Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tough Love Really Bites Sometimes

I swear to you, my oldest daughter is going to grow up to be a hoarder when she grows up. She isn't truly happy unless there's three inches of crap covering the entire circumference of her floor. Today was no exception.

I try desperately not to go upstairs, because frankly... I like a tidy house. I'm not a clean freak (far from it), but I truly believe "a place for everything and everything in its place". My house is lived in, but orderly. At least on the first floor. All bets are off on the top floor, though.

I was gearing up to take my little one to her playgroup yesterday, and as I was heading down our front stairs, I heard my oldest daughter's television still on in her room. Per usual. I figured I'd have to venture upstairs to shut it off.

When I went upstairs.... hmmm... how should I put this? It was a real sight to behold. It was WAAAAAAYYYYYYY more painful and stress-provoking than I'd even imagined. If I was a gambler, I'd bet my life that there was at LEAST three inches of pure CRAP covering every single square foot of my daughter's floor. I literally had to step over mounds of junk to get to her dresser to shut off the TV.

I figured, as long as I'm stressed to the hilt, I might as well go into my son's room to look at the pending catastrophe in there. His wasn't as bad, but it wasn't even remotely neat, either. There were clothes, toys, books, games and stuff just everywhere. At least in his, you could see patches of floor.

After dinner last night, I told the both of them that they were to clean their rooms. My son got his XBox 360 Live taken away until his was clean, and my daughter was told that if she didn't clean her room by bedtime tonight, her precious television (which is a real security blanket for her... she's one of those people that needs that noise to sleep soundly) would be taken away from her. PERMANENTLY.

My son dutifully brought down his game component, and began cleaning his room. Of course, he brought down about 7 PAIRS of socks (after I'd done a white wash earlier in the day, thankyouverymuch) and threw them on top of the sorted load of DARKS that was on my bathroom floor. He then asked me, in his sweetness and light angelic voice, "If I'm done cleaning by 10:30, can I have my 360 back??"

I think you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I said, "You think you can get that room completely clean... and I mean, MY idea of completely clean... in a half-hour??? I think NOT!". He skulked upstairs.

My daughter did what she does best... completely ignored the warning heeded to her. She traipsed up the stairs, and probably made even more of a mess (if that was at ALL possible) by playing in her room before she dozed off to the sound of her TV.

So..... this morning, as I was getting my little one ready for her playgroup, I told my oldest daughter that she would not be going to the Club to play with her friends today. Instead, she was coming back home with me and cleaning her room. I further added that she had until bedtime tonight to complete the task, or I would have her father follow through on the promise to remove her television. I think you could feel the breeze from about 50 yards away, she was batting her eyelashes so hard.

At 9:30 this morning, she started in on her task of cleaning. Her brother was ousted from his bed bright and early too, to finish his job. I went up about an hour later, and she'd done nothing more than make a small path. My son, however, had straightened up for the most part. He was in the process of "making" his bed when I poked my head in to check on his progress. I told him he needed to come down to the kitchen, grab a garbage bag, and pick up all of the little crap that had accumulated all over his floor. After he did that, I told him to bring up the vacuum and run it over his rug.

No, I didn't check his room again. But, I know my son, and I know that he did a fair enough job that he deserved his game system back.

And, I know my daughter well enough. She spent more time farting around... coming down to eat, to get a drink, to use the bathroom, to play with her sister, to play on the computer... that her room wasn't near to being clean.

Dinnertime rolled around, and I told her again that she needed to finish up by 9:00, 'cause her dad and I were going upstairs to check on her room. At 8:45, she came down, face all flushed, saying that she wasn't kidding, that her stomach was really upset and she felt like she was going to throw up. I knew it wasn't a bug... it was nerves. Just like I knew, in the pit of my heart, that she didn't do a freakin' thing all day.

While she was "trying" to get sick in the bathroom, my husband went upstairs to her room. I heard him curse a few words under his breath, then I heard him shut the door to our storage room upstairs. I knew what he did. And so did she.

She came out of the bathroom sobbing, and immediately threw her arms around my neck, apologizing for not cleaning her room, and repeating over and over, "It's all my fault! It's all my faaauuuullltttt!". I bit the inside of my lip to keep my voice from cracking, and I said, "Yes, it is your fault. You had 11 1/2 hours to clean your room. I could clean this whole house in 11 1/2 hours, from top to bottom!"

My husband came downstairs, with steam practically coming out of his ears. He was fuming mad. He told me she did NOTHING upstairs. Not even the tiniest of dents. My heart just sank. If she had even made an earnest effort, I would have been able to talk him into giving her tonight, and letting her have her TV back tomorrow. But, knowing that she didn't really try, and knowing how frustrated he is with her, I'm not sure I can convince him of anything at this point.

