Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Dilemma - Any Advice?

Have you ever had an loud knock on your door in the middle of the afternoon? Was there an angry Grandpa on the other side?

The story really starts yesterday around 5:30. I had told Caleb he could go ride his bike. He likes to go one street over where there is a steep driveway that all the kids ride down. The yards here do not have privacy fences, so I can hear and catch glimpses of the kids over there and I allow him to go. He came back much earlier and quicker than usual. His face was flushed and not just from the heat. He was visibly upset. There was a problem with another boy. Let's call him B. B was in Caleb's class last year. They were friends at first, but after hearing how often this child went to the office, I told Caleb not to hang out with him. That was kind of hard since B is in the adjoining backyard with another little boy every day. Caleb is a pretty friendly, easy going kid though so I didn't really worry. Lately though, Caleb and B have not gotten along. Caleb's little girlfriend broke up with him to be B's girlfriend. Supposedly B has been making very ugly comments to Caleb and yesterday was no different. Caleb said B started shouting some very obscene things to him and Caleb charged towards him. Caleb told me they were just playing around, then Caleb admitted that is was more than that - he was mad at him and might have pushed him. Then the boy's Grandpa came out yelling at him and told him he had to get off their street. Caleb was super nervous because the Grandpa said he was going to come talk to me. I said, 'Let him, I have a few things to say to him too.'

Fast forward to this afternoon. Today is my mother's day as Bobby works all day tomorrow. All of us were lounging in the living room watching a movie. It was nice. Not for long. Grandpa was true to his word and banged our knocker against our door demanding to be noticed. I answered the door prepared for who it was but not prepared for a different version than I had heard. He said Caleb went after his grandson four times and four times the kid tried to run away from him. One time Caleb even had a stick in his hand, brandishing it at his grandson. (Later Caleb said B had one too but I didn't hear that from Grandpa.) He also said that Caleb was yelling obscenities at B - he said he would not even repeat the words Caleb said. Caleb had not told me that either. I told him Caleb would not be on their street. He tried to tell me that if Caleb was on his street again he would call the police, yeah right. My son has a right to ride his bike in his neighborhood but anyway - I digress. I told him what Caleb told me that B had said. I told him that B had shot rubber bullets and a slime gun at both of my boys, and I had already told them not to play with him. He said he would talk to B and B would not lie to him. Whatever.

I confronted Caleb, who admitted to everything Grandpa said except the cussing. He promises me he did not say any bad words. Brooklyn said he would have told her the truth and he told her he did not swear. I know Caleb has a temper. I do not doubt that. I do not doubt Caleb went after him four different times. But Caleb said each time B was running away he was yelling stuff over his shoulder to goad Caleb on. I believe that too. Grandpa didn't admit to that though, shoot he was up at his house, he may not have heard what was provoking Caleb. Caleb has never gotten into a fight with any kid other than his brother. Not a physical fight. I told him fighting would not be tolerated. We talked about what better choices would have been. Caleb has never let a cuss word slip in front of us either. He has gotten extremely angry with Brooklyn, Seth or Ayden at different times and I was not happy with his reaction but he never said a bad word. He has good behavior at school and gets the Good Citizenship Award every marking period. His teacher tells me he is popular and has a lot of friends. I just don't know what to make of this. I don't believe that he was cussing, but he wasn't entirely honest with me either. I have grounded him from going outside unless he's watching his little brothers out there, I have grounded him from his bike. I do not know what else to do. Should I let it go? I have never had to deal with something like this before. I mean the last really bad thing he did was bite a little baby's finger when he was three because he wanted to see what would happen. He really does not get in trouble and has always been a good kid. My gut tells me this kid had to really egg him on to make him that angry. I'm angry that he wasn't totally honest, I'm angry that he was trying to get violent but I'm also angry that the Grandfather was not ready to let B take any blame for his part. It's not like Caleb is some wild kid that just runs around bullying other people.

Well, I didn't mean for this post to get so long, sorry I rambled, but I would love any input.


Anonymous said...

Heather, I am sorry for your dilemma and can imagine your frustration! I had a similar situation with my oldest (although it was during junior high). I think you've done everything right! We have to discipline our children and we also need to let them know we're in their corner and that we trust them (until they lose it). Your love for your children is so evident and they are blessed to have you as a mother! Just wave and smile should you run into Grumpy Gramps any time soon!!
Have a happy mother's day!!

Marla said...

I think you did the right thing. Taking the bike for a while and not let him out of your yard for a while, maybe also. Just tell him that he is not to behave that way (even if the other boy was doing this and has a history of acting this way) and since he let you down you can't trust him to leave your yard for a while. I think that is what I would do.

You can't blame Caleb though and all kids are going to mess up now and again. Plus, I am sure he didn't start it but probably was just over it all. So I would tell him that you also do understand why he did what he did, but as we get older we have to control our feelings. (I tell my students this and often say "you know that I don't get along with everyone, and that is okay. Sometimes people say mean things to me, and I have to do my hardest to ignore it." ) Something that tells him that it is something that everyone will always struggle with but it makes us better people.

Okay wrote a novel, you probably posted this on our board and I should have posted it there! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hey Heather. I haven't read other comments yet, so this might be redundant. I think you've done the right thing for not blowing it off, and I think his punishment should be for not being straight-forward with you about what happened. Because he says the other boy was complicit in the skirmish and you weren't there, I think you need to give some credence to what he says. So, after he serves his time for being dishonest, I'd let it go. Explain to him that you need to be able to trust him, so he must be honest with you, even if he thinks he's going to get in trouble. Suggest that he steer clear of situations that he knows are likely to get him into trouble. Tell him you are proud of the behavior he displays in school and at home and let it go. I think the fact that Grandpa has threatened to call the police on a young child, rather than simply asking for your contact information, is a sure sign that he's not being reasonable.

I had a run-in with a lady at a store who was verbally abusing my son and insulting me as a mother because he had been irresponsible and had broken something in the store. I obviously paid for it (a hideous fishing Santa that no one would have bought anyway) but then put the kids in the car and marched back in. Say what you want to me, but don't attack my children. I'm sure you have your hackles up, too.

Give him a hug, then give yourself one and move on.

:) Leigh

Anonymous said...

Boys fight sometimes. I'm assuming he's under 12yrs so its not like they are going to hurt each other. If they were going to really fight it would have happened. I suggest you don't punish your son much. It is important for him to learn how to establish himself around peers. I suggest you monitor the situation more closely until you are comfortable that no escalation continues. I also suggest that you get the 2 boys together and tell them that if they cannot get along then they will not be able to play anymore. The grandpa ideally would be present and agree to monitor things too. that is probably not going to happen though and probably isn't necessary. Hope this helps. Cheers, shumberg.

Heather said...

Thanks for the validation everyone. I let that Grandpa get under my skin and I should not have. He was being completely unreasonable and it just threw me off. I did explain to Caleb that I was hurt because I 'went to bat' for him but he did not give me all the facts so it made me look in the wrong. I told him it would be difficult to trust him. To be honest, I don't condone violence but the fact that he was chasing the other boy did not make me as mad as not getting all the facts from him. He sat in his room for a bit, then took the little boys outside to play then I let him watch a movies with Brooklyn and Seth. I can't stay mad. (But the bike and outside time is over for a bit.)

Jen said...

I agree with what everyone else wrote. I think you are doing exactly right and even though he wasn't totally forthcoming about all of the events, I'd trust your son.

Oh, the joys of being a parent. As a mother of 3 boys I'm sure I'll deal with stuff like this too, and I just pray I deal with it the right way. Keep praying!

Holly said...

Wow, well I will say that boys will be boys. And unfortunately you might have more of these experiences in the future. I totally agree that he needs a consequence for what he did. Even though he might not have started it, he was not honest with you. Next time they tell their side of the story, you sit down with them face to face and say "You have to be totally honest so that I can back you up, even if you think i will be mad." They have to feel safe and know that you still love them, even if you don't like what they did. Most of the time this works with my behavior kids at work. ?? Good luck and stay strong.
Love you!

Danielle said...

Heather, You are a great mom. Just that you are so worried how to handle it shows that you really care.

Jeanette said...

I loved everyone's advice! I am making a mental note of them for my future needs. ;D

You did the right thing. Parenting is hard.


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