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Monday, February 21, 2011

Fenced

Netted

So, after the drama of the last week, the past few days have been relatively quiet. Dr. SmartyPants had been out of town early in the week, so when he got home Wednesday night, he got an earful from me about the ridiculousness of his son, and a request from me to lay down the law. He got the boys up early the next morning and sat them down and handed down the consequences he and I had decided on the night before.

So, basically, one of my children has been stripped of all his privileges until he shows consistent improvement in his attitude, work ethic, and ability to stay on task. He took it very well, and actually seemed to relax for the first time a few weeks. Kids are so strange. He's been pushing his boundaries as hard as he could for the past month, railing against the fence that surrounds him - testing...testing...testing... and as soon as the gate was shut and the barbed wire slapped on the top, he stopped being so stressed out and hornery. Everything I asked of him during school on Thursday was done promptly, with a smile and a great deal of pride.

He had to watch his brother play tennis on Thursday - their first day outside since they began lessons in January.

"I so want to be out there," he said.

"I want you to be. You know what you have to do to get it back."

"I know."

He and I sat on the back deck while his brother played with friends in the fort.

"Can I just go see what they are doing?"

"No."

"Can I go say hi to them?"

"No."

He balled up his fist and put it against the center of his chest.

"It hurts! It hurts, hurts, hurts, hurts, hurts!"

Tears started rolling down his cheeks, and his shoulders began to shake, and I fought the urge to gather him into my arms and comfort him in that moment.

"Which is harder, bud? Doing the thing you don't want to do, or watching your friends and your brother play without you?"

"Watching them. It's so much easier just to get my work done."

He walked into the house and sat down on the floor and cried a little while longer, and I let him. Later, when I came in, he was quiet and his eyes were red-rimmed and watery, but the fiery anger that had burned in them over the past month was gone. He watched out the window a while, then picked up a book about crazy science experiments and started reading them out loud to me.

The rest of the weekend passed quietly. He watched and waited, quietly. There were no more tears, although he was sad at missing out on playing with his buds. He's been marking off the calendar until his privileges start to be returned...four solid school days until tennis...six solid school days until everything else comes back.

The impasse has been bridged. His fences are restored, his responsibilities defined, his boss firmly set back into her rightful place - right up until the next emotional growth spurt happens and we do this all over again.