Ummmmm, kay. So it's been a pretty hard week for me; hence the lack of posting. As all of my followers know - all three of you - when Kar's not posting, Kar's not doing so well.
Dylan.....ugh, this is so humiliating. But I'm just going to put it out there. Dylan got into a couple of fights at school before spring break. And there were no other witnesses, so it's Dylan's word against this boy and girl's word (Ben has seen this girl, and I guess she's really stocky and buff and big? I don't know). On the Wednesday before Spring Break, for whatever reason, this boy told this girl to go beat Dylan up. She says they were play fighting. The boy says it was because Dylan was throwing stuff at them. Dylan says they were all playing because he and the boy had been friends up to this point. So they were play fighting, or just plain old fighting - who knows? - and Dylan was blocking this girl's punches and kicks, because he's a purple belt in taekwondo. It's instinct. And then either she threw her shoe at Dylan or her shoe came flying off her foot and hit him, depending on who you talk to, so Dylan threw her shoe over the fence into a neighbor's yard.
Nobody told any adults about it. Dylan didn't tell us. Boy and Henchwoman didn't tell principal. Nobody told the ONE DUTY THEY HAVE FOR THE ENTIRE PLAYGROUND.
That night, Dylan had the 5th grade patriotic program.
Anyways, Henchwoman passed Ben and Dylan on her way out the door and gave Dylan a big old crusty look. Ben goes, "Dyl, who's that?"
Dylan's response? "I don't know."
Two days later. Recess again. There is a new kid in Dylan's class. He sees New Kid by the zipline and wants to play with him. The other two people at the zipline? Guy Who Can't Do His Own Dirty Work and Henchwoman. So Dylan, like a pabo (Korean word for idiot - my dad went to Korea on his mission. I learned that word whenever we were driving and Dad got cut off), goes to the zipline and says, "Hey, New Kid! Wanna play?" And GWCDHODW (Guy Who Can't Do His Own Dirty Work) is like, "No! You can't play with New Kid! Attack, Henchwoman!!"
So Henchwoman starts attacking Dyl, and Dylan just...loses it. Starts screaming at them. For some reason has a pencil in his pocket. Stabs Henchwoman in the back with the pencil. The pencil breaks the skin.
Still, nobody tells anyone.
Except then Dylan had to go take his ADHD pills in the office, and he was crying. The principal asked what happened, and it all came spilling out.
This was like 2 hours before the end of school. So the principal gets Dylan's version, then he gets GWCDHODW's version, then he gets Henchwoman's version. He is concerned and calls Ben and I in. We rush to the school.
He relates the whole story to us, plus two more really awesome details. Detail #1: "He called these kids a really bad word," the principal says. He leans forward to whisper, and starts to spell it. "B-U-T-T-H-O-L-E-S." Ben and I are leaning forward to listen, then kind of glance at each other and sit back. I mean, I don't like that word, and I don't allow Dylan to say it in our home, but, seriously, when the principal said that it was a really bad word and started to spell it, I thought it was going to be something, like, really, really awful. I almost started laughing, in spite of myself.
First of all, we don't have TV. Dylan hasn't been aware of the shootings at schools that have been happening. I suppose we should have brought it up with the kids, but...I don't know. I suppose in the back of my mind, I made the decision not to really talk about that with my kids. I didn't want to scare them or make them paranoid. They whine every day about going to school as it is. I didn't need another reason for them to use in their case against going to school.
Secondly, Ben does have a few hunting rifles. Since we don't have a gun locker, Ben doesn't keep the ammo in the house. We have rifles, but no bullets for them. We just can't afford a gun locker. The kids know that the guns are absolutely off-limits and we have had no problems with them. It does bother me that there are guns in my house, but my husband likes to hunt. So I think it's an acceptable compromise that, if I allow him to hunt and bring his disgusting kill home, he keeps the ammo out of the house.
Anyways, obviously all of this stuff was a red flag for the principal, and rightfully so. The bell was about to ring, so he was like, "I'll think over Dylan's consequences during spring break and get to you when we all get back."
I was really good in the car home. Ben didn't want to drive Dylan home in his truck, because he was fuming and didn't want to say anything in anger that he might regret. So we kind of went over the events of the week, and I said, "Dyl, how did these choices turn out for you?"
"Yeah. Not good at all. What would have been a better idea for you to do in both situations?"
