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Please help me to help my absent minded son!

(22 Posts)
theredhen Mon 05-Nov-12 13:36:25

My son is aged 14 and since starting back at school in year 10 this year, he has forgotten so many things for school, I have lost count.

This morning was a complete nightmare, he has lost his school shoes, didn't know where his mobile phone was that he only had last night (which was completely out of charge by the time he found it), had only packed half his lunch because he hadn't listened to me telling him where everything was last night, couldn't find his PE kit (which I wash and fold and put in his bedroom and all he has to do is put it in his pe bag) etc etc. And to top it all, he has to be shouted at to get out of bed and finally shows up downstairs 5 minutes before he has to leave with all of the above to do and breakfast to have.

So he will be getting yet another detention, nearly missed his bus, meant that we couldn't give a lift to the boy down the road as they thought we must have gone without him, I will make him pay for the school shoes (which I suspect he has left at a friends on the last day of term) but he has spent out nearly £100 since the start of term on things he has lost including GCSE work. I've spent today sending e-mails to school to explain about his lack of shoes and that I'm on the case, phone calls to various friends mums to see if they have the shoes etc and I'm sick of it.

We are actually a very organised house and I had my 3 step children at home this morning all of whom are pretty organised. However, my step daughter moved in with us full time at the beginning of the summer holidays and I think my sons lack of interest in his own stuff is because he is so busy messing about with her and not thinking about boring stuff anymore. He is much harder work since she moved in.

DS is generally quite tidy but just has no interest at all in thinking for himself and I'm at my wits end. He is supposed to be saving for something he really wants but can't because he has to replace so much and I'm genuinely upset for him. He just shrugs his shoulders and pays the money.

I've tried helping him with lists, shouting and getting angry, banning him from the pc in the evenings, nagging him and stepping back and letting him make his own mistakes but nothing works.

I haven't been with his Dad since he was 4 and this behaviour is just like his Dad used to be, so I'm wondering if it's just genetic and I should give up! It's so frustrating because I want to help him but I don't know how.

Any advice would be much appreciated before I throttle him! wink

sanityseeker75 Tue 06-Nov-12 10:25:23

Feel for you but think it is a boy thing? My DS is 13 and so half soaked it is painful, he loses PE kit constantly and mobile phone and chargers for everything. I can give him a secific instruction and 5 minutes later he just says I forgot?!? My DSD is very on the ball, I can ask her to do something and she will have the sense to do it and and then anything else in the immediate vicinity that needs doing. My DSS, however, is also a nightmare. He will shout to me he can't find pants, socks or PJ's I tell him they are in his drawer and he tells me there is none in there - I go up to have a look and there they are, he just doesn't look. I have asked work colleagues and friends and they all tell me boys are terrible for always losing stuff.

theredhen Tue 06-Nov-12 12:12:38

Thanks for the reply.

People do often say, it's just boys, but I'm not convinced it's just that, to be honest. I even took him clothes shopping the other day and told him to choose some trousers he likes instead of me choosing them for him and he literally stood next to me in Primark in the men's section and couldn't move between the rows of clothing without me making suggestions. He literally just stood next to me staring into space looking like a lost lamb!

Are they all really so bad that they have to be reminded constantly and only 1 thing at a time?

I can literally remind him to do something, he stops to put something down and he has forgotten what he was supposed to do!

In the school holidays, I leave him and SD a list of jobs and he always does his share, whereas sometimes she doesn't but if I give him a verbal list, he can't remember it, even if it's only 2 things!

