In a world of participation trophies and fears of abandonment, my son expects a medal for merely getting out of bed.

Lately I’m struggling with my son. Everything is an obstacle. Everything.

Last night it was his grammar homework. He had to pluralize a bunch of words that ended in the letter Y, such as “army” and “party”. He had them all wrong. (armyes, partyes etc.) Even after I explained to him several times that Y pluralizes to IES, he would not listen. “My teacher says (it ends in ES)”… That answer drives me mad.

He also has a weird reaction to being reprimanded for anything. He appears to get angry, then shuts down and sulks. So he’ll either stand in one place, or lie on his bed, and refuse to move or do anything, thus the reprimand will have the opposite reaction to my intention. The other day, it reached the extreme when, after bedtime, while bawling his eyes out, he started packing his bags! Like my nine year old son was going to leave me. He thought I didn’t love him, and so I had to comfort him and let him sleep in my bed.

It seems to be a combination of a few things:

  1. Abandonment issues. (He was taken away from us for a while.) I don’t know what was said to him for those few years when he wasn’t with me, but he clearly fears being abandoned, and that he isn’t loved. So he has to be reassured every day.
  2. Fear of trying. He’d rather give up than actually concentrate on anything.
  3. Participation trophies. Even at his school sports day last year, they got fucking medals for losing. His former foster mother praised him for everything. I’m being hyperbolical, but he was more or less praised for not shitting in his pants.

He also refuses to follow instructions, and doesn’t look after his things. He takes off shoes and jerseys and leaves them wherever he is, and does the same with toys. He still can’t tie his school tie, although I have shown him how several times. (I could tie mine, two different ways, when I was two years younger than he is now.) No matter how many times I tell him to untie his shoelaces before removing his shoes, he still doesn’t do it.

This morning he realized that he’d lost his tracksuit jacket. The headmaster has threatened them with immediate detention if they don’t wear the jacket with their jerseys… So he refused to move, and stood in the bedroom making me late, even though I had to go because I had to drop my mother at the hospital again. I had to shout and then threaten to drag him outside to make him move. (I did send a message to his teacher and explain that he lost it, asking her to help him look for it because he is afraid of getting into trouble.) Further, if they put him in detention, then his lift is going to leave him at school, and I can’t leave work early to pick him up. (They’d better not. It’s unfair anyway.)

Basically, Josh is difficult just like his mother. I wish she were here, or at least lived closer – maybe she could help a little.

It’s not all bad. Josh is also very loving and affectionate, and a pleasure when he isn’t in one of his difficult moods. But parenting isn’t all easy, and it sucks doing it alone.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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3 Responses to In a world of participation trophies and fears of abandonment, my son expects a medal for merely getting out of bed.

  1. Louise says:

    I’m so sorry you are doing this alone. It’s hard enough when there are 2 active parents I can’t imagine doing it alone. Our kids these days live in a padded bubble wrapped life. I remember my son getting a trophy for last place and I was thinking wtf?! They will never really try in life if they know they will still be praised for last place.
    Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. bbnewsab says:

    In Sweden we call this phenomenon “parental curling”. Curling is a sport where you sweep (clean) the ice to make it easier for the stones to slide on it.

    So Louise – see the comment above – is totally right.

    I also agree with Louise that it’s so sad you have to do the parenting alone, Jerome. The other day you told us in a blog post that you have difficulties to relax. It’s very understandable.You are on high alert all the time, it seems.

    It must be very tough to be “Jerome” today. So I hope you can find a solution soon. Or rather, you MUST find a solution soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      It’s not always bad – just last Thursday night was one of the worst times, and I have trouble letting go of the bad times and the bad moods. (Does that make any sense?)

      We have good times too. I took him to watch Wonder Woman yesterday, and we loved it. Great movie…

      Liked by 1 person

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