Friday, August 29, 2008

So angry

I yelled at Brian this morning. More than once.

He starts school on Tuesday and he is not getting up in the morning. I don't think it should be my job to get a fourteen year old boy out of bed in the morning, and I also find that I am not willing to let him deal with the natural consequences of not resetting his time clock. (Falling asleep on the public bus and end up back in Our Small Town, nodding off in class and missing assignments.) So I have been waking him up.

At first I got angry because he would say he would get up and then just fall right back to sleep. So I kept going into his room and waking him up again, getting more angry each time. This, you may have guessed has been going on for more than a week. The past three days I have followed his dad's advice and not left the room until he is sitting up with his feet on the floor. That seems to work, until I find him 30 minutes later asleep on my bed or the sofa in the rec room.

Today I got really angry. I yelled, loudly. I used bad words.

After I found him asleep the third time I stood over him while he put on his shoes and socks and then took him outside. I made him walk around the block quickly, which involved pulling him at one point. And I lectured. I told him that this wasn't my job, that it was his job. That he should understand the importance of being able to be awake in the morning and he should be forcing himself to stay awake. I forcefully expressed my concern about falling asleep on the bus or in class.

He responded with the "I'm not doing this on purpose" excuse, which just made me angry again.

I told him that the next three days either his father or I would be getting him up early and making him take walks and stay awake. While I said this I thought about how much Roland likes to sleep in in the morning on the weekends and how he will probably SAY he will help, but he WON'T wake up and help. That might not be true, but right now it feels like it will be. I also thought about the work that I should be getting done and wasn't getting done because I was busy doing other people's jobs for them.

When got back I went into Brian's room and found the bleeping trombone that Roland bleeping told me he would return last Saturday and clearly didn't. So I put the fricative thing in the car, along with my penitent son, and drove the bleeping music store and tried to listen to the young woman with a tiny, soft voice while loud music was blaring from a huge set of bleeping speakers right behind me. I told her that I had touble hearing her and then did that thing that people who can't hear do where they speak really loudly, which is not because we can't hear but because we are trying to MODEL WHAT WE NEED. She smiled at me patronizingly and said something I couldn't hear. Anyway, I told her that they bill us automatically and could she please check to see if we had already been billed this month. She looked through their records while I stood in front of the fricative speakers wondering if she would think I had given up if I walked out of the store while she did it. She found out that they had billed us and went to talk to the manager, came back and said that they would give me a partial refund. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that is what she said, cause she gave me money.

I don't like the way that I behaved with Brian this morning, but I am totally out of other ideas.


  1. I am sorry you had a rough morning with Brian- but reading it made me laugh out loud picturing it- :)

  2. 2 ideas- 1 sensitive, compassionate, the other reality.

    Sensitive first- it struck me odd that he said he can't help it. Knowing Roland's issues with apnea, are you sure he doesn't also have it? (Like father like son)

    We're having tonsils/adenoids removed this week from our boy because of this- can't wake up, slight snoring, but turns out huge adenoids/tonsils are prohibiting sleep. So maybe a quick surgery?

    Second, mean momma approach (I've only used it once and never had to again, my dad did it to me once and never repeated it- no need)

    Warn him on Sunday that if he doesn't get up on Monday, it will be his final warning. Tuesday morning will result in a significantly less pleasant approach.

    When Tues (or whatever) mroning arives and he doesn't get up, first get the bag of frozen peas from the freezer, then saturate a washcloth in cold (preferably icy) water. Do not wring out. Carry in his room and briskly wash his face until he jumps suddenly from the bed hollering for help. Then slap the peas on his face and have him jog in place for 60 seconds.

    Yeah. You can substitute a glass of ice water poured on his face for the rag if you don't have any clean.

    Oh, and he has to change the sheets. And wash them.

    Hee hee hee hee hee!

  3. While I absolutely 100% agree that Brian needs to be getting up in the morning, in his defense there is all kinds of scientific evidence about how teenagers' circadian rythms change drastically. The staying up late and sleeping late is related to brain growth and is unquestionably real, not laziness.

    Of course, he still needs to get up.

