War: (noun) a situation in which people or groups compete with or fight against each other. (sourced from Merriam-Webster’s free online dictionary)
That, folks, is myself and Biggest, in every sense of the word. Compete with, fight against, it’s all happening here. It was getting so intense that I started Operation: War Socks. In order to properly explain Operation: War Socks, I need to point out that when I was younger, I had something I liked to call immovable determination, in the form of a “Bone”. This “Bone”, as I referred to it, basically meant that I wouldn’t take anything lying down. If something was a bigger task than I anticipated, I stared it in the face, and started in. Almost everything I put my mind to, I accomplished.
Which is why, to my surprise, I woke up the other day without it. That’s right folks, I lost it. I’m not sure if it was during the period known as “Please Stop Screaming So I Can Sleep!”, or the day(s) known as “The Poop Won’t Stop!”, or perhaps the moments entitled “Why Won’t You Listen To Reason?”, but somewhere between that Big Fat Positive (BFP for all you online junkies) almost 4 years ago, and this week, it disappeared. It’s extremely disappointing, because without it, I look at the dishes and cower in the corner. My two year old stomps his foot, and I pretend I didn’t see it. My Littlest screams at me because I’m not feeding him fast enough, and I shove food in faster instead of teaching him manners. It’s really gotten out of hand.
At least, until Wednesday. I found my Bone. I’m not really sure where it was hiding, because it’s not really the hiding type. Personally, I think I got pushed off a cliff, and on the way down (screaming the whole way), it tried to jump the proverbial sinking ship. Me, recognizing what it was and what it was attempting to do, grabbed it and stuffed it back in it’s place. If I was going down, so was it. Which, of course, is what the Bone does, so I grabbed on to the convenient “root-sticking-out-of-the-sheer-rock-face” scenario, and dragged myself up to the top of the cliff again. (Admittedly, that’s all a little outrageous, but since it’s me we’re talking about, and I’m probably insane… We’re all good.)
Having found my Bone, I put my foot down.
Dishes? Ha! I own those dishes!
Laundry? Ha! So what if it’s a huge pile? I’m still bigger.
Cheerios on the floor? Ha! I’ll attack them with the vacuum, and wait to give Biggest more until he can learn to keep them in the bowl.
Oh wait. Biggest. Maybe not so “Ha!”. I refuse to feel like crap about it because it is what it is, but in all honesty, Biggest hasn’t really had much of a Mommy. I went to work too soon after he was born, before we discovered this disorder of mine, and spent most of the day when I got home napping. During my pregnancy with Littlest, I was incredibly ill, and spent most of those 9 months also napping. Thankfully we found out about my hypersomnia, and he now has a functioning mother. However, before we got to that point, he’s learned respect and admiration for his Daddy, his Pappy, and his Grammy. But not for me, because I wasn’t really there. A year and a half is an extremely long time to make up for, especially when it comes to respect. On top of that, I tried to come in at his current level, but that won’t work, because his current level of discipline works based on that year and a half of respect. Which I don’t have. Even better, I’ve been disciplining him like a girl. Where my sister and I would have been logical, and realized that continuing to act out was only going to cause more trouble, according to my husband, boys will continue to push anyway.
Take away my toy?
Girl: Not my toy! I’m sorry, it won’t happen again! Boy: Fine, I’ve got another one.
Give me a time out?
Girl: I don’t want to sit here, this is boring, that cookie I snuck totally wasn’t worth this. I’m bummed.
Boy: Meh. I’ve got a nothing box. Wake me up when it’s over.
Girl: I want to stay up, that was a dumb idea. Note to self. Boy: Fine, I was tired anyway. See if I care.
Maybe that’s not the case with anyone else’s boys, but mine are awfully stubborn, and that is most definitely the case.
So on Wednesday, I realized that I had to start at the very beginning. I’ve been attempting to discipline and explain the reason for his discipline. That doesn’t work, the reason being that the initial discipline has to have weight first before he’ll listen to the reason. You can start like that with a girl, but most definitely not a boy. (In the words of Magic School Bus’s Dorothy Ann…) According to my research, boys are big on action, girls are big on reason. Horrifying though it may be, I can actually see the moment he tunes out. Let me be the first to tell you, it’s about 2 seconds after I open my mouth.
Operation: War Socks.
Since my brain doesn’t appropriately function until the beginning of the afternoon, when I actually remember that I’ve got a game face and a Bone, I have gotten myself in the habit of waking up and putting my War Socks on. They’re Pink Camo wool socks. Yes, I know, I actually have a real pair of War Socks. I wasn’t kidding. They’re not war socks because of the camo, they’re war socks because I’ve made the deliberate mental distinction of reminding myself of my game face as soon as I put them on, thereby skipping 5 hours of waking up enough to remember on my own. Call me lame if you will, but it’s worked for 4 days now, and sadly, that’s a record. Even better, the Bone works exceptionally well with the stubbornness of my boys, because as I’ve said before, I invented stubborn, and I invented it because of that Bone.
Poor Biggest doesn’t know what happened.
Thursday, he got to the point that if he sassed me, he started crying the instant I stopped talking and started over to him. He’s not a huge fan of time outs at the moment. They’re actually timed, and he’s not allowed to put himself in one, I do it. By the afternoon, he was behaving nicely enough that he was able to join me at his friend’s house.
Friday, same thing.
This morning, I only had to say “Excuse me?” when he started, and he hasn’t made a sassy peep since. He even helped with the laundry.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some fusses. He’s learned the hard way in the shower that Mommy’s instructions are somewhat important, and as I said, he’s become very familiar with the timeout chair. But so far, we’re batting well above average.
In addition, my laundry was folded right away, my bedroom is clean, the house is vacuumed, and yesterday, I got all my housecleaning done before 11am.
I’m going out on a limb here, and guessing that Operation: War Socks is working on being successful. I say working because if you’ve read any extent of this blog, you’ll know that I get genius ideas all the time and flop flat on my face for most of them.
Oh, I almost forgot, in addition to all of those lovely successes, I’ve changed my tech time to be almost entirely after the kids go to bed. Not only is it something I look forward to, but it prevents the need to check Facebook every 5 minutes. Let’s face it, it’s quite difficult to get housework done while checking Facebook, and kids? Good luck with that. Today’s the exception. I’ve given myself Saturday to sleep in, Biggest gets his cartoons, and it’s the one day a week he’s allowed his Cheerios on the move. And, of course, my own limits are a little less rigid on Saturdays too.
Oops, my laundry’s done. Gotta run! If you got this far, I applaud you, as today’s update was definitely on the long-winded side.