Riding the Struggle Bus with Bean Man

Bean has always been a fairly easy child to raise.  He has a gentle, quiet, laid-back nature that keeps from from getting too wired or upset about much, and he’s a rule follower to no end.  If you draw a line in the sand, not only will that boy not cross the line himself, but he’ll monitor to make sure no one else does either (especially his sister…).  He’s got the sweetest little heart and loves nothing more than hanging out with our family.  He’s just a happy guy and he makes people around him happy.  

But y’all, I am riding the Struggle Bus with him these days.  

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I don’t know if it’s his age or a stage he’s going through or what, but my sweet, laid-back Bean has become this grumpy, snippy, pouting second grader and I’m just at a total loss for what is going on and how to handle it.  

This weekend was a perfect example.  He and Gracie each had a friend over to play on Sunday afternoon, and they were all out swimming in the pool together after lunch.  Chris got them a bunch of water balloons and they were gearing up for an epic water balloon battle.  Sometime small (I don’t even know what) triggered Bean and he suddenly came stomping inside, and refused to go back out.  AND HE HAD A FRIEND OVER!  

Chris, bless his heart, was the one who went inside to get Bean.  Which probably saved Bean’s life because my knee-jerk reaction is to make heads roll, but Chris is much more patient and he can be direct and firm, while still giving Bean a safe space to talk.  That’s probably why Bean actually confides in Chris a lot more than he does in me.  

I listened from upstairs to their conversation.  

“What are you doing, Michael?”  Chris snapped.  “Are you really going to hide away and pout in here because of Gracie?  That one little thing is going to make you miss out on all the fun with your friends, man.”

“Well, she shouldn’t have…” and then Bean went off on this tirade about his sister, which Chris patiently listened to before responding, “Michael, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.  You need to learn how to control your own actions.  You left your friend out in the backyard all by himself.  That’s not being a very good host or friend, and that’s not how we act towards others.”

Their conversation went on for a few more minutes before Bean finally went back outside to play again.  But within minutes of going back outside, he was back at it again, this time, snipping and yelling at Gracie for no reason.  

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And I know it sounds like it is all connected to Gracie, but there are a hundred other examples of situations just like this where Gracie hasn’t been involved.  Sunday morning was another example.  We got to church and Bean climbed out of the van, where I noticed for the first time that morning that he was wearing a collared “church shirt,” as he calls them.  But he was wearing basketball shorts with them and tennis shoes.  Which in the grand scheme isn’t that big of a deal, but is just such a summary of how he’s been acting lately – nothing TERRIBLE, but he knows better.  So, I said, “Bean, you have to change those shorts,” and I pulled out a pair of new shorts that I had conveniently not yet taken out of my car from the day before.  

He huffed around in the back of the van, slamming things around while he changed clothes, which Chris and I ignored.  And when he got out, I thanked him for changing.  

AND THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE END, DAMMIT!  

But instead, he starts scuffing his feet through the dirt, kicking dirt all over the place.  

“Michael,” I said, in my best warning voice.  So he stopped.  But then he started sliding his feet, so that his shoes were still getting filthy.  “MICHAEL!” I said, firmer.  Finally, he started stomping his feet across the parking lot.


And it is about this point in every interaction with him these days that I think of those animals who sometimes eat their young and I begin to have visions of me opening my mouth incredibly wide like some freaky cartoon and just swallowing him up in one gulp.  

These are the frustrations we are having right now.  Individually, they aren’t that big, but it’s more the fact that he knows better and that he is intentionally doing these things that INFURIATES me.  

AND THEN!  He brought home his progress report on Friday and he had a C in Math!  C!  As in “COULD YOU MAKE YOUR MOM ANY MADDER?”  That kid has never struggled in math!  He makes A’s and has only made one or two B’s even this year.  

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I talked to my mom about it this past weekend and, as usual, she gave Chris and I really solid advice.  She said for us to continue on with our regular, normal discipline routine – what was wrong yesterday is still wrong today.  And that when Bean steps out of line, he gets the same consequence every time.  She cautioned us to maintain our stability as Bean starts to push the boundaries a bit.  

And that makes total sense, but IT’S SO HARD because a) I feel like I need to be doing something different because he is doing things differently and b) he makes me so ANGRY!

So, help me out, imaginary friends.  Did your kids (especially sons) go through this?  How did you handle it?  And, more importantly, did you both survive this phase because I don’t know if both of us are going to make it through!  

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21 Thoughts to “Riding the Struggle Bus with Bean Man”

  1. Meredith

    I am 0 help because I don’t have children. I just wanted to comment on that last photo of Bean. Is he 15? My goodness. With his hair like that he looks like a teenager!

  2. Crystal

    We are currently going through this with our (almost) 8 year old now. I don’t have any advice, because I’m in the same boat, but I’m hoping it’s just a phase!

  3. Erin

    My daughter will be 8 in late June and is going through the same thing! She is usually so pleasant but lately has just been hard to be around!! Is it school coming to an end? Spring Fever? Hormones? Let’s just send all the seven year olds off to Grandma’s house for a few weeks. Sheesh.

  4. Jill

    We are going through exactly that with our 8 year old. He was such an easy child until mid school year. He has hit the same patch where he will run off from his friends and
    Pout. My husband sounds like Chris. I just lose it and he is calm and talks to him. I wish Ina didn’t advice, but I’m glad to hear I’m not alone.

  5. Robyn

    My 13 yr old did and is going thru this. I was at tje same point as you, but i found out two things. 1. Boys are moody creatures and 2. Most times theres something underlying that is going on, whether it was a fight with a friend or his struggle with independence. Hang in there momma, it gets better.

  6. Amanda

    This is about the time last year that my second grade son started doing that same type of things. We are still going through it but for the most part it is less often. Hang in there

  7. Ava

    I have an 8 year old daughter and she is going through a similar situation. She is such a hard worker and also an “easy child” so it feels definitely weird to see her get easily frustrated. However, I have learned from my 11 year son (who is on the spectrum) that all behavior is communication. Applying this to my daughter … I believe it is an “end of the school year” thing. She is very active, and as much as she loves school, sports and Girl Scouts, I think she is just ready for a break and in need of extra down time! Summer can’t get here quickly enough. Maybe Bean is feeling the same?

  8. Michelle

    We had this exact thing happen last year when our daughter was in second grade. Honestly, it was to the point that we would dread her coming home from school. Happily, things improved greatly over the summer, and we have not had those problems this year in third grade. Hang in there. We were very honest with her as well as being firm and consistent. It was very hard, but I think it paid off. Either that, or I messed up completely and it when away because it was a phase. 🙂

  9. Leslie

    My almost 8 year old is doing similar things. He’s just grumpy a lot. He snaps at us and anyone else around him. I’ve blamed it on the weather and being cooped up inside (we had snow yesterday and it’s supposed to be 65 today), but now you have me thinking it’s really a phase if there’s that many other 2nd graders doing the same thing. Boy I hope he outgrows it, because I can only handle 1 crabby kid and I’ve got another one going through puberty.

  10. Kelly

    I have almost 13 year olds. My son is way grumpier than my daughter. She is easy. He is moody and he only starting out with the whole puberty thing (level one – maybe). She is well into it (leval 4). That said, most days he is great but I have noticed when he is about to or going through a growth spurt, it is way worse. Your mom gave you great advice. Stay consistent (and have plenty of adult beverages on hand).

  11. Well, my son is 5, but he has been pushing our buttons and testing boundaries left and right and I’m at my wit’s end. I’m hoping that if my husband and I can stay consistent that sooner rather than later he’ll ease off a bit. Until then it feels like every day there is some kind of battle, though, and it’s rough for sure.

  12. Jen

    Man, my son is only in first grade (turning 7 shortly), and we are dealing with this to a T and have been for awhile. He has twin younger siblings that are 4.5 though, so I don’t know if he feels threatened or what. But MAN. The moody, grumpy, pouty, snappy attitude. *SIGH*
    No advice! Just sympathy

  13. Brooke

    My 8 year old daughter is going through the same thing. We are trying to be consistent with discipline but in addition to that we are incorporating a lot more follow-up talk – ‘Why do you think you reacted like that’ or ‘What could have you done differently or ‘If the roles were reversed how would you feel being treated that way’. We are also working on taking turns doing the follow-up talk, to show that Mom and Dad are on the same page with things.

    That being said, I’ve gotten frustrated enough at times to treat her the way she is treating me. She told me she didn’t like it and I asked her how she thought that made me feel when she did it to me. That created insight for her and helped curb some of the behavior (ignoring me when I talk to her, rolling eyes, etc).

  14. Meredith Jones

    This is what we’re dealing with but he’s THREE. It looks like a long road ahead in this whole Mom thing hahaha. I know three is a normal age (as it sounds like 8 is, and 5, and 10, and 4…) to push boundaries and limits but hellooooooo kids! Do you realize you’re making your parents incredibly crazy?! 😉 we;ll get through it, at least that’s what I hear!

    1. Suzanne

      I’m right there with you. Threenager stage is H.A.R.D. Solidarity, sister.

  15. Suzanne

    I’m zero help with this because Brooke is only 3. However, I wanted to say that I LOVE the way Chris handled that situation with his friend. As a very dramatic kid myself, I remember getting so angry and feeling like nobody understood me. When someone would take the time to just talk to me calmly, I felt so much better. My Dad was the calm, reasonable talker and I always had so much respect for him. Still do. I had 4 siblings, so I was probably fighting for attention. HA! Anyway, is Gracie getting more attention lately? Is something else getting more attention than normal when Bean man used to get that extra attention? I don’t know…just throwing out ideas here. Also, my Mom was of the “making heads roll” school and honestly, that didn’t work for me at that age. Although, now I have great respect for that school of thought because we’re raising humans to be humans here and not everything can be reasoned through when you’re 25 years old 🙂 Having a mixture of both served me well, I feel like. So maybe just maybe laying the groundwork for understanding where you’re coming from to Bean man will allow him to reason it out for himself. You and Chris are great parents…you will get it figured out I know 🙂
    Oh! and lastly, your mom is 100% right. I’ve been around kids my entire life and if there’s one thing I’ve learned…kids thrive on consistency. Rules are rule…I’d stick to what you’ve been doing so that he sees that these are the rules and he can’t break you. HAHA. (which is totally hard, I know, since I have a threenager who wishes to rule my life currently ;))

  16. Amy

    My 7.5 year old has been doing the same crap lately. He goes through these phases a lot and we’ve noticed that it usually happens when he starts up a sport season and we get much busier. Usually it means less one on one time with him and him being overtired that really triggers him. I notice if I spend more quality time with him during these times and make more of an effort for my reactions to him to not be overly dramatic that it helps a ton. It makes me nuts though. Between him and his almost two year old twin siblings I’ve about had it most days. Lol

  17. Rachel

    My kids are now 20 & 17. I remember similar situations but have blocked out any solutions, or how long the phase lasted (maybe we’re still in it? lol)… We did sit down when it seemed like lots of little things over a period of time (like you said is happening with Bean) and asked if there was something bothering them. (Try to make it seem like wasn’t a big issue, lecture, or that they were in trouble, just a casual conversation.) We explained to them what things we noticed & also explained that maybe they didn’t even know what was bothering them, but that behavior was not acceptable & needed to change, out of respect for us and others. It did seem to help make them realize that their behavior impacts others around them. Good luck, I’m sure you’re doing better than you feel like you are. =)

  18. Sarah

    My son is very similar to Bean in personality. He goes through times like this too and most of the time it’s that he needs more connection to us. Sometimes we’ve been very busy or he’s been over stimulated. It can feel counter intuitive to “disciplining” bad behavior but virtually every time if we sit and chat with him he behaves better. We’ll address the behavior issue but then just spend a few minutes playing together or chatting.

    It’s hard to remember that kid brains are not fully developed and even when they “know better” they don’t always have impulse control to behave appropriately when they have big emotions. I try to remind myself that’s it’s my job to help him sort through his big emotions rather than add my own to the mix.

    I say all of that like it’s super easy or something. It’s not! It’s absolutely the hardest thing ever but it’s worth it when I can control my own reactionary emotions so I can help my son with his.

  19. suburbanmom2

    As the parent of a 22 and 25 year old i will say this, the more they go thru these little boundary testing stages when they are young, the easier their adolescence will be. Hang in there.

    1. Katie

      What great advice! Thank you!

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