Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes everybody loses

We've been going through a difficult time at home with Oscar. His behavior has been it's very worst - impulsive, defiant, testing boundaries both here and at school.

It's been...a challenge, to say the least. It can be difficult dealing with a spirited, emotional child when you yourself are a spirited, emotional adult.

I have been working hard though, changing the way I parent, the language I use in my head to describe Oscar's behaviors, trying new strategies to help him recognize when he loses control and to help him regain control. It's hard because when he loses control, it makes me lose control so I have to work extra hard to keep myself in check because if I lose it, he loses it times three.

This has been a mostly good week. Like I said, we are doing things differently, talking to each other differently, listening differently, naming behaviors, developing solutions together. It hasn't been perfect - we are learning and changing together - but it has been better. I feel better and I know Oscar feels better.

Today was a difficult morning. Nelson was home, which is a change in routine and that is always tough on Oscar. When I got in the shower, I asked Nelson to get the boys moving getting dressed. When I got out of the shower, it became clear that Oscar had lost control and that Nelson was handling it poorly.

Now, I don't mean this as a criticism of Nelson. Oscar's behavior can be quite frustrating and infuriating when he's lost control. It can be a real challenge helping him regain control without losing it yourself, and I recognize this. We cannot be perfect parents all the time, and that's okay.

Oscar was running around the upstairs, laughing manically, ignoring Nelson, jumping on beds, throwing things and generally showing no impulse control whatsoever. As I got out of the shower I heard Nelson say, "Just go to your room! I don't even want to be around you right now!"

"No, Nelson, we do NOT speak to him that way," I told him and quickly jumped in to help Oscar regain control.

Oscar was still running, so I grabbed him, looked him in the eye, and said something like, "Oscar, you are misbehaving right now and you know that. I need you to go in your room, get your bunny and smell his paw for a minute so you can calm down." He went into his room, but it took a few more minutes of coaxing to get him to relax and listen. I explained that he needed to get dressed and that then he and I would pick out a book for his book share today.

He got up and starting leaving the room a few times, but I quickly reminded him that he needed to make the choice to calm himself down, and that he knew how to do that, and that I was confident he could. A few moments later, I came into his room and he was dressed and sorting through his books.

Unfortunately, that was only the first battle of the morning. He picked a fight we me again when I was packing his lunch and soliciting his input on what fruit he'd like. He wanted none. We compromised on a fruit leather.  But he was not happy. The words said by Nelson in the morning had a really negative impact.

When we got to school, he refused to get out of the car. I told him his actions would have consequences, and that he would not be allowed to have a fudgesicle after school.

He got out of the car, but ran away from me as we were walking up to school. I had to chase him and hold him by the wrist to get him into the building.

This is where I fell apart, because I was feeling embarrassed by his behavior, and angry because I'd been working so hard all morning and STILL Oscar could not keep it together. He went boneless and I had to physically drag him to his classroom while he laughed at me. I had to put hand sanitizer on his hands and lift him and place him, thrashing and crying, into his classroom. I passed him off to his teacher and left.

It was tough. I felt terrible. All the way back to the car, I kept thinking of all the things I should have done. I should have listened to him - he was telling me he was tired, that he did not want to go to school. I should have responded to him, validated him, reassured him that the day would be good. I should not have chased him or dragged him to his classroom. I should have waited patiently until he was ready to go.

I did so much right this morning, and yet I still managed to get it all wrong. It's definitely worth the effort, I know, but I'm feeling defeated and it's only 10:00 a.m.

Thankfully, I have three more hours to recharge before I pick him up and we try all this again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is it summer yet? We are obsessing.

We've had a couple of early warm days here in DC, so warm that we went ahead an popped in the window units this weekend. Like a lot of the older homes in our area, we are sans central air. It's a little tragic, but mostly we keep on keeping on. I think we're going to get a new unit for the downstairs. The one we have has to be 10 years old if it's a day, and it's just not keeping up with our hot, swampy summers.

Pretty much every single day the boys ask me if it's summer yet. Oscar is ready to be out of school, they are excited for the pool to reopen, they want to go camping again, Oscar is looking forward to his birthday. Pretty much every single day I tell them that no, it's still spring, but summer will be here before we know it. Our first camping trip is only two and a half weeks away, and it's at the beach!  A great way to start our summering.

This year I decided not to send Oscar to any camp. He hated it last year and I had to drag him every day, and it was terrible. He's going to get a real summer this year, no stupid camp. Let see how much I regret that decision, shall we? Place your bets.

I'm sort of obsessed with online summertime clothing shopping as well. I never have time to go to the store, so I end up buying a bunch of stuff online and returning half of it. It works for me. I'm currently eyeing this new swimsuit from Lands End but I haven't been able to commit to spending $90 on a new suit when I got a new suit last year. But I really like this new one because it has short bottoms. Short bottoms! The one I got last year has the mom swim skirt and it's okay, but the short bottoms seem really cute.

Our Popsicle and Fudgesicle supply has been restocked. The whole not having central air thing necessitates lots of iced treats in the summer. In fact, I rate the heat of the day by how many Popsicles are required to aid in cooling down. For example, your average summer day would probably be a One Popsicle Day, but a scorcher, when it's in the upper 90s, low 100s - that's gonna be more like a Three Popsicle Day, maybe even Four if you had several hot ones in a row. So, yeah, we go through a lot of Popsicles in the summer.

Tomorrow I'll also finish off Phase One of the summer clothing transition for the boys. I'll officially pack up all their long-sleeved shirts, winter coats, mittens, hats, boots, undershirts to make way for the rest of the T-shirts. They be in long pants on and off probably until mid-May, so I'll leave four or five pair of those out until then. Two giant plastic bins have been sitting in the third bedroom for weeks, since I started Phase One, and I'm dying to get them into the attic. DYING. Like, every time I look at those bins and the heap of clothing amassed on top of them I get stomach cramps. I need order back in my life.

The weather today is gorgeous, but the pollen is killer so we can't even fully enjoy it. We end up having to come in because Miles William claims there are "claws" in his eyes. Can you imagine? Poor bear.

Alright, I have to go wash the Fudgsicle from my children's faces and put gas mask on Miles so I can get these goons outside for a bit.

Tell me, are you gearing up for summer? Enjoying spring? Still stuck in the cold?