Friday, March 1, 2013

Drill Sergeant Mama

I hate being tough.  I am naturally a very Type A person and enjoy things being done 'just so,' but I've learned to let some things go.

Still, sometimes I hit my wall.  They're kids.  They push.  It's what they're supposed to do, and I get that.  But still, you can only shove me so far before I hit my limit, and I've absolutely been forced to the wall this week.

And when my back's to the wall and my fight or flight instinct kicks in, I fight.  (Ask Oz and M1 both.  Scare me, and I will deck you first and check to see who it is later.)

Yesterday, obviously, was a struggle.  M1 finally got his schoolwork done sometime around 5... or I thought he had.  We had dinner, and then I asked to see the last piece of work.  No dice.  So back upstairs he went.  He's had all week to work on this particular project, so it should have been nearly completed, but it wasn't.  It still took him half an hour to finish the part that needed to be done so he could complete the work in a timely manner today.

When tucking him in last night, I noticed that there were a couple of things sticking out from under his closet doors.  Drawers in his chest of drawers and dresser were hanging open.  I saw a couple of items peeking out from under his bed.  As I walked to the closet, I told him that he needed to take care of those things that I could immediately see.

Then I opened the closet door.

I should not have done that.

Ignorance was bliss.

I'm okay with a slightly untidy closet.  But this was Fat Man unleashed.  Everything was piled on the floor about a foot deep.  It reminded me of a closet a friend of mine once actually went diving into; we had to hang onto her legs so we could pull her out when she'd unearthed what she was looking for.

I was good.  I closed the door and simply informed him that he had to clean his closet tomorrow (today).  He had known he needed to do it, so he didn't argue.  I put him to bed and hoped the next day would be better.

I should have guessed.  This morning, the poo really hit the fan.

It started with laundry.  Fridays are one of my two weekly laundry days.  I ask the kids to bring down their hampers, I sort the clothes, and I start the first load before we go upstairs for school.  For their part, other than bringing down the hampers, the kids have to make sure all the clothes are right side out, so I can check for stains, and have empty pockets.  M2 has no problem with this.  Once in a while I'll find something, but for the most part she takes care of things when she puts them in the hamper.  M1, however, panics every. single. time.  He has to dump everything out, turn them all right side out and check the pockets (because nothing ever goes into the hamper in the condition it should be when it comes out), and then he takes the entire load, knots it together inside a few hoodies or pairs of jeans, and shoves it back into the hamper.  When I try to pull one item out of his hamper, it takes brute strength and both hands and feet to accomplish that.  Or I have to dump it all on the floor and then separate it, which takes me three times as long as just pulling things out.  Either way, I hate it.  I have asked him repeatedly to stop.  Today I told him I wasn't fighting his laundry.  He could do it himself.  He's capable of it; he's done it before.  Still, he wasn't happy.  Much squawking commenced.

Then... both kids know that I try to start school at 8:30.  If we start around that time, we can usually get done by lunch or shortly thereafter and have the afternoon to go to swim, run errands, or just play.  I've told them that they need to figure out what time they should get up so they can be ready by 8:30.  Give or take 10 minutes, we're usually on time.  Lately, though - and I know this is partly due to M1's growth spurt, but still - he's been coming down later and later each morning, and school time has been getting pushed back little by little.  I've warned him this has to stop, because an 8:45-8:50 start time translates to an hour later on the other end somehow, but today, I hit my limit.  At 8:21, he had just sat down at the table with a giant bowl of cereal.  The cats had been fed and he was dressed (whether his pajamas were put away or not was debatable...), but he still had a couple of chores to accomplish before he was ready for school.  On a good day, these two chores take him 10 minutes because he can't walk in a straight line, let alone do a chore in an orderly manner.  So at 8:24, I told him he was done.  "QUAWWWWW??!??"  (No, really, that's his response to things when he doesn't like them.)  He threw a giant toddler tantrum when I asked him to put his breakfast things away and get his chores done so we could get school started in a timely manner, complete with stomping upstairs (which I made him walk back down and climb again calmly) and hooting incessantly (that one I can't stop and am fine with as long as he's not calling people names).  At 8:39, we made it to to the school room.  Not great, but better than our average lately. 

Then... I find him drawing all over his math page.  Not a big deal except that he draws all over his math page and finding the chicken-scratched answers in the midst of sketches is nearly impossible, so I've asked him to stop.  I always make sure he has scratch paper available and have asked him, if he must draw, to draw on that.  Still, he ignores me.  And he knows he's ignoring me.  And *I* know he knows he's ignoring me because he was hiding the drawing behind his hand so I wouldn't see it.  So he's having to redo his entire math paper so I can read it.  Cue another tantrum.

In the midst of all this, I discover that M2's been eating straight out of the sugar bowl again.  Literally taking a spoon and eating straight sugar.  She only does this when her moods are completely out of whack and she's craving carbs like there's no tomorrow.  I strongly suspect that sometime in the next few days, I will wind up with a raging girl-child again.  Thankfully I've been working on my arm strength.  I have a feeling I'm going to need it.

I hate all the nitpicking.  I don't think I'm being unreasonable with anything I've - repeatedly - asked the kids to do.  Mostly, I'm really, really sick of repeating myself ad nauseum.  Drill Sergeant Mama is here for a while.  And when she ain't happy... well... you know the drill.


farmwifetwo said...

Could you buy some dark chocolate and tell her she can have a piece a day and the rest goes in the freezer. Then she can suck on it while she does her school work. May help the sugar craving.

As for the other I've been there, done that and wore the t-shirt yet again last night.

I find the really good fights come in 3 or 4 mth batches. They last about 2 weeks and you finally have to wait for them to lose it entirely and then for them to lose all their favourite things for an extended period of time.

Then it goes back to the usual gripe and complain for the next 3 to 4 months or so and then...

It starts once more.

Oh... we start "do your own laundry" this summer with the 13yr old. Maybe it's time????

Sarah said...

I *could* buy dark chocolate, but it's not a matter of flavor or sweets. It's carbs. She will devour carbs like there's no tomorrow. And sure enough, she had a meltdown at the grocery store today and continued it all afternoon, culminating in 'decorating' her brother's school desk with glue. Anyway, yes, we cycle through these things as well. I had just not been looking for this one because he'd been doing so well. Usually I don't get blindsided like this. He turned it around this afternoon, though, so hopefully it was just a random bad couple of days. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you're a drill sergeant mom. What you expect sounds reasonable.

Oh my gosh, I HATE the "selective hearing" that means I need to repeat myself. I already told my son that requiring me to repeat myself will now result in immediate consequences. For example, if the TV is on, I'm shutting it off. If he's refusing to do something, I'm taking a toy out of his room. Just... arrrrgh on the repeating oneself thing. I can so relate to that.

I hope M2 does not get ragey on you, and that M1 straightens up and does as he's told.

Kim said...

Man oh man...tough week! Hang in there. The tide is going to always does...somehow...