    You need to wake him up in some way that is spectacularly unpleasant, but with a minimum disruption to you so that you don't have to deal with all the friggin resentment. I suggest a nice bowl full of ice cold water ten minutes after his alarm is due to go off. Give him one grace-period "snooze", then douse him.

    It's like pavlov's dogs. Hopefully his body will start associating the sound of the alarm as the thing that keeps him from being doused in ice-cold water.

    The walking sounds like it's something that's going to drive you ape.

  4. That would drive me batty. I'm so glad I have my kids and not me to wake up. Even my 12 yo is still an early riser, gets up on his own by 6:30 most morning. I hope it continues. DH has the unenviable task of getting me up - I am NOT a morning person, but I do get up and do what must be done.

    I have no real ideas other than I've heard that the ice water really does work. Is there something Brian really cares about that could be used as a consequence for not staying up?

  5. Send him to bed early. For every five minutes he's running late in the morning, he goes to bed ten minutes earlier at night.

    That, and if he's not up at a reasonable amount of time, pour a bucket of ice water over his head.

  6. A) Give him an earlier bedtime. Enforce it by removing lightbulbs from his room (that's an idea from FosterAbba/Eema!), and anything else he'd use to keep himself awake.

    B) Give up control. Why are YOU not willing to let HIM deal with the consequences? If there are consequences for you, then make him deal with those as well. For instance, he has to pay to be taken to school if you have to drive. He has to pay for any time you have to take time to go to school to deal with the principal (or even to talk on the phone). "Pay" could be monetary or some other thing that he won't like such as extra chores. He isn't going to learn to get up if HE doesn't have to deal with the consequences. Right now, you are doing all the work. Why should he bother?

    C) Think about other consequences. Will he miss breakfast? A hot shower? Have to wear his PJs to school because there's no time to change? Have to walk because he missed the bus (or missed getting off) [I know, it's like 10 miles so maybe he doesn't actually walk to school but has to walk 10 miles around the block over and over on the weekend to make the point]). Etc.

    D) Wait till Tuesday. There's no reason at all he has any desire to get up early this weekend. There's no big threat involved so why bother? Even the threat of cold water...well, so what? He doesn't really have to go to school this weekend so he might just put up with it.

    Of course, I'm not in this situation (3 year old) nor will I probably ever be--I leave for work at 6:40am and school doesn't start till after 8 and is no more than one mile away. So I might never see my daughter get up for school except on days off! LOL

    BTW, I think you should tell Roland to pay for the extra week of the trombone out of his personal spending money. It was his fault he didn't do it when he said he would. He should pay for it. I know, might not go over well, but might make you feel better.

  7. Love the ice water ideas. I also like using bad words. I LOVE bad words (though I try to never use them around my kids). They are so satisfying that I wonder why I wasn't born a Soprano.

    I had a similar problem with Tara. I made sure she was dressed in her jammiest-looking jammies and I let her take the dive. The school made her wear clothes out of Lost and Found! She never did it again.

  8. I'm strongly opposed to the ice water idea. Honestly, it seems abusive. My mother did it to me once and it was awful. It did NOT get me up, just made me so freaking bad word angry that I was determined to punish her as well and NOT get up.

    He's right, it isn't on purpose. Poor kid. Getting back into the swing of things isn't easy, and like you said, it's been a BAD summer (aside from meeting me of course!). He's feeling that too. And he's 14 and facing all kinds of changes...all this you already know.

    It'll get better. Hang in.

  9. I agree with the ice water idea (or cold washcloth) and also the idea of having him go to bed considerably earlier than he is now.

    I am a NIGHT person, and have never been an early bird. I missed the bus, and assumed Mom would take me to school. She did, a few times, but got swiftly tired of it. We didn't have the money for cabs, so I had to walk four miles to school, twice (I was a slow learner!) but that took care of the problem.

    It may not be "on purpose" but no matter how exhausted and sleep-deprived a 14-year-old may be, he IS capable of getting up, if it is important enough to him. Yes, teen's circadian rhythms change, and they would find it far easier to go to bed late and get up late...but that won't work with reality, unfortunately.

    Good luck!


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