So, here is the thing about Mickey…he doesn’t understand the word no. This is perhaps the most annoying thing about him. He is smart and aware, but no matter how consistent I am, no matter how many times I redirect, ignore, firmly answer no, he takes it as a personal mission to drive me nuts. He will rephrase the question, thinking that I must not understand what is being asked. He will use the No as a grounds for negotiating. Here was our weekend of ODD fun:
After his binder incident last week, he was given consequences. We had a long discussion about calling it what it was – a bad day. But, there are consequences for his choices and he was assigned sentences at home. The quantity could have easily been done in one evening after school (they could have been done the day of the incident), but it was made clear that he was grounded until they were complete. See, Mickey will procrastinate to the point of ridiculous, so this is a regular safeguard built into any consequence.
It is now 6 days later and of the 300 sentences, how many are done? 75. Yes, 75. So, Saturday he was informed that the sentences must be done for him to play with the neighbors or swim in our pool. He awoke at 6:15 am and I reminded him again, that before he started doing anything else, he needed to finish the sentences. At 9:00 he asked if we could go out to lunch after ballet – answer? No, not unless your sentences are done. Same question asked approximately 20 more times for the next 58 minutes, until he stepped into his dance class. First question after dance class? Can we go out to lunch. Number of sentences written between 6:15 am and noon? 4.
We had to go back to the dance studio for Nutcracker auditions at 1:30, so I fed the children and told Mickey that he was going to want to swim with Minnie when auditions were over and reminded him that sentences needed to be done. I sent him to his room to work on them and lesson distractions. Number of sentences written in that 1.5 hours? 2
After auditions we came back home and Minnie went swimming. Mickey gave me attitude because I wouldn’t let him. He earned 25 more sentences for screaming at me. I kept my cool and sent him back to his room – repeat 14 times in 2 hours. Telling him that if he wanted to swim, he had to finish his sentences. At 6:30, I mowed the lawn. Minnie went to play with the neighborhood kids, Mickey asked to as well. Me: How many sentences have you finished. Him: 50. Me: So, no. You are grounded until they are complete.
During the hour or so I spent mowing the lawn, Mickey appeared every 5 minutes or so, trying to explain why it was so important that he be able to play. Reasons included: It is his right to get fresh air, he misses playing with his friends, the boys next door don’t like playing with a girl, he needs to work on his social skills (my personal favorite). Every single time my answer is the same….when you finish your sentences.
We had a late dinner and the kids went to bed around 8:30. Number of sentences completed for the day? 55.
Repeat on Sunday with a total of 20 completed after 12.5 waking hours. One would think he would get the hint that I am not giving in – and I don’t. No parent is perfectly consistent all the time, but with Mickey, I do my best to be. We periodically have these battles of will. It is not my desire to control him, but he doesn’t care about tv, he doesn’t have electronics, he could care less about being sent to his room – the only effective consequence is sentences. They serve two purposes – he hates them and he can practice his truly awful handwriting. But, 6 days in, I hate everything about the word sentences. Sentences are a known consequence for what his school calls an I.I. The minute he made the choice to run, he knew the I.I. would happen and he knew that sentences would be the consequence at home. I do understand his impulse control clouds his thought process, but he has connected the dots and he understands cause and effect, so there has to be a consequence and he must complete it. Fingers crossed he does so this week, because the idea of another weekend of sentences makes me ill.
That is just one picture of the ODD. It can be a simple question “Can I have a snack” when we get to the dance studio. I answer no because we just had a meal or will be in the next hour and he will ask it 20 more times. I usually even give the reason, so that he understands why. He will go to the car and scrounge up money, he will change which snack he requests, he will get belligerent, he will be sweet, he will claim that he is starving, etc. This will go on the entire time we are waiting on his sister to complete a class. Last night we ate dinner at the studio and 15 minutes after he finished dinner he started the snack request. The answer was no, every single time. And yet he asked every minute or two. This is not every studio visit, but it is a common issue. He no longer melts down, but my goodness it is frustrating.
There has been some success with asking back “Did you already ask me that question”, “Did I already answer it?”, “What was the answer?” and having him repeat the no. But, he will just adjust the question. Mickey’s thought process is that a rephrased question is a different question.
Welcome to our ODD little world.