Thursday, July 01, 2010

I am a mean mom.

**** EDITED -- I took a reader's recommendation and instead of making reading a punishment (I never thought of it that way -- thanks to everyone who pointed that out -- last night I let Zack stay up in bed as long as he was reading. I went in to check on him around 10:15 and he'd finished half chapter book and had this look of wonder on his face - like he couldn't believe he liked to read! So THANK YOU everyone! Let's hope this holds!)


Oh yes. You heard it here first. Unless you live in my house, and then you heard it here second.

I am a mean mom.

It's only July the flipping 1st and my seven-year old son is


Oh he was just fine when we were trotting around the malls and buying Lego kits and what not. This is all my fault. He is Spoiled Rotten.

He did not take it well when I told him he was quickly spending his summer cash. Do you think he listened? OH no.

So now, when there is "nothing to do", and I remind him of the books, Lego's, games, DS, Wii, etc etc freaking etc, that's not enough. I get this.

And I don't know how much longer I can hold out from running down the streets screaming and waving my arms in the air like a lunatic.

Welcome to summer, mom.

I am mean, now, because I said every time he said he was bored, or every time he got snotty with me (!) the TV came off and he got to read for half an hour. And this I don't get. The child reads WAY above his grade level, but won't read on his own. LOVES for me to read to him, and when I say, "You read a page", he will. But pick up a book on his own? Nope.

I think I'm on to something. Books. Yeah. I'll be called MEAN MOM again. The horror.

Does it also make me a mean mom that I can't WAIT until my torch comes back from the shop so I can run away to the shed to lampwork again, just for a little break when Rick comes home?


Someone please tell I'm not alone in this summer angst.

Lori Anderson designs jewelry (when she's not being mean) for Lori Anderson Designs. She also writes for the blog An Artists Year Off.


  1. I've seen the prayer "Dear God, please save my children from me" a few times already this week. So if it helps, you are not alone. lol

    Big hugs~!

  2. I feel your pain! I have been a mean mom for a while now :) Ben is actually attending summer day camp though, so he only tells me he's bored after 4pm :)

  3. Well...I am a card-carrying member of that club! Welcome! I did finally, FINALLY get my son to pick out a book or two from the library. We shall see how far that gets. Our son stays home alone some of the days, others he goes with his sister to Summer Blast. When he stays home, like today, he is given a small task to complete (today it is to wash the dishes, put in dishwasher or put away). He has even learned to do the laundry! So the perk to staying home and being free to do as he pleases is to do something around the house to earn it (we don't have 'chores' and don't do allowances, it is just expected). Perhaps a list of things like that will help him to see that he isn't so bored after all!
    Oh! I just remembered! My sister had her son do a census of all the legos. They made up 'questions' to record the answers how many have hats, how many are wearing red, which ones are two-faced (if you know legos you will understand). That kept him quite busy! The next step was to learn how to compile all that in the computer. Give that a shot with the legos. Or how about a challenge? Like build the biggest free standing tower you can and then count the number of legos it took to do that. Or the biggest with only one color of lego, estimating which of the colors would we able to be the tallest.
    Keep us posted on the status. And keep your mean-mom card handy. You've already paid your dues.
    Enjoy the day!

  4. Oh I am laughing...but that is because I am not "there" yet. I am going to go out on a limb though and say you are not alone. When I was working at a bead shop, there was NO mistaking when the first day of school was. The store was full of moms-all happy, smiling, and thrilled to to be with other "kids" over 20. Hell, I was happy they were with kids over 20!

  5. You're not alone! If we don't have something specific to do, it does get ugly around here too. Thankfully there is a pool in walking distance and a lake to feed the ducks. You'll have to come down and meet us at the beach - we can keep him busy! Rather, with 5 boys, WE will be very busy! :-)

  6. You are NOT a mean mom. Hang in there. :)

  7. I'm in your club. I'm a mean MOM to a 12 years old wanna be adult socialite daughter. Thanks God for taking pity on me by sending me a 15 years old angel son with a 70 years old adult maturity level!!!

    My 12 years old wanna be adult socialite daughter will do as minimum as possible to survive in school; while my 15 years old angel son with a 70 years old adult maturity level can’t wait for his regular school year to end so he can read all the books that he had stack as his pleasure summer reading. Right now he finds himself at John Hopkins Univ. on a summer program for talented youth taking a course in logic and reading his favorites books.

    They both are very different from each other, but I loved them each with all my heart.

  8. You are so not alone! Been there, done that years ago. My children are 26 and 31. Aside from the frustration of the moment and certainly not at the situation, your description and pictures made me laugh. It brought back many memories and some day you'll be able to look back on many things and find humor where you thought there was none! Hang in there. Believe it or not it goes by way to quickly!

