25 January 2009

Assorted Thoughts.

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
Wet hair
Shampoo on hair
Rinse hair
knees, feet, butt (that means take a washcloth and some soap and wash these areas, please!!!)
Rinse
drain
Out

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??

Little steps.

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. :]

16 comments:

  1. ah! Sometimes a good dose of someone else's reality is nice to hear. Makes me chaos seem like one of the crowd!

    So yeah, I get it, been there, am there.. thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh how I can relate to most of your post today! I had 6 kids in 10 years... and some days I just felt like screaming! Griffin hates showers too.. and MUST have a bath too! And B and G cannot do up laces either! *sigh* Motherhood is not all it's cracked up to be sometimes!

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  3. Frankly, I'm amazed that you have six kids and still manage to oh, bang out thoughtful pieces on your blog and stuff like that :) I remain quite mystified by how mothers manage to walk into a store, and walk out with everyone and everything still intact. Let alone find time to shower! I mean, I had a "hectic" day because my dog wouldn't stop humping other dogs at the dog park this afternoon! And here you are, shepherding an entire family through life. You're amazing, regardless of whose hair looks like what!

    Is it only the enclosed space of a shower that Elf is scared of, or does the sound of running water from the showerhead also scare him? I can imagine how all those noises might be sensory over-load. Personally, I'm with Elf...baths are more fun :)

    I like your idea of the post-it note. Could you do a homemade laminate job with clear packing tape?

    Oh, I really like that you pray together as a family. I'm actually really envious of that - I wish I had that growing up :)

    I'll pray that you enjoy some calmness and cooperation in the very near future.

    Allison

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  4. Gosh. I thought I was the only one disappointed in myself sometimes. I see some perfect mommies that can always keep the house clean, their kids in perfect clean clothes, and all their food, even their hamburger buns, are homemade. Then I look at myself and wonder what humor God saw in making me in the way I am. I am not lazy, I just don't have the "perfect" gene or whatever it would be. :P

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  5. It's okay. :) You don't have to say anything. You are a good enough friend that just sharing with you is enough. I felt really attacked. Like they made me feel like an unfit mother. Made me sad. But... when she came and said she was impressed by everything and closed the case, it did make me feel better. Still, it was all so embarassing.

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  6. Well I'm glad to see you finally complaining a little...with 6 kids and almost no blog posts about how hard it is I was beginning to think you had servants : P

    Personally I don't know how I am going to survive when my little one is able to roll over.

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  7. Catherine, you'll adjust to a new normal and stop leaving the steak knives on the floor. :]

    Virginia, you are in my prayers.

    Allison, I have JUST GOTTEN a laminating machine. SO now I have motivation to learn to use it and stick a FULL PAGE instruction on "how to take a bath." Oh, yeah. Thanks!

    Chris, lemme know when you figure out how to teach laces LOL!

    Julee ((hugs)) you betcha you'd fit in here! :]

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  8. Praying for you, Mrs. C. You've got a full plate, and kids get to an age where they just know their own minds, don't they?

    You are doing a great job. We may not see the fruits of our labors until they are older, but we will see them. And hopefully, the little buggers will make good choices.

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  9. I loved this post for so many reasons. Mostly because I have felt so alone in my struggle to BE the perfect Mom I want to be so badly. I think having adopted kids makes people scrutinize you more. I have actually been told things like--"you're not a real mother" or "when you have your own kid things will be different." It's gross really and I try not to listen--but it all makes me want to be the BEST mom I can be for my kids. So I get really upset with myself when we all stay in our pajamas until noon or the breakfast dishes haven't been done by dinner time. Thanks for making me feel like I am not alone in my struggle to be a great Mom. BTW--you are doing an awesome job. You and yours will be in our prayers! Love--Bonnie

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  10. Bonnie - those comments are absolutely obscene! I don't even have kids, and comments like that sicken me. (And I believe remaining in one's pajamas is an occasional indulgence necessary to one's sanity.)

    Allison

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  11. Ditto what Allison said. Except for the my not having kids part. :]

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  12. I would have related to your post when my kids were younger and I have only too. I always loved Charlotte Mason's approach to habit training, but I was never as consistent as I ought to have been!

    Concerning Elf, every child has their own timetable. Pamela still needs help washing her hair and brushing her teeth but has learned to do so much more by herself. She still likes dolls and kids television. That is because she is a person! People have their own timeline and their own interests. It is what makes the world an interesting place!

    With Elf, the key might be scaffolding. Adjusting how much you support him to that day. Some days he might be able to do more on his own than others. Well-timed, warm, encouraging support that does not smother or stifle can go a long way with our kids.

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  13. Scaffolding! Wow, I hadn't thought of scaffolding in terms of "life skills" so much before. Mostly academics. Good idea!

    As you know, you WANT to let your kid go but some days it can be difficult to see that what you really have to do can be perceived as smothering? The bath, though, I'd like him doing totally independently by puberty if at *all* possible.

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  14. I can relate!! I can! And I only have one child. Phew, the conversation we just had went like this:
    me: what do you want for lunch?
    her: *talks about something irrelevant for five minutes*
    me: what do you want for lunch?
    her: sorry, um, *talks about something ELSE irrelevant for five minutes*
    me: you still haven't told me what you want for lunch *leaves room and sits down*
    her: um, chicken?
    me: you wait until I sit down to tell me you want something that needs to be cooked? Get it yourself.
    her: *throws hissy fit and stalks off to bedroom*
    me: *throws hissy fit and refuses to make lunch for ANYBODY*

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  15. It would be nice if our kids could do what we want without us telling them a million times. That would be real nice.

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  16. LOL Tracey, my kids would be very happy if they could make everything themselves. My kitchen, not so much. :]

    DaddyForever, I have it narrowed down to about ten or twelve times coupled with a few threats of "no this" or whatever if you don't. Try that instead. It's still frustrating to repeat 10 or 12 times, but if you can reduce it from a million you're going to save your voice a lot of talkin'.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)