A Case of Jekyll and Hyde

It rained last Tuesday, which meant that we weren’t able to do our regular picnic in the park.  I intended to do one of our other activities to replace the missed picnic but things got busy and time got away from me so we didn’t.  The next day was cool and beautiful.  The perfect day for a picnic but not necessarily good for going swimming, which is what was on our schedule.

I waited until after the kids took their rests to decide what we were going to do.  I was hoping that things would warm up just a little bit and allow for us to go ahead and get the sprinklers out.  When it didn’t, I started considering plan B because I didn’t want to go two days in a row without doing one of the kids scheduled activity. 

The kids had had a really good day.  The boys had done a ton of chores (every time they completed their list, they were begging me for more), no one had fought the entire day, and they’d spent most of the day actually playing with their toys instead of whining that they had nothing to do.  I wanted to do something that rewarded that behavior.  Matt had been training all day at work and got home from work almost an hour later than usual.  I decided I could reward the kids and give Matt some time to unwind and relax after a rough day.  Combine with that the excellent weather and plan B ended up being a trip to the park. 

Now usually we do a picnic in the park, but that night I didn’t much feel like putting in the effort to pack the full picnic lunch.  Besides, this was a reward for the kids so I wanted to do something a little more special than lunchmeat and chips.  I loaded the kids into the car and the 4 of us headed for McDonald’s.  I hadn’t told the kids that we were going to the park after dinner, so they thought the treat was going to dinner. 

Dinner anywhere with my kids is usually a headache and a half, more so when we do fast food.  Somebody usually ends up bickering with somebody else.  If they aren’t bickering then somebody is being wild and crazy, running around, yelling, etc.  But that night, things went smoother than I’ve ever had them go before.  Okay, I will admit as we waited in line to order our food Cameron got a little wild and was bouncing around the restaurant like a little molecule, but that changed once we sat down with our food. 

We were eating a little later than usual since Matt had gotten home late, so I suppose it could have just been that they were hungry, but whatever the reason once I served their meals my kids sat in complete silence and ate.  It was amazing.  We NEVER have meals that take place in complete silence.  I figured things would degrade a little once the boys had finished eating and were waiting on Kaylee (who takes at least an hour to eat), but they didn’t.  They sat quietly talking about Skylanders, and content to wait for their sister.

Once she finally finished I loaded them all back up and headed for the park.  They were completely thrilled to get to go.  We weren’t the only ones who had the idea either.  The park and nearby lake were crowded with people taking advantage of the beautiful evening.  The kids found quite a few other kids to play with and had a wonderful time running around the park for the hour or so that we stayed.

Finally, it was time to head home and get the kids to bed.  Brendan was the last to climb into his bed and as he climbed the ladder to his bunk, he told me that night was the best one he’d had all summer.  I went to bed that night feeling buoyed by the success of our outing.  After such an amazing night with the kids, how could Thursday be anything but a continuation of bliss and happiness?

Evidently someone forgot to give my kids the memo.  Thursday morning I went to get the kids out of bed and get them into their showers and baths.  We’ve stuck pretty well with our routine of getting up at 7:00 all summer so that when we have to get up at 7:00 for school this fall it isn’t so much of a shock to their system.  But we did get pretty lax about taking showers and baths immediately upon getting up.  Last week was the first that we were making an effort to get back into that habit.

For over a year now, the routine has been that Brendan gets up and takes his shower first.  That allows me time to collect everyone’s outfits for the day and get breakfast started since he is completely independent in his bathing.  Once he’s finished I bathe Cameron since he still needs some help, and while Cameron is bathing Brendan is getting dressed (again since he is completely independent).  Once Cameron is done I send him to get dressed since he’s able to do it alone as well (not counting the 900 hollered reminders to actually do it) and I finally bathe Kaylee who needs the most help both bathing and getting dressed. 

The order of the baths never changes, nor does my routine in getting up the kids.  I always knock on the boys door, shut off their fan, and tell them it’s time to get up.  Brendan gets himself up and heads for the bathroom.  Then while I’m doing all the other stuff I do while he’s showering I give Cameron about 15 more reminders to get out of bed.  That way by the time Brendan is done showering Cameron is finally up and ready to take his bath.

For whatever reason, that morning Brendan decided that he wasn’t going to go with the flow.  He made it his duty to get his brother out of bed.  I told him to leave Cameron alone and get himself into the shower, and that’s when the meltdown happened.  He absolutely could not accept that Cameron was still in bed when he himself had to be up and showering.  It took a full 15 minutes to get him to stop screaming and actually get into the shower. 

That’s not the first time Brendan has had a meltdown first thing in the morning, and I’ve found that once I can actually get him into the shower things will generally improve.  Something about the hot shower calms him and he comes out a new kid.  So once I had him squared away I went about my routine and tried to rouse Cameron out of bed like normal.

Unfortunately his brothers poking, prodding, and screaming had put Cameron all out of sorts.  He immediately started whining that he didn’t want to get out of bed, that he was too tired, etc etc etc.  I was already at my limit for irritation that morning and really not in the mood to listen to the whining.  I dealt with Cameron the best that I could, but he whined from the moment he got up until the moment he got into the bathtub. 

Once he was bathed and off getting dressed I finally turned my attention to getting Kaylee up.  Now Kaylee is by far the worst of my three to get up.  She is always a bear in the morning.  I generally wake her up right after getting the boys roused so that she has the full time Brendan and Cameron are bathing to get over her case of the grumpies.  Unlike Cameron, she needs no reminders once I’ve woken her up.  In fact I stay as far from her room as possible until she decides to get up and come out.  It’s safer that way. 

However, on this particular morning I had been unable to wake her up with the boys since I’d essentially spent the time dealing with screaming and whining children.  Amazingly, the screams and yells from her brothers had done nothing to interrupt her beauty sleep.  When I gently shook her awake I realized that I was going to be dealing with three overly grumpy children rather than just the two I’d already dealt with.

Kaylee woke up and immediately began to bawl.  She cried from that moment, all the way through her bath, and didn’t stop until we were halfway through breakfast (which she was refusing to eat in her overly angry state).  By the time she finally calmed down I was about ready to send everyone back to bed and start the whole day over. 

Things didn’t improve much throughout the day either.  Whereas the previous day had been filled with good behavior and sibling harmony, Thursday was filled with rotten behavior and sibling rivalry.  By nap time I’d had enough and forced all the kids to take a rest that is one step down from their normal.  That meant Brendan had to lay down with a movie, Cameron had to nap instead of watching a movie, and Kaylee had to nap with me (which is the only guarantee that she will sleep during her “nap”).  I myself took a nap, and hoped that things would be different when I woke up.

It’s truly amazing to me the difference between Wednesday and Thursday.  On Wednesday I wondered who these kids were and what they’d done with my normal rambunctious children, and on Thursday I wondered who these monsters were and what I could do to get the angels of the previous day back.  I know kids will be kids, and that everyone has their good days and bad, but boy I was not expecting the complete turnaround from one day to the next. 

Since then my kids have been back to their normal rambunctious selves.  Not too good, not too bad.  I think I’d much rather keep them like this then get back the little angels from last Wednesday.  Especially if the cost of the angels is what I went through on Thursday.


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