Friday, April 18, 2008

Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very Bad

It was one of those days. I should stop there and go to bed. But I simply. must. wind. down.

Each child found some reason to have a meltdown. Emily's are short-lived, relatively benign, and she's easily distracted from them - so far. Hers are all related to having some no-no taken away, or being removed from a no-no. We've baby-proofed, let me tell you, but she is always learning new tricks. They're cute that way, eh? She has hit me a couple times lately, though, which is concerning. The boys NEVER did such things. They were actually pretty mellow babies and toddlers. Emily is sweeter than they were, in her feminine little way, but she is also more insistent, at an earlier age. Nevertheless, she's still beloved by her brothers and parents alike. Still a delight 95% of the time.

Now, on to the boys' meltdowns. Timothy, Daniel and Daddy were talking about going on a bike ride. I went outside with them briefly, saw the van, and suddenly remembered that Timothy had dislodged the seatbelt on Emily's carseat, and I needed Don's help to redo it correctly. I had to do a makeshift job in the front-facing position on the way to AWANA last night. It was tight, but not the one-inch-rule-kind-of-tight. She's about 20 pounds, and should be rear-facing until she's 22 pounds, according to her particular carseat.

Anyway, it's one of those tasks that you really must do immediately upon thinking of it, or you'll forget and get stuck trying to do it in a hurry before an outing - alone - which is none too pleasant. Mommy and Daddy can become fire-breathing dragons over hurried carseat fixes. Few things get to both of us; carseats definitely qualify.

And to think we may soon have FOUR KIDS in carseats! Okay, Daniel's is a booster, but still! What is my precious Lord thinking of? Does he have ideas for getting me sanely through the next six years? Everything is on a need-to-know basis with the Lord. Have you noticed that? It's on purpose, isn't it?

But I digress. Timothy apparently got impatient about the talked-about bike ride, although we've only been carseat-engaged all of eight minutes, up to this point. He never even asked how much longer we would be, or complained. So imagine how surprised we were when, suddenly, we hear Daniel frantically shouting about Timmy having taken off down the street on his bike. I immediately start calling to the little Bugger, to no avail. Anger wells up in me, as I notice him briefly look behind him, indicating he probably heard me calling for him. He never goes near the street without permission or an escort. I'm flabbergasted.

Daddy reacts quickly and goes tearing down the street in hot pursuit. He turns Timmy around, and escorts him back to our driveway, scolding him to wait until Daddy is ready. I am the sterner one, and by this time I'm livid at this blatant disobedience. I don't say a word, but go get Timmy's 36 pound little body off his bike and deposit him in his room, telling him he must stay there for thirty minutes. Usually, a spanking would be in order for such serious, dangerous disobedience, but I'm too angry to do it appropriately, and Daddy is still outside.

Timmy said nothing during this bike fiasco, so this isn't actually his meltdown, but just another reason it's been one of those days. His meltdowns - yes, plural - came at lunch and dinner. He made an ugly fuss about having whole-grain mac and cheese for lunch, and another fuss at dinner, over being served whole-grain spaghetti when he wanted pizza (he always wants pizza or tacos, but doesn't always get ugly about it). I don't handle ungrateful kids patiently; I always tell him curtly that his choices are to eat it or go to bed for the night. I always win, but that isn't any consolation. It's still very stressful, especially given that putting complete, reasonably balanced meals on the table while three young children are running around us is no walk in the park, to begin with.

Timmy's picky-pants eating habits are driving us all insane. He used to smile at spaghetti, since he loves the lean Italian sausage we use in the sauce. Apparently, not today. I should qualify this to say that if we are having something entirely new and different, and maybe not so kid-friendly, I will usually tell him he can make himself a PB & J sandwich. But spaghetti definitely doesn't qualify, and since we rarely have time to try new recipes, we aren't exactly needlessly frustrating Mr. Picky Pants.

I am really working hard on his manners, since they are sometimes non existent. Finally, he is remembering to say please when asking for a drink during the day. That has been four years in coming. He still doesn't remember thank you. Conversely, his brother has impeccable manners, and gets praised for them. Maybe this manners thing is a rebellious streak, coming from Timmy? Pleasing us has somehow gotten too far down on his list. He is sweet and remorseful hours later, but I shudder to think of his teenage years, nonetheless.

Daniel's meltdown had to do with Daddy asking him to help pick up fallen sticks in the front yard. Our trees shed sticks and twigs like crazy. We hadn't kept up with it during the winter, so there were plenty. Daniel began protesting after about ten minutes, so Daddy threatened to cancel their bike ride if Daniel didn't stop complaining. That sent Daniel into a minor tizzy, and I had to bring him in to calm him down. I'm not fond of my kids melting down in front of the neighbors; I'd rather they lose it in the house. Daniel is probably ADHD, as I've mentioned, and the best way we've found to calm him is to hold him down briefly, while trying to avoid any talking or lecturing, as that can prolong the downward spiral.

Discipline techniques that work on other children, such as the threat of losing a privilege, don't seem to work on Daniel. He just focuses on what he might lose, and lets it take him down in an emotional spiral. We are trying to remember this. We need to learn to say that he will be disciplined if he doesn't comply, without giving any specifics. That way, there is no emotional panic to distract him from what we are asking. Does that make sense? We are still learning what works best; he is much improved, overall, since turning six.

I think I feel better now. This parenting gig is HARD. Thanks for listening to me about my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day (to borrow a phrase from the Alexander books).

1 comment:

Evenspor said...

That does sound like a terrible, horrible day (and I love the alexander book). But you handled it well, Mama!