I feel like I must be more specific in all my dealings with children. Every utterance must have several subparagraphs covering each eventuality and what to do in every case. When I speak, no matter how urgent the request, I must keep my tone even and THEN I must be understanding when someone "didn't hear" me speak. (several times) Any misunderstandings are always, always MY fault.
Oh! And I am not allowed to make up new rules. That wouldn't be "fair."
This entire week, I've had Patrick and G stumble out of bed at 6:30, pack a ziplock of breakfast cereal and their lunch, brush their teeth and run out the door. Prayers are unsaid. I get zero help with dishes and getting the other children ready for their day. In short, I feel treated unfairly. Bet God does, too. But, I know my limits and unless GOD comes down and changes things 'round, in our family unless we sit down and pray in the morning, it just plain old isn't happening. Sorry, God.
The "rule" is that you must be up, dressed, lunch packed and breakfast made by 6:10 or bedtime's at 8 p.m. Now, *just* because I haven't enforced this rule, doesn't mean I can't clamp down and put it back into effect any ol' time. Just because you get away with something for a while because Mom doesn't want to be a mean nag and she gives grace sometimes, doesn't mean that the sixth time you pull it that there aren't consequences. And I can't clean the kitchen, wash and change children, straighten the homeschool stuff and settle everyone down for the day within ten minutes so that we begin homeschool on time and be ready for therapy at the SAME TIME that I'm watching everybody.
Just so you know. We're getting to the point where Mom is going to charge you $2 for school lunches because the kitchen MUST close at 6:40 if I'm to get my work done on time. That's all I'd need when the therapist arrives, bunches of peanut butter and sandwich bread all over my kitchen, the children unchanged and smelling of last night's potty diapers... my Elf's hair uncombed and everywhere, cereal on the table and assorted dirty dishes. Laundry not started. Beds unmade. Hey, some days "cleaning the bathroom" means flushing the toilet and making sure there's a clean towel, ok? So Mom's going to start clamping down soon because you guys don't seem to get this "grace" thing. You're given "grace" because I know you're not perfect (not being perfect myself) and it's not meant to be license for you to do whatever you want and leave me in the lurch for everything. I want YOUR stuff done by 6:30, you can watch the children for ten minutes while I clean the kitchen and make the beds, we pray for five minutes and then out the door you go. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK???!! WAAAH!
I hate being like that, though. Everyone can have a bad day and I let things slide sometimes. But it's getting ridiculous and I'm almost always the person who picks up the slack. I say "almost always" and not "always" because out of perhaps a billion toilet paper roll changes or after-breakfast kitchen cleanups or whatever, someone might do this job once or twice. This loses me the "always" claim. Sigh. I hate grammar at times like this.
Suppose you really have to go to the bathroom for 20 minutes right after dinner and can't help Mom with a toddler downstairs so she can watch the baby, who's still eating. Stuff like that happens, but it isn't very safe for me to leave the baby, run and peek at the toddler, and run back to the baby etc. all the time. Soon Mom becomes the meanie and says QUIT going to the bathroom right after dinner. But from their side, what kind of nasty person doesn't let you go potty fer crying out loud? (Um, the mom who sees her toddler can rock the booster seat and is dangerous there after eating, but doesn't want the baby to starve when she sends the toddler downstairs. That's who.)
Well, I'm just blowing off steam here. What will probably happen is that I'll make up some new rule that no one will follow, and I'll be disrespected when I try to enforce it. Yes, these are my children. Yes, I suppose I totally am a bad parent that my children don't fall into line right away with instant, *cheerful* obedience. Sorry to disappoint you. Frankly, I have disappointed myself. However, that being said, I can't force obedience from children who are still taller than me when they are slouching.
I can sure make their lives miserable, though. That alone gives me hope. :] OK, thanks for listening to that part of the post. I try to console myself that at least my kids aren't driving and doing drugs, but Patrick is a smartie and says, "How do you know any of that? You don't KNOW." Ok, I'm guessing based on available evidence. The children get $2 per week allowance, which I don't suppose buys much cocaine in today's market, let alone lots of gas money and a car I don't know about. Plus they come home from school every day. So, unless the school lets the kids out for drugs and cruisin' time, I'm pretty assured not much of that is going on. Hey, public schools are NOT that bad in this area. Things could be a lot worse. Maybe they are some places.
In other news, Elf has been "resistant" to getting his hair combed. This has been quite the battle and results in extreme difficulty when we finally have to go somewhere. I've gotten to the point where I've told the child that you WILL get your hair combed every morning after breakfast. He hates it. But without that habit there, things get difficult and Elf doesn't do the combing well himself. I would like to hand these chores over to the younger children and they can be responsible for combing their own hair, clipping their own nails, and etc. I think the older children took these tasks upon themselves at an earlier age, but I'm not sure how I made them do this. Elf is very upset even at the idea of going into the shower. Screaming and fighting and literally freaking out. I can't force a naked child into a wet box like that or he might break a leg. He is afraid of the enclosed space and I don't want to traumatize him. So he must have a bath. He's allergic to many soaps. So it's baby shampoo. Just tell me what that looks like to an "outsider," that I have a child who is almost nine who insists he is an Elf and must be bathed in the tub with his ducky and baby shampoo. Go ahead and say it. :]
I have posted a post-it note with all the steps to taking a bath in the tub for Elf and Emperor and things worked well for a while before the note lost its sticky. I need to make another one of these so the children don't need MOM constantly. But on the sticky note, you can't just write "take a bath" or "wash your hair." Here's what I wrote:
Look for a towel. (That's a big step, ok?!)
Pull plug shut
Turn on water
Shampoo on hair
knees, feet, butt (that means take a washcloth and some soap and wash these areas, please!!!)
Then the children can get their own clothes on, but I have to pick them out first and lay them on the bed. I'm looking forward to more progress in this area. But honestly I am having a VERY DIFFICULT time teaching Elf and Emperor to be independent. We have shoe lace puzzles, but they can't lace them. Elf is nearly nine! How am I going to do this??
Wish me the best as we go to church this morning and Elf is going to say "hello" to everyone. He is going to try to make eye contact with everyone who says "hi" to him today. He is going to sit nicely. Ok. I'm off to take a shower and then head out. :]