That's where I am with Justin. My wits end. Get yourself a cup of something warm and cozy up.. this ones a doozey and it's going to take a minute to read.
For his birthday, The Mother mailed him $25 cash, but the mail was taking forever, and it did not get here in time for his birthday. So when he took his gift card that a friend gave him to the store to buy a new game for the X box and didn't have enough money on the gift card for it, The Husband spotted him the $25 so he wouldn't have to wait any longer. On the condition that when the cash came in the mail, it went directly to us to pay us back... Since we'd already spent a couple hundred dollars on his birthday as it was. He said he was cool with this and got his game that day.
We checked the mail all last week, to no avail. I sent Justin to check the mail on Friday. Still not there, he says when he gets back to the house.. *several* minutes later. (I bet you can already guess where this post is going, huh?) I asked him what took so long (because this was the day that it was freezing cold and snowing outside and I didn't want him getting sick).. he said "the mailman was just getting to the boxes and he had to wait for him". "Okay. No card, huh?", "Nope.".
Fast forward to yesterday morning. Something was bothering me. I couldn't put my finger on what. But I had an uneasy feeling all day long, and knew it had to do with Justin. When Jason got home from school, I asked where Justin was. Because I wanted to see how his day was.. make sure everything was okay. I was worried it was "mother's intuition" kicking in and he'd had a bad day or got into trouble or something. Jason reminded me that Justin had choir practice after school and wouldn't be home till 4:30. Then he goes off to get a snack. Next thing I know, Jason comes to my room to tell me some interesting news.. "Hey mom, somehow Justin has $20 in his lunch account at school. Ms. Jackie asked him where the money came from (because she knows I would never send that much money with just one child without a note asking her to split it between their accounts).. and he tells her "I've been racking yards for extra money". Hmmm. Jason (being the observant fellow that he is) says to me.. "But mom.. Justin hasn't gone anywhere since his birthday.. he's always inside playing the game. He couldn't have racked any yards". Indeed.
So then I had my answer to what was making me feel uneasy all day.. but it STILL didn't click quite all the way. I was imagining some guilable friend gave him their lunch money or something (this has happened before).. and we're having a tight week when it comes to money so I'm thinking "great, now I'm going to have to come up with $20 bucks to pay some kid back his lunch money... God I hope that money from mom comes in the mail today".
At 4:30 I decide I'll go pick Justin up from choir instead of having him walk home like he usually does. When he gets in the car, I ask him how his day was.. to make sure my first feeling about the day wasn't true... He beams "I had a great day! No conduct card marks!" I reply.. "Awesome!!! Now why don't you tell me about the $20 in your lunch account?" His face freezes then falls and his eyes get wide like a deer caught in the headlights. Busted. I say "I hear you told Ms. Jackie that you racked some yards.. but uhm.. when exactly did you do that? Because you've been holed up in your room with that new game since your birthday." He whispers "I got it out of the mailbox". I was FLOORED. Until that moment, I had not even considered that he had stolen my mail. I said "excuse me? when did you do that?". "The last time I checked the mail". I ask him if that was why it took him so long to come back in the house.. "yes." I was furious. FURIOUS! "WHY!?"... "Because I wanted to keep the money".
We get back home.. and I am so appalled I don't even know what to do about it. We have been stressing about this money being "lost in the mail" since last week. I was planning to go down the post office and raise hell about it today. And several times this weekend he made comments about it taking so long to come in the mail. I called Dave to let him know that it was not lost in the mail afterall.. Then I called The Mother to let her know that it was not lost, that it had infact come last week.. She was appalled. She said something about $25, and I said "well Justin said there was just a twenty in the envelope".. she replies "LIKE HELL! There was actually $27 in that envelope, because I added 2 extra bucks to pay you back for the card you got him on my behalf.. LET ME TALK TO HIM!" I could hear her reading him the riot act. The Mother.. She's fierce when you cross her. I should know, I am her kid afterall. I hear him start naming off several food items "a big soda. Candy. Gummy worms. chips. gum." Aparently this was his response to "what did you do with the other 7 bucks because you and I both know there was $27, not $20". After at least 20 minutes of being berated by The Mother, he hands the phone back to me, hangs his head and goes back to his room. He got the "you have disappointed me" talk. I know that one. All too well. It was worse than her being mad. When you disappointed her, it was BAD. I'm so glad he got that from her. She told him that usually when I call her and ask advice, she always smooths it over.. and that she was disappointed and wasn't going to smooth this one over, she was right behind me in whatever I decided to do for punishment. She also explained to him that opening mail addressed to another person is a federal offence. Not a city or county or even a state offense.. It's an FBI offense. She told him how lucky he was that it was only my mail that he opened, because if it had been a neighbors, he would be charged with mail theft. This scared him. To which I say "Good."