  9. Dear Mean Mom,
    Join the Club.
    Sometimes it's good to introduce the aspect of "boring people are the ones that are bored easily". Try to encouarge him to come up with 10 things that he doesn't deem boring that don't involve buying a new toy. Or switch roles and tell him you are bored and it is up to him to get you out of "your boredom". Make it fun though.
    I would let my kids stay up as late after bedtime as they wanted to if they were reading a book. Of course, they almost always fell asleep when reading after about 30 minutes. But they really love to read.
    Best wishes. This too shall pass. Hugs from another mother.

  10. When my girls complain that they're bored, they are immediately given chores to do. Luckily, we haven't had too much of that this summer, as one or the other has been in camp the past three weeks.

  11. I am a 'mean mom' too. I've been dreading the end of school because I am terrified of the "I'm bored" syndrome. Whenever I hear those words I tell my kiddo to march upstairs and decide what toys and games he'd like to give away since if doesn't want them. Really, I'm just hoping that neigther one of us sheds too many tears this summer.

  12. I'm no longer a mean mom -- now I'm a laughing grandmother!!! I hear my daughter in my head right now complaining about how summer is going to be a zoo at her house! She homeschools her youngest (who has dyslexia) so she is used to having her there but the other two! Fortunately with more than one, at least part of the time they entertain each other. The good thing about being a mean mom now is that your child will truly appreciate you when they have children of their own!

  13. I can't feel your pain but I do know a mom sometimes just has to be mean. I forgave my mom (mostly) and he will do the same, when he's in his 40's.

  14. i'm laughing my neighbor and i just had a converation on this topic..her grandkids are BORED.
    when we were kids,back in the dark ages before computers and well, almost tv, our folks said go outside and play until lunchtime..if we complained of boredom ,they gave us we rarely whined to our parents about being bored.

  15. Take comfort that you are not alone and you have some great suggestions to work with. Have a great summer.

  16. Believe it or not, it's easier now than it will be in a decade or so when you're up nights wondering what he's getting into to keep himself from being bored. Hugs!

  17. You could teach him to make beads - it includes flames - what could be cooler than that? Although they sometimes feel a little underfoot, stringing wire and a bowl of beads sometimes gives me the 20 minutes or so I need to get a project finished :-)

  18. Lori, you always make me laugh although I realize that it is not funny to you right now. You are setting a wonderful example for a "bored kid" of what it means to have a passion and fill your time doing all the creative things you do. He will catch on to that eventually. My children are all grown and I am so fortunate to have so much time now to do all the things I always wanted to. I worked full-time (Teaching Children) when my kids were that age. My own kids couldn't keep me awake very long when we tried to sit (usually we laid in bed) and read together. We laugh about that all the time now. I was always so exhausted. You are frustrated but also very lucky to have this time home with him. My best advice- See if you can help him find a summer passion, something to work on- I think boys need projects.

  19. a blog I read had a great post about this! her june 3rd post, if you get to her site you can search w/ the phrase 'bored kids summer' & it will take you to it.

  20. P/S the light in your outside photos was beautiful, are you using a light tent? comments aren't working over there

  21. Kids can be trying! I dunno when we were kids we were Never bored! Played outside all day and it was like 1 big adventure! But then the game systems come along. How about a tree house?! Now that would be fun lol..PS Your not mean!

  22. The best women in the world are members of the Mean Mom Club. In our house, "bored" is akin to a cuss word. Just like "stupid" and "shut up", it's not allowed! If my son is ever foolish enough to say that word -- and this has been since he was 4 years old -- he gets to do HOUSEWORK! He actually enjoys the challenge and busyness, but after several tasks he's finished and is happy to go off and find something to amuse himself. So, it goes like this: "Oh, you can't think of anything to do? Because, I have a list..."
    Then he does his disappearing act! I know Zach's little, but he can pull weeds, move rocks from the street back to the landscape, empty the dishwasher and put the stuff on the counter if he can't reach the cabinets, pick up all the stuff that's fallen on the floor in the car, take all the cans out of a lower cabinet so you can wipe them out, and then put them back in, fold towels, match get the idea! If all else fails, print some stuff off of educational websites and tell him he can practice his letters or something if he's BORED! Never regret being a MEAN MOM!

  23. Great! I'm relieved to read that! Everywhere in the world summer is the same!
    But I let you know: it will end, after 6 weeks here in Germany... Scholl will start, kids will sleep longer than ever, kids won't go to bed because there is a lot to do because of the short days....
    Have a nice summertime!
    See ya, Doris

  24. Not alone! My 11 yr old complains about "having nothing to do or play with". Really? I mean, books, all those blasted electronic things, action figures. That is when I pull out the chore list! :) He is gradually learning. :) But it is worth the complaining to have more time with them over the summer, goes by toooo fast.

