Behavior Speaks Louder Than Words


Why is it that kids can drive you so crazy with their behavior? During a routine grocery shopping trip, my 7-year-old son became so irritating and annoying, I was ready to strangle him. Several hours later I felt like an idiot when I discovered that his bad behavior was caused by hunger. How could I have missed something so obvious? Why is it that a child with ample vocabulary could not explain his extreme level of hunger, yet could easily act so bratty?

Instead of words, his body seems to become spasmodic as we walked up and down the aisles. He was banging the shopping cart into the shelves. I took away his privilege of pushing the shopping cart and he stumbled down the aisle losing his flip-flop. When he finally got his flip-flop back on he realized the existence of the little plastic ‘sale’ signs sticking out in his path and proceeded to slap each one with his hand as he sauntered down the aisle. I tried to control his behavior, but instead of it improving, it grew worse, like dandelions after a spring rain. Inside I felt like unleashing both verbal and physical lashings, but had to restrain myself in a public place with security cameras. Eventually I completed the shopping trip wondering why I thought taking a child into the grocery store was a good idea.

I arrived home and opened the trunk of the car and my son attempted to shut the trunk on me as I grabbed several of the grocery bags to lug inside. Not only did he refuse to help, he seemed irritated that I would ask him to complete such a mundane and boring task. Realizing I could stand neither his behavior nor his presence, I sent him to his room. Within 2 minutes he emerged from his room and asked ,”When are you going to give me something to eat?” I can only assume that he thought I knew he was hungry, when in fact I had no idea. A granola bar from the snack drawer and all was well. The brat was transformed.

Next time I head to the grocery store I will
1) Add the contents of the snack drawer to my purse
2) Provide the snack to all children at the store entrance regardless of their statements of, “I am not hungry.”

If kids could be as effective with their words in getting our attention as with their bad behavior, then parenting would be a lot easier. Then again, no one said that parenting would be easy or that our kids would actually speak to us once we taught them to talk.

Sleep walking…another excuse for the kids to ‘get up’ at night!

Last night I put the kids to bed at their usual hour. About 2 hours later, my 7-year-old son came wandering out to the living room and sat down next to me on the sofa. He appeared to be watching TV, but when I asked him questions, he didn’t respond. I also noticed he wouldn’t look at me when I spoke to him. Normally he doesn’t say much when questioned, but this was a bit extreme, even for him.

I turned off the TV and stood right in front of him. I asked him several times, “Are you awake?”. No response. “Are you ok?”. No response. “It’s time to go back to bed. Come on, Let’s go!” I said as I started walking toward his bedroom. Then I realized he wasn’t following me. I went back to the sofa and he seemed to be staring into space like he was watching a movie. His eyes were moving, but the television was off. What was he looking at? Then I realized the movie was in his brain. Clearly he was sleepwalking, or in this case sleep-sitting.

Usually sleepwalkers are ‘highly suggestible”, and by telling them what to do, they will follow. I guess tonight this was not the case. I stood right in front of him (his eyes would not meet mine) and kept repeating my questions, “Are you awake?” and followed-up with, “Time for bed, Let’s go!”. Finally after numerous iterations, he gave me one of his funny looks (making me wonder again if he was awake). Then he got up and headed back to his room where he still never said a word, but fortunately he did climb back into bed.

Today I asked my son about getting up the night before, he just said, “What?”, because he had no recollection of getting up. It wasn’t the first time I had seen him sleepwalking, but for some reason he acted a little different from last time. He is unpredictable, but then again, so are dreams, which is probably what he thought he was experiencing during this late-night jaunt. Today I read that sleep-walkers may ‘walk’ for 30 seconds or up to 30 minutes. I was glad he didn’t sit there for 30 minutes, that is a long time! Maybe this is some strange sort of revenge for all the times as a child I wandered into the living room startling my parents at the same odd evening hour. What goes around, comes around.

Stay-at-home moms only shop. Yes, even me!

Being a stay-at-home mom is not ‘all that’. I realize after being home with the kids this week, doing the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up at school, that my day gets consumed very quickly. Here is an example of a typical day this week…

Get up at 6 something and throw on yoga clothes. Plan to sweat at yoga anyway (after dropping the kids off). No one will see me, just driving by (and slowing down) so kids can jump out of car and run into school.

Make Lunches. Of course kids can’t both eat the same thing. Cream cheese rolled-up in a tortilla? Of course, that is exactly what I thought I would have for lunch. At least older brother likes peanut butter and jelly like normal school kid.

Serve breakfast. Cereal anyone? Breakfast anyone? Cereal? No takers. Bagel with cream cheese? No, no…the 7-year-old wants peanut butter. Too bad he neglected to tell me AFTER the cream cheese was applied.

Getting ready to leave house. Can you please put your shoes on? Put shoes on guys, come on kids, put shoes on! Also, can you brush your teeth? Grab your shoes, we are leaving NOW!!

To my daughter…why are you wearing pajamas? Get dressed, you are going to school! Ok, we are leaving NOW!!

Drop kids off. Yeah!! Now I am free for six hours.