I let him sit in his room and stew while I thought about how to handle it. After a while, I called him to my room and started "the talk". You know the talk. It's that 45 minutes of hell when your parents make you feel about 2 inches tall for doing what you did. I explained to him how tight money has been this week because daddy didn't have a great week at work last week, and we had to pay the rent. Some might disagree but I think it's important for kids to understand that everyone experiences tough times, and that some weeks, we need to be a little extra frugal. I told him how I have been waiting on that money because I needed it for groceries at the end of the week.. And that I have been really worried about not having it. At this point it had been at least an hour and a half since my first comment of "Now why don't you tell me about the $20 in your lunch account?". Please take note of the EXACT wording in that question, it plays a key part in the next part of this story.
I tell him "I hope you don't think you're keeping that money on your lunch account for icecream and fun snacks. I am calling Ms. Jackie in the morning and you better hope she has the ability to take it back out of your account and return it to me.. because I need it. And if she can't.. You're still not keeping. I know she can move money from one account to another.. because she's done that before when she accidentally put Jason's lunch money in Andy's account. So I'll have her spread out between your brothers and sisters for icecream. But either way.. YOU are not keeping it." My phone rang right then, it was The Husband.. and just as I am answering the phone.. Justin pulls money out of his pocket and whispers.. "I didn't put the whole 20 in my account.. just 10. Here is the rest". I answer the phone yelling "You had this money in your pocket the whole time and said nothing?!?! You were just going to keep it and let me think the 20 was in your lunch account?!?!?!". Thank goodness it was The Husband on the phone and not someone else. He told me "it's not important.. call me back after you deal with that" and hangs up. I freaked out. FREAKED OUT. "You were just going to keep this! Until you found out I was going to call Ms. Jackie and would find out from her there was only 10 in your account, you were going to try to keep this.. After all of this, you were still lying and being decietful to me!!! I can't even believe you!" He tried to say "no.." I told him "Don't even try to deny it!! I have NO REASON TO BELIEVE ANYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH! WHAT YOU HAVE DONE MAKES YOU A LIAR AND A THEIF!!!" I put that in caps because I was indeed screaming by the end of my tirade. I told him to walk away. I told him I was more pissed than I was that he sat there, for an HOUR AND A HALF with the money in his pocket and said nothing, tried to keep it.. and that I was extremely pissed off and he needed to walk away from me so I could count to 10 and calm down. I was thisclose to smacking him. He had no intention of telling me about that 10 unless he had to. He tried to say otherwise.. that I hadn't given him a chance to speak up, because I had been yelling at him.. I said "Yeah? What about in the car? That was your first chance. Or how about when you were laying on your bed, with the covers over your head, trying to take a nap because you were pissed off when I said you better not touch anything electronic in your bedroom? You waited until I said I was calling Ms. Jackie about it." He hung his head. He knew he had no defense.
When Dave got home, we talked about what to do. Dave said we should cut his hair off. Because when he started growing it out, and when Jason and Andy got the mohawks, we told all of them that it was a deal.. They could look however they wanted, have whatever crazy hairdo they wanted, so long as they acted right at both home and school". Well, ever since Justin got his ear pierced, his behavior has gone downhill. He conduct sheet at school was so full, they had to put a second one in his binder. He keeps blowing off his homework and not filling out his reading log. He keeps acting like a jerk to his siblings. He keeps backtalking. It has been a nightmare with him the last 6 weeks. Infact, just the day before all this happened, there was a half a page note on his conduct sheet telling me how he had ripped the spacebar off of one of the schools laptop for no apparent reason and that now the entire keyboard would need to be replaced and he was banned from using the laptops. He would only be allowed to use the desktop computer that's located right next to the teacher so he can be monitored while using it. Constant bad decisions. And we have threatened to take his hair several times. So that was what Dave thought we should do. I disagreed. Mostly for selfish reasons. *I* like Justin's hair. I hate short hair on him. He's too skinny, and his long hair gives him "bulk" if that makes sense. Plus, we have no money to go to the hairdresser, so the only option for taking his hair, is having Dave buzz it straight off... And it's going to be in the 20s again tonight.. I don't think it's a good idea to take what little insulation his body has off right before a big cold spell. And there's the school play next week, and I really don't want him looking stupid in it. And with buzzed hair.. he looks stupid. Not to mention the redicule from his peers. So I made a deal with Dave. We ground him from everything. EVERYTHING. The boy has books and a chess set. That's it. And we gave him extra chores. Along with writing some sentences. And he's got until next Friday to get his act together. Next Friday is the last day of school before Christmas break. If he gets into ANY kind of trouble whatsoever between now and next Friday, I will personally buzz his hair off myself the minute he walks in from school. Because he'll have 3 weeks for it to grow back and get a decent haircut before school starts up again. And he'll be grounded inside, so there won't be a problem with the cold afer school is out.
