Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Day in the Life

One look at my Instagram account is all it would take to tell you I'm faaaaaaaaaairly obsessed with my children and think they are the most adorable things in the entire universe.
However, once in a blue moon, or more appropriately, once in a super moon, they turn into life-sucking pint-sized vampires who leave no survivors and spend the majority of their days in destruction mode. Now don't get me wrong, I still love the fanged, scarier alter egos of my offspring but mostly just for the stories of horror they provide for the blog.

Here's the thing, I just finished up my third blog book (yipee!), and I've done a good job at making our lives seem peachy and perfect. It left me with this fear that my now vampire-esque children may one day look back and say, "Mom! You had it so easy with us!" And that's when I'll pull this little nugget of chaos out from the records to show them just how lemonade-sippingly easy raising them was.

Our days always start promising. The boys wake with puffy eyes, shuffling into our bedroom and climbing into bed with us one by one. There's giggling. Smiles. Ahhh. "Today will be a good day." I assure myself. And then it starts.

"Pancakes." Carson says playfully.
"You want pancakes?" Jeff replies, pretending to be shocked, because this is a daily request.
I immediately jump out of bed to prevent the rage of a hungry Carson to spiral further out of control. We race downstairs to whip up some pancakes. Eli wanders down to follow us putting in his never wavering order of Honey Bunches of Oats.

"MILK!" Eli yells at me just as I get him his cereal. This happens every day. Like he thinks I will forget his day cannot start without his morning dose of calcium. I go to grab the cups, sure to grab one blue one because Eli refuses to quench his thirst by any other color.

"IIIIIIIIIIIII get the blue one!!!!" Shouts Eli. Again, demanding his obvious requests, that no longer needs to be requested because they have become a reflex for me.
"No. IIIII get blue one!" Carson says back.

Here's the thing about Carson. He totally knows how to get under your skin. He doesn't care what color cup he has, he only says, "I get blue one!" Because he KNOWS Eli will throw a hissy fit at the mere threat of him trespassing on Eli's blue cup territory. So Carson starts this fight. Every. Morning. Starting as a kind of joke, but then he becomes converted to his blue cup cause and it becomes a quickly escalated brotherly brawl.

Eli starts crying immediately, "NOOOOOO CARSON! The blue cup is MINE!"
"Mine." Short and sweet is his reply. He has Eli right where he wants him.
"MOM! He thinks heeeeeeeeeeeee's going to get the blue cup! Waaaaah waaaaaah waaaaah!"

I top the cups off with milk and shove the blue cup over to Eli before another word can be screamed. Carson isn't even upset by the injustice that he never gets his turn with the blue cup despite his daily battle for it. Proving my theory that he battles for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of the quick-to-erupt Eli.

I present Carson with his fresh, hot pancake, and just as I turn around to get my breakfast, this dialogue plays out:
Carson, "My chair!"
Eli, "No. This is MY chair, Carson!"
Carson, with a smile, "My chair."
Eli melts into a frustrated ball of dysfunction, "He thinks that's his chair!"

Unaware of what they are even arguing about, I try to hash it out with them, only to discover they are each arguing that they are each sitting in their own chair. ????? So even sitting in their own chairs at breakfast has managed to bring them both to tears by the end of the quarrel.

It is by this point I already need my first retreat from the day -- a shower. Where I hear the bickering continue, but I pretend to be oblivious. I get out to find that someone has been hit, toys have been stolen, something is broken, and that bowl of cereal I should have cleaned up before I got in the shower is now covering the rug in my living room as Carson gleefully tells me it "rained cereal." Cool.

In an effort to get Eli motivated for the day, I'll say something like, "Eli! Get your clothes on, buddy and we can go to the park!" To which he'll shout back, "I don't WANT to go to the PARK! I don't want NOBODY to go to the PARK!" And then he'll continue to play with his makeshift Transformers while I get ready.

Carson will come in and punch me, more and more frequently the more bored he becomes. Then he'll start snatching my mascara and running off with it while unscrewing the lid. If I can finally get him interested in his own toys, I may be able to apply a little bit of the mascara he kept trying to run off with.

A quick clean of the house, and the grueling daily attempt to leave the house begins. "Eli, you need to get your clothes on so we can go, please."
"NO!" He'll snap back.
"I guess Carson and I will have to go without you."
Silence. He's learned the art of sniffing out my empty threats. So that leads me to open the garage door for theatrical effect.

"NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I WANT TO GO! I'M COMING!!!!!" And that's the only way to get Eli dressed in the mornings.

As my overdue second moment of serenity in the day, we head out for a walk, or an errand. This is absolutely critical. If we don't leave the house, the rest of our day is like out morning only 128x the screaming and whining.

There is happiness and smiling and giggly jabbering throughout our walk. So long as Eli isn't rubbing his feet on Carson's head, or Carson isn't shoving his shoes into the wheels of the stroller. Bliss. If we stop at a park, the happiness continues. They're even pretty good at jumping back into the stroller upon request when it's time to leave. Then we head home.

Eli always does this snazzy little move as we turn down our street where he steadily stands up on his seat on the stroller -- while I'm still pushing it full force -- and then shoots himself out of his seat onto a patch of grass as if he had pushed an evacuation button that was activated by that same stretch of sidewalk each time we passed it. He runs along side me to keep up, as I up my pace to hopefully convince him next time to just stay put. It hasn't worked yet.

We get back and they always want to ride bikes out front, but we rarely have time since we usually get back just in time for lunch. I open the garage and we all race inside -- the boys for their bikes and me for the garage button so I can shut the door before they can escape. I usually win.

