Ever since my 11-year-old's birth, I knew he was going to be trouble. He was the biggest of my four, weighing in at over 10 pounds. Of my four, he's the only one with a head full of curly hair. Of the four, he's the only one with a mean streak.
Last night, he was told "no." He was not expecting that. Out of frustration with his parents, he threw a cupful of cold water onto his supine 13-year-old sister, who was in the bathtub, when he went into the bathroom to angrily brush his teeth. I called him out on his "kick the dog" behavior and told him to go to sleep. When I clicked off the light, he was sitting upright in bed assuring me that he wasn't going to go to sleep.
OK, Kiddo, two can play: "Give me your iPad."
"Because I don't want you sitting up in bed and playing with it."
Through tears, he handed it to me and said, "I never play with it at night, and now you're confiscating it?"
I tried using adult semantics to assure him that I was not "confiscating it." He saw right through my verbal gymnastics and broke into more tears. I head up to bed, and while brushing my teeth, I hear my iPad-less, tearful child outside my bedroom.
Here's my chance to talk in gentle words and encourage my child to understand my point of view, get some sleep, and we'd talk in the morning. I said these things and he appeared to be listening.
However when I told him to go to bed, he curled up into a tight ball and kept on whimpering. I got into bed to read before sleep and called across the room for him to go downstairs and go to bed.
I told him he'd lose something.
He didn't budge.
I gave him one more chance.
When I told him he would not be permitted to go to soccer practice the next day, I got a reaction. He stomped downstairs in tears, grumbling complaints as he went, and slammed his door.
Eight hours later when I tried to turn on my cell phone, I found the screen locked and a request for my password. I will confess: I don't use a password. Ever.
While Tim Cook and the FBI were flashing through my mind, it dawned on me: my 11-year-old sabotaged my cell phone because I'd taken away his iPad.
OK, Kiddo, now you've got me. Now I have to start thinking like an 11-year-old boy to figure out what you used for a password. Although Tim Cook and the FBI flashed through my mind again, I went with the path of least effort. As I knew his password, I entered it into my sabotaged phone thinking that it might be the key to checking my texts, and low and behold, the screen unlocked.
While many parents might take their manipulative child to task over this sort of sneakiness, I'm going to skip that.
Because he did what I would have done were I an 11-year-old boy in 2016. Were it back in 1982, I might have swapped out the sugar with salt or put plastic wrap over the toilet bowl. With technology being what it is, my child's behavior was reflective of the times.
I might not say anything at all about it.
Why? Because I beat him at his own game in knowing him well enough to guess what password he entered for my screen lock.
I found this written on a scrap piece of paper on my desk: "9007 is your pass code. Sorry"
Maybe he's not such a mean kid after all.