The hard part of parenting

I need advice.  Advice about Porter and respect and mouthiness and friendships.  I’m not sure what I’m doing is right, or if its going to work or what I need to do to get things through to him… or if what he’s behaving like lately is normal for his age or not.

Lately Porter has been saying he HATES things.  HATE.  Such a strong word and he says it about things that I know for a fact he doesn’t HATE.  Like… “I hate Christmas.”  or  “I hate so-and-so.”  I’ve tried explaining to him that HATE is such a mean word and you can say “I don’t like ______.” or “I’m irritated with __________.” or “I don’t like the cold.” (instead of Christmas) and I’ve even told him if he hates Christmas we’ll simply take back all of his gifts and he won’t have to participate.

The “I hate so and so” part… he’s been doing this with some of his friends lately.  First off, please don’t be offended if I name your children here because I know for a fact that Porter doesn’t HATE them.  I think he’s misrepresenting the word and I’m sure part of this has to do with the overheard conversations he’s heard me have about “hating” a certain someone.  Anyhow, not long after Lukas’ birthday he said something along the lines of he wasn’t Lukas’ friend, or he didn’t want to play with Lukas etc etc… I think it was sometime we were going over to their house.  Of course once we met up with them he’s perfectly fine and they’re best buds.  And lately he does this with Wesley, the little boy in his class whose mom watches Porter on Monday and Wednesdays.  He tells me he doesn’t like Wesley, that he doesn’t want to play with him, that he’s not friends with him.   Last weekend Wesley had a birthday party and I of course told Kayla I’d drop Porter off.  After I tell Porter about the party what does he tell me?  “I don’t want to go.  I don’t like Wesley.  He’s not my friend.”.  WTF??  So, I was torn between calling Kayla and telling her Porter wouldn’t be there (but omg how do you tell someone your kid doesn’t want to go to their kids b-day party??) but I decided to have Porter go anyway.  We picked out a present, he was all excited about it, and he went to the party. He had a lot of fun, but again after I picked him up he says to me he doesn’t like Wesley.  I don’t get it!

Then…. our neighbor kids Eian and Kennedy.  Eian is 3.5 and Kennedy is uhm… 1st grade?  6?  7?  I can pretty much predict anymore how their playtime goes… Eian and Porter gang up on Kennedy and Kennedy tattles about 483 times during the hour or two they’re here playing.  Sometimes its simple things that I tell her to stop tattling and deal with it herself and other times its things I have to intervene with, such as too much roughhousing when she’s asked them to stop or name calling.  I’m sure this is probably largely in part because it is a trio of friendships… 3 is never a good number.  Someone is always left out.  And Kennedy is older, more mature than the boys and… she’s a girl.  She doesn’t like to rough house and she doesn’t think its funny to call each other names (I don’t either… and I don’t encourage it but if the boys want to sit outside and call each other names and laugh about it, that’s fine with me… problem comes when Kennedy’s feelings get hurt by it.)

Today Porter went over to their house to play.  He came home an hour or two later and I was asking him what he did over there (I thought he was playing outside but he was telling me he went inside and took his snow gear off).  In the middle of his story of events he tells me “I told Jeromy to ‘Be quiet’.”  I said “Whaaaaattt??!” And he goes on to tell me that he and Eian were calling Kennedy names and Jeromy told them to stop and Porter told him to be quiet.  So Jeromy told him to get his stuff on and go home.  Talk about embarrassment!  I was mortified that my kid acted like that!  So I asked him why he thought he could talk to Jeromy so rudely and he shrugged.  I told him that that is Jeromy’s house, that Jeromy is an adult and a boss and that he is NOT to speak to adults that way.  I asked him if he thought Jeromy would want him to come play with the kids again and he says “No….”.  I asked him how he could make this problem right and he looked down and said “Tell Jeromy I’m sorry for talking back to him.”

So I sent Porter to his room and called Jeromy and left him a message asking him to call me back so I could find out what happened.  I then went upstairs and had a long talk with Porter about friends and being mean to them and that if he continues to call people names they won’t want to be his friend.  And he tells me “I don’t want to play with them anymore. I don’t want to be their friend.”  I then go on to tell him that if he has no friends he’ll be lonely and won’t have anyone to play with.  I told him that that makes me sad because I want to see him have lots of friends.  I told him I have lots of friends and I love my friends and they’re my favorite people just like Hudson and Porter and Daddy are my favorite people. We talked about how he’d feel if people called him names, and I told him how I would feel if my friends called me names.  

Jeromy called me back and the story was pretty much what Porter told me… Eian and Porter were ganging up on Kennedy and Jeromy told them to stop.  Porter thought it was a joke and told him to be quiet.  He continued on, thinking Jeromy was joking and to make a point about how serious he was, Jeromy sent Porter home and Eian to his room.  I thanked him for handling it that way and told him that if this happens again in any way to call me so I can deal with it at home.  I then gave the phone to Porter and he apologized to Jeromy and from this side of the phone it sounded as if Jeromy told him thank you (I was crossing my fingers he wouldn’t say “that’s okay” because it is NOT.).

So… I just don’t know what to do.  I don’t know why Porter is saying he hates things, hates people, doesn’t want to be friends with people…. and I don’t know how to get him to realize that other kids don’t think its funny when he calls them names.  I believe that Porter thinks its a joke and thinks the name calling is funny but to a kid that is hurtful to be called names.

I don’t know what type of punishment is fair and relative to all of this.  HELP!  I will answer questions/reply to suggestions in the comments if you have any for me!

  1. (((HUGS)))) I TOTALLY hear ya!!! Could be my son! He turns 4 in Jan (if we make it that far! =P) Anyways…last week, Nicholas ran up to his friend's dad at day care and said “I'm gonna smack you on your booty-butt” …but missed which side is the butt side. =( I was MORTIFIED. I don't even know where he gets this crap from. Anyways…HUGS and just know you're not alone. =(

  2. Hey Nicole…I know I don't have any kids yet, but I can tell you that being around 34 four and five year olds each week that the hate thing is totally normal. Each day one or more kids in one of my classes will start with the hate thing. I hate this, that or I hate so and so. They will actually say they hate other kids in the class to each others faces. They also do the so and so isn't my friend thing ALL THE TIME. All we do is remind them that they need to be nice to everyone and we talk about how saying things like that really hurt the other person's feelings. But, honestly, I see it EVERY year!

  3. I think what you are doing by explaining to him that if the shoe were on the other foot, that his feelings would get hurt. Just be firm…stick to your guns. In our house the H word is just as bad as saying a swear. You get into trouble. Maybe put him on a demerit system…each time he says it he gets an X…for so many X's he gets a toy taken away. Or turn it around and do a merit system. For each day he doesn't say it, he gets a sticker…for X amount of stickers he gets a prize.The sad thing is he will be coming home from school with a lot more behavoir issues. It never ends…just stick to your guns. He will come around.

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