Brendan has been out of school for the past few days for fall break. And since Cameron’s pre-school follows the school districts calendar, Cameron has been out of school too. So I had to plan for a four day weekend with all three kids at home. It was just like summer vacation all over again, only shorter. I thought of a dozen fun things that we could do to fill our days that would still allow me to get some things accomplished.
On Wednesday, I went to pick up Brendan from school, and right away it was apparent that he was in an extremely foul mood. It wasn’t long before a simple request (please don’t play with the window shade–it’s not a toy) turned into a screaming, crying, meltdown. I drove home, and gave him a snack right away. This has recently become a solution for us as we have finally figured out that a great many of his meltdowns came at a point where he hadn’t eaten in a while and figured that low blood sugar levels could be compounding his reaction to things, and it has worked in a lot of the cases. Unfortunately, this was not one of the situations in which a snack worked. It looked, for a short while, that it was going to work but it didn’t take long for another incident to set him back off. I finally wrote off Wednesday as a bad day (everyone is entitled to have one now and again) and did my best to keep his bad mood in check.
But it didn’t stop there. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the bad mood lingered. He has whined, complained, and basically been rude and horrible to anyone who stops to talk to him. In short he’s been a brat. Nothing makes him happy. If you ask him to go downstairs and play with his toys he wants to play his video games; if you ask him to leave the living room and play his video games for a while he wants nothing more than to be in the living room; if you let him be in the living room making as much noise as he wants to he complains that his brother and sister get to do that too and they are bothering him; if you send them away to play somewhere else then he’s lonely and no one is paying attention to him.
At bedtime tonight I finally had had my fill. I had just finished putting the little kids to bed, and Brendan started in whining about something else. I took him into my bedroom so we could do his reading for the day (the school recommends they read at least 20 minutes a day–10 out loud, so he and I read together every night) but before we started reading I asked him what was bothering him. This wasn’t the first time I’d asked him the question, but before tonight all I’d gotten for an answer was, “Nothing.” He started again to tell me nothing was wrong, so I tried a different tactic and gave him my point of view on the weekend, and asked him to give me his point of view on the same situations. It was like a lightbulb went off in his head. Despite being in the situations and having us tell him at the time how infuriating his behavior was, it took me taking him aside again when he was calm for him to see how rotten he’s been acting. Then I also explained the fun activities I’d been planning for the weekend and that we hadn’t been able to act on any of them because I couldn’t guarantee his mood.
So he finally tells me that he’s been very upset because he hasn’t been able to go to school, and he really likes going to school so it isn’t fair that he has to stay home. Talk about stating the obvious. I was pretty sure that was the problem all along, but unfortunately when he won’t admit that is the issue it’s much harder to help him resolve it. As I have every other time this same problem has come up for him, I reminded him that school vacations are going to happen, and that he has to learn to deal with them. Just saying that simple phrase seemed to perk him right up and he started acting more like he should have been all weekend. What I do find humorous is that just last week he was complaining that he has to go to school every day and work hard while Cameron gets to stay home 2 days a week. If he had to stay home a couple days every week I think his head would actually explode!
It’s a little late to salvage my fun weekend with the kids, but here’s hoping that tomorrow will be better than the rest of the weekend was. After all, better that we resolved it late than not to have resolved it at all.