stomped off saying that he would rip up his papers in his room. He seemed to think that was something that upset me, but I don't have any papers in his room.

He came up after half an hour cheerful and collected. He seemed to be his old self. Andrew and I left to do the shopping while Hubby was here with the other boys. When I got back a friend was over and the TV was on. I announced that they had had entirely too much video time and they left the room. A second friend came over and in a few minutes Frankie is in the living room complaining that Brian said he couldn't play with them anymore. "That's another reason why I hate living here."

In this case saying, "I understand why that is upsetting to you" did seem to work. (My theory is that there is a threshold that he passes were nothing really works.) He complained and we sympathized with how hard it was. We treated his comments about not liking it here as just expressions of the degree of his dissatisfaction. If he meant them as ultimatums -- fix this or I will leave you -- they did not work.

Later we spoke with Brian about being nicer to Frankie and including him with his friends.

It is so difficult for me because I do understand both sides of it. On one hand it is difficult to see Brian being so insensitive. On the other hand, Frankie wears on me. Brian is a kid, not a social worker or therapist. Brian had spent most of the morning with Frankie. He had been there for the rolling on the floor and crying. It is fair that Brian wants a break in which he can just play with his friends.

Brian and his friends finally decided just to go to one of the other's houses. Frankie is still hurt of course. As I write this he is lying on the floor alternately reading the outside of DVD boxes and complaining about being left behind.

It would be easier if Frankie were really 3 or 8 or 10, not just a kid who acted like he is. Then I wouldn't have any trouble explaining that sometimes older kids needed to do older kid things. I wouldn't feel badly about that at all. It is more difficult to explain to a 15-year-old that he is not "old enough" to go off and hang out with boys who are 13 and 14.

Hubby and I have definitely decided on a one-two-three-you're done plan for things that are frustrating Frankie. The problem of course is that a lot of things frustrate Frankie. Though WoW is one of the only things that he obsesses about when he is not doing it, some days it seems like there is nothing he can do that won't frustrate him. We might have to institute more rules for Frankie -- things like not being able to use all his electronic time in one stretch, or maybe not being able to use it all on gaming. (That three hours is supposed to cover gaming and TV.) I don't like having different rules for different kids, especially when they are technically the same age, but I am slowly coming to accept that it may be necessary.


  1. with the right explination, it might not be so difficult. maybe if you go at it from the frustration and anger side of things. then again, i can see it sending him off into woe is me land yet again. good luck!

  2. Do you think it would help if you couched it with the statement, "I notice you seem to get more frustrated with your electronic time than Andrew or Brian, so we are going to have to come up with different rules for you to help you feel less frustrated."

  3. I think there has to be a way to allow Brian to enjoy time in his house with his friends without Frankie. It *would* be a lot easier if Frankie were 8, that's for sure, but I think there is a very fine line between stepping on Frankie's toes by being too blunt about why Brian and his friends don't want Frankie around, and having Brian feel pushed out of the house as he heads into being a teen. I haven't had teens yet, so take what I have to say with some salt, for sure, but I wouldn't want my kid to feel like he could only have fun with his friends away from home. I've always subscribed to the idea that I want *my* house to be where the kids hang out, so I can keep abreast of what is going on. Just in that one interaction you described, I worry about Brian choosing more and more to be elsewhere.

    I don't feel like I said that very eloquently, but hopefully you followed :) And, like I said, I havent' btdt yet, so I may be off-base.

    ebetit at gmail dot com


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