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Failure
2007-04-21 - 11:27 p.m.

Yeah, so...it's been a long time again.

What can I say. Sometimes your head is just so full of bad shit that sharing seems dangerous.

I have come to the very unhappy conclusion that I am something of a failure as a parent.

My child is three and a half years old. He unquestionably knows right from wrong--I haven't failed on that account. The failure comes in the fact that, at every chance he gets, he chooses wrong over right. Gleefully.

Two Wednesdays ago, I went to pick him up at school. Inside the door, I was met by a lineup of little girls, all waiting to list off to me the wrongs perpetrated against them that day by my child. My goddaughter started the lynch mob. "I have something to tell you," she said sweetly. "Will pulled on my ear. Hard. And it hurt. A lot." "Will pulled my hair!" chimed in Morgan, followed by Lula with a "and Will pushed me down!" Apparently, he pinched Kyra's cheek, too. She didn't join the tirade only because she's still too little to express herself quite so clearly.

A quick conversation with Marge confirmed that he has, in fact, continued to act out while in her care. All the things these little girls listed off--true. Marge just added to the weight of the day. Kicking sand at the other kids until he had to be removed from the playground. Standing up and running off in the middle of story time. Talking so loudly over the other activities that people literally could hear nothing but him. Refusing to participate in almost anything--to the point where he lays down in the middle of the room like he's practicing civil disobedience. Ignoring the grownups like they aren't speaking at all. Kicking and hitting and spitting at whoever gets in his way. Shoving things in people's faces.

I have no doubt that were he any child but mine Marge would have been handed us his walking papers long before this. But when your daughter is the problem child's godmother, it becomes much harder to kick him out of your program. At least, that's my theory. I'm afraid to voice it to her for fear she'll confirm it.

I wish I could say that it only happens at school--that around us he's a perfect angel. But, alas, 'tis not the case. At home he's just as bad. The hitting and the kicking and the spitting--all here, too. The ignoring and the refusal to participate and the civil disobedience--part of our daily routine.

This past week, Will was sick. He woke up with a fever on Monday that didn't leave until Friday. 102 degrees, off and on, four days in a row. My child, who generally tries not to sit still for more than ten minutes at a time, and even then only if there's a good episode of the Backyardigans on, spent four days on the couch. He didn't want to play. He didn't want to eat. He didn't even want to watch TV. He wanted to curl up in a teensy ball on my lap and hurt. It was awful. I had the pediatrician's office on speed dial. The nurses actually called ME to check in. He got no better, no worse, with no other real symptoms other than the fever and the listlessness and the lack of appetite. And for four days I did nothing but hold him and worry and pray he'd be okay, thoughts of Carol's nephew who went to the ER with the flu three days before Christmas several years ago and never came home not far from my mind. And then Friday, he woke up with a temp of 98.2 and an appetite for fruit snacks and Happy Meals, and I knew we'd turned a corner.

Unfortunately, the four days of snuggling and catering had done a job on him, and any semblance of good behavior has gone out the window. Tonight, he laid down on the floor in the middle of a restaurant because my mother told him it was time to go. And when she picked him up to carry him to the car, he belted her as hard as he could. And when she stared at him with her angry face on, he spit at her. Par for the course. When I told him his father would be down for breakfast shortly this morning, he yelled that he didn't want Daddy to join us. I replied, "of course Daddy is going to have breakfast with us!" Will responded by reaching on to the table, grabbing his father's favorite coffee mug, and throwing it onto the kitchen floor.

I just don't know what to do any more. We've tried everything we can think of, everything that's been suggested to us, and none of it makes a dent. He just doesn't care. He knows right from wrong, and he chooses wrong, and nothing we do in the aftermath even makes a dent.

In the wake of the horrible news from last week, my faith in the inherent goodness of people is shaken. With my jaded eyes I look at my child, this small being for which I am responsible, and worry that I am failing as a parent. That I am unleashing a bad child--a bad person--into the world. He knows what he does is wrong, and yet he does it anyway, and no action we take against him makes one bit of difference. Today, it's just a coffee cup, but tomorrow--I have no idea. And I have no idea what to do to fix it. And in that, I am failing. I am floundering. And I am feeling rather hopeless.

So please forgive my silence in this space. It's much easier to write when I've got sunshine, lollipops, and roses to share.

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