When all else fails, use a cushion.

Today’s story I like to call “When all else fails, use a cushion” but could just as easily be entitled “When your child shouts at you in front of everyone, turn and run away!”

In either case, you’re not really getting the whole picture of course and nothing in either example would even begin to describe the gammut of feelings running through this afternoons little doozy…

I’ll lay it out for you a bit more clearly. Picture the scene………

I’m in the playground with 3 out of 5 of our school-aged children, having collected them from the Infant school first, when I notice that my 8-yr-old stepson is stood behind his class teacher messing around with his bag on his head, so I call to him with a wave of my hand, to let him know I’m there – as normal – before he hi-fives his teacher/TA and leaves.

Only, rather than following normal protocol, he looks at me, plants his feet and shouts out in a very unapologetic manner “I’ve been told to wait here!” So I pause, shake myself a second in disbelief, and then walk forwards a little so I can say his name a bit more quietly to which he again responds shouting even more aggressively “My teacher told me to wait here!” To whit, he promptly sat down.

Aghast, I paused for just one second before walking over to where was sat on the path, crouched down and with my hand on his shoulder repeated what I’d said before, with the added comments that as he’d now refused to do as he was told twice there would be consequences.

Now. Before I go on any further, you may say, hang on! That’s not fair. If he’s been told to stay by his teacher, he’s only doing what he’s told! And you’d normally be right, BUT, in this instance it was AFTER school so I was in charge NOT his teacher, and you do not question until AFTER you have done something you’ve been told by an adult. This is the rule as it stands in our house AND he knows it!

There were further underlying circumstances – the reason his T/A (not his teacher) had told him to wait was that she was looking to see if she could find any of the missing school jumpers which had not returned home despite the term only being a week old! I had asked them to do it & knew EXACTLY what was going on. He could have stood with me whilst we waited to find out if any could be located but he was so determined to ‘obey’ what he’d been told that he decided to completely refuse the command given to him by me, his step mum – showing an utter lack of trust in me. I was frustrated and upset – I’ll be honest with you all, I was also totally embarrassed too.

It was at this point that I wanted to run away and hide.

It isn’t the first time I’ve been shown up by one of my kids (including my stepsons) either on our way into/from school or at school, some of those times have almost made me cry, but this was almost the worse! My stepson’s new teacher doesn’t know us well yet – they’ve only been back to school for a few days – so there’s no real understanding of the nature of our blended family (including how their biological mother fits in) or my stepsons individual challenges (except the information she’s received from his previous class teacher) I could also see all his classmates & their parents watching the whole thing.

As calmly as I could I took my stepsons hand, guided him over to his siblings and then out of the playground before saying anything else. I almost couldn’t trust myself to say anything other than “lets go” or “come on guys, keep up”

Having ‘Pushed his boundaries’ in the junior school playgound, he then decides to do the same in the infant school one, which we have to cross in order to reach the zebra crossing and our safe walk home. Rather than keeping up with the 4 of us (bearing in mind that he has 3 younger siblings who have all done as long a school day as him) my stepson chooses to hang so far behind us all that we are by the exit gate before he has even BEGUN to cross the playground! When I call him to come faster as we are all waiting he just stops dead. I wait. I call again. He doesn’t move. I walk towards him a little so that I don’t have to raise my voice again and he runs across the school playing field at a 90° angle and away from me! So I walk back to the others, who are patiently waiting by the gate with the crossing patrol man – by which point my stepson has wondered to with grabbing distance of me and I take hold of his bag and then hold his hand so he has to walk beside me again!

This is how it remains all the way home…… On entering the house he is informed that he shall be spending his afternoon on a cushion in the kitchen as punishment for shouting at me in public, refusing to do as he was told, repeatedly, and that I will be letting his Dad know so we can discuss it further – which of course sets of a MAHOOSIVE tantrum including kicking things, throwing things, threatening to run out of the house and screaming at me once again…..

Eventually (Having locked the kitchen door so he cannot get out in to garden, and having provided him with a large cushion, pile of books, drink & the promise of tea shortly, he has calmed down enough to leave in the kitchen safely… (We have see-through doors so I can check up on him every few minutes and there is nothing he can reach that can do any harm – the result of having this many kids in one household!!!!!)

And at the end of all this?

Nothing. He’s still there when his Dad gets back at about 5pm (so he was there about 90 mins, pfft, big deal!) has a quiet chat with him, and he then comes out and gives me his usual ‘Sorry’ half-hug whilst looking at the ceiling.  On the other hand, after his Dad and I discuss the events, I’m supposed to “try and use humour to defuse situations” and do my best not to automatically think the worst…. 

Is my OH right? Am I taking this WAY too hard? Should I have seen this through my stepsons’ eyes in the first place and just (In Elsa’s immortal words) “Let it go!”…. Or what? 

Please let me know, cos I sure as hell don’t know right now.

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