Monday, February 17, 2014

In Which I Feel Like a Mean Mommy

Robin's last post resonated pretty strong with me. Especially the part about needs and wants being different in the present than in the future. We've been struggling at home too, but in a different way. While they've been struggling to figure out SPD, we've been battling a somewhat more common ailment: the gimmies.

Max is lucky enough to have a lot of very doting relatives. And some rather indulgent parents. It's at least partly due to this that he's amassed the ginormous toy collection he has. Also, he's received some already huge hand-me-down collections, which just compounds things. Perhaps this has led him to believe that he should get whatever toys he sets his mind on. Being reasonable and explaining that this is not so hasn't made much difference. Admittedly, he switched from asking for us to buy him stuff, to saying he's saving up for the things he wants, but still. He spends an inordinate amount of time talking about toys he wants. It's seriously getting to us.

Max is an awesome kid. He's funny and creative and energetic and passionate. He is a major builder and loves to make awesome set-ups and structures. I love that about him. I'm less fond of the fact that he covers the house in these contraptions and won't clean them up. It's been leading to too many fights around here, leaving us all bad tempered and out of sorts with each other.

I'm feeling like he's taking his things for granted, not treating them well, and generally acting spoiled. He's such a sweet kid, so it breaks my heart to see this happening. Being a parent is a tricky balance that I admit I don't have down yet. Too nice? Too mean? Too many rules? Not enough? I suppose we won't know until the therapy bills roll in, right? (I kid, of course.)

So Saturday we took action. While he was gone for the afternoon, we packed up all his toys. Now, we didn't go super extreme; we didn't break them, or toss them, or give them all away. We sorted them out, put them all in bins, and stacked them in the garage. We left him a handful of stuffed animals, 2 dolls (I can't take away his Tansy Dolls!), and his books. That's it. We had decided this was a good plan, talked it through, slept on it, etc. It wasn't a decision made in anger or on a whim.

But when we were done, I looked around his empty room and felt like the meanest mommy in the world. His shelves were bare; his play kitchen empty; even his bed looked lonely. Was it too much? But we decided to stick with it. Here's the deal: as long as he's in the good zone behavior-wise, he can check out a bin from the garage to play with. When he's done he has to clean up and put everything back in the bin to get a different one. It's like a toy library. I very much hope that he will start to earn his toys back and into his room, but in the meantime I hope this will help us not go crazy. I also think this may help him get more sleep. He has a tendency to stay up super late building Legos, long after he should be asleep. This should help with that too.

Honestly, I expected a bigger blow-up when he got home and we gave him the news. He took it fairly well. Once he had been assured that we hadn't actually gotten rid of his things and he at least had toy-visitation, he was pretty good. Sunday he checked out his Lego bin and played. When he wanted to do a painting project he first cleaned up the Legos and returned the bin. We spent more time playing and less time arguing. I very much doubt it's a cure-all, but I do think it's a good step for us. I'll let you know how it goes. : )

Have you ever had to play the mean mom or dad? How'd it go for you?


Bare shelves
Empty cabinet
Stripped down play area
But my little builder was right back at it. This is a rocket powered hover car. :)

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