Go to Yoga, actually new thing, PI-YO. This is not relaxing! Kicked my butt. Literally my gluteus maximus muscles have been maxed out by this workout.

Go home to clean layer of dried sweat. Ahhh. Peace!

Time to go to Costco for toilet paper, paper towels, napkins. Decide I need to buy stock in paper company. Spent $175 at Costco – on toilet paper? Must of grabbed a few other things like peanut butter and jelly. I must have saved a lot if I spent that much!

Dash home and unload car. Lunch time! Missed earlier caffeine infusion, grab chilled frappacino from refrigerator. Make lunch. Roll tortilla around turkey and cheese like sensible adult! (Instead of just around cream cheese like silly 4-year-old!)

Check e-mail. Delete stuff. Why so much junk mail? Unsubcribe to non-sense salesy e-mails! That should save time tomorrow.

Decide need new clothes. Old clothes disaster. Fraying on sleeves. Need crisp white shirt. JC Penney! No shirts? Are they hiding all the normal clothes? All fancy blouses here. Clearly I have been working from home too long. What are people wearing to work these days. Scary! Finally hit jackpot. Hunt down white and blue shirts suitable for work. Definitely not for ‘club’ like all the fancy blouses! Check watch…time to pick up kids! Already? Buy shirts and run out of store.

Arrive at school. No parking and have to park down street. Walk over to school. Stand outside in heat only describable by one word, “Oven”. Sweat dripping down back in large droplets. Why did I bother taking a shower today? Sun burning skin. Forgot sunscreen as I was only planning on Costco trip, not trip to side of sun.

Finally kids emerge. Yes, it is the end of my day. I can’t believe all I did was yoga for an hour and shopping? I don’t even like shopping? Unfortunately, now I have to take the kids to the grocery store!

First Day Unemployed

Get up at reasonable time then decide yoga (gentle) is excellent course of action for first day unemployed.

Look in mirror – face already breaking out with rash due to stress. Take 50 mg zinc plus regular vitamin. Realize family might have to live on 300 tablet bottle of vitamins if things get tough.

Eat waffle with syrup. Realize no more maple syrup and back to $1.89 bottle of generic Albertson’s brand from now on.

Push reluctant kids into car after arguing about how 7-year-old cannot take DS to school/camp.

Start car….hmmm…making funny sound. Car is vibrating and rumbling. Can’t be good. Brilliant idea…check oil. Check it…a little low. Add quart of oil. Looks good. Start car. Now “Check Engine” light is on. Bugger. Check manual for indicator light ‘meanings’. Irritated it is 8 AM and it is already 100 degrees. Wish manual had Google search! Find needed info in manual…light not blinking = ok to drive, just go slow.

We are off to school. Drop off kids uneventfully. Arrive at health club for yoga. Have wait time! Call car dealer – opening tomorrow 8:30 AM. Yeah, car will be fixed.

Yoga, very nice. Relaxing. Still thinking of list of things to do. Not dwelling on ‘why me’! Way to busy!

Stop at store to buy external drive for computer – $79 for 320 GB. Wow! Actually feeling high-tech now!

Start car…hmmm…”Check Engine” light is off. Car fixed self. Realized no time for car doctor visit.

Doorbell rings…..release papers to sign. Delay reading for a few minutes. Already know what it says.

Phone rings. Coworker (sorry, ex-coworker). Yes, e-mail still works. No one knows why e-mail still working. Forward needed info to ex-coworker. Why sending when no longer working? Want to be good friend. If was non-friend would not have answered phone! Glad had good friends at work!

Check Linked In. More good friends! Recommendations are rolling in. Amazed! Can’t believe overwhelming support!

Time for haircut! Darn, no time for lunch. Not hungry, plus way too busy. Beautiful color and professional coiffed hair! Who wouldn’t want to hire me now?

Rush off to pick up kids. Four-year-old wearing different dress than when dropped off in morning. “Got dress dirty” she says. Borrowed dress from friend because she didn’t have any extra clothes at school. Bad mommy. She has to leave in only skirt, no shirt. Glad she has skirt at least!

Get to parking lot. Phone ringing! Another ex-coworker. Yes, yes, can’t believe they let me go. What? You will write recommendation! Great!

Pick up 7-year-old. Where is he? No one seems to know. Suddenly see him. He is holding DS!! Hmmm…must have snuck it to school. Punishment: 1 week – no DS!

Arrive home. Add note to DS with date of when available. Place on refrigerator for safe keeping.

Paige takes cold macaroni from refrigerator. Eats directly from container then puts self to bed. Meanwhile make pasta with brocolli and salad – all leftovers! Amazing feat…also healthy meal! Husband says, “Great dinner. You must have gone shopping today.” If he only knew how busy I was – no time for shopping!

Can you believe it? I survived day 1 of unemployment. What will happen tomorrow?

Kids Fighting in the Car…ARGH!

