How I stopped my son from becoming the next Jeffrey Dahmer

So Holden has been pushing every boundary he can lately. And last week he pushed one that was just not okay. Not okay at all. It started one morning when he was dilly-dallying and not getting ready for camp. I mean how hard can it be to do the same F’ing thing you do every morning?!! Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and feed Sticky (his gecko). AGGGHHHH, why do I have to tell him over and over again? It’s the same routine every day!!!!

As if that’s not bad enough, he loves to annoy me by saying things like…

HOLDEN: Where’s my toothbrush?

ME: Uhhhh, by your sink.

HOLDEN: Where’s my sink?

OMG, are you F’ing kidding me… in the same place it’s always been since this house was build in the 1960’s. And it makes me want to punch a wall because he’s just doing it because he knows it pisses me off.

But last week he decided to pick a different battle.

ME: Did you feed Sticky yet?

HOLDEN: No.

ME: The bus’ll be here soon, buddy. Go feed him quickly.

HOLDEN: No.

ME: Uhhhhh, excuse me? You do not say “no” to me.

HOLDEN: I’m not doing it.

ME: Sticky is going to die if you don’t feed him.

HOLDEN: So?

And he stood his ground and refused to feed his pet. And I was like F that because I refuse to feed live worms to a gecko that I didn’t want to get in the first place. Do I feel bad for the little guy (the lizard, not the douchenugget)? Yeah, but I have enough shit to deal with without one more mouth to feed.

So after Holden left for camp my hubby fed Sticky because we don’t like to torture little animals.  Of course we didn’t tell Holden we did his job.

And when the next morning rolled around, it was like Groundhog Day all over again.

ME: Feed Sticky.

HOLDEN: No.

ME: Holden, he’s going to DIE if you don’t feed him. You don’t want your pet to DIE, do you?

But apparently Holden did want his pet to die because he still refused to feed him. OMG, what if I’m raising the next Jeffrey Dahmer? I know serial killers like to torture little animals, but what if the way they start is by starving them to death? But why would he do this to Sticky?!! He LOVES him. See? 

This went on for five days and every day Holden left for camp we would secretly feed the lizard, and every night when we were putting Holden to bed, I would look in Sticky’s tank and use my saddest voice to say, “Oh poor little guy, he looks so hungry. He’s dying.”

Nope, nothing.

Until there was finally a reaction. A GIANT one. From my hubby who LOST IT. 

DADDY SIDEBURNS: THAT’S IT, HOLDEN!! YOU’VE LOST STICKY!!! HE IS GONE!

He was fed up. And he literally walked into Holden’s room, picked up the whole tank and carried it into the kitchen. Annnnnnd wait for it, wait for the total meltdown from Holden, waiting, waiting, nope, nothing.

HOLDEN: Fine.

And he walked out of the kitchen like it was no big deal and he couldn’t give a crap. 

So now my hubby and I are sitting there with this gecko tank in our kitchen and I’m like F that. A. Hell if I’m gonna have a lizard in my kitchen. And B. Hell if I’m gonna let me kid give his pet away or just let him starve to death. Nope, kiddo, you signed up for this commitment, you’re gonna follow through.

And honestly WTF? I don’t understand this. Holden LOVVVVVVVVVVES Sticky!! 

And that’s when I realized something. This had NOTHING to do with Sticky. All Holden cared about was asserting his independence and making his own rules. I AM SIX HEAR ME ROAR!!!

So I followed him to his bedroom and I said…

ME: Come here and sit with me for a moment. I want to talk to you.

HOLDEN: I’m listening.

ME: No. Put down the LEGOs and come here.

He must have known I was serious because he put them down and came to sit on the bed next to me. And I looked into his eyes, and I made my face very serious, and I spoke to him.

ME: I want you to listen to me carefully. If you stop feeding Sticky, he’s not just going to die. You are killing an animal. You are literally murdering him. And I’ve never said this to you before, but if you kill an animal, I don’t know if I can ever look at you the same way again.

Woahhhhh, did I seriously just say that? Did I go too far? Should I backpedal? But nope, the words had left my lips. I looked at him.

Immediately I could see something click in his brain. Like his skull was made of clear glass and I could literally see the gears start moving. His eyes got wide and he started yelling. 

HOLDEN: DADDDDDDDD!!!!!! DADDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!! You have to put Sticky back into my room RIGHT NOW so I can feed him before the bus comes!!!!!!!!

So my hubby moved the tank back into Holden’s room and as he was feeding Sticky for the first time in five days, I had an idea. 

ME: How about this, buddy? YOU get to decide when you feed Sticky. If you want to feed him every night instead of every morning, you can. It’s up to YOU. You get to be in charge of that.

And all of the sudden, he looked very happy. 

HOLDEN: Okay, I pick night. 

Wooohoooooooo, I screamed inside my head. Victory!!

And the next time he digs in his heels about something, hopefully we’ll realize what the battle is REALLY about and it’ll last way less than five days. Maybe. Or maybe not. We’ll probably all dig in our heels again until someone finally freaks out and loses it. Oh well. As long as no animals are killed in the process. And no one becomes a serial killer. 

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There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Crystal at 11:42 am

    My husband who has his degree in Child Psychology and has spent the last 28 years working with kids always told me “the truth is that there are very few things children actually have control of; toileting and eating are the two primary ones. You cannot force them to eat no matter how hard you try and you absolutely cannot force them to use the toilet. THEEEEY CAN use those against YOU! Tell them if they don’t eat they’ll lose privileges; they’ll either say ‘I don’t care’ or they’ll eat it and promptly make themselves throw up! Make them mad enough they’ll wet or soil their pants; WHILE STARING YOU IN THE EYE!” (This conversation with him started when he told our then 6 year d son to eat the pizza and my son refused because it had “green things on it!”) Anyway you found one another one that seems to be something you absolutely COULDN’T FORCE Holden to do! However you handled it very very well!

  2. Julie Frueh at 8:30 pm

    Where were blogs like yours when I was raising my bouncing baby 25 year old daughter?
    Hell, where were PC’s, iPads and iPhones? 😂

  3. Liz at 11:06 am

    I love this! I love that you called him a douchenugget- I call my husband D**k Suck (he forgets to tell me everything- doc appts, family news like his dad is in Alaska for a week…) and I call the kid Monster or mini-DS. I listened to a book on audible that confirmed just what you said; they are asserting their independence… it makes the tantrums with my 2 yr old a bit understandable: he wants to do chores with dad. Good luck!!! And thanks for sharing

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