Back on Track

Today was the first time in a week that both boys actually went to school at the same time.  Last week was Parent/Teacher conferences which always means the kids get a 2 day break off of school.  Usually conferences are on Monday and Tuesday with school being closed on Thursday and Friday.  (yeah, I so don’t get that.  I always thought it would make more sense to have conferences on the same day that the kids are out of school…but what do I know.  Maybe teachers like working 15 hour days).  This year the break was changed slightly and the kids were out of school on Friday and Monday (to coincide with President’s Day).

At first I didn’t mind the change to the break too much.  What do I care if the break is Thursday, Friday or Friday, Monday?  Either way it means I’ll have all three kids home on those days.  But as the break drew closer I began to realize a couple of things that make the Friday, Monday combination a much worse prospect.  First, because Cameron’s pre-school follows the elementary school calendar (something that up to now I’ve always appreciated) this setup meant that he would be out of school for a full week.  He went to school last Wednesday, and didn’t go back until today.  I love Cameron, but 6 days is a long time to be stuck in the house with him.  I was very ready for him to head back to school today.  The other thing is that because these are both “short weeks” at school the kids aren’t doing their regular routine.  Last week Brendan didn’t have any homework because of the “short week.”  And this week he has homework, but he has 2 weeks to complete it, again because of the “short week.”  Since when did missing 1 day of school become a short week?  And if they were going to do this whole 2 weeks to complete the homework thing, wouldn’t that have made more sense last week?  So they could complete their work over both short weeks?

They’re doing the same thing this year for spring break.  For as long as I can remember spring break was a full week off school.  This year they shortened it to only 4 days instead of 5.  They moved the last day onto Thanksgiving break to give the kids 3 days off since a lot of families took their kids out of school on Wednesday anyway so they could travel.  I’m not a big fan of that since we don’t have anywhere to travel to, but at least the logic makes sense.  What doesn’t make sense is that spring break will go from Thursday-Tuesday.  Why in the world would they put this break to create two 3 day school weeks.  I’m noticing a trend that when the kids don’t go to school for a full 5 days that they tend to do less at school that week and “take it easy” on the kids.  With the number of breaks they take during the school year which create these short weeks it feels like my kids spend the majority of the school year not doing anything.

I know that’s not true and this is just my perception, but seriously if they spent more of these short weeks actually doing stuff maybe they could shorten the school year a little so my kids didn’t go to school from mid-August all the way to June.  But I suppose that’s another soap box for another day.  What I really intended to write about was the 4 day weekend with all of the kids home.

When I got up on Friday morning it appeared that it was going to be a very long weekend.   Cameron and Brendan got up around the same time and came to my bedroom door.  I sent them both to the bathroom then began to try and wake up to meet the day.  When I don’t have to wake up with an alarm I like to take my time getting out of bed, and I’ll usually spend about 10 minutes reading or catching up on my various social media sites.  Friday was no exception.  The kids know the routine.  They come to my door, I always send them to the bathroom (because for whatever reason none of them have learned to just go there first), then they need to find something to keep them occupied for the few minutes until I get out of bed.

Unfortunately, lately it seems that Brendan and Cameron can not be in the same room together without fighting.  So as they came out of the bathroom I advised them both to be good and not fight.  I thought it might keep them on track for a few minutes at least.  Ha!  What was I thinking?  As soon as they left my doorway I heard them start in on each other.  Within seconds the arguing had turned into screeching.  From experience I knew that if we started our day off that way it was only going to get worse as the day went on.  So I called them back to my door and gave them an ultimatum.  The next kid to fight and screech at the other would be heading back to their bed until they could change their attitude and get through the day without fighting.  I went on to say that I was not going to put up with this all weekend long, and if they continued to fight and pick at one another they would keep going back into their room until they could straigten their attitude out.

I didn’t have high hopes that my ultimatum would work, but at least I set the expectation.  And I meant what I said.  We’ve been through long weekends like this before where they’ve bickered the entire time.  It’s no fun for them or for me, and I just wasn’t in the mood to have another weekend like that.  By the time I got out of bed a couple minutes later, they were already at it again.  Or more specifically Brendan was at it again.  I’ll admit, Cameron can be kindof a pain in the butt.  When he really wants your attention, he’ll get it.  And he REALLY wanted Brendan to pay attention to him.  If Brendan could just learn to ignore his little brother things would go much smoother because I believe Cameron would quickly lose interest, plus Bren would stop getting into trouble for screaming at his brother.

Despite my understanding of how the situation came into play, I stuck to my guns and put the first child that was fighting and screaming into their room, and that would be Brendan.  Of course, with the way his day was going this turned into a 20 minute meltdown.  While he was in his room screaming and crying I took the opportunity to get Kaylee up and fix breakfast.  During all of this Cameron was very quiet and well behaved.  He’s generally like that when Brendan goes into one of his meltdowns.  If I didn’t know better he’s watched Brendan be punished enough times for having these screaming fits that he’s made a mental note not to do it himself.  (I just wish he would remember that when Brendan’s not in the midst of a tantrum–if he did he’d never throw a tantrum himself.)

As I was serving breakfast, Brendan finally came out of his room and seemed ready to cooperate.  We got through breakfast with no incidents, and then moved onto our morning.  I had a few things I needed to get done so I wanted the kids to go downstairs and play.  Asking them to do so is always a crap shoot.  I’ve talked about it 100 times here, for whatever reason asking them to go and play with their toys is equivilent to asking them to walk to their doom.  Even though I’d already gotten a glimpse of how the boys were going to be, I wasn’t about to let them play video games and watch TV all day just to keep them out of my hair.  I needed to get my stuff done, and they were going to go and play whether they liked it or not.

Brendan instantly started going into meltdown mode again.  He demanded to know why he had to play with his brother.  I took that opportunity to have a chat with Brendan.  A little backstory is necessary here.  Brendan had wanted one of his friends to come over during the school break.  Originally I had agreed, and was on the brink of contacting the boy’s mother when we had an incident where Brendan was so mean and rotten to Cameron that I told him his friend couldn’t come over until I’d seen him make more of an effort to be nice to his brother.  So as he began to meltdown about playing with Cameron I reminded him that he was working to earn my trust so that we could lift the ban on his friend coming to play.

He grudgingly went down the steps.  After 10 minute he came up and said he’d played nicely, so I should lift the ban and invite his friend over.  I told him 10 minutes was not enough and he needed to go and try harder.  My intention was to have them play for 30 minutes and stretch that into 45 if I could.  Amazingly, after I sent Brendan back downstairs they played nicely for 3 hours.  It was going so well that I didn’t want to interrupt and I just let them keep going.  I even served lunch a little later than usual just because they were still playing together so nicely.

And that was the way our entire weekend went.  I’m not saying my kids were all perfect angels, they each had their moments throughout the weekend but overall they were just short bursts of naughtiness followed by long periods of serenity.  I was shocked and very pleased with how things turned out.  With the way that Friday started I never thought I would have such a pleasant weekend with the kids.

Even with their good behavior, I’m still glad to be back into our regular routine.  I hate to be off track almost as much as the kids do.



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