So I let him come up with different alternatives, and it was a good talk.
And lest you think violent video games are the culprit, nope. He plays, like, Super Mario Brothers and Wii Sports and Minecraft - basically a building block game. I may not be Mother of the Year, but at least I won't let those kinds of games into my home.
We also visited Dylan's ADHD doctor. He had been struggling in Math, the subject right after lunch, and we kind of deduced that 1) His pills are wearing off wayyy before lunchtime and 2) He isn't taking enough at lunchtime to last him the afternoon until he gets home. So we fixed his dosage a little. He takes a little more, a little earlier. Just...the lack of impulse control and his inability to pay attention in the afternoons were signs to me that we needed to tweak his dosage. He's been growing a lot lately, and an adjustment was bound to happen sooner or later. He can't use the same amount he did when he was in 1st grade.
So school started back up on Monday, and the principal called me and said, "Okay, I decided that Dylan needs three days of In School Suspension."
ISS. I remember hearing about kids who went to ISS. These were the baaaaaaad kids. The kids who did horrible things. The kids I did not want to go near.
My kid is an ISS kid.
I cannot figure out where my kids came from. Because I was totally obedient, a total pacifist... never rocked the boat...
But anyways, we totally supported the principal's decision. Also, on Wednesday of this week, the school counselor and another counselor from another school had to do a Risk Assessment of Dylan. I had to be there to just be moral support. They asked him a bunch of questions like, "Do you often think about suicide?" "What were you feeling when you stabbed the girl with the pencil?" "Do you play with guns?"
It was awful.
And Dylan was just...so humiliated and scared and sad and confused. I think he wanted to say the "right answers" but didn't know what to say and was freaking out. Or maybe he has a hard time expressing feelings? I've never really thought about whether or not he can express his feelings, but when they said, "What were you feeling when you stabbed the girl with the pencil?" he didn't say, like, "fear," or "anger," or "frustration." He just frowned and said, "I don't know." He just kept saying he didn't know.
I'm such a proponent of the expression of feelings, but it hasn't occurred to me whether Dylan has this ability. I know Micah does. He uses "feeling words" often - "I'm so mad at you right now!!" But now I'm realizing that Dylan impulsively lashes out instead of saying how he feels or giving the person any warning sign. Instead of going, "Stop stealing my legos!" Or "I don't like you stealing my legos!" he grabs the legos and pushes the offending kid bodily out of his room. Which we don't like and which we're always trying to teach him not to do.
Here's the thing. The older I get, and the more I see, the more I'm starting to think that nurture is just a teeny bit of the percentage of how a kid turns out. We can do our best and teach them, but I truly feel that kids kind of come into this world with a built-in temperment. Micah came out pissed at the world, and continues to be pissed at the world, despite our best efforts.
Anyways, now, this may be totally off-base, but...I'm a little upset that the other two kids didn't get any consequences for these altercations. I'm not expecting ISS for them or anything, but maybe a talking-to? Apologizing for their part in it? Something. And the principal kept saying, "Dylan keeps calling these situations 'bullying,' but they're not bullying unless the occurrences happen over a long period of time. I think Dylan is trying to victimize himself here." And I get that, but at the same time, I'm like, How long is someone supposed to pick on someone else before it's officially "bullying" and someone intervenes??? A week? A year? To me, if someone picks on someone else even one time, that's bullying. And it's not okay. I'm probably being a mama bear, and I really don't want to be one of those really irrational parents I dealt with when I was a teacher, so I kept my mouth shut, but in my head, I'm like, "Look. Yeah, Dylan should NOT have done what he did. ABSOLUTELY. But he was mad and frightened and this was the second time these kids tried beating him up. And he said stuff he didn't mean, which, frankly, a lot of us do."
And I KNOW Dylan. More than he knows himself, I think. He doesn't go around looking to fight people. He wants to play. He loves making friends. He's made several at the school. But if he feels cornered or attacked, he will lash back. And that's what I think happened here.
Dylan had been really penitent and on his best behavior during spring break. Ben left for Korea for a week and a half, and after Dylan's ISS was done, I made an executive decision. I thought, "Okay, I'll let him play on the iPad for a couple of hours today." That night, we had a birthday party for my dad. Afterward, Mom watched my kids at my house while I went to do my janitorial job. And Dylan was really awful to her. He was mad that she wouldn't let him take away the iPad from Sadie. He was just freaking out. And she was trying to get him to clean his room, and he wasn't being cooperative. He was Without Pills Dylan. The Dylan I don't like very much, quite honestly.
