Monday, August 21, 2006

still with the over-reacting

I know, I know, I know, if I had an OUNCE of self-discipline, planned and executed a party count-down to do list that I wouldn't be freaking out all over my kids during the short precious hours before we're expecting guests. The house was hammered (down side of having in-home child care during the summer months) and I couldn't even get close to Costco on Friday afternoon (traffic on Third West was unreal and just for future reference, you can throw a party without stepping foot in Costco before the event, it's just not as good a party, because, really, what spells gracious like a Costco meat/fruit/veggie/you-name-it platter?) and I still hadn't quite wrapped up the Folsom Prison paving stone project in the corner of the pool which leads me to an ungrammatical but HUGE thank you to Dutch Uncle Stew who, with his full ESP powers engaged, called at noon and asked if I needed any help, DO I DO I YES YES YES, what a man) ending sentence now, will pick up thread right here. So, I warned the kids in advance that as I needed their help and I had a job they could handle, I wanted them to jump into action, but if not under direct threat from me, they were to keep themselves occupied and out of the way. The three littlest aren't "helpers" yet, but Ellie can really pitch in. Ellie was straightening up in their bedroom, Nora was bored and directionless (my fault), Ellie could not "play" chess, they pretend, on a small magnetic chess board, so Nora just threw it, the plastic case exploded, pieces went everywhere, I exploded, no child of mine has EVER thrown/broken something to get attention or to work out a frustration, and I marched her little butt out on the deck (in the shade) told her that I was ANGRY, that she needed to use words, she was not allowed to throw and break toys, and that she was banished for a bad bad choice. Periodically, I would look out (sliding door from the dining room, I could always see her), ask her if she was bored, she would shake her head yes, and I would say good. I let her lay out there for close to an hour. I didn't even realize I had let it go that long because the last 20 minutes were spent snaking out a dollar store pom pom from the vacuum because my usually reliable helper had been too indifferent to bend down and pick it up. So, to Nora's credit, she did not tantrum out there, but I had huge guilt.

I left her too long and it was nice not having to deal with her in the house. Once again, my expectations for her behavior far exceeded her capabilities. I created a bad situation with all the rush rush cleaning and set her up for failure. On the other hand, sometimes in the course of human affairs, a mom needs to clean and kids need to lay low and it would be ideal if that family could make it through the morning without shattered chess sets. What would be more ideal is a mom who didn't feel like the top of her head was going to blow off over a minor infraction. I think of other parents dealing with purposeful destruction of costly items, public meltdowns, hours long tantruming and I really need some one to do the Moonstruck thing: slap me and shout "snap out of it." I know I know.

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