  25. It's a bit of an adjustment having them home for the summer.
    Go to your local home improvement store and buy a roll of red or brown rosin paper. Get out chalk, Crayola paints, markers anything and let him drawing and sketch.
    I did this when my daughter was younger and the neighbor kid loved it.

  26. Hi Lori - agreed!! You are definitely not a mean mom -it's called discipline and kids need it; You'll be so happy when your kid is 23 someday and actually 'thanks' you for those limits. (yes, it's happened to me - twice, from both my boys who are now 24 and 26) Even little kids know on some level, even if it's not on an awareness level yet, that limits and rules means YOU CARE!

    As a reading teacher, my comment is to encourage you NOT to use reading as any form of punishment. It is fine to set a specific time or number of minutes for the day. You may want to tie something good to it ... you read x and x minutes, books, whatever, then we can do this fun activity.

    Also, At age 7,most kids still like a lot of adult contact with their reading... take turns reading, listen to him read aloud, give him stickie notes and let him make comments on favorite parts, keep a 'reader's notebook' of comments and pictures, then then ask him to share two favorite parts, etc. Make sure the books are of high interest and readable - kids this age often have trouble choosing their own appropriate books from the library, but they themselves don't recognize this fact and will often insist it's a good choice.

    Good luck and don't give up - you are on the right track!!

  27. Oh yes...I feel your pain!! It's so hard to keep the kids occupied for weeks on end. It drains my wallet and my patience, plus I can't get a blessed thing done in my studio...ugh!

  28. I didn't allow that word to be spoken in the house. Because I could find a million other things (major chores) that my baby could do if he couldn't figure out how to play and stay entertained for a few weeks of summer. He's 16 now and from a very early age, never was the word "bored" uttered.....

  29. As a mother of five - all grown - I have been there many many times. But they do grow up, leave home and then come back with their this summer for me - grandkids who are bored. And at my age I can no longer run around like I used to with my kids....but to the happy side, the next two weeks they are going to Florida to visit their other grandparents and tell them how bored they are....My solution to their boredorm - water - my back yard becomes a water wonder and they usually calm down enough to watch a video later and even take a nap....I know I do...and to leave you with a thought - I would rather have them bored at home then running around with friends who knows where...oh, that's the next age group! Enjoy them...

  30. My kids do not tell me they're bored. Wanna know why? Because I put them to work. Kid: Mo-om! I'm BO-ORED" Me: We have 5 toilets. Pick one and clean it.

    They are very good at entertaining themselves ;o) They find other stuff to complain about instead. LOL!

    As for reading, I try to attach rewards for reading rather than using it as a "punishment" (because I am sure that's how the situation of turning the tv off and reading for 30 minutes is translated for someone who already doesn't voluntarily read on his own).

    The biggest motivator for me to get the kids to read was to let them stay up an extra 30 min. or hour as long as they were completely ready for bed and reading the past bedtime minutes. Often they would get so involved in a book, I had to force them to stop reading. I use other rewards for certain amount of time read or number of books read (depending on the age at the time). Now they are both avid readers after struggling to get them to read.

    Another option is to have him listen to audio books. I used to think it was cheating, but it really isn't because it forces kids to to listen. You could even get the printed book and have him read along on the page with the audiobook. We listen to them in the car. It's bad because I sometimes get distracted and forget where I'm supposed to be going. Right now we're listening the the Peter and the Starcatchers series and it's REALLY REALLY good. The narrator is excellent as well.

  31. There are seven kids in my family to whom my mother used to say, "only boring people are bored". That sparked (at least for me) new ways to NOT be boring!

    I always loved reading too, but my son didn't get into it until late in high school. And he is such a good story teller and writer! This is why I tried to get him to read in order to learn sentence structure, grammar, etc.

    Somehow he got his talent from video games discussions with his buddies where they talked about how a game could be improved, changed, altered, etc. to be even better.

    That and movies are where he got his sense of storytelling...I guess that means he is a visual learner rather than tactile...hands on.

    Perhaps your son is similar with what stimulates him so that reading is quite foreign to him. But I'm glad he "gets it" now!

  32. What a great idea, Lori!

    I have the same moans and groans here about boredom this summer, so I generally and casually act as if I will donate all of the game systems, legos, and nerf guns to the Salvation Army box which is less than a block away from our house , and then I tell them how kind they are to want to donate the goodies to underprivelaged kids-(moms can have their own fun in their own ways, too) and then suddenly the kids aren't so must be a miracle-HA!

    When we were kids we didn't even want to be inside and got in trouble for not coming when called-Wow-times have changed!


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