Growing Pains

I have loved watching Declan blossom at summer camp. Truly. Remember when they put on the Lion King? And Thriller right after? And then, check out what they have been up to this week, with Alicia Keys as their muse. This is their last week together and I am truly sad.

But it has come with a price as well.

Dex’s behavior has been literally out of control for the past month. Part of me is happy to see it, because it shows strength. He’s pushing back. He’s becoming a leader instead of a follower.

He’s also becoming a pain in my ass.

We’ve had to institute “Reward Wednesday,” where we give a thumbs up or down for each day (I call it the “Did He Drive Me Nuts?” scale) and if he gets 5 or more good days for the week, he can pick from the Craft Bag. I hate resorting to sidecar bribery, but – honestly? I was sick of yelling. Sick of telling him to move his ass. Sick of the backtalk. I absolutely prefer positive reinforcement, and if he is willing to work hard to get some stupid-ass extra stickers on Hump day, I am willing to dole them out – when he doesn’t drive me crazy.

It’s working.

Sure, we still have had rough day here and there. Like yesterday, where my son was the ringleader in the “massive couch jumping incident” at our friend’s house…. but I also am getting cool talks about the strategy behind Wii video games. As in: HE is coaching ME. When did that shift happen?

This summer.

Hanging with a bunch of kids at a different school, in a different environment, in different ways than he is used to.

Declan made the cut-off for Kindergarten by 2 weeks. He is the youngest in his 1st Grade class. Some of his friends turned 7 this summer, whereas my kid won’t be *6* till September.

So, if I have to put up with some punk attitute to have these great leaps in maturity and an awesome ability to roll with the punches, I’m there, Dex. I’m so there.

This article has 23 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Sorry you are having a rough time. Hope it gets better soon!

  2. Kary

    You and Bryan have one cool kid! It is going to be fun to see him grow this year as he takes on Kindergarten. Good luck!

  3. Sizzle

    I think that reward idea is pretty smart actually. If I jump on your couch one day but then make you cocktail the other days can I get a sticker?


  4. treesflowersbirds

    Sound familiar 😉 My youngest has a August birthday and I put him in school the year he turned 5. Oh he was so ready!! But yes, he has always been the youngest male in the class which kind of starts to catch up to them as they approach middle school (fair warning). Meanwhile I also remember the summer time changes – one thing to keep in mind is that since summer is a different routine – perhaps no routine! – than school, kids often act out then in reaction to their boundaries changing.
    He sure sounds like a really awesome little guy.

  5. zenrain

    I can’t wait to see what happens when your ringleader and my ringleader get together next month!

  6. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Thanks all – and Kary – believe it or not, this year he takes on FIRST GRADE!

  7. Erika Jurney

    My problem with the rewards is that it is so much more work for me, but I find that frequently you don’t have to keep doing them for months on end — they usually move onto some other behavior that is distractingly irritating and tending to it means moving away from the rewards.

    Wow, that was one long ‘sentence.’

  8. Mr Lady

    The flip flop comment:

    Awwww~! Little D is getting so big! I love that kid, man!


    HAHAHAHA! Just you wait, sister. 😉

  9. mothergoosemouse


    I want Tacy to think for herself, even when that means she disagrees with me, but I still want her to do as I say. It’s getting harder to avoid the contradiction therein.

  10. amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay

    love me the reward idea. I am also looking for some sort of method to my madness here. I did this with hundreds of other children in schools- but with my own I stumble! I love the thumbs up/down

  11. Amy

    So cool! Sounds like he’s ready for that slumber partay with Liam!! Glad you’re rolling with the punches and looking for the rainbows!

  12. Nat

    Nick made the cut off for kindergarten by 2 days. It has it’s challenges in school for sure. As for behaviour, the introduction of friends and being the “ring leader” brought a whole new set of challenges.

    Hang in there, it will get better.

  13. Tootsie Farklepants

    I have noticed that my daughter (5) will start to mimic certain characteristics if she spends too much time with another child. And it’s usually not a very appealing attribute. I now worry what kindergarten will bring home.

  14. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Tootsie… Kindergarten brings home ALOT of that. ALOT ALOT.

  15. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Becky! Funny you mention that! Because I just “photographed” him out of bed. He is sooooooo sleepy in the mornings and we are having increasing trouble getting out of bed. So I just kept taking photos till he got up. HA!

  16. zipper

    Sounds rough.

  17. Megan

    Ooch. That sounds roough. but I know you guys are gonna be fine!

  18. Becky

    Ah yes. Welcome to life at camp with 6-8 year old boys. I’m having the same thing with mine. He’s either so tired he doesn’t talk or he’s so hyped up he’s just wild and, well, annoying!

    and my thought is, if bribery works, then it works. Nuff said.

  19. apathy lounge

    I predict great strides for him. It’s amazing what the workings of a great Kindergarten experience can do for a kid. Maybe he’s just really bored.

  20. apathy lounge

    Or…First Grade.

  21. Karl

    That positive reinforcement stuff works. To this day, if I know that sex is in the mix, I’ll be a good boy for quite a while.

    Great meeting you at BlogHer, by the way. I’m just now getting around to entering URLs from business cards.

  22. monstergirlee

    ah, sometimes a little sticker goes a loooong way. I too try to stay without the reward system but sometimes.. eh.
    It’ll all work out OK, and your kid will just keep getting more and more cool. Just like his Mom and Dad.

  23. PAPA

    I’m all about positive reinforcement but usually if I set a “reward” for someone, I end up getting more excited about the reward than them! Why do I like Chipotle so much?

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