Discipline & Children
We had tenants one time that had three children, ages three and a half, two, and a new baby. She was actually pregnant when they moved into the house and later gave birth to a baby girl. They’d been married for five years. Timmy, the husband, was 25 years old. He worked 12 hour days, five days a week and sometimes on Saturday. Heather, the wife, was 20 years old. She stayed home and took care of the house and the children.
I had noticed that on several occasions the three and a half year old, Billy, was quite unruly. The middle child often suffered at the hands of her older brother’s physical abuse. He would tackle his little sister and put her in a headlock.
Heather always laughed and said, “He’s being a wrestler.“
It was so bad; I was really concerned about the new baby’s safety. I don’t like telling people how to raise their kids, but I felt a strong need to say something.
Finally, I said to Heather that maybe she should discipline him more often instead of just giggling when he does something wrong.
“I’m not allowed to spank him,” she said sadly. “Timmy doesn’t like spankings.”
“He’s your son, too,” I pointed out, “and you’re the one here all day with him, he needs to mind you.”
Heather and I were standing in the kitchen talking one day when Billy grabbed a box of cereal off the table and began opening it.
In her little kitten voice, Heather said to him, “No, no, Billy. Put that back on the table. If you want some, I’ll pour you a bowl.”
As she turned to reach into the cabinet to get a bowl, he looked right at her, grinned and dumped the entire box of Cookie Crisp onto the floor.
Looking very dejected, she said, “Fine, you can clean it up!”
Billy laughed wickedly as he got back on his riding toy and started zooming around the house. Heather, almost in tears, stooped down (over her then very pregnant belly) and started picking up the pieces of cereal.
I went to the broom closet and pulled out a broom. I decided to try again. “Heather, you’ve got to do something especially with a new baby.”
“He won’t listen,” she whined. “He never does anything I tell him to do.”
Heather took the broom and started sweeping. Not giving up, I instructed, “Then you make him do it! He’s three; you’re the adult. If he won’t come to you when you call him, then you go get him and bring him back! If you need to, beat his ass. I give you my word as a mother; he will start listening to you. You don’t have to abuse him, but smack him on his ass and he’ll learn bad things happen when he does bad things.”
“Oh no! Timmy does not like spankings. He gets upset if I even raise my voice,” she explained as she swept the floor.
“Well, Timmy is not the one here all day, is he? You are!”
“I know but he will come home and sometimes ask Billy if I spanked him today. If Billy tells him yes, then Timmy and I have terrible fights. I don‘t spank him. I have never spanked him, but he will tell Timmy I do.”
I was beginning to think the child needed a priest more than a spanking. I contemplated bringing Heather a rosary of garlic on my next visit. This kid was wicked.
As we stood in the kitchen talking, Billy came up behind me, hit me on my legs then ran away giggling.
Heather called after him, “Billy that is not nice to hit Miss Michelle. You need to come tell her you’re sorry.”
Billy came back all right. He came back with his fist raised to hit me again. He thought this was some kind of game.
I grabbed his hand and in my meanest voice I yelled, “Hey! I am not your mama, and I am certainly not your daddy, but if you hit me again, I’ll take your pants down and beat your butt until you can’t sit down!”
I scared Heather. She sat down at the table. Apparently, I scared Billy, too. He took off and hid and didn’t come back out the rest of the time I was there.
Following that incident, whenever I came over, he stayed close to his mother or far away from me. I truly hoped that by example, Heather got the gist of what I was saying. I didn’t have to strike the child, just threaten to and he had a whole new demeanor when I was around.
One day I stopped in and Heather announces she took Billy to the doctors to find out what was wrong with him.
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “Did something happen?”
“Well, he kept punching the baby, even in the face, so Timmy said there was something wrong with him and made me take him to a children’s psychiatrist. I talked with him for about an hour and then the doctor said he was bi-polar.”
“Who is bi-polar; Timmy?” I asked.
I knew who she was talking about, but I was so angry. No tests were run. The doctor spoke with the mother for an hour and came up with a clear cut diagnosis.
“No, Billy,” Heather answered laughing. “He put him on some medication, too. It seems to help. He’s calmed down a good bit.”
I looked at the bottles - Ativan and Lithium. Yeah, I could see why he was calmed down. I would be calmed down too and be knocked the hell out if I took those pills even in the low dosages they were in, especially in combination.
Heather points to the Lithium prescription first, “Billy takes this twice a day, and if he is still acting up, I give him the Ativan. He can have that up to three times in one day.”
“Are you sure the Ativan is not for you?” I asked, “And where’s Timmy dose of arsenic and old lace for making you endure instead of just spanking Billy?”
I tried to explain to Heather, Billy is only three, almost four; there’s no way you can get a positive diagnosis of bi-polarism for a toddler in only an hour’s time. Their personalities are just being developed. Most people are in their late teens and early twenties before it‘s discovered. Not to mention, she just labeled her child with a label he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life.
Heather wouldn’t hear of it. She insisted the medications were working so it must be a correct diagnosis. I let it drop when I realized that this was her relief. The only way she could cope and deal with being his mother was to drug him - to drug the worst one of the children she had.
In my humble opinion, society is labeling our children and diagnosing them with ADD, ADHD, Schizophrenia type diagnoses and bi-polarisms and then drugging them instead of teaching them self-control.
On top of that, so many parents are letting society raise their children. Parents need to give what each individual child needs for correction or behavior modification (to be politically correct). The parents are not the only ones that have to deal with these unruly children when they exhibit poor behavior through lack of discipline. Consider this: they often grow up to become adults with poor behavior lacking in self-control and discipline. And then society wonders why our prisons are so full.