She curled up on the couch like an injured animal, and my husband (who's much better at "tough love" than I will ever be), told her, "Oh, no! There's no way in Hell you're going to sleep down here so you can watch this TV! Forget it! Go upstairs and go to bed!!" She got up, and walked towards the upstairs landing like she was walking towards a guillotine. It was all I could do to keep from crying for her.

I know that sometimes, the best lessons are the hardest learned. But tough love really does suck sometimes.


Christie said...

Ahhh, I HATE when they make me follow through with my threats. Why can't they just do what they're supposed to, then we don't have to live with the consequences?

Thanks for all your sweet words on my blog. You are really way too kind.

Karyn said...

There is a remedy (holstic) that might help her sleep without the "white noise." I'll get the name and let you know. She needs the noise to sleep.. not having the tv is going to end up being worse than the messy room if she can't sleep well.
poor kiddo.
and since she did apologize and admit her mistake, she deserves another chance. your husband should agree there.

Mama C. said...

Nope. This isn't the first time she's had her television taken away 'cause she's not cleaned her room. My husband's holding fast this time. While she had her arms wrapped around my neck and was bellowing her apologies to me, he gave me "the look" and said, "Don't you dare do it!" I must have had that guilty puppy-dog face on, and he wanted to make sure that I stayed tough.

I'm not sure if your theory is entirely true, Karyn. She actually tends to clean better and sleep better without the constant noise of the TV waking her up. She's even said so herself.

What I didn't add last night is that my daughter has ADHD, and I didn't give her any medicine yesterday. ADHD is a very multi-layered disorder, but in a nutshell, it makes the person with it lose focus very quickly, and neglect to think about any consequences to their actions. With her medicine she's a totally different child than without. She's much more attentive, listens and responds a whole lot better, and even admits readily that she does much better as a whole on it. I feel badly that we expected so much from her on a day when I didn't give her any medicine, but at the same time, I can't let her get away with using her disorder as a "crutch" either. She's been told for WEEKS to clean her room. After awhile, enough is enough.

Karyn said...

My theory was based on you saying she needs it to sleep. If she sleeps better without, that's way better.

And the ADHD meds, doesn't it make it harder for them to sleep? It did on my sister... the ped had them give her benedryl to help her sleep. She doesn't need it anymore though, the ADHD med. She's learned to cope without it.

Mama C. said...

Little ones with ADHD typically do have sleep issues...with or without their meds. If she takes her medication, she goes through a rebound period after the meds wear off (where she's literally bounding through the house, like a leggy fireball of energy!), and then she pretty much just drops. It's like a switch.

She's never been known to sleep well, even as a baby. Even though she slept through the night beginning at around three months of age, she'd never sleep really soundly, and would shuffle a lot in her sleep, and wake up E-A-R-L-Y. She's also been a very light sleeper, too.

She uses her TV as a comfort tool but the noise constantly rouses her. And, once she wakes up, she'll watch something on TV for awhile. Which means she doesn't really sleep well. Without the TV, she has no noise, and can sleep better because of the quiet, even though it takes longer for her to fall asleep. Make sense?

My husband has ADHD, and takes medication for it. As a matter of fact, he was diagnosed right around the same time she was. We were going through the Conner's Scale, and it FINALLY dawned on him that he was answering yes to a lot of the questions in terms of HIS behavior too (thank GOODNESS! I'd known it for years, but he was stubborn about admitting it). He's so much better at remembering things now that he's taking it. He doesn't "need" it like she does, but it's definitely helpful for him.

My son was recently diagnosed as being borderline, too. He's got horrible organizational issues, so our pediatrician put him on a low doseage and it's worked wonders. But, he can definitely forego the medicine on weekends and during the summer.

I'm convinced my little one has it, too. I would not be surprised if she's diagnosed in a couple of years.

Coastalgrannie said...

Two of my kids are ADHD. It's really hard. And tough love is the only thing that ever worked. But, as the parent, you are SO right. It bites. Especially the teen years. There were days that the only reason I didn't kill my son was because I could still remember what a cute baby he had been. :] They need to know that. That you are doing what you are doing BECAUSE you love them. You don't want to enable them to use their condition as a crutch, as you said. The world won't know what a cute baby they were. They won't know that things are harder for them, because their disablity is "invisible." It's not like being on crutches, or having a seeing eye dog. People can't tell by looking at them that they process things differently. And they won't care. Employers will want them to do what is asked of them. Teachers will want assignments turned in completed on time. You are giving her skills to be successful. And you get all the flack. It bites. But it's worth it. Hang in there! She's got GOOD parents.

Mama C. said...

Are you trying to make me all weepy first thing in the morning, Paula?? ;)

Thank you for the incredibly kind words. Most of the time I think I'm being a good mom to my kids, but on days like that, I doubt myself pretty intensely. It's wonderful to hear that someone else thinks I'm steering her in the right direction, and doing a good job, too.

I really appreciate hearing it... more than you know.