Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life is tough no matter how old you are, but especially if you're almost 8..

preface: Do you have an 8 year old? Sam is almost 8 and while each of my kids are challenging Sam is my only kid who is learning or maybe, has learned to, push my buttons. 

I like Saturdays to be relaxed and I usually let the kids play games or toys or do whatever they want on Saturdays. No homework, no dishes, and no regular chores. 
But, before they can have free time I have them do a "weekend chore". Helping me clean the garage or shed, picking up the yard, rolling up sleeping bags, or sometimes just cleaning their rooms.
New sheets, vacuumed floor, clean out the closets. 
But no matter what we do they always have a good long bath and they gets their nails trimmed/ears cleaned. Our typical bathing schedule is about every other day, but it's usually in a hurry and they don't get to play until they're prunes and to make it special I paint nails on Saturdays too. 

This week Sam and Joe had spent the night at a friends house and they came home in the early afternoon. I could tell they were tired and I knew that they were on the verge of being sick, so I decided they would be allowed to play games/ watch TV for a couple of hours with the knowledge that afterwards they would clean their rooms and take baths. After that they were taking naps. They agreed and were happy for the change up in routine. 

Sam was especially cranky (he's typically very cranky on Saturdays) and so he was really adamant that he was not going to take a bath first. He is reading Charlie and the glass elevator and is really into it. 
I'm a nice person (aka. too tired to argue), so I said ok. 
Every week I bathe Sam then Joe and then refill the tub for the girls. No big deal, the girls can go first. So Joe takes a bath for about 10 minutes and then I tell Sam, "You're the last one. You need to get in now." He was compliant enough until he decided he needed warmer water. 
I told him, "Buddy, there's no more hot water and the tub is full of water that is really warm, almost hot. Just get in the tub." I leave and a second later he starts letting the water out. I rush back into the bathroom and put the plug in - luckily hardly any water had drained out.
"Sam!" I said calmly, "I said do not let the water out. There wont be any more hot water and you'll have to take a cold bath." He rolls his eyes, "Mom, it's okay there will be more hot water." this kid will argue a hind leg off a mule. I know when he gets into these moods that either I argue argue argue with him and fight with him until he's in tears and angry at me or I let him "win". I knew what kind of situation this was and so I very calmly explained in the best way I could why he shouldn't let the water out.
"Sam, because I run two baths every single weekend for you guys I KNOW for 100% that there is no hot water after two baths. You would have to wait about an hour before there to be any hot water to take another bath and I want you all to clean your rooms after your bath so that you can have quiet time at 3 o'clock." Sometimes when I take a deep breath and explain it to him he gets it and he wont argue anymore. 

NOT
TODAY. 

"Mom, I will just run half a bath and I KNOW for 100% sure that there WILL be hot water." I just looked at him for a second, made up my mind, then said, "Okay Sam. You have all the information to make a decision - either way you will be taking a bath right now. If you let the water out of the tub and there is no more cold water then you will have to take a cold bath." 
He shrugged and hustled me out of the bathroom. 

He lets the water out. 

A second later he calls to me from the bathroom. "HA!! Mom, you were right! There's no hot water!" then without even a seconds hesitation realizes this means he will be taking a COLD bath, starts sobbing - S.O.B.B.I.N.G. 

I decided at that point that he would just have to learn to trust/obey me. Now, I believe firmly that children are people and you shouldn't just go commanding them around all the time. I think you should always listen to their opinion and take the time to try to understand why they have these thoughts and if possible to respect their decision and try to let them have their own opinions. A lot of times you'll find a great teaching moment when you can tell them why their ideas are great or a lot of times, why they are not great! Kids feel respected when you take them seriously, I've learned that when you listen you will find not only hilarious commentary, but also sometimes good ideas. I wouldn't have let Joe, Molly, Lucy, or Iris empty the water, I would have made them keep it in, but Sam is growing up and is learning how to be independent and he hates to let me win. He wants to be smarter than me. He thinks he is smarter than me. At the moment he's not, but I am sure that one day in the not too distant future he will be. Until then I will try to guide him as best as I can. And until then I'm sure he'll continue to be a "know-it-all-do-it-all"

My mom calls it "8" as in, "Yup, he's 8 years old." Well he'll be 8 in March so he's almost 8. It's like when your 18 month old baby starts her terrible twos. lol.

Did I feel like a piece of dog poop making my kid take an ice cold bath? YES. 

But do you know what really topped off his crappy afternoon?

We have a rule if you splash over the tub you have to wipe it up with your towel. Every kid has their own colored towel. Everyone gets a chance at a dry towel, I don't care about how much laundry it creates. During his bath, which was not enjoyed one second so I'm sure he was only splashing because he was angry, he splashed water EVERYWHERE... 

So not only did he have to take a cold bath, he also had to use a cold wet towel. 

And I felt even worse for him when I then had to tell him, "Sorry you're having a tough afternoon, but you still need to clean your room. 

I wanted to blog about this because sometimes I read over past blogs and feel like they're all happy - oh we went to the Zoo, oh mt. rainier was so fun.
Parenting is not all fun and games and being a kid is just as hard.

I'd like to say I'm really confidant about how I handled it but honestly I'm not sure. I really did feel bad about it, and I'm not looking to raise mindless drones but sometimes you should just listen to your mom - and when you don't? Sometimes you learn a lesson the hard way.

After his nap we were able to have a great conversation; I asked him what he thought about what had happened during his bath.
He told me it was the worst feeling ever when he realized that I was right and that he was going to take a cold bath. He apologized for not believing me and said next time he'll take my advice. I was able to share with him that I want all my children to be happy and I hated that he had to take a cold bath but he needs to learn not to argue with me, that parents used to be kids and so a lot of times parents know things only because it's happened to them. Then I told him that a few weeks ago I tried to take a bath after the kids were down for quiet time and it had been over an hour and the water was still cold. He thought it was really funny.

I love parenting and I hate parenting. The part I hate is when I have to have tough love and have to make decisions all on my own. The part I love is when I see that my kids have learned something, the delight in their eyes when we have family movie night and carve pumpkins and bake the pumpkin seeds for them to munch on. I love childhood. I love to sit and listen to them playing together. I love that they all love each other, and I love that this life, this environment, this home was created by me and my best friend. I especially love watching Jerry be a great Dad and I love seeing little parts of us in the kids.

A side story. ;)
We had to go out and pick up a couple of dress clothes items for Jerry. His boss has asked him to run a training class this week and he needs to wear business dressy. Tie, black pants, shiny black shoes... not his usual jeans, button up and hiking boots. Coincidentally Macy's was having their one day sale so we decided we would just go and try to finish quickly. The kids were all not feeling well and so we were loaded with patience when we arrived.
The kids were AWESOME. It took about an hour to get the things we needed and for Jerry to try them on. Afterwards when we were leaving the saleswoman from a different department came over and asked me if our kids were always so good. I said, "I make no promises, but they are great kids and are usually pretty good." and kind of laughed. She asked how do you do it? and I told them what I believe is the truth: "They have an awesome Dad." and she said the sweetest thing that actually brought tears to my 25 weeks pregnant self, "It looks like they have an awesome Mom too." And she patted my arm in the older lady 'I'd like to hug you but that would be weird' way.

Sometimes it really feels good to hear that I'm doing a good job too.

Anyway, thoughts from the real world. ;)


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