Friday, June 24, 2011

Can't we all just get along?

There is always an adjustment period.

Always.

At the start of every long break or vacation from school, when my shorties are once again all up in each other's grills 24/7, there is always an adjustment period. A fighting-for-space-and-attention-and-getting-to-know-you-again period if you will.

To put it nicely.

Read: They fight like cats and dogs on and off for about the first week. They fight over what they're going to do, and who's going to decide. They fight over Wii controllers. They fight over basketballs. They fight over pool toys. They fight over sharing the same air.

Trust me. It's buckets o' fun.

Buckets.

I'm not saying they fight every gosh darn, cotton pickin', ever-lovin' second. No. There are many moments of peace and happiness and unity in that first week, and I think the storm has passed and the adjustment period is over.

Right up until one shortie calls the other shortie a, "poopy farty fathead" for allegedly stealing his protective cup that he is unable to find right before a baseball game.

Because, you know. Protective cups are a hot commodity, and ripe to be burgled. And there's not a chance in the world that the protective cup was just misplaced, (ahem...thrown carelessly under the kitchen table...ahem) and not, in fact, stolen and sold on the black market.

Because there's totally a black market for protective cups. Just ask my kids.

Summer Vacation 2011 started on Tuesday, June 7, and I braced myself for the inevitable storm on Wednesday, June 8.

It never arrived.

The storm did not arrive that Thursday, or Friday, or the weekend. The following week began, and 3 out of my 4 shorties were in various sport camps every day, and the storm never arrived for that whole week.

I patted myself on the back for my overall awesomeness as a parent. These children get it! They are getting along, and I am taking all the credit! I have managed to avoid the storm of all storms! I should rename myself Peacekeeper Mama Extraordinaire! That's how much Peace I have kept!

Until.

This week.

Foiled again.

Perhaps I can blame it on the weather, which has been less than stellar this week, with storms brewing almost every day. But that is all just one big excuse.

I have spent the majority of this week negotiating peace treaties and handing out punishments and time-outs like they are Tic-Tacs.

Not fun.

Yesterday morning I began the day by telling the kids that if they were good, I would take them downtown to the Science Center to see the exhibits AND an IMAX movie. My proclamation was followed by a chorus of shortie cheers. I also said that afterward, we would hit a favorite downtown cupcake bakery. More cheers erupted.

I had this in the bag. There was no way my shorties were going to have anything less than perfect behavior, knowing the fun that awaited them in just a few short hours.

Until.

It started at lunch. The fighting began over a chair. We have a total of 9 chairs (6 at the table and 3 at the bar) in our kitchen. Yet for some unknown reason, sometimes the only desirable chair just happens to be the exact one your brother or sister is sitting in at that very moment.

Naturally.

I warned the children involved and negotiated a peace treaty over said chair.

Really, people. I missed my calling. United Nations? Call me. I specialize in Peace Treaties among warring parties.

Anyway. I thought I put out the fire, but it continued moments later over something insignificant. Within moments, all four children were involved. I warned. I threatened to take away the field trip.

As we moved to the mudroom to put on our shoes, my patience was wearing thin as the battles raged on. They volleyed insults back and forth to each other. Time-outs were issued. When it came time to put on shoes, one shortie whined, "Mommmmmm! I can't find my tennis shoes!"

A shortie responded, "Yeah. Well that's because they're up your butt with a rubber nut."

To which the insulted shortie responded, "Yeah, well your tennis shoes took one look at your ugly face and ran and hid."

These words, by the way, my friends? Are SO NOT OKAY in my house. At all.

I was done. D-to-the-O-to-the-N-to-the-E. Kaputski. Over. Stick a fork in me. Done and done.

