My first gut reaction was - you have NO FREAKING IDEA how good you have it buddy!
Instead I decided to listen... which was really hard. I asked him why he didn't want to live at our house, why was he unhappy, why did he think another house would be better. And that is when the Airing of the Grievances a la Festivus started:
- We yell at him when he doesn't listen.
- He doesn't get to eat whatever he wants. Sometimes I make things he doesn't like. Fresh pineapple came up as an example. He wants to eat mac and cheese every day, even if it makes him unhealthy.
- He doesn't get to do whatever he wants.
- He has to do chores.
The conversation went on ALL NIGHT. At pick up, during dinner, before taekwondo, after taekwondo, at bedtime. I had two reasons for continuing to listen. First, I really felt like we were digging down into the heart of the matter - that he gets really upset by yelling. We talked through how we could prevent yelling in our house. The other reason is that I truly believe Nate is the kind of kid who would pack up his stuff and run away (innocently), and this was my chance to listen.
I'd love to say that by the end of the night, we were all happy and Nate said he was sorry he ever said that. Instead, he finally decided to live with us when I explained to him that Jon and my money had bought everything in the house, and if he wanted to take it, he needed to pay us back. He pointed out some birthday presents from family that he would take and I said, "Well they won't be your family if you leave so you can't take that either."
After the kids went to bed, I texted my handy dandy parenting expert Maria to check in that all of this was normal. She reassured me that it was. When Jon got home the next morning, Nate had decided he wanted to stay, and we now have a plan to help prevent yelling. And I learned a SUPER DUPER valuable lesson about listening that I wanted to share with all of you.
Maria and I agreed it will be at least 25 years until Nate really figures out how good he has it at Casa Case.