Wednesday, April 11, 2007

calling for back up

Right now I am (obviously) sitting at the computer in my basement office. Moses is screaming himself silly upstairs on the top bunk. Everyone else is at mid-week classes at church.

It's been a long afternoon. Mo had a field trip today, which I think wore him out. He was upset at dinner because he didn't get the chair he wanted. Why not? Because he got mad a week ago and threw that chair down and knocked a screw out so the seat fell off. I haven't fixed it yet. He says the other chairs hurt his back. No one else seems to mind them, but he does, and threw a fit over it.

And then I wouldn't give him his dinner plate because he hadn't unpacked his lunchbox. On Tuesday morning when Easter break was over I went to pack his lunch and found the left overs from THURSDAY'S lunch. Gross. Initially the rule was you don't get snack after school until you've emptied the lunch box. But after school is such a chaotic rush that I always froget to enforce it--so now it's no dinner. He freaked out. He told me I was being mean. He said I didn't seem very sorry that he was crying. I told him I wasn't sorry I was sticking to my rules, but I was sorry he was so sad about it. Of course emptying his lunch box took about 30 seconds and then he got his dinner--but he cried for 20 minutes about it.

Then it was time to leave for church. Moses had a book in his hand and I asked him to put it down. He said he wanted to bring it. When I told him no he launched into another fit. I told him, "We don't take anything to class with us. It's one more thing to keeep track of AND your teacher already has your class all planned. You won't have time for that book." It's another sort of standard rule. You don't take stuff to class. You don't bring toys in the store. Not something crazy I just made up. He looked at me like I had personally insulted him.

The fit continued as we crossed the street. Oliver and Phoebe skipped off to class Moses skulked in the hallway. I said I wasn't leaving until he went into his class room. He skulked. I stood there. He skulked. I heard his class starting up. I tried to coax him in. I tried to make small talk to distract him. He skulked. I offered hugs and kisses. I cracked jokes. Skulked. I finally said, "you can go to class or go to bed." He skulked. I repeated myself. He skulked. I said , "you can choose or I will choose for you. which do you want to do?" Skulked. I said, "I'm counting to three. You choose by three or I will choose for you." I counted. He skulked. I calmly took him by the hand and marched him back across the street.

He's now in his bed screaming. Still. It's been twenty-five minutes. I'm starting to feel like an ogre. I'm doing the right thing here, right? (Now is the time where you affirm me. If you think I'm crazy, save it for another day. I am in need of affirmation here, people.)


jill said...

You're so totally right.

And it so totally sucks.

K did the screaming thing a couple of times last summer, as in when the windows were wide open and everyone was playing outside, and finally, as an act of self defense, I started loudly responding, "I hope it makes you feel better to be screaming like that all alone upstairs," as in, "see, Neighbors--the pastor is not beating her child, as it sounds from outside, no doubt!"

All part of the journey...You always seem to be doing a great job with them, Em.

Melanie said...

absolutely right. i LOVE logical consequences...they are just so reasonable and understandable and so like the real world. sorry you had such a harrowing night. michael is gone to boston for a week, and i could SO use backup, too.

Hope said...

So how did it end? Did he fall asleep or did you go in for a heart to heart? Did he ever calm down? I feel for you because I've been there and it saps you of energy. Power back up because you never know when it will strike again!

emdunbar said...

Thank you, ladies, for your encouragement. Moses yelled for an hour. I went up at the half way point and he yelled at me that he'd changed his mind and wanted to go to class now. He also had totally stripped his bed and himself and was laying in his underpants on a bare matress. At the end of an hour I made him get dressed and go with me to pick his siblings up. He was worn out and still snuffling but not so mad at me. I got a few hugs and kisses and "i'm sorry you missed class. i'm sorry your so sad. i love you so much" 'es in without much protest from him. I dropped them all off with Paul at church and then I went to a meeting. When I got home it was as if nothing ever happened. The real test will be to see if he empties his lunch box, complains about his chair, or tries to take things with him to class.

Carey Gardiner said...

Gosh. Okay, I am not a parent. And I truly admire all of you who are. I have to say that I think that you are doing so many good things, Emily, like staying cool in the midst of all of these meltdowns. Like acknowledging that Moses is sad. Like sticking to the rules and making them (and the consequences) consistant. I think that he will probably feel a whole lot safer in the world with some boundaries. I heard this thing on Oprah one time and I really liked it. She talked about kids being like foreigners on this earth and parents (and other adults, I guess) being their guides into the world. I think you are doing a good job in helping all your kids learn how to "be" in the world.

Steven Lincoln said...

You are right! And it looks like others are able to back it up with actual stories -- no kids here to teach me!

emdunbar said...

thanks everybody. how wonderful to be able to say "tell me I'm okay" and have everybody jump in and do just that. you guys are great.