Monday, 8 December 2008

Monday 8th December 08

A very slow start to the morning as was late to bed last night and had a hard-working day. Gill had got up earlier, as usual, and had decided that both boys were unwell enough to go to school. One had a definite temperature and the other, well, don't really know what's wrong with him, but I wasn't arguing! When Gill rang the schools, both reported lots of people ringing in sick, so it's probably a bug going around.

So the whole family lounged around. I was delighted to hear the news about Plane Stupid heroes once again disrupting an airport and again putting the issues of LACK OF ACTION re climate change on top of the agenda. I am at one with these brave young people, and have huge respect for them. The politicians have had plenty of time to DO SOMETHING about cutting emissions and have done very little apart from producing a lot of hot air... including doing a hell of a lot of flying to climate change conferences (such as the one in Poland, happening now) and the like, and some of us are fed up and angry that selfish people are continuing to trash this planet without a thought to future generations or those in developing countries who don't deserve to suffer because of the actions of a few people in 'developed' countries. So I wrote my paid blog on this news plus what I had intended to write about, which was solar hot water panels.

During the afternoon I cycled into town and put in a cheque from Anita for her SUMA order, and got some medication for my children and a new battery for one of the few battery-using gadgets in the house, a TV remote control. Visited a juice bar called JuicyMoosey which is owned by my newly found friend Bruno, and met a possible friend-to-be called Jade who runs a vegan recipe website. I also went looking for a pair of specific drawing pens for one of the boys. The make of pen requested by him was unavailable so I got something similar... but when I got home and explained to the child in question, he threw a huge paddy about this and started hitting out and being violent. I had to sit on his legs and hold his wrists, and told him that if he decided to strike any of us like he has been doing, that I would ring up the police. I of course do not want to resort to this, but he has to take responsibility for his actions, and if it takes a visit from the police to shock him into not hitting us, then we will do this. Parenting is not easy.

However, he did calm down within a couple of hours, and apologised, and we had a peaceful evening. Watched a programme about steam trains and then University Challenge.

Tried to continue doing assorted paperwork, putting cheques in the post etc.

I slept downstairs as our youngest was in our bed, feverish and not sleeping well.


Anonymous said...

Hi John

How about recording your sons behaviour (and the aftermath)on a video camera? Play it back to him once he has calmed down. He may not be truly aware of the effect he is having on his family, and watching it when he is calm may be an enlightening experience for him.

Mind you, catching the moment might prove tricky - lots of luck!!


Anonymous said...

what a ridiculous suggestion, good grief!

do you have a mobile phone john? you could have rung home when you were in the shop and told your son the situation, and i bet he would have said 'never mind dad', you could have then offered to take him at the weekend somewhere else to look for it, or looked for it on the internet or whatever. what you must never do is buy something else as an alternative thinking it will do, because it wont!

Compost John said...

Thank you Catherine for this sensible suggestion. We had alrady considered something like this to help those who are helping us see what the problem is, however, we would worry that an intrusive camera (we could use Gill's as it does do short video clips) would get broken either when filming or during playback.

As for the comment by anonymous, I assume you mean the 'ridiculous suggestion' is ringing the police if Gill is assaulted again like she has been? We have been told to do this by one of the professionals who knows what is going on. Any reader who is assaulted by even an unruly child has the option of contacting the police as assault is unacceptable. I have not detailed all the incidents in this blog out of compassion for what our boy is going through and an attempt to censor myself (something I find nigh-on impossible) but a couple of them have been serious and potentially life-threatening.

As for me carrying a mobile phone to try to deal with something as trivial as the brand of a pen, I don't think so! The pens I got were the right sort of pen, but not the brand specified by the school. The response I would expect from my son when told that Dad had trawled all over town trying to get the right pens would be something like 'thanks Dad, but the brand of pen I was told to get was such and such and these are the wrong brand', not an eruption of anger and violence. However, this is what I got when I tried to explain to him that the make he had wanted had been bought by another company and wasn't on sale in any of the shops I visited.

I will take the pens back and visit one more shop which might stock the 'right' ones!

The things we go through to try to be a good parent! Never expected this!