Why is it that kids have to fight and get loud in the back seat of the car, just when you need it the quietest? I was driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado with a 7-year-old and 4-year-old in the back seat. Although the view was beautiful, what was happening in the back seat of the car, was not. The kids were poking each other and giggling. The giggling was fine, but then water bottles and other objects were being hurled across the back seat until items eventually hit the front windshield and landed on the dashboard.

I realized that firm words and tones were not having the intended effect. All I got was more giggling and more mayhem in the back seat. Finally I pulled the car over to make my point and I screamed in the faces of the kids like a Marine Drill Sargent. I actually think the Drill Sargent would have been less scary and intimidating than I was at that particular moment. Surely I lost my mind for a minute, but don’t most parents have those embarrassing moments where the kids have driven you to complete insanity because they were not listening to a word you said? Then again, I have work colleagues and a spouse that act the same way and I don’t scream at them.

I don’t know exactly what to call what those kids were doing in the back seat. “Backseat Boogie” maybe? It was just annoying, frustrating and pure insanity. At least it drove ME to insanity. The reason it made me so crazy, was because I was driving on the edge of a windy mountain road with little margin for error. I was worried that if I drove a few inches off the road, the car would plummet down the mountain. We would probably take out some elk feeding on the hill as well during our free fall. At least that would have put me out of my misery of having to listen to the little monsters fighting in the back.

Why do I get so angry with the kids? Why can kids make you so angry? Is it anger with yourself because you have created your own hell? Is their behavior your own punishment for your past bad deeds (meaning what you did as a child?). Maybe it is just a stage the kids are in that makes them behave this way. I have to ask – will this stage last until they are 18? Maybe like any relationship there are days you are happy and days you are in not. Since then I have tried to be more relaxed and not get upset with the kids. One thing is for sure, the kids quieted down after my tirade, so I had some impact on their behavior. Something tells me that after enough miles, they will be back at the fighting. They are just kids after all.

Ladybugs…not just the solution for aphids

The kids found a ladybug in the yard today and spent the afternoon entertaining it. They let it walk up their arms, crawl from hand to hand and built a rock playground for it. I can’t imagine how the ladybug survived (entertainment-wise) before it met two kids to occupy it.

What is funny is that I was sitting here trying to think of things to do to entertain the kids today. Where could I take them? How was I going to keep them occupied for the afternoon? For some reason it seems like if we stay in (or around) the house too long the kids go crazy. They get cabin fever. They fight and fight and they can’t seem to get along. Usually my options (to keep them out of trouble) are to go outside (go for a walk, play at the playground) or to someplace inside (the library, bounce house, or a toy store).

Today I discovered a new solution to my child entertainment problem and it is called the ladybug. What was great was that the ladybug was free of cost and provided hours of fun. Even a 993 piece Lego set could not surpass the value I got from this ladybug. One challenge was that there was only one ladybug for two kids, and obviously they don’t want to share anything. My other fear was that the ladybug would die or it would get lost. Unfortunately, the poor ladybug did succumb to a tragic case of ‘too much attention’ or maybe it was suffocation in my 4-year-old’s daughter’s sweaty hand. Oddly she didn’t even notice, because she thought it was sleeping.

I decided that next time I go to the garden store I need to pick up some ladybugs (not just one, maybe hundreds). The ladybugs aren’t only good for my garden aphid problem, but will save me from having to cart the kids from place to place to prevent war from breaking out in my living room or in the back seat of my car. The kids will be able to each have their own ladybug to entertain so I can entertain myself with a glass of wine and a good book.

Your Brunch is Ready

Today was Mother’s Day and I was awoken by an aroma that wafted into the bedroom. The smell reminded me of my favorite breakfast restaurant. Next, there in my bedroom was Tucker declaring, “Your brunch is ready!”. ‘Daddy’ and Paige stood behind silently with huge grins across their faces. My eyes could barely open beyond slits, but I could see the enormous smiles. Apparently they were very proud of the brunch they were about to serve me.

I peeled myself out of bed and took a look in the mirror to make sure my hair didn’t look too scary. I followed the kids and ‘daddy’ into the kitchen to see a perfect place-setting just for me. A glass of juice with ice, a cup of coffee, a brunch menu, and a perfectly folded napkin. The napkin could only be the work of Tucker, ‘master place setter’. Surrounding my place setting were cards – mostly handmade from the kids. They were wonderful. The interpretations the kids had of how ‘mommy’ looked was amazing. I never knew my arms came out of my ears like that? Or that my lips were quite that red! At least it seemed as if they liked me (and my looks) enough to make me this nice breakfast and beautiful cards.

After perusing the cards, including one store-bought card from ‘daddy’, everyone got hugs and kisses from ‘mommy’. Maybe this had been their plan all along – bribe me put me in good mood so they could get extra hugs and kisses today. Either way, I think we all came out winners. Next what was placed in front of me was a beautiful egg and cheese omelet and toast with strawberry jam. It was delicious. I was wondering if it tasted so good because I didn’t have to cook it or because ‘daddy’ really was a better cook than me. It is nice to know your family cares about you, especially on Mother’s day. I can only hope the kids are this nice to me for the rest of the day. I can hope can’t I?