Side effects
Seasonal Angst

In which the bershon might kill me

At dinner I make everyone say one thing they liked about their day and one thing they didn't like. (Why yes it IS a mini examen.) I have transcribed a bit of tonight's conversation. Some pertinent background information: today we went to Jack's well child exam, did some back to school shopping, and spent the afternoon playing iPad while Mommy did the semi-annual Hated Clothes Sort.

EMMA: My good thing is that I went sopping with Mommy! And my SAD thing is that DADDY went to WORK. 

JACK: Welllll... I can't think of any good things right now...

JACK'S PARENTS: Okay, well start with your not so good thing and you can think about good things later.

JACK: Wellll... my bad thing is that today was just .... we didn't have any plans. So it was pretty .... boring

JACK'S MOTHER: What are you talking about? We got new school shoes today. I let you pick out a new backpack! Those aren't good things?

JACK: Shoes just aren't very important to me. 

JACK'S MOTHER: You sure acted like they were important when you didn't like the first fifteen pairs I picked out for you. 

JACK: [heavy sigh/quasi eye roll that would do a thirteen-year-old girl proud]


*later on*


JACK'S FATHER, WITH THINLY VEILED SARCASM: So Jack, tomorrow we don't have any plans either. How can we accommodate your needs?

JACK, NOT GETTING IT AT ALL: Welllll... I like to do things. Like maybe we can go to the Science Center. Or go to a friend's house. 

JACK'S MOTHER, ENTHUSIASTICALLY: You can do laundry. You can do dishes. Oooh, I know! You can clean the toilet!

JACK: [cracks a smile because he thinks his mother is not serious] [his mother is totally serious]

MOLLY: MY good thing is that Mommy got me new shoes! And I got to pick out my own backpack! And I had a frozen GoGurt for a snack! I am happy about everything! All the time! My bad thing is... I don't have a bad thing! I LOVE YOU, WORLD!!!!!!1!!!

JACK'S FATHER: What about doing some of those Lego sets you have half built?

JACK, WITH UTMOST CONTEMPT: Most of those are broken. And the other ones you dumped out in the other bins and all the pieces are mixed up

JACK'S FATHER: ... So. You look for them. 


MOLLY: But the doctor said you had good vision!

JACK'S MOTHER: [falls off her chair laughing]

It's just... I mean, a whole summer FULL of this! And it's getting worse! And most of the time I react by staring speechless because HE IS EIGHT! He is not a teenage girl! I had YEARS to mentally prepare myself for this attitude problem, didn't I? 

Last week I printed out calendars for August and September, wrote down all the big things (appointments, Molly's birthday, weekends away), and listed out the rules for when he can ask me if he can play Minecraft. The Minecraft thing has been better since then, and that's totally my bad for not doing it at the beginning of summer. Master Jackson has always done better with Clearly Defined Structure, being the sort of person who wants to know what we're doing tomorrow, and at what time, and what we'll be doing directly after that. 

[I just heard him ask Molly if they can make their own schedule in the morning where they play chess because 1) I won't let him play the iPad on weekday mornings and 2) "otherwise I get bored".]

I feel like I could have done a little better maybe, figured out some Pinteresty projects for him to work on, gave him something to investigate over the summer and make a book or a report or something. He LIKES stuff like that. But no, instead I decided we would go to the library at least once a week and we would have at least a half hour of reading each afternoon and OH, this is not how he would like to spend his time. 

If the little girl on our street is around, both big kids will spend the entire afternoon and evening riding bikes and hanging out with her. But she's on vacation until school starts. I FEAR FOR OUR LIVES, INTERNET.

I want him to quit being such a butthead about EVERYTHING. All the time. About our whole day. The sighing, the almost-stomping, the almost-eye-rolling - enough to make us think he's being a butthead, but not enough to warrant a shouting throwdown. (Although I did send him to his room at 7:08 this morning. I think I'd been awake all of two minutes.)

So yeah, I want to respond better too. Tonight I was sarcastic and snippy and laughing at him, which wasn't satisfying since he didn't realize I was laughing at him. But that's not... I don't know. The part of me that remembers being a kid doesn't want to totally disregard him like that. 

And when we DO regard him... like right now my sainted husband is playing one of his giant silly board games with all the kids and Jack is ENGAGED. He is happy and into it and likes us again. When I spend an extra 10 minutes chatting with him before I turn out his light at bedtime, those are well spent 10 minutes. And when we DO have plans, it almost doesn't matter what the plans are, he's good. Yesterday his main companion was a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome and autism who says only a few words, and Jack was awesome with him! Included him and had fun with him. He is not the horrible, unfeeling, apathetic, super selfish BUTTHEAD he sometimes acts like. 

