Monday, January 25, 2010

Battle Call

Oh, Lordy, those killer brown eyes.

Do not be deceived.

That's right. It's time to get serious.

This morning, the Matron's most adorable child -- that would be her BABY -- required a near exorcism in order to walk to the front door and head to school.

There was groaning. Falls to the floor. Head clutched in pain. Throat? Agony. Cough? Check. Hysteria, usually Scarlett's domain, claimed Merrick. Who simply COULD NOT go to school. Again. As usual. This time, it was the Plague in all its glory. Even his thumbnail ached.

"Take my tempewtuwe! I have a fevew! Heaw this cough?" Hack, hack . . pause . . hack. Pause and survey the audience. Hack, hack, sniffle.

Matron: "Merrick, you have to go to school."

Merrick: "Nobody cawes about me!"

Here's what happened over the weekend, every time the Matron inquired after homework or asked the youngster for a snuggle and a book.

Merrick: "You HATE ME."

When the door closed behind her family this morning (thank you, John, for always driving to school), after a half hour shout-fest (AGAIN) about the merits of school, the Matron knew that business as usual was over.

The teacher has already been contacted: HELP! The Matron is making a chart with stickers, and outlining in permanent marker, what life genuinely demands from a soon-to-be seven year old: homework, reading, going to school on time, dressing without parental assistance. Did you catch that last one? Dress without parental assistance. Scarlett has been ripping through multiple daily (hourly) outfits since she was two and a half. Merrick lays on his bed and hollers: "Can somebody get me my clothes?!"

She figures he'll need at least two stickers earned before TV time, maybe three. Earn ten in a two days and there is candy in that child's future!

Yes, she is deploying both the carrot (or the Tootsie pops in this case) and the stick! She will even purchase and make the most lobbied for forbidden quasi-food item, ever: Jell-O. Desperate times and all that.

Friends! She knows you're telling her not to worry. Okay, fine. But how can she help this child?


MidLifeMama said...

Home school? Bahahahahahahahaaaaaa. I crack myself up. My niece is 16 and hated school so much, and was failing miserably, that she found herself an online high school program and amazingly, after one semester, she has a B average. She still hates Spanish and math, but she DOES them. I can't say that would work for a 7 year old, but there are alternatives to a traditional school program.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

You're doing it right. Exactly right. So is he.

Now take a deep breath, and unwrap one of those Tootsie Rolls for yourself.


Anonymous said...

Maybe if he went to school naked just once...
I'm with Cheri--save a Tootsie Pop for you, Matron.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Funny Green Girl would mention going to school naked. Now you know I'm from the school of tough love--when I had this problem with my youngest daughter (in kindergarten) I simply put her and her clothes on the porch to wait for the carpool. She got dressed.

Anonymous said...

Tough love.

Minnesota Matron said...

Scarlett and Merrick are constructing a big chart as I type. They're listing all of his 'jobs,' and how many jobs he needs to get done to get a sticker. They're totally into it. But this might be a kid who needs something special.

jean said...

I had a very similar problem with my son. He is now in 8th grade and still hates school. However, he no longer has to be dragged to the car. I'm hoping high school will be easier. Snort.

alwayssomethin said...

I have taken to bribery myself. My 8 year old likes to sleep on our bedroom floor. He usually comes in about 2:00 am. Just this weekend I told him I would pay him a quarter for each night he sleeps in his room. The twist is he must pay us 50 cents to sleep on our floor. So far 4 nights child free.

Daisy said...

Hugs to you. Be ready for the possibility that he might not buy into the sticker chart. Some kids rationalize their way out of it or simply say "you're not fooling me one bit." But no matter what, you're doing right by him by insisting on some semblance of self-sufficiency.

Michele R said...

Awww, you have one who still has his baby teeth. I am swayed by that and his brown eyes.

MJ said...

The reward chart had no impact on my free-spirited 5-6 year old daughter. She will not bow to bribery either (ie: eat your food groups & get a treat). I made it a rule (& have maintained it) that there's no tv watching until she's done her tasks (ie: got ready for school &, after school, finished her homework). She loves tv (but only is permitted up to 2 hours non-commercialized tv per day & computer time is severely restricted too). I also have to rely on the "tough love" concept of suffering the natural consequences. She's had to go to school with teeth/hair unbrushed, and face unwashed.

My younger child, meanwhile, performs perfectly on cue with all these little tricks. Go figure!

Good luck, Merrick & Matron!

jenn said...

Oh, those eyes! How can you resist?

I agree with Cheri. Self-medicate with Tootsie Rolls immediately.

janet said...

Even if he is not one to be conned by the old sticker trick, he should feel better because both you and Scarlett are paying lots of attention to him. I imagine with all the Scarlett stuff going on, he might be feeling a little left out.
Also, be sure he has no well founded reason to be fearing school. He might need some long talks about what is happening there.

Eric Smith said...

I usually let my kids get away with a few fake days every year, but I let them know soon after that I know they faked but I decided to let them get away with it anyway because I know that school can be really dreary at times, especially for kids with lively minds. Also, you may want to check with playmates if there's some playground bullying or some other problem going on. Sam ran into that at JJHill, and there was a long, unhappy period before we found out what was really happening.

Minnesota Matron said...

You guys rock! Great words of wisdom, as usual. Janet, you are absolutely right about Scarlett. More coming on this issue on Thursday!

Anonymous said...

Years ago I read that one should never threaten nor bribe a child. Tell me, please, what else works?

Lynda said...

Well, I understand you have to find what your child's "currency" is - TV, games, friends, etc... you have the power when you control what matters to them. He's playing his cards - play yours :)

Jennifer said...

One thing we found with those charts is that you have to start the bribes out small. If the task is too immense, kids give up early. You can up the ante as you go. For example, for the first week he gets dressed on his own, he gets a sticker every day and after 5 stickers, a new cheap toy or something that lights a fire under him. After that, he still gets a sticker every time he gets dressed, but it might be 10 stickers before his next "treat".

My oldest had a school teacher who didn't get it and would make him surmount these impossible challenges to get the reward (i.e. too many stickers per day for too many things). Early on, he told me, "I don't even bother to try to get the stickers, Mom, because it's too hard to get it all done by the end of the day." He never learned the lesson we were trying to teach that way, but I sure did: Start slow.

Good luck. Tough love sucks ( I always cry more than they do), but sometimes it's the only way.

Minnesota Matron said...

Jennifer -- That's great to hear because that's what we're doing. Merrick gets a 'surprise' after five stickers!

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