Thursday, September 30, 2010

9/30/2010 The Deal


EVERY day we hear another report from the CDC about his obnoxious behavior.

Part of the problem is that there was recently huge turnover in the CDC staff, so all the people who've known Gabriel -- and us -- since kindergarten left around the beginning of the school year. It takes a while to really "get" that he just doesn't respond to discipline measures as other kids do, and now he's older and faster and has lost whatever bits of intimidation he might have had from being the youngest.

Gabriel really, really, REALLY wants a book in this month's Scholastic order that has the plans to the Millenium Falcon. It's expensive for a Scholastic book -- $21 -- and is really just a pop-up with lots of spaceship pictures. I balked at this, and couldn't suggest he buy it himself because he's bankrupt (has lost allowance well into November), but decided this might be a good tool for improving his behavior.

So I told him: 4 straight days of perfect behavior at the CDC after school, and I'll order the book for him. That's quite a reward for what should be just normally expected behavior, but we're really starting at a deficit!

So today, the first day of the deal, Gabriel wouldn't come inside from the auditorium/library area where the 3rd-and-up graders stay after school. This forced the Director of the place, a new guy who's not exactly jovial or warm, to go in and chase him around to get him to move to the main CDC building. This sounds sort of funny, but it's infuriating. The Director is busy running a center for tens of kids and shouldn't have to put so much energy to dealing with one. I've had to chase Gabriel down too, and it's frankly sort of humiliating. And there comes a point in which you just can't deal with your kids by physically overpowering them anyway.

Gabriel being Gabriel of course wasn't contrite and didn't back down when I told him he'd lost the book -- indeed, full-scale war was brewing. So for practical reasons, I told him that after he'd done everything he had to do -- including starting some laundry -- that we'd talk about it.

(Believe me, sticking to the guns about "no book" would have no effect except massive futile painful conflict. He won't "learn" from it and behave better next time. Other kids, yes. But we're not talking about other kids.)

So he turned cooperative and sweet, did everything he needed to do before bed, so then I wrote out a chart for 5 days, with "Morning" and "CDC" on each day. He has to get a checkmark for each time, a total of 10, to earn himself that book. Actually I'm going to change it to give some margin for error, because one mistake and the incentive is gone. I know, dear reader, you're thinking, one mistake and "that should be it." But you all know Gabriel well enough to know what that means. I think I'll change it so that if he gets and "X" instead of a check, that then he'll have to get two checks to make up for it.

I even offered him some help "remembering" to behave himself at the CDC, by writing on his hand "BOOK." I know it will fade or sweat off, but the act of writing on his hand seemed to make an impact, at least for the moment.

Dealing with the Devil, I swear. But this Devil turned to an Angel after this; even hugging and kissing me and saying, "See Mom, I like it so much better when we're like this."

Meantime, Julian and Katrina had a grand time together when they got home rushing out to put the (enormous) garbage cans away. Julian can handle them, but Katrina is sooo little! I give her credit for trying though. She is a total adorable ray of sunshine these days. I tried to get her to try chicken tonight, by saying that chicken is for big girls (which she thinks she is because of her upcoming birthday next week). She thought about this and said, "Well, I'm a little big!"

Julian didn't have the best moment before dinner. He wants to wear his wrist brace all the time, but he really needs to have it off to do some exercises, and to get his hand back to normal. He claims it still hurts, but we can't tell how true this is, as he'll cry out "OW!" if you faintly touch the other hand.

I ended up sending him outside to finish screaming and crying when he wouldn't quit demanding his brace back (tried to remove it for dinner), and then he got this awful bloody nose. That made for a graceful exit; I had a reason to fawn over him and give him a ton of attention. In the end, we compromised over the brace: we do some of the exercises the doctor gave him, then he could have the brace back for dinner. Whew.

It's so odd -- funny? -- that just as the hardest stage of life is pretty much done around here -- Katrina turning 4 really marks the end of toddlerdom -- that new hard stages of life are taking hold.


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