Letter 2/Dear Skipper: Where in the World Is Your Pause Button?
How can you go from a winning soccer game and dinner in the kitchen nook to such crazy behavior?
It’s 9:31 p.m. on Saturday night.
I’m upset, disgusted, discouraged.
You have problems with impulse control. You have ADHD. But your behavior is sometimes REALLY hard to take.
It was a beautiful, brisk fall day. Even I wore a jacket, and I’m usually hot in all seasons. You had a 4:55 p.m. soccer game at Brookdale Park. Since we are in the Covid pandemic, all players had to have their temperatures taken at the field, before the game. All parents/caregivers were required to sign a form (we do so before each game) saying you don’t have a fever, hadn’t spent time with someone with Covid, etc. And we are required to wear masks and sit on the bleachers, at social distance, not stand down on the grassy sidelines to cheer. Players and coaches wear masks to and from the field. Some wear them to play, some do not.
Your team won. You got some good kicks in, defending the goal. You’re on a co-ed team for the first time (7th/8th/9th grade recreation league). The three other girls on the team are your friends MW, BF and Sy.
You loved the shrimp stir-fry Dan made for dinner — especially because the frozen “Asian vegetable mix” contained baby corn on the cob.
Then you made popcorn for us (you’re really good at that) and you and I settled in the living room to watch “Troop Zero,” an Amazon Prime movie about a troop of Birdies (like Girl Scouts) in Georgia in 1977. I lit a vanilla votive candle.
And then the lack of impulse control began.
I want to list the bad behavior here, to work through it. I am angry. Words written with good intention are better than words spoken or shouted from a pocket of anger, fire and frustration.
- Tossing popcorn kernels at me.
- Throwing a small apple at me three times.
- Spitting in my hair, my freshly blown-dry, smooth, salon hair, as you walked into the kitchen.
- Intentionally farting right by me.
- Doing other gross things, with song lyrics, etc.
On some level, you seem to think it’s funny. On another level, it seems like you are bullying or taunting me. So now, I have retreated into my office to write this. You then came in here and slapped my cheek. You act so crazy and impulsive sometimes that, to use a phrase I heard on a podcast today, we think the cheese is off your cracker.
One day, I hope and pray this kind of bad behavior will be behind us. We are working hard and hoping hard for that goal — Dan and I both, and Annie, and I think you, too.
“I’m sorry,” you’ll say, but then do the next bad thing. “I want attention.”
“We give you attention,” I said. “But don’t try to get it for doing gross things.”
I guess that’s it. That’s all. I’m going up to the bedroom to read.
I love you still. And I know there were years and years and years when you did not get the attention a child needs.
Good night. I have go online and sign us up for seats at Sunday Mass tomorrow.
It’s 10:28 p.m. now, and 57 minutes after leaving the living room, I’m feeling better for having stepped away and written this. I probably also modeled good, calm boundary-setting for you.
I also played my Spotify music on my laptop; music is soothing and lifts the spirit. For some reason, “Island in the Sun” by Weezer, the first song I ever put on my “Ali Favorites” playlist has been repeating over and over again this whole time. That’s fine by me.
Meanwhile, I hear you acting sweet. “Annie? Annie?” you called. “Can you please bring down my purple toothbrush from the bathroom, with some toothpaste on it?”
May angels watch over you.