After that, Dave and I completely dropped it. I was sick of yelling and being angry and was ready to just move on with our evening. We had dinner, to which I told him be better not complain about the burrito he was eating (he doesn't care for frozen burritos.. remember he IS The Pickiest Eater in All The Land).. and that he better eat that burrito with a smile.. because if he hadn't taken the money, he'd be having pork chops for dinner, because that's what I had to put back when I was at the store the other day, and got the burritos instead because they were cheaper. He didn't complain. He ate his burrito, put his plate in the sink and went back to his room. Smart boy.
By the time bedtime rolled around, I was upset for a different reason. I told The Husband that I felt like a failure. Because it's my job to teach him right from wrong, and I am failing miserably. This is not the first time he has stolen money from me. It's actually the 4th or 5th. That's why I exploded so much. It's been a while since he's stolen from me.. but not that long.. I think the last time was around the end of the school year last year. When the boys all came out to say goodnight to us, Justin heard what I said to The Husband and hung back to be the last one to say goodnight. He had tears in his eyes. His body langauge showed how bad he felt. He hugged me extra tight and whispered "Mom I'm sorry I stole from you again. And I'm really sorry I opened mail with your name on it." I immediatly told him "I forgive you and I love you". Then he says " And I really did want to tell you about the 10 bucks in the car, I'm not lying about that I swear.. but I was scared you would just get more mad if I said anything so I didn't" I told him "well hiding it from me certainly didn't help your case. I've alwyas told you.. don't hide things from me, and be honest about what you've done wrong.. the consequences will be less severe if you don't lie to me... and you just kept lying, Justin. You decieved me when you told me it took you so long because of the mailman.. when ifact you were just trying to get rid of the evidence. You tried to lie about how much money was in the envelope right up until Mema' called you on it, and you hid having the money in your pocket for over and hour and a half... you just kept lying. And that doesn't work. Haven't you figured out by now, that I *always* find out? You have yet to pull anything over on me.. so why do you keep trying? I'm a smart girl Justin, and you have too many siblings willing to rat you out to get away with anything... so why don't you do us both a favor and stop trying? I'm getting a little tired of always being mad at you". His tears really started flowing at that point and he said "I'm so sorry mom, I really am. I won't steal from you again. I swear I won't. I'm sorry I disappointed you."
Well of course by then I was crying too.. and I told him I loved him so much, and that it hurts me when he does these things, because it makes me feel like I am not doing my job as a parent. And I told him that it worries me that he can just lie to me, without blinking and without any guilt. Because I thought I had taught him better than that.. but obviously I hadn't. He said he was sorry several times.. and I told him that I accepted all of his apologies and that I had already forgiven him for before he even said he was sorry.. but that there would still need to be consequences. But I also told him "you know, it's not the end of the world. All you have to do is be good. And I know that you can be good. I'm not asking anything of you that you are not capable of. You do know how to act, because up until Halloween you had been doing so great.. So you need to just buck up and take your punishment like a man. You're grounded, but it will eventually blow over. And you've got a clean slate to start with tomorrow. All you have to do is keep it clean and before you know it, you will not be grounded anymore and life can get back to normal." We hugged really tight and he kissed my cheeck and told me sweet dreams.
This morning, before he left for school he came to me and told me he was sorry, again. And said "I really want to have a good day today"... and I told him "then you will! I know you can.. you ARE a good kid, Justin.. You've just made some bad choices lately. All you gotta do is make good choices."
Sure enough, he did indeed have a good day. He came in this afternoon in a good mood and told me "no coduct marks!!" before going straight to his room and getting started on homework. He did ask me "Mom can I have just one of my priviledges back?" and when I said "no, not yet".. he didn't complain or pout.. just said "okay" and went back to his room and picked up his book.
I am hoping and praying that something got through to this child. Because this crap that we've been dealing with has GOT to stop.
If you made it this far.. Thanks for reading, I know it was a novel.. I hope your eyes aren't bleeding too bad. LOL