I threw my purse to the ground and yelled said, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? IF YOU THINK FOR ONE, HOT SECOND THAT I AM GOING TO DRIVE ALLLLLLL THE WAY DOWNTOWN TO TAKE YOU TO THE SCIENCE CENTER, AFTER THE WAY YOU HAVE BEEN BEHAVING, THEN YOU HAVE ANOTHER THINK COMING! NO! WAY! YOU CAN'T EVEN BE NICE TO EACH OTHER FOR A FEW HOURS?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?"

By the way, I have no idea what a hot second is. It just sounded fierce at the time.

One of my sons was indignant as he said, "You can't do this!"

To which I responded, "Watch me. I just did."

I shut. it. down. I was drunk with power.

You PROMISED us you'd take us to the Science Center! You PROMISED! And you can't break a PROMISE!"

Which is laughable on many, many levels.

First of all, I am no fool. I never, ever, use the word, "promise" in this house unless I mean it. There are only a few things a mother can ultimately promise her children, and they are: to love, cherish, nurture, guide, and provide food and shelter for her children. Going to the science center? I cannot promise that.

Immediately following my tirade speech, I kicked my sandals off, plopped down on the couch, picked up my copy of Jen Lancaster's latest novel, "If You Were Here", and started reading.

Promptly, all four shorties collapsed to the floor in crying fits.

Which I ignored.

Ignoring crying shorties...Ha, ha! Jen Lancaster is soooo funny! I love this book!...ignoring crying shorties...

The shorties continued the dramatic scene by blaming each other. "It's all your fault!" "No! It's all your fault!" "No! It's all your fault!"

They begged me. One shortie even said through his tears, and I quote, "Mom! I was totally going to be good once we got in the car! Please give me a chanccccccce!"

Really? That's the best you got?

Ignoring crying shorties...


Finally my oldest child, with his 10 years of...ahem...wisdom..., spoke. He said, "You guys? Mom is not listening to us. She is mad because we were bad."

You think? What tipped you off? Was it the ignoring part? Was it me sitting on the couch reading a hilarious book instead of driving you to the Science Center?

Within moments, all four shorties fell silent, and all I could hear was the sound of ragged breathing and whimpers. About five, silent minutes passed and one of my sons spoke, "Mom? What can we do to fix this?"

With as much dramatic pause that I could muster, I waited at least a minute before responding and said, "Until you can be kind to each other and get along, and stop using those horrible words, then we are not going anywhere."

Silence.

About 20 minutes passed, and two children retreated to a bedroom to play Lego together, one picked up a book and read, and the other child just stared at the ceiling.

An hour passed without a single fight or unkind word.

I know what you're thinking. An hour, Clare? An hour? That's a big deal? But over the last week, in my world, it is.

After that hour, I rounded up my troops for an impromptu family meeting, but I let them do most of the talking. My hands circled the air in their direction as I started off the meeting with, "This behavior over the last week? Is not okay. What are you going to do to fix it?"

We talked about ways to be better. Expectations that Bill and I have for them. Promises were made. Apologies were said. Hugs were had.

And off to the Science Center and cupcake bakery we went.

Uneventfully.

Thankfully.

It is hard for six people with wonderfully strong personalities to live in one house and always get along famously. But we try. And then we have a setback. And then we try again.

Because there is love. So much love. And laughter. And fun. And moments that have been sealed in my heart and my memory.


Today is a new day, and I am telling myself that the adjustment period is over.

I hope.

A girl can dream, can't she?

5 comments:

  1. Allison KoenigbauerJune 24, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    That was a great story with a great happy ending. You are such a good mom, Clare.

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  2. Oh girl. I am right there with you. I had to open up a can of whoop#$$ this morning & it wasn't pretty! Please tell me they will grow up to love each other as adults...
    GREAT post, as usual!!

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  3. I'm impressed they figured it out. Mine probably just would have kept going at each other and driven me insane!

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  4. This is the nature of the Summertime Beast. I hear you. I SO hear you.

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  5. LOL, I have so heard the "but you promised!!!" speach one to many times. In fact so much then whenever asked anything I say we'll see. Very good post=)

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