I feel like I have to remember things twice over because I have to keep nagging and reminding and the more I do it, the more, I think he switches off. Surely I don't have to write down, "make your sandwiches" and hand it to him every night at the same time? grin

Can anyone offer some comfort that they used to have a boy like this and they haven't died of starvation by the time they got to Uni or can now actually get on public transport without a detailed list, app on phone and several texts from Mum to ensure he doesn't end up in timbuctoo? hmm

webwiz Tue 06-Nov-12 13:37:01

Well BIL will probably still end up in timbuctoo (he's 48!) unfortunately he married someone who is almost as bad as well. (Sorry not what you want to hear smile)

gingeroots Tue 06-Nov-12 16:27:45

So sorry ,sympathies .
I have a 19 year old DS who is like this .
Nothing works - I ask him to repeat back to me what I've said .
He does .
But still forgets .

Like yours ,the fact that he looses out ( money ,time etc ) by his living in the clouds ,makes not a jot of difference .

And his dad is pretty much the same and I do think there's a heriditary element .

MadameCastafiore Tue 06-Nov-12 16:32:24

Do it all the night before - then in the morning it is not a rush. We do this with DD, other than me putting her lunchbox on the table in the morning so she sees it when organising her breakfast - this seems to be the only thing she can cope with in the morning other than putting her clothes on and dragging a brush through her hair. Makes me laugh when I see all the other girls looking spik and span whereas DD does look like she has had a fight with a hedge before even getting to the bus stop.

Maryz Tue 06-Nov-12 17:32:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Brightspark1 Tue 06-Nov-12 20:08:17

Have you considered he may be dyspraxic? Poor organisational skills are a common trait in dyspraxia, especially combined with poor coordination or clumsiness.
Both my DCs find organising themselves really difficult (so do I TBH), their school offered support from the Senco to develop and improve their organisational skills and it really seemed to help.
BTW ds is now at Uni, he still loses stuff and goes through mobiles at a rate of knots. But he is doing well and having to submit all his work online has avoided all his previous problems of losing / forgetting to hand work in. So there is hope!

bubby64 Tue 06-Nov-12 22:54:50

Not much help here either, I went to the school today as one of my yr. 7 sons has lost his whole PE kit!, couldn't find that, but found his two sweatshirts he lost! I sent him upstairs this morning to get his school bag 3 times this morning, he only came down with it on his 3rd attempt, he left his lunchbox and glasses on the stairs after I had handed them to him twice, and I had to take them down to the bus stop when I saw them. He regularly loses his phone and I have replaced his front door and locker key twice since September!!
His twin brother is a lot better organised, but he also loses things, including his mobile phone, glasses and keys, but is better at finding them again.

gingeroots Wed 07-Nov-12 08:08:18

What is the matter with them ?

bubby64 Wed 07-Nov-12 09:20:37

I am in despair!!! I sent him up 3 times this morning to get one of the sweatshirts we retrived from school yesterday, and 3 times he came back down empty handed, but chuntering on about something completly irrelevent!
He has also "mis-placed" the locker key and memory stick I attached to his bag with a chain yesterday!! What can I do-staple things to his forehead???

theredhen Wed 07-Nov-12 09:29:32

I just think being organised is boring to them. The natural consequences aren't enough to change them, so it just carries on with us getting stressed out.

On a positive note my ds has been up early and I have banned all computers am hr before bed to try and get him some "thinking time" during the day. It's working we'll so far but it's only day two! grin

Bromptonaut Wed 07-Nov-12 12:01:01

It's a boy thing. Working in a small open plan with two others. All have sons between yr 9 and first year uni. Two have daughters albeit now late teens.

All agree that lads forget stuff, dawdle on the way home, are disorganised to point of despair over homework. Clothes they need are in a heap on floor instead of going bin>wash>wardrobe. Wheezing with Asthma and itching with eczema 'cos they Werner stood over to take medication.

Yet they can remember a ton of random bollox about footy & music etc without problem.

And don't get me started on looking for stuff that's staring them in face. Friend calls it TRB -testicular related blindness. My lad'd loose those if he hadn't evolved a sealed pouch to keep them in!!

Not that this helps the OP. I think all you can do is encourage, help by sorting stuff where you can and giving prompts. Try and get stuff like keys, sports kit sorted night before. Perhaps no telly/Facebook or whatever until that's done.

