A Boy In Trouble

We often use an acronym in our house: PITB (pronounced PITUB) for Pain In The Butt. It’s basically a G-rated version of PITA, which I am sure you can figure out.

99.9% of the time it is used like this:

ENOUGH! Stop being a PITB.

And is often preceded by comments like these, spoken in high pitched whiny voices:

 “Fearless is standing in front of the television and I can’t see.

Mami, the beans are TOUCHING my rice. I like rice AND beans, not rice WITH beans.”

Dreamer is putting the air in the back of the van on Max Hot and it’s summer.”



I have a feeling that even if you are not a parent, you might understand what a PITB in my world means.

Lately, Dreamer has surpassed being a PITB.

Which is fine, nine year olds have phases where they act up to test their behaviors and their limits. However, when I get almost daily calls from school … then it’s no longer about being a PITB; it’s about being a problem.

That is where I am at and I am losing my mind. The details of Dreamers behavior or lack thereof are not that important. Plus, in ten years if he reads this I don’t want him to become a PITB again because he would be horrified I shared his discipline issues with the world. So let’s just say this:

This kid was detention bound.


And once there, he got in trouble. Again. He got in trouble IN detention. I mean, how do you do that? I went right back to The Breakfast Club.

When I got an earful from the security guard and detention monitor Ms. Mary about how Dreamer was laughing I confronted my child. He claimed she was wrong; it wasn’t him. When I told him we were going to go talk to her together, I was surprised he said “sure.”

Ms. Mary is an intimidating woman, the kind you want as a security guard for an elementary school. And so as much as I was concerned and annoyed by Dreamer’s behavior I was having mixed emotions as he addressed Ms. Mary.

The kid has got some gumption.

Petting a Wolf

Petting a Wolf

Last month was the school talent show and he wanted to sing even though he had never had a voice lesson. I was all for it, and told him he should have the music playing in the background just in case he messed up the lyrics. He gasped back at me:

 MAMI, lip synching is cheating.

There I went, projecting my fears and insecurities onto my child again. He agreed to a karaoke version of “Best Day of My Life” for his act. He practiced often: I could hear him singing in the shower, to anyone who would listen, and to those who wouldn’t either.

The show was going to be held at a nearby school with a real auditorium instead of our “cafetorium.” No, that’s not a typo … that is our school’s cafeteria which turns into an auditorium during special occasions. The real auditorium wasn’t filled to capacity, but there were well over 100 people and many of his friends in the audience.

The Talent Show Director had cut 30 seconds of his song, and Dreamer seemed more concerned about that than any nervousness of being on stage. But the morning of the show, as he sang to his dad at breakfast, Dreamer was barely audible and forgot the lyrics.

Unsure on show day morning.

Unsure on show day morning.

It’s not that I panicked, but I worried. I worried that he was going to put himself out there and fail. I was projecting failure and fear. However, I did put on my own performance of being calm and collected as I gave him a pep talk and sent him to his assigned seat in the real auditorium as the show was about to start. Either I don’t know my child well, or he seemed rather unphased by it all.

Two acts before he was to be on stage, they called him. As soon as I saw him stand up and head backstage my hands began to sweat and it seemed my heart was beating so loud people sitting next to me could hear it.

All I want is for him to feel good about himself.

I told my husband, whose hands were squished between mine.

The master of ceremony introduced him:


The curtain opened:


The music started and as he began to sing …

No sound came out of the microphone.


He looked around unsure if the microphone was on or not. He was clearly uncomfortable but not knowing what to do, he kept singing. He kept singing as the audience, who consisted of mostly parents who want children to succeed, grew more uncomfortable too. I was holding my breath and he kept singing until someone came on the stage and fixed the microphone towards the end of the song.

If it were his Mami on stage, his Mami would be crying. But he held his own.

The format of the talent show works much like America’s Got Talent, so after a performance, a judge speaks about the act. It was the mayor of our town who spoke to Dreamer, and he said

I applaud your determination, you did not give up. If I were going into battle, I’d want you on my side.

That brought a big smile to Dreamer and he exited the stage still bearing it. The organizers rushed out and asked him if he wanted to try again after the intermission, he didn’t hesitate for a second. He got up there, and did it all over again this time making sure the microphone worked.

So I looked at Dreamer who was standing up to Ms. Mary because he did not believe he deserved to be written up in detention.  He was sticking to his story and I was strangely proud. I am fully aware he was having this discussion because he got in trouble while in trouble, and I did hear when the school principal called me  to say he didn’t take this seriously and I support his teachers 100%. I enforce discipline at home and his behavior is something we address every darn day. He needs to be respectful, and let his teachers do their jobs. They can’t teach well if he is as disruptive as they say he is.


But I also think life has other important lessons to teach. I don’t want to raise a kid who is afraid of standing up for what he believes in, afraid of failure, or afraid of what others will think. He needs to respect authority but I want him to be empowered. It’s a tricky lesson at nine years old and while there is no roadmap to follow, I have been going around in circles on this one.

I can’t wait for him to work though this and regain control of his behavior at school without crushing his noble spirit. I hope his teachers get to know the amazing child Dreamer really is, and heck, maybe even enjoy his being a plain ole PITB.



4 thoughts on “A Boy In Trouble

  1. Dreamer is a great kid…with a great attitude!!! Be proud!!!
    We need kid’s like him, that know what’s wrong, and fight’s about what him believe to be right. 🙂

  2. Go Dreamer go!

    I am having major teacher issues this year so perhaps I’m jaded. Teachers and administrators aren’t perfect or all knowing. In fact, they can be very flawed.

    Teachers hold tremendous power and influence over our young children. But they will only be with them for 9 months. I will be with my kids for the duration.

    I used to say it is important to respect teachers. I don’t say that anymore. I say we repect all people if they behave in a way to earn our respect. But I also have had to explain that teachers hold all the power in the classroom so while we may not like it we do have to master the system to get the result we want.

    Good luck!

  3. I love this post! I can relate on so many levels. I have a 9 year old just like this! I love that you still let him get up there on stage. Mine wanted to participate in a talent show but I know the pressure and the weeks leading up to it would make him and all of us miserable. I feel bad because I guess I’m being selfish and he should learn on his own. thanks for this post.

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