Understandably (I hope), the past few posts on this blog have been… different. Serious. Sad. Mournful. Respectful (in other words, completely out of character for me). Like most of you I felt SLAMMED to the ground by what happened in Newtown on December 14th. And I was having a hard time catching my breath and getting back up.
And we lit our luminaria (I have no idea if that is the correct way to use that word, but I’m going with it), which looked peaceful and serene.
We made snowflakes – the kids know they’re going to help decorate a new school, but that is all they know.
And lastly, I’ve been performing very small Random Acts of Kindness the past few days and that has really – treacle alert!! – helped me heal. (Although I must say several of mine have involved buying people lattes, so I’m now calling it Random Acts of Starbucks.)
But the biggest sign of forward progress that I’ve noticed in the past day or two is that I’ve stopped feeling guilty when I get annoyed at my kids… which is ALL THE TIME.
Let’s face it, the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary did not make the Happy Dude say “NO!” any less this past week. It did not make the Loud One any better at occupying herself, quietly. And it definitely did not make The Nibbit any less Nibbitier.
But it DID make me more patient. And more affectionate. And more attentive.
Anytime I found myself getting irritated, I would think, “STOP. Those parents in Newtown would give anything to be irritated by their six and seven-year olds right now.”
I KNOW you guys were thinking the same thing. How could we not?
I have a good friend who said that this week, her kids must have been wondering, “Who is this FUN Mom?” because she was letting them eat way more candy than usual. I think we were all a little bit more Fun Mom this week, right?
Well, I’m over that.
It goes without saying (but c’mon, when have I ever gone without saying anything?), I love my children more than my life. I will love them even more to honor those 20 angels.
(and here’s where I revert back to the old-school Who Needs A Nap way and start bitching about parenting. If you are not ready for this, I GET IT. Close the window and come back when you are. I’ll miss you, but I totally understand.)
… kids can still be annoying as all hell.
Phew. I said it. I feel better.
The days leading up to the holidays are filled with a unique combination of excitement, anticipation, stress and frazzlement (I made that one up, but it’s good, right?) that we don’t experience during the rest of the year.
I find myself singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” through gritted teeth and mumbling, “You DO have holiday spirit. You DO have holiday spirit.” as I assemble the 259 piece Pirate Ship with Real Working Plank (oh you mean that piece of flat, brown plastic?).
Today, my patience was worn thin by kids who couldn’t get along, wouldn’t use their words and worst of all, had whined “Maaamaaa?” 284 times before 7:15am.
Finally, I told them that they could each open a present sent to them from a relative, who is kind enough to think of them every year (because clearly REWARDING their behavior was the right way to go… duh). They unwrapped in a frenzy and then… nothing.
The Loud One just looked bummed and said, “I don’t really know what this is.” Happy Dude threw his on the floor and said, “Play cars now?” And the Nibbit opened his and flat-out said, “Oh. I don’t like this.”
What followed was a tirade that included my saying most of the following:
- Do you have any idea how lucky you are?
- I’m going to start to take your gifts away if you can’t appreciate them! (Looking back, this was not the smartest thing I said today. I get that now.)
- What is wrong with you?
- Have I taught you nothing??
- I don’t care if you like a gift or not. You ALWAYS say thank you FIRST.
- (To which the Loud One replied, “What if the person that sent it isn’t even here?” To which I replied, “Shut up, Loud One.” No, I didn’t. But I WANTED to. )
I really laid it on thick. I was so frustrated by this show of brattiness that I may have overreacted a bit. We had a long “talk” (and by “talk,” I mean, I spoke loudly and they stared at me with big, bored eyes) about being gracious and showing appreciation. I told them that I expect more from them and I may or may not have used the phrase “shape up or else.”
Let me tell you something about my little lecture: It had ZERO EFFECT. It went in three ears and came right out the others. Actually, just two sets because Happy Dude didn’t even bother to stay in the room. He listened for a bit and then thought, “It’s been 30 seconds and you haven’t made one mention of a car or a truck, I’m outta here.”
They immediately returned to whatever they were doing (oh, I remember… it was fighting and whining) and I have no idea if they actually heard me or not.
Have you seen the Jimmy Kimmel-encouraged videos of parents pranking their kids by giving them bad gifts? They’re like really bad gifts … like a can of soup (the Mom says, “But you love soup!” which kills me) or a rotten banana. The kids react as you would expect them to react… with a lot of whining, crying and “I HATE THIS!”
I’m really tempted to do this to my kids tomorrow morning, just to see if my words sunk in AT ALL. (“Here you go Nibbit, it’s a international power converter! Hey Loud One, didn’t you really want kale?”) But they’ll be opening real presents soon enough, so we’ll see how it goes.
Side note: I feel compelled to say that I think there may be hope for the Loud One. This is a girl who recently created approximately 30 “pieces of art” to sell so she could donate the money to buy toys for the kids who lost theirs in Hurricane Sandy. And she did it! (I mean, Grammy was, of course, a key customer in this operation, but that’s beside the fact.) And nevermind that as we waited on line at Barnes and Noble with the toys and books in hand, she said loudly, “I am really proud of myself.” That’s not the point. The point is, I think she may have some goodness in her.
I do worry about that Nibbit though.
And now, to come full circle back to my original point about healing, I want to add that I don’t feel guilty about saying ANY of this.
“Hello, my name is Krissy Mac and my kids annoyed the hell out of me today. And I’m thrilled.”
On that note, I will officially sign off for the holidays. I wish all of you who celebrate a very Merry Christmas and to everyone, a very happy and healthy New Year!
Cheers to 2013 being full of kindness, joy and gratitude all around!