BELOVED AND BONK: Diary of a divorce

Buster, my son, has started to subscribe to the "trial by combat" school of personal relationships, the "will-you-still -love-me-if-I put-hot-needles-in-your-eyes?" assessment of maternal devotion. So I am being tested to destruction again by a lethal cocktail of defiance, abuse, recrimination and violence. And I don't know what to do.

My disapproval carries no weight and he's too big (and too fast) to wallop. The only thing he cares about is football and if I try and deprive him of that I'm interfering with the passion he shares with Beloved. I'm stumped.

Before I had kids I'd always imagined that I would be one of those parents with natural authority ... all I'd ever have to do was raise an eyebrow - never a voice or, heaven forfend, a hand. Even when, while making a radio programme, I had to be rescued from a class of six-year-olds who had me backed up against the climbing frame, I clung to the notion that when I had kids of my own things would be different.

But I gave up on that idea by the time Buster was four and had me cowering under the table like it was an Anderson shelter while he threw things off the top shelf of the dresser.

Since then I've listened to every shade of opinion about how to handle my volatile little treasure, from the "lock him in the coal hole for six weeks" to the "terrible things will happen if you impede the free expression of his anger" (come to think of it, impeding his anger is just what he wants me to do ... since all words and objects get thrown at me). And at one stage or another I've acted on all of it from zero tolerance (look at me like that again and you're grounded for four months) to total tolerance (I'm sure you didn't really mean to kick me in the leg). And nothing has ever worked. He's not much nearer to controlling his temper now at 10 than he was at four.

The only difference is that now he has lots of very articulate self-justification to back it up and lots of charming apology when he's calmed down. Of course all the anger he's stored up at his parents for getting divorced isn't helping, poor little soul.

I guess my problem with him is that I know how he feels. He's got the gene for Celtic rage and melancholia. And he got it from me. I'm totally familiar with those internal storms that make you want to run amok with a flame-thrower. At around Buster's age I smashed two doors, three windows, a fridge, a bathroom cabinet, a vacuum cleaner and went around with a permanent bump on my head where I cracked it against my bedroom wall in fury. I'm not a lot better now: I slam doors, use language that would make a trooper blush and occasionally throw things. Who am I to tell him not to lose his temper when I lose it over him at least twice a day?

When I see him at the breakfast table with his eyebrows drawn like curtains because there isn't any Weetabix left in the packet, I know there's nothing I can do: it's not the lack of Weetabix itself that matters, what's upsetting is that it is indicative of the hopelessness of his life and his futile struggle against the forces of darkness. No good trying to comfort him and offer him pancakes instead: he sees himself as doomed, unworthy of alternative sources of nourishment or the succour of human comfort. (It's a bummer being a Celt sometimes. No wonder our ancestors ran about painted blue and killing each other. No Weetabix any morning in those days. Don't anybody let a Celt in the White House, we'd hit that Button the first time it was a gloomy Tuesday in February.) Trying to suggest that I have some insight into the race memory tragedy of No Cereal For Brekky is perhaps the unkindest cut of all ... it denies the unique nature of his experience.

I sometimes think that the most help I could be to Buster would be to resign from being his parent. Because I react to stuff just the way he does I can't give him an alternative view. Unwittingly, I do exactly the wrong things and then get paranoid about his future mental health. Other parents worry if their kids will get to university or get a job; I worry if my son will get to 20. Listening to a therapist friend over dinner the other night talking about the sundry Primrose Paths to bonkersness, I worked out that I'm leading Buster along at least three of them.

So maybe I should just give up trying to steer Buster in any direction and let him grow up unguided. So long as I never keep firearms in the house and blunt all my knives this could be okay. Then I could put my efforts instead into a Therapy Fund for him, ready for him to use when he wants. Because no matter what I do, it's like the joke about the psychiatrists: how many shrinks does it take to change the light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

- Stevie Morgan

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Building Manager / Head Porter

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

    Recruitment Genius: Medical Copywriter / Account Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

    Recruitment Genius: Transport Clerk / Debriefer

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading temperature contro...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific