Let me start with yesterday. It was Sunday. My husband was not on call. He took 6 yo out to get him his special yellow belt gift, which was really a ruse for them to spend some time together. And yes, this guy got his yellow belt before his brother. I am strongly pro tae kwon do at this point for self-control.
We were planning to go to the Gem and Mineral Show. Both boys were up and dressed early. They ate breakfast quickly, unloaded the dishwasher and davened. 8 yo had his drum lesson and we got a good report from the teacher on his progress. Then, before we drove to the show, 8 yo folded and put away his laundry. The time was 10:15 am, and two chores were done!
My husband and 6 yo were planning to meet us at the show, so we drove there and wandered around a bit. 8 yo was very good about looking around and not touching without permission. He marveled at the fossils, recognized some minerals, watched the fluorescent rocks. He asked how a faceting machine works and got a personal demonstration. At another table, he was shown how grams are converted into carats and the price of a jewel is calculated. 2 yo had much harder time, first with not being able to see the high displays and then with not touching. I got both boys a mystery bag to add to their rock collection.
Then we all drove to the park where the kids played. 8 yo took turns giving and getting rides on a spin ride, 6 yo ran with some other boys pretending to be Spiderman with his new soaker glove and 2 yo found a girl to play with and to follow around. My husband pushed her on a swing for a bit. I got to sit back and relax. At some point, 8 yo walked over and told me about how he feels that the day is going just right and feels so perfect. That was encompassing my feeling in its entirety.
As we drove back, 8 yo was plotting on how to build his club house in the backyard. His plans included a shelf for games, a tent cover, bushes for infrastructure and for benches. He even asked me to turn the music off so that he could think. When we got home, he went right to it.
My husband got some sand and we filled up the punching bag base that I scored for free from boys' tae kwon do. Then it was dinnertime (falafel and ice cream), followed by showers and bed time. I was leaving to a fundraiser, so I just kissed boys on the way out the door and got a little speech from 6 yo about how kisses are good both for kids and grown-ups.
Today was miserable. We got up late, then we ended up rushing to go to a friend's house to play since there was supposed to be an art lesson for our 8 yer olds. We were rushing because I wanted to give them time to play before the class. The class was cancelled, but the kids did play. We got home around lunchtime. The boys went to the backyard while I was warming up lunch and writing the schedule. There was slow eating, resistance from 2 yo to taking a nap and then stalling before getting started on formal schoolwork. 6 yo wrote up Lashon HaTorah and then threw a major fit when I asked him to read what he wrote. Meanwhile 8 yo started on math, but he was working very slowly and sloppily, skipped some pages, got some problems wrong and did not memorize the table of threes like he was supposed to. Then 6 yo started on math and did that quickly. 8 yo moved on to spelling without bringing over any of the supplies or writing the date. 6 yo brought over Lama, decided that it was easy, but took forever to write his answers. 8 yo finally completed spelling, accused me of giving him the words that do not follow the rule and stomped and fumed. 6 yo moved on to his spelling where he got two of the review words wrong. I did not want to give him more words to study, so I told him just to study those two. Another major fit. 8 yo was ready for Lashon Hatorah, but the page was not to his liking. He expressed all his feelings about it. By now the time was 3:45 and I was done. 2 yo woke up from her nap, and I still had errands to run. I wrote up the chumash assignment for 8 yo, and told both boys that they will be completing their schoolwork later, on their own time.
8 yo told me later that he was all done, which elicited another fit from 6 yo who had literally two lines of work left. Turns out that 8 yo lied and did not do his work... and there was a water bottle spilled all over the car, and there was fighting over music or over silence, and over the granola bars and the car door was slammed without the light being turned off, and the wrappers were not in the garbage and it was all my fault!
By the time we got home, around 7 pm, I was tearing my hair out. I ordered everyone in pajamas and actually threatened not serving dinner. The boys did get pajamas on and sat on the couch, reading for a bit. I reheated the leftovers. After dinner, 8 yo lied, this time about brushing his teeth. Considering that we still have a dentist's bill from his previous three cavities, I do not find this to be a trivial matter. 6 yo decided that now is the time to go look for yet another stuffed animal to sleep with. Now I had three kids to tuck in by myself.
Did I mention that my husband is on call tonight?
So what went right yesterday and wrong today?
Now that I have cooled off myself and can think clearly, here are a few things:
- two adults vs. one adult
- split up kids, especially the temperamental 6 yo vs. having all three feed off each other's tantrums
- clearly spelled-out expectations for the day vs. flying by the seat of our pants
- more time to get things done vs. rushing to keep within certain time frames
- no written-up schoolwork vs. a formal list of assignments
- pleasant and expected activities (drumming, show, park) vs. drudgery (spelling, chumash, lashon hatorah)
- low-pressure weekend vs. high-pressure weekday
- day spent mostly outdoors vs. day spent mostly indoors
- feeding off a positive feeling that the day is going well and will keep on getting better vs. a yucky feeling that the day is bad and cannot be spoiled any further with more horribleness
- looking forward to a grown-up activity, alone vs. knowing that there is no end in sight (those leftovers are still waiting to be cleaned up...)
What can I take away from all of this, or, how can tomorrow be better?
For starters, tomorrow we do not have anything scheduled and I will keep it that way. Then, my husband should hopefully be home for dinner and bedtime, so I can try to see myself as being off-duty at that point. I can split the kids up between upstairs and downstairs. I will write up a clear list of schoolwork for the day, with pages and expectations. I will also promise park time in the afternoon if all the schoolwork is completed early. Finally, if the day is not going smoothly, and we are just butting heads, I will put myself in timeout, remember to breathe ( or have a drink), or call it quits rather than escalate the tension further. And I will try to get out of the house alone, even if it means sitting in Starbucks for 20 minutes because I cannot come up with any better plan.
We all have days like these...