Building a House

Shane, my youngest child, has been having nightmares lately.  I think he’s come in to my bed each night for the past week after having had a nightmare.  I haven’t had the energy to get out of bed and take him back to his, so I’ve just invited him into my bed.

This morning we woke up and since it is Sunday, I was in no hurry to get moving.  I pulled him close and snuggled with him.  We started talking.  We ended up talking about the man he is going to become someday.  I learned that Shane knows and understands a lot more about what happens around him that I’ve given him credit for.  I thought he was blind to what Bubba had done and continues to do to us.  Not so.

We first talked about the problems Shane is having at school.

This past week I had to go in and meet with the Assistant Principal and Shane’s teacher at his elementary school to develop a behavioral plan for Shane.  Shane now has a legally binding RTI (Response to Intervention).  He has behavioral goals and they have programs in place to help him.  It isn’t the IEP (Individualized Education Program) I’ve been fighting for but it is a good first step.  He will go to the counselor’s office first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of the day to discuss his goals and whether he met them that day. He will get a score for each class and if he meets his goal each week, I told him I’d take him out to Burger King each Friday.  They’re also setting up a time for him to meet with the school counselor once a week to work on coping skills.  Shane has been informed that if he needs help when he is getting angry, there are five adults he can call on in the school and they will take him for a walk to give him time to cool down and talk if he needs to.

I think I’m going to ask the Assistant Principal for the email addresses of each of these five adults so that I can send an email about what does and doesn’t work with Shane.  I want us to be consistent in how we speak to him.  It is imperative that Shane, when he calms down, is walked through owning his feelings and his actions.  Shane pushes blame on to everyone else and one of my main goals with him is to have his own his actions.

As we laid in bed, we talked about his most problematic area in school – reading group.  It is the last class of the day and it is when Shane loses his ability to cope and make good decisions.  Shane is very upset that his classmates tattle on him.  I told him that it is his bad decisions that start the chain of events.  I asked him if he knew what a “chain of events” was.  He didn’t so I described it in the way that dominoes work.

1. He makes a bad decision to interrupt the group and not follow the group’s rules. 2. The kids in his reading group chose to tattle on him because of his behaviors.  3. His teacher decides to remove him from the group because his reading group tattled on him.  4. Shane chooses to get angry at the group because they tattled on him.

I asked him what happened to all the dominoes if he didn’t push the first one over.  He said that they all stay up, none of them fall over.  I told him that not respecting the rules of the group is that first domino.  None of the other things in that chain of events would happen if he chose to follow the rules and participate with the group.

I told Shane that he has control.  He said, “To control other people?”  I said, “No!  We cannot control anyone buy ourselves.  I can’t control you.  Only you can control you.  There is great power in knowing that.  It is too much work to try to control someone else because it’s already a lot of work to control ourselves.”  Shane said, “I have power?”  I said, “Yes!  You have the power to control yourself and your decisions.  That is amazing, isn’t it?”  He agreed.

That moved in to talking about how the decisions he makes shapes the man he is going to become.  I told him that he is building a house.  The house of the man he is going to become.  He could work really hard and become a very good man or he could refuse to work, refuse to build his house, and he’d be miserable.  Every decision he makes either goes toward building his house or tearing it down.  I told him that it was entirely HIS decision whether he built or tore down.  He asked me when his house would be done.  I told him as long as he lives, he will be building and working on his house.  It is a never-ending project because we are meant to continue to learn and grow as we get older.

I asked him what happens to his relationships if he chooses to stop building and tear down instead.  He said, “I break relationship.”  I told him that was right and that I’ve known people who have chosen to actively tear down their own houses and it hurt the relationship.  He said, “Like Dad?  He really broke your relationship.”  I was blown away.  He is such a thinker and he pieced that together.  I told him that I still pray that his dad decides to build his house someday.

Shane then told me that he thinks Bubba is building his house because Bubba hasn’t yelled at them since that one time over the summer last year.  I told him that he may not yell at him but he still yells at Serenity and Liam.  Shane thought about that for a minute and said, “You’re right.  Liam was singing a song and said the bad word in it and dad yelled at him to not use that word.  Dad was really mad.  But I said the same word a little later and dad didn’t say anything to me about it, even when Liam told him that I said it.”

I asked Shane if that was fair.  He said that it wasn’t.  He shouldn’t be allowed to say those words if Liam isn’t allowed.  I told him that he needed to be responsible for his own words and actions then.  He knows it isn’t right to say those things so he’ll need to remind himself.

Then Shane told me that he hogs the computer when he’s at his dad’s house.  He said it makes Liam mad but Bubba doesn’t make Shane share, so he doesn’t share.  Again, we talked about whether that was fair and what he should do.  He said, “Dad lets me get away with everything even though he yells at Liam for the same things.  That isn’t fair and it isn’t right.”

I’m totally amazed that Shane is seeing and understanding the double standard that exists where he and Liam are concerned.  I know it won’t change because Bubba has shown, over and over, that he will not change.  Once again it falls on to my shoulders to be both mom and dad to these boys and teach them how to become good men.  Once again I feel the heavy burden on my small shoulders and know that is a burden I will gladly carry.  It is my job to make sure the chain of events – the cycle of abuse – is broken and not carried into another generation.  My future daughters-in-law and my grandchildren deserve the hard work I’m putting in now.

I will guide my sons as they build their houses.  I can’t build their houses for them, but I can certainly teach them about appropriate materials as they build.

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