In fact, the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word disciplina, which means “instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge.” That realization forced me to consider a really important question: If there is no learning taking place, is it really discipline, or is it just imposing my will on a disabled child?
And this folks is the heart of it all. I don’t expect the parent judging to ever end, although I really wish it would. But at the end of the day we really need to ask ourselves if our children are truly learning and preparing for adulthood or are we just bullying our children into being little more than trained monkeys.
And it is this judgement that I struggle with every day. Mental illness does some seriously weird stuff to the brain. It will twist logic. It will drive you forward with the blinders on at high speeds. It will lie to you with a conviction like no other. Not only do I battle with this on a personal level every day and take medications for it to keep this in check, I’m now raising not one but TWO children that must do battle with this same thing every day. I know people think I’m spoiling them rotten. I get it. But know this: we are a non-traditional family doing things in a non-traditional way. My primary focus has been and always will be in teaching all my children in how to master, cope, and over come the disorders they have been diagnosed with. What good is it to teach them manners if they can’t remain mentally stable? I can tell you right now that manners often goes out the window when you have a psychotic break. I’m pretty certain anyone who has experienced frightening hallucinations, or has taken care of someone who experienced them, will agree with me.
Excuse me for “not caring” about swearing as much as you. It actually allows me to know how severe his state of mind is. Yes I address it, but not with punishment usually. Which words he’s using and how he’s using them tells me whether he’s in crisis or if he’s just stirring up trouble. I much rather address the cause of the swearing. If he was sneakier he would hide his trouble making intent by not swearing in advance – but then I would have a harder time in snipping it in the bud. If he was more self composed and emotionally regulated he wouldn’t be swearing like a sailor, but he would be better off for it. As uncomfortable as it is to hear a 7 year old swear, it’s actually incredibly useful – like the various gauges in the dashboard of your car. Is it normal? No. It is traditional? No. Does it work? Yes. Is he swearing at school? Not that I’m aware of. At least I haven’t gotten any phone calls about it…. Yet. But this little boy tends to come home wrecked and fully charged by the end of the day. Every. Day. So some days, yes, I let him rant and swear – as long as he doesn’t throw things while he’s at it. I even let him put himself in time out…
Because in moments like that it should never be about controlling the kid. It should be all about teaching our kid how to control themselves. They already know we have all the power. They are constantly painfully aware of the “Adult Conspiracy” as Piers Anthony likes to call it in his Xanth novels. Have we so easily forgotten our childhoods? Have we so easily forgotten what it felt like? Or are we just all too willing to enjoy the dominance and power that adulthood brings? We really need to be asking ourselves that when raising our children.
I’m still trying to process what happened earlier this week at my parents’ house. I get on Little Bear’s case because he was watching garbage on YouTube again. You know the violent crap with a lot of swearing nobody likes to hear. It’s distressing because most of it that he’s seeking out is typically the sort of stuff featuring mistreatment of others. Keep in mind it’s not the swearing so much as the violence and the mistreatment that has me calling it as a “no go” and instructing him to shut it off. But again, it’s usually the swearing that flags my attention. Innocent content doesn’t have swearing after all. So him and I go the rounds as always and my dad just HAS to butt in. Little Bear of course escalates and decides to put himself in time out and locks himself in the big bedroom upstairs. He didn’t slam the door or anything. My feelings on this was fine, he can do that and when he comes downstairs he will be grounded from the PC the rest of the night. But NO my dad can’t leave shit alone and literally busted the door open. He’s all satisfied with himself and Little Bear is asking me why can’t anyone listen to him. Meanwhile I’m wondering why is it so satisfying to be such a bully like this to a little kid every time? This wasn’t about discipline or teaching, this was about establishing power. And then he starts in with me about how I should be punishing my son. I told him he was already grounded from the PC for the night and that’s why he went upstairs for a time out. That’s when my dad went into his “I’m not going to admit I am wrong” pouts and said something about how Little Bear should be punished for more than that. Little Bear wasn’t the one that wrecked the door trying to prove his dominance. Little Bear just wanted space to be left alone and cool down. I’m still trying to figure out where the crime is in that. I recall the time my dad got angry with me as we were getting ready for my wedding and he hauled himself off in his truck elsewhere claiming his wasn’t going to be attending. Why is it okay for him to do shit like this, but not okay for Little Bear to ask to be left alone?
Well after both settled down and were leaving me alone, I finally figured out how to use my father’s anti virus program to completely block YouTube on Windows 10 on the PC that Little Bear is allowed to use. Well at least until the boys figure out how to change the settings on the firewall…. Now I just need to figure out how to do the same on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. I’m done with this fight. He’s been warned a million times. Time to shut it down.
My dad later commented he hadn’t thought that maybe Little Bear would be close to the door and would get hit. He was lucky that he wasn’t. My dad is right. My dad has no idea how tightly we are watched for abuse and neglect for the simple fact that I am a mentally ill mother with special needs children. What would have happened if Little Bear had gotten hurt and had to be taken in to the ER? Nothing good for my father. That shit at the very least would have been documented. There is a very important reason I do things with my children the way I do. Just one. And that reason is CPS.
The “normal” folk may have the bliss of never having to worry about them from one day to the next. But not me. Not when I know that every single provider is an obligated reporter. Not when I know that statistically special needs children are at greater risk for abuse and neglect so these children SHOULD be watched more closely for signs. Not when I know that the stigma against parents with mental illness is out there. And let’s face it, most of us – myself included – are struggling like hell to be functional. So we too are being watched like hawks. I want to believe they are watching so they can swoop in with support when it’s needed. Sadly this isn’t always what happens. So I do my best to surround myself with a good army of watchers. People that care. People that listen. People that actually help when you say you need it. This way CPS never comes into the picture. They don’t need to if you proactively protect yourself with the right people. But that takes time, knowing how to read people, and being willing to invest in working relationships. It’s exhausting.
And the people that judge… they just throw monkey wrenches into everything. Nothing good comes of it. I believe that for every person you judge – for whatever reason – there are at least two other people judging you. That’s a ton of energy wasted on negativity going around. Shouldn’t we be making an effort to break this cycle and instead make an effort to understand? I mean if we are going to spend that much energy on a person, the least we could do is spend it on understanding. I don’t get why my dad does what he does. I probably never will but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying.