Fix him, PLEASE.

So Jason and I had our weekly visit with the therapist yesterday.

I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not far off. While couple’s therapy comes highly recommended from yours truly, this wasn’t that doctor. This was kid therapy. Parenting therapy. How-to-raise-your-children-to-be-gracious-civilized-adults-without-beating-it-into-them therapy.

We usually go to discuss Rex, our four-year-old and his overanxious/quirky behaviors. Come on, the kid has a panic attack when he has to put on church clothes, people, we needed some for real help here.

Things have been going amazingly well with him the past two months. Between the two of us we’ve managed to incorporate most of the skills the Dr. has taught us and rarely fight about technique. (“The doctor said to do it this way you big idiot!” That kind of thing.)

So as our session is winding down, I decided to utilize the last five minutes and ask for a little Harrison advice. He’s seven. He’s independent. He’s more dramatic than Barbara Streisand.

“So,” I say, “Our seven year old is big on meltdowns. He’s more easily offended than the ACLU, and is constantly breaking into tears and throwing himself on the floor. What should we be doing with that?” (For the record, I haven’t thrown myself on the floor while crying for at least three months. My stomach doesn’t allow it at the moment.)

The doctor went on to suggest a few simple techniques–all things we’re already doing.

“That’s great, and that’s what we’ve been doing. But, I mean, can’t we, like, fix him? Make him so he doesn’t emote like this?”

“I hate to break it to you,” he says, “but it is what it is. He’s seven, it’s not unusual, don’t be too hard on him.”

And that’s when it hit me. Some things can’t be fixed. Some things we just live with. Call me an optimist, but I’ve been thinking that if we could just find the right switch, we could turn him into some kind of vegetable, the kind you can paint a face on and set in the kitchen for company.

When it comes right down to it, we all know I wouldn’t want that anyway. Oh well, at least we have things like bedrooms and ear plugs, right?


  1. We joke, all the time, at work, that we’ve “fixed” a client. Oh, social worker humor. Hilarious, I tell you!

  2. I get this… I have a nine year old who is terrified to try new things. He can’t ride his bike, he’s just now getting to the point where he is comfortable swimming… it makes me nuts. I want to just throw him on the bike and say “RIDE ALREADY!” I mean, he’s a kid. What kid at nine years old doesn’t ride his bike?!

    Well, my kid. My kid that is awesome in so many other ways and is so smart and so talented and so funny. Big freakin deal if he’s not quite ready to ride a bike. He’ll get there.

    Now, if he’s fifteen and not riding a bike, I’m gonna whoop his tail.

    • annie valentine says:

      I’ll tell you what, a few sessions for Jason, Rex and I with a therapist has made a massive difference in how we handle his anxiety, plus giving him amazing tools that help him deal on his own. Just something to consider. We want him to have the tools when he’s older so he doesn’t end up an adult basket case about things like flying or dating (like we can prevent that or something, but whatever).

  3. First, to Jenny: I had to pay my oldest $10 to learn to ride a bike. He was 10 years old at the time, and showing no independent interest in learning. Money, however, always talked with that kid. He learned in an afternoon.

    Now, as to your dilemma: You should … I mean, what we did was … the thing that always works is …

    Sigh. Clearly, I got nuthin’. Mine are grown and nearly-grown, and I still had to threaten them with extinction on the way home from SLC if they didn’t stop quarreling and tattling (yes! a 20-year old, starting a whine with, “Mooom, make her give me…”) . So yeah, yer on yer own, beb.

  4. What?!? I so didn’t want to hear that I can’t “fix” my kids! But I already, sorta knew that-in a lame-yes-I’m a bad mom because I want my kids to stop with the melt downs and freaking out over every little thing-kind of way.

    Maybe I’m the one that needs “fixing”.

  5. What? You mean there isn’t a magic button to make kids behave? *sigh*
    I’m just hoping that if I suffer throught these hard “meltdown” years, that someday, my kids will magically just get it and starting being good. Hopefully that will happen before they’re teenagers.

  6. I hope you got your money back.

    Just kidding, you make (he makes) a great point. I guess there are not things we can do to turn their personality into ours, which is technically what we’re wishing for because then we’d know how to deal with it. Maybe. You can scratch that idea if it’s brainless.

  7. I have a seven year old as well. We are working on the drama because I can’t deal. I try not to yell at her but sometimes it comes out. Maybe I need to get the name of your therapist.

  8. Wow thanks for the epiphany I was hoping for the magic switch. Guess I will just have to be a better example and then I won’t have to worry so much about the melt-downs!

  9. Yeah we’ve been to a couple different therapists with and for our 5 year old drama/angst/angry son. But I think he’s one of the non-fixing kind. So now we just pull out all of our coping mechanisms (which, for me, usually involves locked doors and Hulu…and pretending that I have a migraine and CANNOT put the kids to bed, so don’t even ask me to unlock my door.)

  10. I just found your blog and had to say that I LOVE your warning!

    As for fixing them…I figure if you love them and do your best they usually turn out all right in the end!

  11. Loved this perspective! Thanks for sharing it, Annie. I think I’m looking for the “fix” button with my kids too much sometimes. Then other times I’m a slacker and probably let the big things slide (the ones that could be “fixed” had I caught them earlier). If I had nickle for every time I’ve wished my kids came with a how-to manual…

    …let’s just say I’d have a kazillion nickles and we could take a flight to the Caribbean to spend the remainder of our pregnancies on a beach being brought fancy, fruity drinks with little umbrellas. 😉

    • annie valentine says:

      Maybe we should get a sponsor for the Caribbean. We’ll sit and blog about it all day long as we reach whale status.

  12. Isn’t it amazing how a stranger can be so… callous about what needs fixing? 🙂 I’d love to think my kids’ doctor would “fix” all the issues if I’d only overcome my laziness long enough to take them to him.

  13. There is a pill for everything now. I would get a second opinion 🙂 My kids are all drugged and placid and perfect.

  14. That’s exactly what a friend told me a couple of years ago: “It is what it is,” not in relation to a kid thing, but it applies in just about every area of life. I can’t change anyone or anything. And I don’t need to accept things, but I DO have to accept that I have no control over them.