And so it begins. I had to put my foot down. I had to yell. I had to be an intimidating parent. I did what I didn’t think I would have to do for quite some time.
I had to ground you.
Yes, you’re currently grounded and boy were those strange words to hear coming out of my mouth. When I was reprimanding you for your actions, I wasn’t quite clear what direction I was taking the punishment and then mid-sentence, looking at your little smug guilty face, the idea popped in my head and the words just flowed out of me like butter. A look of confused panic washed over your face, unsure as to what this punishment really meant. You are five years old after all and neither you or Olivia have ever heard these words before. You’re accustomed to go to your room or time out but what was this newfound punishment I speak of? What does this mean and why do I have a wide-eyed crazy twinkle in my eye? After further explanation as to what this punishment meant, I could see your mind slowly come to and realize what was happening and I got the reaction every parent wants to see when they’re punishing their kid, disappointment. HAHA, I was victorious!
Let’s back it up, shall we? Why is my adorable bouncing boy grounded at the ye olde age of five? Much like the infamous stories I’ve heard about your father as a boy, you too share a deep interest in keeping up with older kids. You’re five years old but you’re an old five. You like attention and you’re learning that certain actions can result in more attention. You’re obsessed with two older boys who live in our court and your current sole purpose in life is to be with them and to do things to seek their approval. I get it, they resemble older brothers to you and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s actually completely normal and sweet in a way. Unfortunately, your version of play when you’re with “your boys” involves fighting and becoming overly physical. Clearly all the conversations and songs about keeping our hands to ourselves didn’t quite sink it with you.
Your physical nature is amplified when you go on our neighbor’s trampoline where you treat it more like The Octagon than a standard trampoline. Despite us telling you, no fighting on the trampoline, you didn’t make it even ten minutes before Olivia came home and alerted us that you were fighting again and it was your idea. So, like a good little informant that your sister is, I sent her back to share the swell news that your time of play was over for the day and you needed to come straight home for fighting. You were not thrilled and proceeded to your room where you threw every item of clothing from your dresser. Your dad and I were sitting in the backyard, where we can hear everything from the trampoline and I could tell that things settled down once you left. At least your sister was able to play without feeling like she was going into battle. You came back out a short while later, knowing very well that you could hear the neighbors from our yard so you asked if you could practice dribbling which is code for, I want to still hear what’s going on. When you heard popsicles being opened from over the fence, you stormed back into the house because your second love behind fighting is ice-cold sugary treats.
Once all the kids realized you were home, everyone came to our door to check on you. I told you, you could answer the door but you could not go outside and play. I go back outside to talk to your dad and a few minutes later I notice that you didn’t return to the backyard. I reentered the house to discover that you did in fact go back outside to play and visions of you sneaking out of the house as a teenager exploded in my head. I was furious but I also knew I couldn’t overreact in that moment or I would have nothing to build up to in the future because I know bigger things will come and I need to save up my theatrical parent moments for those. Instead of running after you, I decided to wait and to see how this would play out. Would you return right away or would you play your gambling hand and stay out? Would you walk back in like nothing happened or would you try to be sneaky? So, I sat and I waited. And waited. Yes, you showed up much later and yes, you tried to sneak back in like the inexperienced fool you are. You’ve done a lot of questionable shit so far but sneaking out of the house to play with your friends? This is a treacherous path, my son. A path you really don’t want to go down. So the proverbial hammer was dropped and you’re now serving your sentence.
The full realization of your punishment didn’t quite come to fruition until yesterday when I allowed your sister to play outside with friends and when you asked if you could play outside as well, I happily reminded you that you’re still grounded and would be spending time instead with me. You lost it again and as a rebuttal on your part, decided to verbally attack my cooking because apparently you think those are the words that hurt the most. I don’t care if I’m grounded because your fried rice tastes terrible and I’m not going to eat it for dinner. Oooh, burn.
You’re certainly going through growing pains at the moment and I know I have to pick my battles with you but you’ve been downright devious lately and I just can’t allow that. Just this past week, I discovered you sneaking chocolate up to your room after me telling you that you couldn’t have any more treats. Certainly you feel my words are not the end-all be-all and that’s a problem. Next thing I know, you’re going to be sneaking out of the house to smoke cigarettes. I know you’re capable of these things because it’s a part of your DNA. I’m looking at you, Ryan! How do I guide you to make good choices? How do I teach you not to do stupid things because your friends say it’s a good idea? Why do I have to suffer for your dad’s karma?
When you’re not sneaking out of the house and giving me anxiety, we do find opportunities to do things that hopefully encourage happy memories–memories that don’t include me popping a vein in my neck. Your dad and I recently took you and Olivia to the Firehouse Arts Center to watch a production of The Little Mermaid. I try to take any opportunity to expose you and your sister to the arts so when I learned that a local theater was showing a play that would interest you and your sister, I jumped at it. The venue is intimate which means there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. We sat in the front row balcony where you could stand and drop popcorn on to the heads of the viewers below. Thankfully my beer didn’t get knocked over which seems to be a thing that you and Olivia do now.
The performance was really well done and you and Olivia were captivated the entire two and a half hours. Yes, two and a half hours. You were very much enthralled with the Flounder character who was played by a young boy and smiled and bounced in your seat every time he appeared on stage. After the performance, we made our way to the bathroom where we saw the actors, still in costume, make their way to the lobby to greet the viewers. You were ecstatic at the opportunity to meet Flounder who apparently is now your idol. Olivia on the other hand may have peed a little upon seeing Ursula, complete with tentacles, standing in right in front of her. We made our way through the crowd and there he was, Flounder. You approached him like you were approaching a baby dear. The actor was speaking with family or friends he knew because as you approached him, starstruck, the entire group of people went, aww and started taking photos of you two as proud relatives do. It was the highlight of the night. You were happy standing next to Flounder until you spotted the scantily clad mermaids and bid your idol adieu at the opportunity to cosy up to a couple of hotties. Oh, Miles.
The following morning, you were still riding a high of meeting Flounder and mermaids so we decided to keep the good times rolling by taking you and Olivia on a hike. You’re not always in the mood to walk aimlessly but I have to pick my moments wisely and take advantage on days when you’re a little more willing than not. We ventured to Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park after reading how beautiful and family friendly it was. It really was beautiful and despite a few moments of whining and complaining on both yours and Olivia’s part, you both did very well. It helps that we bring enough snacks to feed a small country. One thing we did take note of is you can’t be quiet for more than fifteen seconds. I guess I already knew that but it’s amplified when you’re surrounded by silence and nature and I can’t even take a second to listen to the wind in the trees because you’re running your mouth about nothing. Mom, mom, mom, mom, I have a stick. Dad, dad, dad, dad, I see a hole. Mom, mom, mom, mommy, mom, did you see my stick? Suddenly a peaceful walk turns into a test of patience.
You’ve always been a pain in the ass on some level since you were born so I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you consistently conjure up symptoms of a hemorrhoid. You’re popular amongst your peers and you’re growing accustomed to a steady stream of attention. You struggle with how to act when you’re with your friends. You’ve been difficult lately and unfortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. You’re not going to be easy to parent and somehow I have to build up my strength now in anticipation of what’s to come because I know you’re capable of a lot. I’m optimistic because despite the stories I’ve heard about your dad as a kid and despite the heartache and anxiety he caused his parents, he turned out pretty damn good. He made you and Olivia after all. Please make good choices otherwise you’ll be dealt the very same hand of karma like your father and will be forced to raise a child that is ever more a hellion than you were. Consider this your warning.