The other day, the kids were a little bit out of control.
We were coming off of a three day swim meet, they had been dragged back and forth to a pool that was almost an hour away all weekend, I had been gone for basically three days, and everyone was exhausted.
So I took Monday to regroup. It was a cool, rainy summer day, and it was just what we needed.
Or so I thought.
I figured the kids would enjoy the down time and not being dragged to another pool and another meet and being able to stay home in their pajamas all day.
I was hoping to use it as a day to catch up on all the stuff that had fallen by the wayside while I was gone.
Around 11:30 a.m., the first kid informed me that she was starving, followed by a second kid who was apparently on the verge of dying from hunger a short time later.
I stopped what I was doing, and I went into the kitchen.
I told the kids I’d make them lunch, that I wanted them out of the kitchen, and that I’d tell them when lunch was ready so they could come and eat.
One of my kids’ favorite things to do is sit on a stool in the kitchen and watch me make lunch and complain about how long it’s taking me. And once one kid is doing that, it’s not long before they are all doing that.
And that shit drives me insane.
So the kids stayed out of the kitchen for approximately 47 seconds.
And then two of them were screaming at each other. I heard them coming from a couple rooms away.
I was already out of patience.
I told them that I was going to leave the kitchen when they were in there, especially when they were yelling at each other, and that if I had to leave the kitchen, it would take me that much longer to make lunch. And seeing as a couple of them were apparently on the verge of death because it had been more than an hour since they had last eaten, they might not want that.
They didn’t care. They kept screaming at each other.
So I left the kitchen.
I went into the bathroom where the washer and dryer are, and I started sorting laundry.
When I didn’t hear any more screaming, I went back into the kitchen. I resumed the lunch making process.
About five minutes later, the kids resumed the screaming process.
So I left the kitchen and I took the recycling out to the recycling bin.
I stayed outside for a few minutes because I was starting to get seriously frustrated.
I went back inside and the screaming had stopped. Again, I resumed the lunch making process.
And again the kids were at each others’ throats in a matter of minutes.
After about a half hour of this back and forth bullshit, I had had enough. I told the kids I was no longer willing to spend any more time making lunches, that I had been trying for a half hour and that was the maximum amount of time I was willing to spend.
I told them I would make dinner later, but I had other things to do, and spending ninety minutes waiting for them to stop arguing was not one of them. If they wanted lunch, they’d have to do it themselves.
Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but it was three days after I’d been gone all weekend, and we had like three cans of green beans, some tortillas and for some reason, about fifteen bags of marshmallows.
So it was going to take some creativity.
I didn’t really care, though.
I walked out of the kitchen.
The kids looked at each other like, What the hell are we going to eat and What the fuck happened to Mom?
But I was exhausted from the weekend and stressed out and I was just done.
A little while later, Number 5 delivered me a note:
On the left side it said:
This is now, surrounded by a bunch of sad faces.
On the right side it said:
This is how it should be now, surrounded by a bunch of smiley faces. And then it said:
Look on other side ——>
I turned the note over and read:
Why are you acting unusual (AKA mean)
so please tell me why
Aha. I had struck a nerve.
The fact that she saw this as unusual behavior showed me one thing. I have been letting the kids be disrespectful to me more often than I think.
And she noticed my new response.
Today it’s three days later.
The kids certainly haven’t been angels.
But they’ve been better.
And they definitely haven’t been fucking around when I’m making them something to eat.
If your kids are driving you insane with bickering and fighting, consider trying this.
Don’t yell. Don’t scream. Don’t threaten.
Just quietly define your boundaries.
And then stick to them.
You might be surprised by what happens.