I'm the worst mother in the world, and then we played Scrabble
I know for a fact that Bright Eyes can control his verbal outpourings at school. I've never once been called in to talk to the teacher about him insulting other children, let alone other teachers. They always look surprised when I tell them how rude he can be at home.
(I write 'can be' but I should probably just say 'is', because the fact is, he *is* rude at home.)
Tonight we had a bit of a shocker. For some reason he got upset at dinner time (maybe it was the cabbage I said he'd be trying that night*. It might have been the fact that his dad had had a tricky afternoon and got a bit cross with him. It might have been that I told him to NOT call his big sister 'Poopsie', thank you very much.
Anyway, he sprayed forth some vile insults on us and then promptly got up, left the table and walked outside.
We chose to ignore it and ate our food.
At the end of the meal, I went to see him. It was bugging me. I knew he just wouldn't ever dream of doing this kind of thing at school. And by golly I didn't feel like putting it up with it tonight.
I didn't bother with 'are you okays' and just said very calmly, "Your dinner will be on the table for ten more minutes and after that there won't be any food. Also no snacks." And then I walked away.
So he came back. But he wanted to take his dinner with him and stay in the corner and continue to tell us what terrible, horrible, dreadful parents we were.
I went over to him and said, "I know you don't do this at school. You are always really polite to the teachers. Why are you doing it here?"
"Because they're teachers," he said. "If I'm rude I'll get suspended."
(Side issue: At this point his brother turned around and said, "Teachers are more important than parents. We do what they say because they're teachers." Yeah, okay.)
"You need to sit down and eat your dinner quietly," I said, "or you won't be playing on the ipod in the morning."
For the next ten minutes we had a bit of argy bargy and I won't say I was perfect, or didn't talk too much and I won't say he didn't keep on with the rude stuff, but hey, I didn't get upset and he sat there and ate, and even ate his vegetables. Yes, he lost his ipod time after three warnings for insults. But it shut him up a little and made him see I was ALL BUSINESS TONIGHT. And then at the end, he seemed calm enough for us to talk about unrelated stuff, and actually have a reasonable evening together.
Later he said, "So, because I ate all my food, can I have my ipod time back?"
"You can earn it back," I said. "There's a basket of washing down there to sort out. Do that and the ipod is yours."
It got done. Competently.
Once the littler children were asleep, he said, "Do you have time to play? What games do you like?" and we sat down and played a no-score, low stress version of Scrabble together. And it was great.
"Thanks for being a better mother than usual," he said later on. I *think* it may have been a compliment. Either way, I'll be reminding him of the fact that he can use his manners at home and he can control his behaviour - at least most of the time.
*Also, just FYI, he actually ate a whole strip of cabbage for the first time ever.