Saturday, March 24, 2012

Losing your temper

Oldest daughter called yesterday.  It seems that her middle son, who's 16, was being a smart mouth and raising his voice to her.  When son-in-law got home from work it escalated and grandson started yelling that he hated them and wanted to live anywhere but there.  Rather than beat him, which son-in-law said he would have liked to have done, they dropped him off with me. Thanks. 

Grandson went out into the backyard and started working on his pickup.  He wasn't able to borrow his dad's battery so he didn't do much other than sit in the cab and sulk.  Son-in-law called me to tell me that grandson took a CD out of their van when he got out.  The boy wasn't supposed to have this CD and I was to take it away and preferably break the thing in half.

I went out to the yard and asked the boy where the CD was.  He said it was HIS.  I told him that my question wasn't who it belonged to, my question was where is it because I've been requested to confiscate it.  He said it was in his bag and headed into the house.  I told him he didn't have to get it right then but to give it to me when he came in for dinner.  I then left him alone for the next hour.

He came in and ate with the rest of us.  If he didn't then he would have missed out on dinner.  I don't play games like that.  After the two younger grand kids went to bed I went looking for the 16 year old.  At dinner I told him no TV or video games.  He was sitting in the family room on the couch.  He was just sitting.  I sat down and said it's my turn to lecture.  He wanted to ignore me but where was he to go?  So I just talked. 

I explained that quite often there are people who get me really mad, angry even.  Stopping what I'm doing and counting to ten is stupid.  That only pisses me off more and gets my blood pressure even higher.  So how do I calm myself down and behave properly?  Two ways.  In both cases I pretend that the spotlight is on me.  First, there's God.  Let's pretend that God has enough time in the year to observe me, and only me, for about 30 seconds or a minute.  Can you imagine God watching me yell and scream because I did brush my teeth and you are telling me that I didn't?  God has no idea what the person I'm arguing with is saying or doing.  His focus is only on me.  If I'm being judged right then and there for how my life is going to play out over the next year, I'm screwed...yes I said that to my grandson!  Second scenario - the TV camera.  I pointed to the motion detector in the corner of the room.  Let's pretend that's a camera.  The camera is focused on you.  Nobody else is in the picture.  You are yelling and screaming and it's being broadcast around the world.  How do you feel with everyone watching your behavior?  Remember, nobody is seeing your mom yell at you.  They are just watching you.  He said he'd feel like a fool.  Exactly!  Those two scenarios keep me calm...most of the time.

I won't argue with you if you are yelling and screaming if someone is doing something illegal or dangerous and trying to involve you.  Argue, fight if the cause is just.  But for something like being wrongly accused of not brushing your teeth?  Or even if the parent exaggerates that he never brushes his teeth?  And this argument is worth your 30 seconds of judgement that God is going to give you this year?  Please don't get into religious arguments here, it was to make a point, not that I think God only gives us 30 seconds of his time!  He was feeling pretty stupid after that conversation and I got a good smile out of him. 

I told him the story of the little girl down the street who has a cell phone and all kinds of pretty clothes.  She doesn't have anyone at home who cares where she is or what she is doing.  The adults in her family are all wrapped up in their drugs with no time for her.  But from the view of other kids she's got it made.  She has a phone, cool clothes, and can stay up or out as long as she wants.  But nobody cares.  It's better to have your parents care, which at times means you get in trouble.  Even if you don't think you deserve it.

Then I brought up his other statement that he wanted to live somewhere else.  So you want to mooch off someone else?  It's hard not quite being a grown up.  If you want to live here we can get you a little storage shed from Home Depot.  You can turn it into your house.  You don't need much. You'll go to school during the day and then when you are done with school you will either go off to your job or do hard labor around here.  After all, you have to earn your food.  And your clothes.  And your shoes.  Unless the pair of shoes you have now will last you for a couple of years.  I'm sure you'll take such good care of them that you won't need to earn money to buy new shoes.  How does that sound rather than living at home?

He said his parents already agreed that he can move out and at the end of his weekend with me he'll have to tell them where he wants to be dropped off.  I told him he should respond that he wants to be dropped off with them.  You owe your parents an apology.  I don't care if they were wrong.  Remember you are responsible for you and your behavior was wrong.  Perhaps a little grovelling will work...

Until then he's mine.  He's going to be working on the backyard fences this weekend.  I'll take the slave, I mean darling grandson, labor.


  1. I always told my kids to act as though their grandmother was in the room with them. Their grandmothers had pretty firm ideas of what was right and what was wrong. But your grandson needs someone, preferably a man, he can talk to. Someone who shares his interest, prehaps mechanics or sports. It is difficult for a parent to deal with this age especially if the child is struggling. I would like to just say he will grow out of it but it is more likely he will find something bad to fill the vacumm. This boy needs "saving" so don't ignore him. Often it is the child that is the least fun to be around who really needs you to be around. An uncle or family friend or some older man who has good moral character would be a great thing. But if that isn't possible then grandma, you are the next best thing.

  2. Today this grandson and Mr. Bug-out renter are in the back pasture fixing the fences. He's going to stay until tomorrow, that way we can have another talk this evening. I spoke with grandson's parents this afternoon. His dad is still angry but wants him home soon. His mom is missing him and would like him home tonight. I'll drop him off about a mile or so from his house in the morning and let him walk the rest of the way.

  3. My Dad had similar talks with my brother, it just never sunk in at all. It was always me splitting the firewood, hauling in water, cooking dinner, doing laundry, etc. He would just do as he pleased, but when he got tossed out on his rear, the reality of life set in fast. He has since lived off the reality of welfare for 25 years or so... good talks.

    I hope your talks make a dent that will last a lifetime, in the right direction.

  4. The teen years is a rough time to navigate for everyone involved. Sometimes it can get out of hand and the child runs away or gets in worse trouble. Good thing your daughter and grandson has you around to talk some sense and provide some guidance.

  5. I would get angry with my parents, but I was always taught that you can't be disrespectful. Is he being heard? Pick a time when everyone has cooled off and sit down to talk. Parents should listen and acknowledge children's thoughts, rationale and viewpoints, regardless if they agree. Then parents should present counterpoints, viewpoints and reasoning for their side. Try to come to an agreement with both sides compromising. Both sides need to be adult about differences.

  6. My children always said, " Dad, I hate walking in circles". I would reply, "Shut up or I'll nail your other foot to the floor !!"

    Had to interject some humor here.....Parenting and grandparenting is very frustrating with teenagers !!

    G.I. JIM

  7. Had an issue with a family member just yesterday and took your advice (what if God only saw, or in this case read, MY part of the argument)...amazing what a difference it made! I have always tried to live by the, 'I'm only responsible for MY actions, not someone elses' motto, but to look at it as if God was ONLY seeing your responses is a great tool in getting yourself (ME:) to calm down and respond in a loving manner. Not sure the other person will see it that way, but I was able to walk away from the confrontation with a sense of peace. Thanks for the tip!