Anonymous said...

no, I wasnt referring to the police actually.

i was referring to the video camera which i think is a gross invasion of your child's rights not to mention how on earth would you make this work, you would have to have cameras all over the house running all day long to capture any incidents.

i think that is very unfair on your kid, how on earth is he going to feel if you do this covertly and then present him with the evidence, he will hate your guts forever.

as to the mobile phone, your comment is very revealing, you would not bother to use your phone to check with your kid about the pens, thus getting his opinion there and then on the spot, and more importantly letting him have the power to decide - you took that power away which resulted in the outburst of frustration. you asserted your right to decide over his. it might seem very trivial to you but to your kid it was very important. trivial things to an adult are of massive importance to a kid that age. he doesnt give a fig that you trawled all over town looking for those pens, all he wants is the pens he asked for, to my mind he should have been the one to go and get them, he would then have looked all over town like you did and would have then been able to make his own decision as to when/if to compromise and get something else - it wasnt your right to take that decision off him.

i can well understand how disappointed he was when you gave him the wrong pens - he is thinking that all his mates will have the right pens and we will look like the odd one out if he uses something else.

never underestimate the power of peer pressure and your son is the exact age to be most susceptible to it.

Compost John said...

I don't have a mobile phone... you might realise that I'm a 'green' with a 'low carbon lifestyle' and that means I choose not to have loads of gadgets... and I've managed very well without one so far and don't want to start carrying one around now.

I was not asked by my son to get the pens, but by my wife who is unwell and she would have done it if she'd been going into town.

However, your comments about peer pressure and his going into town and getting his own stuff are great. We'd love him to start doing things like this. Would you like to come round and suggest he goes into town and gets his own pens? I think you'd be surprised by his reluctance!


Anonymous said...

well, then that would be his decision wouldnt it!!!!!!!!!!!

you just dont see it from his eyes at all.

and you should get a mobile phone, you have a laptop whats the difference? buy a reconditioned one!

Compost John said...

Firstly, if we videoed his behaviour and showed him the video, that wouldn't violate anyone's rights... only if we posted it on YouTube! (which of course we wouldn't!!!)

The comment above doesn't make sense really as he has been asked by school to get some drawing pens, and as he is too young to go into town to get them himself, one of his parents does it for him. He could go into town but he chooses not to do that yet, which is fine by me. My problem was only with his unreasonable reaction to my explaining that I'd got a different make of drawing pens.

Finally, just because I have a laptop computer (which is essential for my voluntary work and my paid work as a writer) it doesn't follow that I should buy a mobile phone, even a £15 one or a reconditioned one. I do not want a mobile phone. People have existed for eons without these gadgets, and I choose to have a computer but choose to have no mobile phone, no car, no motorbike, no computer games, and at the moment, no central heating or hot water out of a tap. (Well, this isn't a choice, but we are doing fine with just the lovely woodstoves and kettles and pans!)

I don't think I need to publish any more comments about my son's behaviour regarding the pens. He knows he behaved badly and is bright enough to try to avoid this kind of situation as he doesn't enjoy it and regrets it afterwards. I love him to bits and am just trying to be the best Dad that I can... and any parent will tell you that it's a very difficult job and everybody makes mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Hi John!

Just caught up with your blogs of this week!

Eldest son is displaying some extremely challenging behaviour and I support your tactics and strategies for dealing with it - as a father and teacher (17 years exp) children need to feel boundaries whether they be in the form of a simple "look" or something more physical. Where behaviour becomes outrageous or dangerous I would fight tooth-and-nail to uphold the right to physically restrain my child, no matter what the PC-brigade dictate!

At the same time, children need to be able to reflect on their behaviour - it forms the basis of almost every form of anger management / cognitive behaviour therapy - and the best possible way is for them to be shocked at seeing a recording of it! Thankfully, the majority of children don't require such extreme treatment but it is an option that should be left open to us should we require it.

Denying a child such care and attention in their upbringing is a form of child neglect second, in my view, to failure to provide food and shelter. This is not to say that we should be continually stern and strict with our kids - they need positives as well as the occaional negative - "catch 'em being good" was what was drummed into us during our teacher training.

As for the pens, I am astonished that the school in question might have been so prescriptive in the type/brand - look deeper into that John.

Keep it up!