Tuesday, November 12, 2013

butting heads

Yesterday, we had one of those homeschooling days that look so good on paper and make people want to homeschool their kids. I had a dental appointment first thing in the morning, so I left my husband in charge of getting kids started on their schoolwork. So I got to get out by myself and take care of my health. The boys finished everything on their list by 11, before the baby woke up from his nap. Then we drove to JCPenney to take a family picture. My husband met us there. Afterwards, he went back to work and we went bike riding on a wooded trail near the mall. We saw deer. Then we came home, 9 yo played on his DS while I made tacos for dinner, their favorite, and one of my easiest meals. After dinner, my MIL came over, and I took 9 yo on a one-to-one outing to Costco.

Sounds so ideal, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, it did not go as smoothly as it sounds. While I was at the dentist, and my husband was in charge, 7 yo was supposed to copy number words for his spelling. My husband wrote them in script. 7 yo promptly threw a fit, since he cannot copy script. My husband wrote them all in capitals, and 7 yo copied them just like that. By the time I got back and saw this, I rewrote them in lowercase, and he copied those, too. He also threw a fit about a page of translations in Lashon HaTorah, while 9 yo objected to his mishna assignment. All the time, I was telling the kids that we will need to change into white shirts before we take this photo, and the kids were not listening. Next thing I know, we are running late, 7 yo is throwing a fit that he does not want to wear his shabbos shirt and he does not want to take a picture, while 9 yo is throwing a fit that he wants to be dropped off at home right after the picture because he does not want to go bike riding, he much rather play DS. 7 yo compromised by packing clothes to change into before we go bike riding. Then 3 yo is melting down in the car; she was wearing her jacket, but she does not want to be buckled up on top of her jacket. And I am trying to grab my sheitel and do some sort of make-up. Heck, we are only doing this picture because I got a Groupon and because the last (and only) family picture we took was when 3 yo was 9 months.

So we are driving in the car in silence, since I totally blew my lid. I did not have any lunch, either. And I forgot to pack up water.

When we got to JCPenney, we loosen up, but  now the baby is getting tired, so every time I hold him and try to face him towards the camera, he turns around, looking to nurse. Then I keep on blinking and ruining all those nice shots where everyone else is looking at the camera. Then the boys start making faces. Then 3 yo starts to sulk. Finally, there are some shots which would pass.

I take off my sheitel and tell 7 yo to change into his bike riding clothes. He discovers that he did not bring the bag that he packed. I take them all to the car, hoping that his bag was left there. 9 yo continues his whine how he much rather go home. The bag is not in the car, but I have a bag with emergency change of clothes for all the kids (too many summer wadings). 7 yo changes, strewing his shabbos clothes all over the van. The baby starts his pre-nap growling. We start driving, looking for the parking for this trail. Thankfully, I found it right away. As soon as we get there, the boys unload their bikes and hop right on.  Now 3 yo starts her thing about how she does not want to walk... the baby continues humming to himself, trying to fall asleep. The boys shoot ahead on their bikes, we are moseying along at our pace. Then the boys come back, asking how long it will be taking us to catch up.

I just want to stroll on this warm afternoon, and enjoy the last warm rays of the sun. I just want a bit of quiet. I just want someone to admit that they are having a good time.

We crossed a few bridges, saw ducks and deer grazing in the woods. A stag actually bounded right in front of us, crossing the trail. The boys talked and biked, 3 yo took her time to crunch up the leaves, the baby fell asleep.

Soon, we headed back, to beat the afternoon traffic. As soon as we got home, 9 yo went straight to his DS. I told him, for half an hour. When the time was up, I reminded him to save his game and get off. 7 yo came as an ambassador to notify me that he's in the middle of the battle and will not be getting off in 2 minutes. I said, he either needs to get out, or just to shut it down. He did not comply. I pried the DS away from him. He jumped up in rage, bumped his head on the upper bunk. Next thing, both boys are hysterically yelling at me about how the battle and the game are messed up. And I'm yelling back that I will put DS in the garbage.

I am trying to get the kids to set the table for dinner, but 9 yo is majorly upset. He tells me how deprived he feels of DS time, how other average homeschool kids get more time to play computer games. I do not  have a lot of patience at this point. 7 yo takes a different tack, that of appeasement: he keeps complimenting the food, and thanks me for all the good things that happened today. 9 yo says: "Thanks for the good AND the bad" and breaks down, crying. I give him a minute. Then he asks to do something one-on-one. I tell him how we need an adult to watch the other kids in order to go out.

That's when my MIL comes over and I decide: I need to go to Costco anyway, it is only 6 pm and I can take just him. I ask him whether he would like to do this as an outing, and he agrees. 7 yo's immediate reaction: what about me? But I am firm, and off we go.

We end up talking a bit, and hanging out. He pushes the cart and comments how light it is, without his siblings inside. He plays around, switching the carts in the parking lot. We watch a Vitamix demonstration, where the guy makes spinach "ice cream". I joke that next time I should put spinach in his smoothie and he giggles. He makes me compare the nutritional facts on the crackers and I discover that Ritz is just as healthy as nearby funky seeded cracker. We get to the diapers and we see that Kirkland and Huggies brand are exact same price per diaper and same amount of diapers in a box, yet the boxes are differently shaped. He starts figuring out whether this brand of diapers is more squished than that, and tells me how he would need to measure the area of one side of the box and multiply it by height. I sort of do not care at this point, so I pick the box that is easier to stick under the cart.

When we get to the car, he tells me how he wants to have a day with no rules, which translates into a day of unlimited DS time. I mull it over and tell him that I will let him know in the morning.

Well, the baby decides to throw a two-hour yelling fit in the middle of the night. I rock him, my husband rocks him, but I do not nurse. Around 6:30 am, the door to my bedroom opens, in marches 9 yo hauling his awake baby brother: "Here!' And can I have a day with no rules?" I am still trying to open my eyes. "Yes, you can, just daven and get dressed first."

He is calling it a day with not rules. I'm calling it a mental health day.

Do you end up butting heads with your kids that much?


  1. I love reading about your days. You are a great mom and an excellent writer!

  2. Some days are like that in out family. Some days I need to have that mental health day too. But I have found that the next day after one of those is even harder to get back into the swing since their "normal" was altered and that is their new "normal". Hugs!

  3. I feel like you are describing exactly what happens in our house every time we go for a family portrait and every time my son plays with DS. The family portraits always end up being painful for everybody, and I always have to fight with my son to put away the DS. I even bought a special device from Japan that replaces battery of DS so that it times down after a half hour of play and then battery is dead. That was the only way to avoid the fights while letting him have a little time to play DS. But I don't have to enforce the time limit anymore.

  4. My 7 yo seems to cry every single day. I'm sure that's not normal. Every day?

    1. While I will not even pretend to try to figure this one out, is there a particular trigger? Time of day? Activity? Something you say?
      Did you try asking him/her what it's all about?

      Parenting is tough. Always has been, always is.