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Listen So Kids Will Talk

November 10, 2006

Friday Neo Dachau, TX

First of all, let me apologize for the lack of updates lately. A lot of things have been happening recently and I’ve kinda been off in a zone. I know others here have been putting out updates and keeping everyone informed and that’s excellent.What’s been going on? Far too much to explain here, but one of the main things is that I have to file my last appeal in March. That’s only four months away. I understand the psychological/psychosomatic effects of this environment and I know what sensory depravation does to a person, but I’m still affected to a certain extent. Everyone here is, regardless if they want to admit it or not. Some days I’ll have to do nothing but meditate and perhaps read some Nietzsche to avoid going insane, or, engage myself in a little debauchery and read some “popular fiction.”

 

“To Struggle is to Live,” no doubt, struggling isn’t always easy. But it’s what I DO and it’s what I Love. How can I not worry about things though? I may be dead within a year. I worry about my son and stepson and everything else. I know they haven’t been and they’re not going to be raised the way they should be. That reminds me of something. I met my son’s mom when I was going to Houston Community College (HCC). I was 19 years old and hoping to get a degree in child psychology. I only went to HCC for 2 semesters but during that time I learned quite a bit and I gained an overall different perception of Life and the world in general.

In “Intro to Psychology” class I learned about Jean Piaget’s psychological studies and it just about blew my mind. I soaked up as much as I could and read a ton of stuff on Psychology at the U of H library. B.F. Skinner, Jung, Freud, Pavlov – they flipped my mind around! Our society conditions us to believe that “we make our own way” so the poor are poor because they don’t want to work, blacks and Mexicans (and other “minorities”) are just naturally born incapable of “bettering themselves,” criminals should be harshly punished for all crimes because they’re simply criminals, drug users “choose” to use drugs so they’re “trash junkies,” Bush is president because he worked hard to get where he’s at, and so forth and so on. A fantasy world.

When I began to understand environmental conditioning it was like my sense of Reality changed. Anyway, I applied psychology to parenting. When I first met my stepson, he was a little bad-ass. When he didn’t get what he wanted he would start crying and screaming and throwing a dramatic theatrical fit! A child’s mind is like a sponge, it soaks up everything. I don’t yell and scream and argue and I certainly don’t hit children. But my stepson wasn’t exactly in a good environment before I met him. His conditioned reflex to not getting his way was to throw a fit.

Mom: “I want to go out to dinner tonight.

”Dad: “No, I want to stay home.”

= Yell, scream, fight, fight, argue and fight

On a subconscious level seeing a situation like that registers in a child’s brain like: Whenever someone doesn’t get something they want or they disagree about something then the proper reaction is to become hostile and fight. That’s a rather simplistic example but I’m sure you know what I mean.

So, I recognized that in my stepson and I decided to devise a plan to help him change his behavior. Check out what I did: My stepson had a thing for food and trust me I felt him because I was the same when I was a kid – I would eat up anything that wasn’t nailed down and then I’d want some more. I always tried to eat healthy and I of course wanted him to be a healthy kid and eat good food. I wasn’t some type of food dictator or anything so I’d let him have sweets, but he’d want to gorge himself on candy and things like that. (Aren’t all kids like that though?)

I, for example, made chocolate chocolate-chip muffins one time and gave him a few and I ate a few. Okay, now two chocolate chocolate-chip muffins would be enough for me, a 200lb adult, so you’d think that would be enough for a little boy, right? My stepson’s answer to that question: a most emphatic NO expressed by an immediate crying, screaming fit accompanied by arm flailing, spasmodic gyrations and all.

He expected to be yelled at and spanked for his reaction of throwing a fit at not getting what he wanted. I did the exact opposite. I picked him up, hugged him and took him to the other room. Then, I sat him down on the bed and I sat on the floor so we could talk eye-to-eye. (Actually, I was looking up to him). While he was screaming and crying about some damned muffins, I talked to him in a calm and rational tone: “Eh, man, all that screaming and crying really ain’t cool. I know the muffins are good and all but if you eat too many you’ll get sick. I care about you and I…” “SCREEEAAM” and “CRY, CRY, CRY!”… “Why are you yelling and crying, dude, am I yelling at you? No and do you know why? Because I respect you and I love you. Do you care about me?” Eventually, he calmed down to where he paid attention to what I was saying. I’d go on and on in situations like that and it would always end by him giving me and hug and I’d do the same. Sometimes I’d leave the room and let him cry for a while and then come back and talk. I didn’t fully describe that particular situation very well but I completely changed his behavior. By the time my son (his brother) was born, my stepson was a happier kid who didn’t throw outrageous fits anymore. That conditioned reflex, that learned behavior, was, for lack of a better term, “unlearned.”

When he wouldn’t listen to anyone else he would listen to me. I read in some book that a good way to help a child get in touch with his feelings and learn to express those feelings is to ask them every day how they felt that day. I would do that with my stepson (and other kids) and you’d be amazed by the answers I would get. Kids are a lot smarted than adults think. I used to do that with a friend of mines daughter and at first the answers would be, “I don’t know.” Then, she started giving us little-kid philosophical dissertations on how her day went! Me and her mom would look at each other like, “WOW!” Everyone with children should really, really try that: Every day when your kid comes home from school, ask him or her “How did your day go? How did you feel today?” I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the answers. But, yeah, I used to do things like that and I’d read to my son and stepson, talk to them and have discussions with them (even though my son was still a baby when I got locked up) and do everything I could to help them be happy kids and grow into happy adults. I don’t know where all of that came from but I was trying to make this point:

I worry about how the boys are being raised. I worry about them. I worry about my appeal and I worry about everything else. Plus I work every single day to advance The Struggle and as I said, it’s not always easy. This is getting long so I’ll go ahead and start to close off and I’ll drop some more updates soon. I apologize to everyone who hasn’t heard from me in a while. Also, I want to send some SERIOUS vibes of solidarity to everyone who went to the march in Austin on the 28th. I recently got pictures from the event and passed them around. Seeing such a showing of solidarity out in the free-world gave us a heightened level of enthusiasm – straight up! Believe me, I have a very deep sense of respect and Love for each and every one of you.

In Strength and Solidarity!

Rob Will

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