Screaming. Crying. Gnashing of teeth if they are unsuccessful in their race against the garage door. Then comes the biggest battle of the day. The battle of who gets to close the door to the garage. Both boys walk in and give each other a stare down, with the door leading out to the garage gaping open. Eli makes his move and with a swift kick slams the door shut. He proudly proclaims, "I closed it."

"I CLOSE ITTTT!!!!!" Screams Carson. Zero to crazy person in .3 seconds. Drops to the ground, fists shaking, voice quivering, 2-year old rage oozing from his core.
"Sorry Carson. I already closed it." Eli says matter-of-factly, perhaps in an effort to gain his revenge for the blue cup battle of breakfast.
"I-I-I-I-I-I CLOSE IT!!!!!" Carson's sobs become gaspy and inconsolable. Meanwhile, I'm staring in disbelief, still trying to understand what the heck is going on. I go down to open the door again so Carson can satisfy his door closing urges. He immediately snaps out of it, reaches for the door, slams it shut, and our day can continue.

I shlep up some bowls of cottage cheese, Ritz crackers and maybe an apple. Eli screams he doesn't want the cheese. Carson throws his apples across the kitchen. Carson, without fail, at every meal drops his fork on the ground, completely loaded with food that ricochets off his utensil upon hitting the floor, and then he whines for five minutes about needing to pick it up before he will accept the fact that he has to pick the dang thing up himself. Everybody's tired and grumpy.

We do a much needed quiet time that is sometimes quiet but usually not. Everyone's supposed to be in their room for either about an hour if they don't fall asleep, or however long until they wake up. Carson has no problem blatantly ignoring every rule of quiet time without caution. That's worthy of a whole different blog post. Eli actually enjoys his time to himself.

Then we do a show, get ready for dinner, and Jeff is thankfully home to help simmer out the rest of the earth shattering disputes.

As I suspected, this is all a lot funnier to me now that it's written out. Writing has a way of helping me squeeze out the humor in otherwise irritating situations. It also helps me to see this is probably just an ornery streak we are in that will likely pass like the previous ornery streaks we've been through.

That being said, I would like this streak to pass as quickly as possible. Our main issue is the constant bickering and whining. Is this an age-old question? How do you get it to stop???!? I have lost all tolerance for whining. My kids' main form of communication as of late is grumpy grunts or high pitched screeches. Am I doomed to a life of fighting over who gets to slam the door shut? Have you found something that works for these seemingly insignificant sibling rivalries? At least tell me I'm not the only one dealing with these kinds of outbursts.

Help. My Instagram account is sure to suffer until I get my happy kids back. :)


Rebecca said...

Hahahahaha! You know my favorite stories on your blog are always the naughty-kid ones!

My advice: Figure out the trouble spots, come up with a solution, and preempt the whining.

Example: Every time we go to the library Spencer and Caroline fight about who gets to push the handicapped button on the door for me so I can push the stroller through and who gets to push the elevator buttons. It always always ALWAYS resulted and a huge tantrum for one or both kids right in the place where they should be the quietest - the library.

I finally learned as we're walking in to assign jobs. "Okay! Caroline gets to push the button on the door and Spencer can do the elevator button! Oh, no! Spencer, if you push Caroline's button then you don't get to push the elevator button."

Just think of how it might blow their brains if at breakfast before Eli can even talk you say, "Eli! I'm magical. I can guess what color of cup you want. BLUE! And I bet Carson will say HE wants the blue cup. Let's see!"

Then giggle together as Carson follows the morning script.

Closing the garage door can be handled in a similar way. Before they whine tell them they can both have a chance to close the door but Eli gets to close it first today (or maybe second if he self-ejected from the stroller against your wishes...).

Motherhood is great, isn't it? I can't wait to hear about their future shenanigans.

sarah said...

That settles it. Becky, I'm officially willing my kids out to you.

The Stevens Family said...

I don't have kids close together, but Dawson has a cousin that is 11 months older and they hash it out plenty. My sister and I have learned that not only do they need breaks from one another, but they both need something special that only they can do. We also both recently started chore charts for our kids. For Dawson, he is so proud of getting his chore chart done. He is earning money for a Disney Cruise Ship :-). We had to put a picture of the ship so he would remember. Maybe try a chore chart that includes getting dressed and ready for the day and a sticker for each chore passed off for the day.

With each of them wanting the same thing... carson and is will to push Eli's buttons... maybe make special cups that they get to each color and is their own. Same with a plate and bowl. Then it's even more cool. Not sure if that will distract Carson from pushing buttons, but it's worth a try right? lol

The only other thing I can suggest is making things a game. Dawson has a difficult temperament. I never could tell him what to do without meltdowns. SO we learned to make things a game. How fast can you go? I can beat you? It worked for Dawson.... He would do things with a smile instead of fight. If we were going somewhere and he didn't want to go I have him draw a treasure map of how to get to the store and we go on an adventure. Dawson was seen as a dressed up pirate here and there, but it was so much easier on me. Maybe it might work with 2 boys? i don't know. Those are just things that worked for me. :-) I hope things simmer down as they get older. Just remember, when they are 19 and older, they will be BEST FRIENDS! :-)

The Stevens Family said...

OR!! have another baby so they have someone else to focus on rather than each other so much.... '-) haha!

The Stevens Family said...

OR!! have another baby so they have someone else to focus on rather than each other so much.... '-) haha!

Kim said...

Another excellent essay! So descriptive and detailed and delightful. Makes me feel like I was there with you--but then thankful I wasn't!! Love your writing, even if it is all about two little rascals driving you crazy with their antics and bickering.

Motherhood is awesome, isn't it??