NamingOfParts Wed 07-Nov-12 20:36:12

I have a DS (14) who is like this but I think that progress is slowly being made.

Some things I have learned:

- I remind DS constantly what he is supposed to be doing right now (he easily grinds to a halt)
- I try to keep it light, I find that if I shout it turns into white noise or DS is reduced to tears (neither of which are effective)
- DS needs to be told in advance what is happening. If we have to make changes then he has to be told specifically.
- If I havent seen DS doing something then I assume that he hasnt done it. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised to find out that he has actually done whatever it is!

Some people will say that they have to simply face the consequences of whatever they have lost/not done/forgotten however my experience is that this doesnt work - see white noise/tears above.

DS started with army cadets a year ago and this has really helped him. It is very routine driven (all that marching up and down a bit seems to help). He has to polish his boots and iron his kit every week and after the first few wobbles he has got the hang of getting it done.

Routine, routine, routine!

ladygoldenlion Wed 07-Nov-12 20:43:35

"Yet they can remember a ton of random bollox about footy & music etc without problem."


This thread is depressing me, my DS is Yr 6 and like this...he's never going to change, is he? sad

theredhen Wed 07-Nov-12 20:59:27

Yes I definitely agree routine is good. The things that ds does as part of his routine are done easily with no nagging. Unpacking his bag is one of those things. Going to a club the same day every week Effortless because he does it everyday/week. But not everything can be part of a routine. Needing to pick up a form as a one off from a certain teacher, getting a later bus/train home etc all end up with a blank look or a roll of the eyes when I "nag" him followed by several texts the next day asking what he needs to do. grin

It is depressing but I do feel better knowing that others are experiencing the same things with their sons too.

NamingOfParts Wed 07-Nov-12 21:37:53

Something I do with DS about the constant reminders is treating each one as new (ie same tone), not escalating.

One of the problems we have is that DS forgets to brush his teeth (according to older DD this is revolting but normal for this age!). He used to lie about it but once we got him passed that we just remind (repeatedly). This means that he gets fit running up and down stairs to brush teeth (the bathroom is on the second floor!).

gingeroots Wed 07-Nov-12 22:34:59

How did you get him past the lying ?

NamingOfParts Thu 08-Nov-12 07:47:57

We made it clear to him that there would always be consequences (and big ones) for lying. Simply forgetting was fine and would be met with more light reminders to go and brush his teeth or whatever it was.

We also have changed how we frame questions so that it is okay for him to say he has forgotten something - making telling the truth the easy option.

We had to step back a bit and separate how we deal with the lying and how we deal with the forgetfulness.

The lying is something he can control.

We dont get it right all the time and sometimes I do end up ranting but feel ashamed of myself for doing so.

gingeroots Thu 08-Nov-12 09:14:18

Thanks NamingofParts ,useful advice .

My DS is a habitual lyer ,very convincing .

I think it's partly a product of me using too much stick and not enough carrot .
Giving him nowhere else to go .

He's older now ( 20 blush ) and is currently telling me he's had a reply to an email I know he hasn't sent .

I'm heartbroken really ,but I think we've missed the boat with him .

NamingOfParts Thu 08-Nov-12 12:28:31

I dont think it is too late. I think that lying can become a habit especially when it just feels like the easy way out. I once read somewhere that it takes 3 weeks to make or break a habit.

Thinking about that email. There are two ways of asking about it.

1. Have you sent that email yet? (asked with a cross face so that he says yes so as not to annoy you)

2. When are you going to send that email because you havent sent it yet and you know you are going to run out of time soon dont you? (asked lightly). I can help you with it if you want.

It does our DS's no harm to realise that we are omniscient!

sanityseeker75 Thu 08-Nov-12 12:56:11

Friend calls it TRB -testicular related blindness. - brilliant grin best thing I have heard all year.

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