Aiden: Can I have a piece of cake?
Me: No. You're not getting dessert. You have to have dinner because I need to feed you, but dessert is a treat. One that you didn't earn today. So no. No dessert.
This was the conversation that I had with Aiden earlier this week. He had a rough day at school. Another rough day at school. And so, in a moment of what-shall-I-do-about-this-issue coupled with complete frustration, I told Aiden that he earned a consequence of no dessert.
As I said before, Aiden's having a really rough time right now. Everything's new right now. He's got a new parent in his life. A new unsupervised visitation schedule. A new grade. New teachers. New baby on the way...
The list goes on and on.
I'm doing everything for him! Everything! How could he act this way?! What am I doing to deserve this?! All of my money is going to his schooling and babysitting and extracurricular activities! All of my time goes to taking him to visit new places and experience new things. All of my energy goes to making sure he's safe and loved and happy! How. Could. He. Do. This. To. Me?!
Yes, that was my thought process that evening. I'm human, forgive me.
And then it hit me. It's not about me. It's not about what Aiden's doing to me. It's about Aiden's thoughts and feelings about himself and his life. And it's about his coping mechanisms.
So I had to take a step back. And remind myself that he's feeling pretty powerless right now and trying really hard to get some power back. So I'm trying to help him.
I'm trying to stay patient. I'm trying to stay positive. I'm trying to find ways to give him options. And to feel empowered.
I have to admit. It's not easy. It hasn't been easy. At times, it's been downright difficult. And very exhausting.
"Take things away from him," some people say. "Punish him," other folks say. "Give him a consequence at home," someone else said. "Give him a beating," someone else said.
I'm trying to explain to folks that I can't fix Aiden's behavior -- or help him fix his behavior -- without helping him understand where the behavior is coming from. That's the underlying issue here. I can take as many things away from him as possible and it still won't fix his behavior because I'm not addressing the actual issue.
I want to instill character in him. And discipline. And self-control. I want him to be happy and emotionally healthy. I want others to see in him what I see in him -- a loving and caring and sweet boy with lots of potential. I want them to know that he's a pretty good kid. Because he is.
So I've been reaching out. And asking the male mentors for help. Because, although I'm a single parent to him, I don't have to parent alone. To me, Aiden's in a crisis. And to me, this is an emergency. One that requires reaching out and praying and asking for help and showing him even more love and affection than I normally would.
It takes a village, right?
So I'm calling on that village. Come hell or high-water, we're gonna help Aiden smooth out this rough patch.