So I came home, and she told me about his behavior, and that was just IT. I was livid. I don't tolerate disrespect. I gathered up the iPad, our old laptop, and our Wii. And I hid them somewhere that no one, and I mean no one, will EVER find them. And I said, "Dyl, that's it. Your total addiction to video games has got to stop. I will not allow them in our home ever again. And I mean it. You're done. For good. All you guys do is fight over who gets to play on what, and I don't need this contention in our home."
So Dylan, of course, just totally overreacts. While I was securing a new home for our devices, he's, like, slamming himself into his bed really hard and screaming and yelling. By this time I was whipped up into quite a frenzy. And when I finished hiding our stuff, I went into his room and I said and did some mean things. And my mom was still there and saw and heard it all.
It was probably my worst mom moment. I've had quite a few bad mom moments, but this is one of the worst ones. I'm not proud of it. I spent all night crying. I have apologized over and over again to Dylan. I've begged for forgiveness from the Lord. I told Ben all about it, and he was completely understanding. My sis, Nat, had texted me during our altercation, so I texted her the next morning and apologized for the delay, and then I told her about what happened. And I told her that I don't deserve to be a mom. These kids deserve better than me. I really, really feel that way. I'm truly trying my hardest. I give every ounce of my strength and emotion and love and help to my kids. I would die for them in a heartbeat. I pray for them and worry for them and love them and delight in them. They're hard, but they're kids, and they deserve love, understanding, and guidance. And I'm failing. Hard core.
And Nat, to her total credit, was so kind to me about it. She said, "We all have our moments we're not proud of, where we have a knee-jerk reaction." This is coming from someone who I think is such an amazing mom. Someone I'm always comparing myself to (I know we're not supposed to do it, but it happens, aight?). Someone whose kids, frankly, are saints compared to mine. I was so blown away by her non-judgmental response to me and to what I'd done. And then she sent me an Ensign article - Grace for Mother Duck and Me.
I finally had time tonight to read it. And it made me cry. For probably the thousandth time in the past two days. :) But it was just...a really good parable. And it reminded me that Christ can make up for my mistakes. I'm trying my best, and dang it, it's not good enough. But, as the author of the article so beautifully put it, Christ "reaches my reaching." I've never understood that phrase from "Where Can I Turn for Peace?" until now. I'm reaching to be a good mom, and I'm failing. But He can repair any emotional wounds that I fear I may have given my kids. I'm more patient now than I've ever been, but I still have a pretty short fuse and a really long way to go until I become more of an ideal mom. I do say things in anger that I shouldn't say. Sometimes I wish I could cut out my tongue. But that's what the atonement is for. So I can repent and sincerely try harder. Which I really do. I try so, so, so hard.
So that's my story. Sorry it's so long. You deserve a freakin' medal for getting to this point.
The thing is, on this blog, I want to be real. Sometimes life is really funny and really beautiful. And sometimes it's horrible and I really, really wish the second coming was here right now so we could get out of this craphole. You might think I'm a pessimist, but I'm a realist. I don't ever want to be one of those bloggers, or one of those people, who are like, "Look at what an amazing, perfect mom I am. Look at how I do everything perfectly. Look at how clean my house is and how well-behaved my kids always are and all these neat things I do with them and how cute my perfectly-manicured toes are." This is me. I am a hot mess. I'm not proud of it, but it's real. My toenails have constant dirt under them from digging in my garden, and I haven't painted them in six months. I haven't done my hair in probably a month. I'm 40 pounds overweight. I have a little bit of a "swearing problem." My house looks like a pit. Sometimes I'd rather read People Magazine than the scriptures. I have a horrible addiction to Coke.
But dang it, I'm constantly working on improving myself and my mothering. I've got to say, I was a freaking genius when I was trying to show Sadie that those two squares on her worksheet that were cut into fourths in different ways had fourths that really were the same size, even though they didn't look like it. I got out post-it notes and cut them up to show her. And she finally got it. I've helped Dylan pass off a ton of cub scout requirements in the past couple of weeks.
Life is hard. And life is beautiful.