**I have to warn you about this post. It’s a bit long, detailed and emotional, but I really wanted to capture a snippet of all the mind-numbing crap that parents have to go through every single day!
One morning, my husband took ONE of our children out to play football, then for a trip to the hardware store, then to hang out at a café… basically, they enjoyed some rare one-on-one time together.
I was left at home with the other two kids – which is usually excellent. A change in dynamics is always good for everyone.
However, this day, there was a mountain of laundry and chores that needed to be done at home, toilets to be cleaned, floors to be vacuumed… and frankly I couldn’t be assed.
It was such a gorgeous day outside!
I decided to go for a spontaneous outing and take my two kids to the river. I was excited!
My idea was to take scooters for my boys, so they could scoot along on the long, smooth path, while I ran alongside them. I was so proud of my decision. They get to do something outdoorsy and energetic and yes I get to run! I’m always happy when I exercise!
Then I would buy myself a takeaway coffee, and ice cream and cookies for the kids. And we’ll hang around the large playground and sand pit. The boys thought it was a great idea too.
Perfect, easy morning right?
BUT. As we arrived at the river, my big boy developed a really shitty attitude.
He was grumpy, irritable and aggressive towards his little brother. He was having a kind of passive-aggressive tantrum… and he was saying random, crabby things and not making any sense.
I was very gentle and reasonable with him, at first. Asking what’s wrong, how does he feel and why, talking about ways he can make himself feel better, maybe he needs to sit alone for a few minutes to calm down before his feelings come out in the wrong way? I suggested that he take a walk to the edge of the river by himself, look at the water and then come back, while I took the scooters out of the car.
He did not want to be at the river. He wanted to be at home playing computer games.
I lightly reminded him that we were supposed to be washing toilets at home, so JUST CHEER THE F**K UP.
(Ok I didn’t actually say that to him.)
He immediately got into a hitting fight with his little brother, pushing him out of the way, grabbing a hat and throwing it into his brother’s face, who then got poked in the eye.
Trouble Number 1.
So I had to deal with a tantruming boy (with a big long lecture and a time out) and a crying boy (with a cuddle).
My little boy (Liam) quickly settled down, and had NO PROBLEM being cheerful again.
While my older boy moaned unpleasantly on the grass (because he was in time out), my little boy and I spelt our names out with body poses (see the L, I, A and M in the pics?) and rolled around laughing. He was so cute and funny and so UNCOMPLICATED. I guess it just comes with that age. He was just happy to hang out, chat about birds, look at simple stuff and just enjoy being alive.
Trouble Number 2.
My older boy started to shout out nasty insults and negative comments towards us about our letter spelling. I had to scold him again and gave him another warning that there would be consequences for any more unacceptable behaviour.
I figured that his mood might change once we started to burn some energy. So we started our walk and my little boy scooted off happily.
But my big boy was being very uncooperative again.
Trouble 3 and 4.
He decided that he didn’t want to be on the scooter. He wanted to walk. So he started to drag his scooter angrily across the path. It ruins the metal finish of the scooter and makes it susceptible to rust. I firmly pointed out to him NOT to drag his scooter. If he didn’t want to ride his scooter, he can put it back into the car himself. I gave him the car keys, with instructions to put it carefully into the boot of the car, then to come back to where we were standing. He refused to do that and threw my car keys into the grass.
I made him pick it up and give it to me. Which he did. I was near boiling point. I very calmly told him that he was displaying poor behaviour AGAIN, and now he was not going to have any screen time for 3 days. I gave him suggestions on how to make things better from this point on, and another warning for even more consequences if he didn’t change his behaviour.
I also reminded him that I had promised everyone ice cream and cookies, and he didn’t actually have to DO ANYTHING to earn it – EXCEPT TO BE FREAKING HAPPY!!
He calmed down a bit, but he was still in a bad-temper.
I decided to give him yet another chance.
(I was PRETTY PISSED OFF, but I just wanted to get some freaking exercise!)
It took all of my willpower to decided that *I* would scoot on *his* scooter, and he could walk. I kind of made a deal – I’ll do this for you, only if you’re going to cheer up.
After internalising it for a few minutes, he agreed.
I reached out to take the scooter from him, but he didn’t pass the scooter to me nicely. He suddenly tossed it to the ground *just* before it was near my hand. Then he ran off after his little brother, pushed his little brother roughly off his scooter onto the ground and decided that he wanted to ride the LITTLE SCOOTER NOW. WHAT THE HELL??
Trouble 5, 6 and 7!
OMG I totally lost it!
I shouted at him from across the park (yes like one of THOSE mothers!) I huffed over to him, grabbed him by the arm and pulled him off the path, into the middle of the grassy field (so no one had to listen to me yell at my kid!).
It went along the lines of “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?! DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO A WORD I WAS SAYING?? DO YOU THINK THAT PUSHING YOUR BROTHER ONTO THE GROUND WAS A GOOD THING TO DO?? WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU DID THAT?!? I GAVE YOU SO MANY CHANCES TO CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOUR!!! I’VE BEEN TRYING TO BE PATIENT WITH YOU ALL MORNING AND HELPING YOU MAKE THINGS RIGHT AND YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME AND NOW I’M SHOUTING AND SCREAMING AT YOU BECAUSE I’M SO FRUSTRATED WITH YOU!!!“
And yep. I swore at him. I really wanted to wrap the scooter around his head. Instead I listed out a zillion punishments for him to enjoy over the next week.
Seriously what was up with this kid?!
I had absolutely no idea what to do now. I was FURIOUS!!
If I was at home, I would confine him to his room for the rest of the day so I didn’t have to look at him or talk to him!
But I SOOOOOO DID NOT WANT GO HOME. Because that’s what HE WANTED. WHICH MEANS HE WON RIGHT?? He gets what HE wants by behaving like a shit head to me?? NO DEAL!!
Grrrrrrrrr. The anger!
I could feel the grey hairs of stress and anxiety popping out of my skull.
Blood booooooiling in my veins. Fingernails growing into pointy claws.
AAARGH! I could not believe that we had only been out of the house for 45 minutes!
And here we were. Standing in this beautiful grassy field, over-looking the sparkling river, with the sun was blazing down on us… I was dying for a run, dying to have a good time, dying for the kids to just be happy… and I was very aware that my whole day could be totally ruined by this!
After a whole lot of deep breathing and counting to 10. I cooled down a bit thought of a way to salvage this.
I decided to skip the whole scooter and run, and head to the café to buy myself a coffee and my little boy a cookie. My big boy would just miss out. HE CAN WATCH US ENJOY OUR TREAT HA!
Coffee and treats in hand, we gingerly sat on the edge of the river, and watched the waves roll in.
Look at that. My little boy is dancing around in the water being happy as a puppy dog, while my big boy sulks and refuses to “have fun”.
The waves calmed me down. I felt like a mad, feral monster with wild crazy hair, warts and fangs… slowly turning back into a human being.
My little boy – bless his 4 year old heart – found a HEART SHAPED rock for me. He even washed the sand of it and told me it was “to make me happy again”. Gosh what a sweetie.
I teared a little because I was so touched by his little gesture. Kids aren’t that bad after all.
He and I went for a walk on the jetty and took photos of sea gulls, jelly fish and we even took silly pictures of ourselves. I warmed up and I dare say that I managed to find my happy spark again.
Ha look at that! I actually look quite happy!
My big boy calmed down a lot. But he remained very sheepish and quiet. He probably realised how much trouble he was in. I felt a bit sorry for him. I had laid on the punishments real thick.
So as my little gesture to him, I broke off a piece of my cookie and handed it to him, saying, “You drive me crazy, but I still love you ok?”
And just like that he snapped back into his usual happy, easy-going self again. And the two boys played happily – joking and laughing – in the sand and water for an hour.
WHAT. THE. HELL?
One day I know I’ll look back and laugh.
One day I’ll be surrounded by my boys, their wives, my grandchildren, we’ll be laughing over Christmas dinner, enjoying a simple meal, and glowing in each other’s company.
(At least, that’s the plan that keeps me sane!)