“You’re Such a Bitch!”

On August 19, I watched FOX’s special about “Octomom” Nadya Suleman and her children, all conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using donor sperm. 

I was curious because 5½ years ago, like Nadya, I was a single woman who used assisted reproductive technology and donor sperm in order to conceive, in order to become a “single mother by choice.”  However, in my case, I had one son.  Nadya kept going until she had 14 children, including the octuplets born this year.

I was impacted most by two sequences in the two-hour program.  The first was when the camera zoomed across the eight newborns lying in a row on a queen or king bed, all bawling.  I used to experience stress when my son, just one child, cried, so I couldn’t imagine coping with eight upset newborns, on top of six other young children, two of whom have special needs.  I felt anxiety just watching… 

Second, near the end of the program, I was stunned when one of Nadya’s sons, who looked to be around two years old, called her a bitch.  Where did he hear the word?  How did he know how to use it?  And, why is he so angry that he used it against his mother?

Well, tonight, I’m the bitch.

Yesterday afternoon, my son and I, plus the twins that we carpool with, drove to pick up my stepson for the weekend.  From the preschool to my husband’s ex-wife’s house, my son was preparing his friends to meet his brother.  The three of them talked about how they have brothers with the same name who also are the same age—13.  The twins’ other older brother is 11, so my son notified them that his other brother is 15, older than 11, and away at school.  And, his “other, other brother” is in my belly, not born yet.

Recognizing that the twins might be confused, I explained that my son’s dad was married before, so my son’s brothers have a different mother that they live with too, and we were picking my stepson up at his mother’s house.  I explained that I am my son’s mom, but his brothers have a different mom.

After all of this anticipation, once again my stepson wasn’t there.

My son was devastated—yet again.

During the 20-minute drive to drop the twins off at their house, they asked over and over, “Where is he?” and “Why didn’t he come out of the house?” and “Is he at CVS [pharmacy, which we passed by]?” and “Do we still get to meet him?”

My husband told his ex, via phone, to drop my stepson off last night.  She hung up and didn’t bring him over.

After my husband sent her an e-mail this morning, outlining that visitation interference is illegal, she dropped my stepson off, never admitting wrongdoing.

So, with my stepson finally here, my son has followed his brother around, spending most of the day watching him while he played video games.

My son isn’t allowed to play too.  During the one weekend about six months ago that he did learn to play a game called Jack, he became an addict, not even wanting to stop to eat.  So, I cut him off quickly—and completely.

Late this afternoon, I overheard my husband talking with my son and stepson about the Lego Star Wars video game. 

I yelled to him, “He’s not allowed to play video games, remember?”

My husband came into our bedroom and said, “Look, he’s just sitting in there, watching.  I want them to interact.  Let him play.”

Feeling guilty, I agreed.

Three hours of playing later, three hours interrupted only by dinner, I announced to my son that it was time for bed.   

It was 8:30 p.m., an hour past his norm, but we let him stay up because my stepson said that he won’t have free time to spend with my son tomorrow, that he has to dedicate himself to his homework.

So, overtired and already re-addicted to video games, my son said, “I don’t want to go to bed.  I just want to finish this game.  Please?”

“How long will it take to finish?”

“I don’t know.”

Trying to avoid an outburst by giving him time to prepare for the end of his playtime, I said, “Well, I’ll go brush my teeth and put on my pajamas, but then it’s time for bed.  It’s late.”

When I returned five minutes later, he refused.  He repeated, “I just want to finish my game.  Please?” 

I took the remote out of his hands, and he started crying.

I picked him up, the only way to get him out of my stepson’s bedroom, and carried him across the hall into his.

When I set him on his bed, he ran to its far corner.

He screeched, “I am NOT going to sleep.”

He refused to come to me to get changed.

I told him that if he didn’t behave, I’d take his new Star Wars lightsabers away, that he didn’t deserve to keep gifts, given for good behavior, if he continued to act like this.

He hit the side rail on his bed, before stomping over to me, fists clenched.

I said, “It’s OK to be mad, but you can’t hit things.”

“I am so mad at you,” he spit at me.

“Why are you so mad?”

“I don’t know.”

He pounded his fists against his thighs.

“Don’t hurt yourself,” I said.  “That’s not very smart.”

With his, he flung himself at me, throwing punches at my shoulders and chest.

“That’s it.  If this is how you act, no more video games.”

I backed up, turned off his light, and closed the door.

He started screeching again, high-pitched, horrific screaming…

Then, I heard, “You’re such a bitch.”

I know that he knows the word from his older brothers.  He first used it, to my complete shock, in early September, at a neighborhood party.  A 4-year-old girl was taunting him, and, from five feet away, I overheard him say, “You’re such a bitch.”

I stormed over, only to have the girl say, “He just called me a ditch.  He just called me a ditch.”

Pulling him aside, I asked, “Did you just call her a bitch?”

“Yes, but…”

“That’s a terrible word.  You never use that word.  We’re leaving.”

He loved our summer/fall Friday-night neighborhood parties, so I assumed that my extremely negative reaction, plus the punishment of an early departure, would have taught him a lesson.

Also, the next day, I talked to him at length about his language.  He didn’t know what the word “bitch” meant, but he knew how to use it, as he’d shown.  He promised me he’d never say the word again.

But he did the following week, when a friend wouldn’t play with him.  Once again, he blurted, “You’re such a bitch,” but this time to a boy.

We had another talk—and, to my knowledge, he hadn’t used the term since.

But, tonight, he wanted to stay with his brother.  He was feeling like such a big boy, being allowed to play the Star Wars video game with him.  And, he’s emotional and irrational every time we have visitation, desperate to have as much time with his brother or brothers, when both are here, as possible.

And, tonight, I took that away from him.  I was the bitch who insisted that he prematurely end his game, leave his beloved brother and go to bed.

I understand that he was angry.  And, I understand that he’s 4 years old and not in full control of his emotions, especially when he’s tired and feeling pressured to make the most of his limited time with his brothers. 

But, I’m simply not a bitch to my son.  I’m not perfect.  But I’m not a bitch.

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