You know the ones. The ones you see and wonder "where are the parents? Why can't they control their kids? Aren't they too old to be acting like that?"
You guys. My kids? They are assholes. I sort of suspected it for a few months but during our trip when we really spent all day every day with them, we saw it quite clearly. They are rude, disrespectful, don't follow directions or listen to us, are not appreciative, and whine constantly. I am embarrassed at their behavior when we are out in public, and mortified at the way they treat others.
For B, I am fairly certain that he just does not consider other's feelings. He is very rigid and black and white in his thinking and everything that isn't exactly what he wants at that particular moment is bad and awful and he will say so, loudly and inventively. He also cannot pick up on the fact that he has hurt someone's feelings or is being annoying. We have to be very concrete and explicit with him about cause and effect of his words and actions.
I don't know what L's problem is, though. He is very impulsive and loves to push boundaries and buttons. The more we tell him not to do something he will do it. This includes calling my MIL an idiot to her face, hitting us, screaming at the top of his lungs. He is extremely sensitive and KNOWS he is hurting our feelings or being annoying, and then feels shame about it, which drives him to act even worse. It is very hard to break the cycle and requires more patience then any of us usually have, but eventually, he will break down in tears and let you hug him, and be cheerful again.
The worst part was having their awfulness confirmed by MIL who previously acted like they were perfect angels. She lost HER SHIT with them more than a few times, and I could feel the silent judging of our parenting choices. In a culture where respect to elders is taught and valued highly, I cannot get over my shame and mortification at the way they would sometimes talk to her. That she takes EVERYTHING so damn personally doesn't help, but honestly, as much as I have many many issues with that woman, I agree with her that "we have to train them better".
As usual, after a period of being depressed and despondent and needing to check out a bit, I am now being proactive and optimistic about how to change things. We are back to social skills therapy after a month off for holidays/snow and have made a plan to reinforce the weekly lessons at home. G and I have talked about how we need to "coach" B to behave in socially acceptable ways, rather than scolding and admonishing, we need to model and work through how to talk to others, how to respond to questions, how to effectively voice complaints and dissents.
To combat B's constant negativity, we are all listing "3 good things" before bed each day. I am looking into a meditation for kids that we can also do before bed. I payed for Headspace so I can explore all the options. I have taken away screen time indefinitely. We had a long talk about kindness and how much we value that in our family and that we are ALL going to work on that this year. That means no yelling and rough handling on our end, too. My plan is to have check in "meetings" about how things are going every weekend.
I know that checking out and trying to ignore and pretend it isn't happening only makes me feel better in the moment. I need to put away my phone or my book or whatever is swirling through my mind and really be present for the boys. With no screen time and no end of winter in sight, we will have to fill our weekends creatively. I also want to plan for one on one time with each kid weekly.
Its a lot, but I know we need to do it. I am certain there are still two sweet and loving kids in there, we need to bring them back out.