Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reverse Psychology

D went and messed up at school again, not turning in his work. Besides the usual grounding (no video games, no having friends over) when I saw his dismal progress report, I said, "And we're going tomorrow to cut your hair the way *I* want it cut" because well, it's a pretty effective punishment.
Or so I thought.
He went from this...

To this...

Now, we've been down this road once before, where he was growing his hair out, messed up at school, and I cut it off. He was pissed at me for a week. He hated me. And his hair wasn't even all that long back then. NOW his hair was longer than mine, and he fancied himself a Sampson of sorts. His hair was his pride. What set him apart. That was why I'd allowed him to keep it long. Now, what sets him apart is the fact that he doesn't do his damn work, so I figured he didn't need long hair anymore.

Then a funny thing happened. He wasn't mad, or upset. He was downright pleasant. All morning, leading up to the hair cut, I waited for the surliness, the protestations of unfairness to come out. But they didn't. I'd already explained to him that just because he was in trouble didn't mean that I didn't love him, or didn't like him, and that we could still go on to have a good weekend together, but he needs to understand what got him into trouble and the steps he must take to pull himself out of it. So, I thought, maybe it's starting to sink in, and he gets it. Maybe he's not trying to blame anyone else for his mess up, and accepts that punishment is a part of it. So off we went, he got his hair cut the hell off, and we proceeded to have a good day.

Then we dropped his brother off at a cousin's house to spend the night, and part of D's punishment is that he can't spend the night anywhere. But instead of being mad, he treated it like a score for him, because it meant he got to hang out with mom one on one all night. So we picked up a movie and some popcorn and headed home.

On the way, he got really quiet. I'd ask him a question, and he'd respond with, "Mm-hm". Then I started to worry that this had all been an elaborate, psychological coup, where he lulled me into a false sense of security, then *BAM* - hits me with resentment and anger. I thought, "Damn. This is a dangerous kid."

Turns out he'd just put his headphones on, which he's happy he can do now without his hair getting caught in them. Why was I worried that it was all some mean plan to make mom feel like shit? Well, frankly, because that's some crap I'd have done!

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