I have had one of the worst days of mommying. Ever.
Worse than Candyland. So you know it's bad.
And it's currently only 1:50 p.m., and my children have been at school for almost two hours. Which means, technically, it was just a morning of awfulness. In my opinion, that makes it even worse.
But I will tell you in all honesty, that if I could have just walked out the door, without the bus driver calling the Division of Family Services when she found them all alone in the house at noon today, I would have done it. I would have left.
And I would have breathed.
Because today, they didn't even give me a minute to catch my breath before arguing about who got what train. And who got to stand in what order at the counter as we made the WORST muffins of all time (I'll post later). And who got to pour the sugar. And then there is the general obnoxiousness that accompanies clothing changes, bathroom breaks, CANDYLAND (again), and all other household tasks and activities not listed above.
But how do you fault children for being obnoxious and a tad-bit wild, when that's sort of in their job description? I'm not talking crazy wild, more like goofy-wild. Enough to drive you crazy without warranting a punishment? I hate that gray area, and apparently my children recognize the boundaries of these behaviors as the "demilitarized" zone.
Case in point: writing their letters today. Playing teacher is NOT something I like to do. Mostly because it ends VERY badly for all involved. My strength is not in motivating my kids academically, because this is where my VERY proud alter-ego of perfectionism likes to prance itself around in a hot pink bikini. And so I like to hide that little hussy, but she is there people. Oh, is she ever.
My point in having my children practice their letters, is that I am becoming increasingly worried that the twins are lacking in this skill. I seem to remember G being able to clearly write her name at the age of 5...and with Big J & L, well, let's just say there are moments when I'm not even sure they know their name. Again, it's not a big fear of mine, but I also feel convicted to HELP them along in this area. And I emphasize "help" because after today's lesson, I'm pretty sure at least 2 of my four children will drop out of school in the 2nd grade to become circus performers.
L happily played along and wrote her A's and B's (we're not talking the entire alphabet...just a couple at a time). The circus does not look to be in her future. But Big J. That kid giggled and pretended not to be able to write a straight line. For 30 minutes straight. He lost the privilege of playing until lunchtime, and of riding to school on the school bus. And still, he giggled.
He wouldn't do it. And I wouldn't let it go.
Which wouldn't have been unmanageable, but lunchtime followed soon after our writing debacle, and on this particular day, L decided not to chew anything. No matter how close I sat, or how much I prompted. There were timeouts and spankings involved. Nothing.
Her lunch today consisted of two bites of hotdog. Which is HORRENDOUSLY hard for me to handle, as I have tracked her calorie intake for almost 5 years. And this seems like total failure.
And then Big J chimed in with the giggles and the no's when it came to eating his meal as well. And that was it. He went in the high chair, banished in the dining room. L sat at the table and sang to her hot dog. I went upstairs, cried and called my husband to take over because mentally, I was D-O-N-E.
And he came to my rescue with lunch out on the town and some calm words. We talked through a new plan, because it is obvious these little people are getting the best of me. And I've let bad behaviors slip, because they haven't been as obvious as hitting and biting and yelling and tantruming.
I wish I could have tantruming. I would LOVE a good, clean go-to-time-out tantrum.
There have been subtle, defiant behaviors. Constant giggling (not out if cuteness, trust me). Not trying (at all). Having to be asked to do something MULTIPLE times. Each incident seems innocent enough, very kid-like. So easy to write-off as general, juvenile behavior. But put together, it spells out a bigger and more troubling picture of how they are learning to work the system.
The second half of the equation is my own anxiety level and need to "perfect" them. And I am trying to find that balance (and probably will for the next 50+ years). Some things, I need to relax about...undoubtedly. I need to leave L's growing up to God--I was never in control of that anyway. I need to know where to push them, and where to rest. I need to figure out where to let them struggle a little. No answers, just general observations of areas where things need to change. But I also need to know where to break them of really harmful habits.
I'm pretty cautious not to set the bar too high. I recognize "perfectionist" Sara, and I try to gag and duct tape her up tight in my closet at all times. I know that this will ruin my children, if I let it, so I TRY my hardest not to expect too much. But then, there's the opposite--not expecting enough. Justifying bad patterns as "life" and not a deeper, more rooted issue in who they are becoming.
Tough call. I feel like I border between high-strung mommy and complacent mommy at almost every moment of my day. Obviously, I'm missing the personality that specializes in the gray area. Perhaps perfectionist mommy has her pinned in some sort of mud-wrestling competition, way deep in my psyche?