BUT DUDE. I am not his cruise director! I am not his teacher! Or his grandma or his babysitter or any of the other people invested in making sure Jackson Cheung has a good time! Man, some days just making sure he eats three meals is the best I can do. There are nine million toys in this house, not to mention piles of paper and art supplies, a garage full of bikes and scooters and balls, a backyard with a FREAKING SLIDE. Make your own fun, eight-year-old boy! Quit talking to me like my main function is to make sure you are entertained all the livelong day!



Okay. It might be out of my system. For now. I'm going to hide in the bedroom while the rest of them are having this little family moment. I think everyone will be happiest that way. 



Salvation is coming! We've only been back to school for two days, but oh, my extroverted, routine-oriented, must-be-engaged-always child is so much happier. As am I.


Ethan is similarly handling 8 years old. Much "noooo, I don't want to" and tears at least 5 times a day. Even the grandparents are rolling their eyes at him. I was not warned about this stage! Good luck to you and jack!


It's too bad you live on the opposite side of the continent because we could get our 8 year olds together to talk about how boring their moms are and how no one ever plays with them or does anything fun. I never wanted to be the person looking forward to the start of school, but here I am looking forward to the start of school.

Dr. Maureen

I have no advice about the sighing and eye-rolling, but we totally ask the kids to tell us their favorite part of the day at dinner. I don't ask for a bad thing. Should I ask for a bad thing?

But lord a'mighty, I sure have sympathy for my mom for the millions of times I told her I was bored. Because "bored" is not something I have time to be anymore. You know? I know you know. I HAVE SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO.

I did teach Jack to clean the bathroom last week a la A'Dell, and told him I'll pay him $3 to do it if he does a good job. It kind of needs cleaning today, I'll test it. I only gave him $2 for cleaning it *with* me.


My Kate is like this too -- must be entertained at all times. I wonder if you could put Jack in charge of the younger kids, as an activity? Like, tell him he's the Entertainment Leader for the next 2 hours, and he should turn in his report at the end of the time, telling you what he and his sisters have done that's been fun. So, he could direct them to color for 15 minutes, then (give him a bell!) Time's Up! Now it's time to build a fort! and then, Snack Time, but Jack will set up everything and take orders (or make it a restaurant game where they create the menu, etc.)... i don't know, would "leadership" and making it a bit like schoolwork w/ the report appeal to him?

Just off the top of my head, you understand. I feel like Kate would LOVE this, but it might be because she's the youngest and LOVES any chance to be the leader.


First, thank you for teaching me the word bershon. I don't know how I made it this long without hearing it, but I now see it is the exact description of my daughter's behavior, and she's only 7. Many years to go before teenagerdom. Clearly, she is practicing.

I really just want to give you a hearty fist bump and say I feel ya, sister. The end of summer is capital H Hard. There is never enough activity for my kids. I lost count of the times I have said, "My name may be Julie, but I am not your cruise director." I love summer, but I'm glad for structured time again.

I'll just be over here, waiting for Sabrina's eyes to roll out of her head.


Oh yes. My daughter must know exactly what is planned and happening the day before and if it doesn't happen - woe betide you. NEVER promise anything we are not 110% sure will happen or - well, it is tragedy x1000. She is 7.5 but this is definitely the year of the eye roll and I was shocked at the early adolescence markers - how come no one told me about this! Is this advanced puberty because of meat hormones or has it always been this way? Hearing from others makes me think it has always been this way.
I have to laugh when parents rejoice about Back to School because I work in a school and so, the return to order for my kid also means back to (challenging, exhausting) school for me as well. So we are both in the throes of Back to School Blues on top of it all. I may be eye-rolling by Friday.


Like another commenter, if I wasn't on the other side of the country, I'd contribute my bored seven-year-old to the cause. He's at daycare all day right now and complains that THAT is boring. He's constantly trying to drag his father off to play, even though he's got an attentive, obsessed little brother (ok, he's only two so maybe not the best playmate) just dying to play with him. He's wishing for a cruise director, as well, I think. Oh, and the attitude already...totally not prepared for this phase. I thought big boys were supposed to be delightful little companions by this point.


I can relate to this on so many levels...but in the end I am amazed that God gave us these little people with such distinct personalities to nurture and care for and keep clothed and fed and clean.
Some days I want to whisk our family off to a 3rd world country and do mission work for a year just so they can SEE with the their own eyes how blessed we are to be 'bored.'
The mission work is something we've always talked about doing at some point and my husband and I just rehashed it again a few days ago...and then Matt said - we don't have to go far away. There is a food pantry/outreach center literally 5 blocks from our house where we drop off food, old toys and clothes. As soon as the big ones are back in school its on my list to contact the food pantry and our church to get our family on the volunteer list.


This is hilarious! Only because... yes. Yes I feel your pain. You are right though- you are NOT a cruise director! My response to whining about boredom is to hand the girls a garbage bag & tell them to start filling it with the toys in their room that bore them. Shuts them up RIGHT QUICK.

The comments to this entry are closed.