Wednesday, September 5, 2012

10 minutes and the wrong way to go about things

MB is a talented person. Highly talented in several areas. One unfortunate aspect of his multiple talents is that he can get me into a position where I forget every single strike principle I forged over the last few weeks. That child can yank more chains, pull more levers, and push more buttons than his sisters, his father, and his uncle combined. Defin'tly.

So yesterday I had one of those 48-hours-in-24 days, with lots to do and a limited amount of time and sanity to accomplish anything. In the top 3 priority list was new shoes for everyone -- hey, I've got two adolescent Banshees and one pre-adolescent (and I use this in the physical development sense, not exactly chronological age. Bear with me!) and the growth spurts are astonishing on occasion. MB has the feet of a hobbit; big, broad, sturdy constructions set under a spindly critter not yet five feet tall. He's at the stage that scares most penny pinching parents, a massive growth spurt that causes the huge amount of food I keep on hand to look almost foolishly paltry on occasion and causes various bits and pieces of him to multiply in size on a weekly basis. Good grief, I thought I was going to have to hem those pants two days ago. And, of course, whaddaya mean your brand new shoes are too tight?!?

Also, over the weekend the Banshees managed to get away with a large amount of murder because MB had a birthday one day and another the family had friends over. I relaxed some of my rules and predictably, the Banshees ran with it. When Tuesday rolled around with with its list of to-do's longer than my leg, Banshees one and Banshees all decided that 1. chores were back on the 'suggested' list and 2. personal hygiene? What's that? And there was no bigger protester than MB, the same MB who has been begging for new shoes for quite a while now. All morning it was a constant refrain of "When are we going? Are we going shoe shopping now? When are we going to go get shoes, Mom?" Meanwhile I'm looking at a tousled head that hasn't seen a brush OR a shower with shampoo involved in days, and the kitchen is looking more and more like a missile testing site, and the room MB currently resides in...well, that really would take a trained archaeologist at this point.

We have a lot to do, so I broke the first rule: I nudged. I reminded. I set out hints large enough to make an elephant shear off. And got exactly...nothing. Not a twinge. Not a peep. Not even a vague hint of recognition that something big and gravity-disrupting might have entered the solar system. After the fourth hint and no clue, I finally asked MB what the terms and conditions were to go anywhere in my company. "Ah. Um. Chores? Personal hygiene? Homework?" Yes! Recognition! Maybe we're getting somewhere! So off he goes to run himself through the shower, after which he comes out, sits at the table and...reads a book. For a long time. While his hair dries in tangles and nothing. else. gets. done. It is now 11:30 a.m. and I have shoes to buy, groceries to get, a new office chair to acquire, a soaker hose, and that list of things to do hasn't gotten any shorter than my leg. Maybe even a bit taller. The rest of my Thou Shalt Not list shattered. Thou shalt not provide carrots. I reminded him that we were waiting on him to get his stuff done so we could get him shoes. Thou shalt not lose thy temper. Oh. Big time broken. Thou shalt not lecture. I lost track of time. It's easy to do. Thou shalt not accept half-measures, haphazard, or last-minute as actually done, done correctly, done on time. I had places to go and it was not one of those days I could leave Banshees behind. Thou shalt enforce Consequences fairly and calmly, and let those Consequences speak for themselves. Yeah. Not today. Probably the funniest -- okay, it was more humorous later but that's how these things go -- part of the whole affair was how that, while I was white hot frustrated with MB's behavior, I was even angrier with myself for letting him get to me like that. He's only half-way to being an adult and is still being trained for the position. I AM the adult, and I know better.

I have learned that there are certain patterns I need to avoid or change to be healthier. When sleep deprived I'm irritable to the point of psychosis and therefore not a good mother, so I learned that sleep is an imperative I cannot ignore. I have known for ages that I'm an introvert that needs a certain amount of alone time to be able to function as a good parent, but only recently has it been brought home to me just how important solitude is to me and how much the lack of it has damaged my ability to function at all. Squalling like an amped up Klingon has never been productive in this household -- but it's a pattern I learned in childhood and it's the pattern I have used for much of my children's childhood, so breaking it is going to take time and a nearly infinite amount of patience, and the ability to forgive myself for screwing up on occasion. Deep breath. Get up. Try again.

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