With Mad Dog away this week things can get a little hairy around here. I tend to be slightly more stressed which in turn means my boys are out to get me. Well, not really. It only feels that way. My stress adds to their stress. The only difference is that the world sanctions their tantrums. Mine? I have to keep to myself or share lovingly with my husband when he returns home. Lucky him.
T.Puzzle has not disappointed this week. He is in top, tantruming form.
I have seen so many of these episodes over the years I have lost count.
Or it’s possible my boys have worn me down so much, I have lost my ability to count.
We had the best intentions. It was a family dinner to kick off our weekend. As we sat at the restaurant, things went south quickly.
T.Puzzle was extra whiny and was having difficulty behaving (to put it mildly). Soon he dropped his entire cheese covered burger on the floor and choked down his broccoli as if the broccoli itself was trying to kill him.
Mad Dog and I quickly lost patience.
We wrapped things up in haste and headed home.
“When do the terrible fours end?” asked Mad Dog.
“You said it yourself, age five was the true turning point for Full Speed. We still have a year to go with T.Puzzle,” I replied.
And that folks, is why we only have two children.
Granted, a third one may have actually been laid-back.
I have written many times about how I can’t relate to Full Speed’s ultra-competitive nature. With time and experience I’ve learned that even if I don’t understand it, I have to accept it.
Where I have yet to journey the path of acceptance in this realm, is when I’m attempting to have a leisurely family bike ride.
We recently purchased a tandem trail-a-bike for T.Puzzle. T.Puzzle is content to ride in tandem with ol’ slow poke Mom. He’s just thankful to be out of the tiny baby bike seat. So is my backside. No more being kneed on a repetitive basis by T.Puzzle’s overgrown four year old limbs.
The ride to pizza was fine. The ride to the park even better. As long as Full Speed is riding tandem and in FRONT with Mad Dog, things in life are great.
Why not mix it up? Let’s give lil’ T.Puzzle his chance to shine and hop on with Dad on the ride home from the park.
This is when near disaster struck. Full Speed was so determined to beat T.Puzzle, he pedaled at a furious rate. Even if I stopped pedaling completely, Full Speed’s relentless legs propelled us to the lead. I didn’t mind at first. In fact I could already see the humor of the situation glaring back at me.
I lost my humor quickly when at a busy intersection Full Speed kept pedaling no matter how many times I yelled ‘STOP!’
Things turned even more unfunny as we maneuvered down our main subdivision street trying to avoid oncoming traffic and remain in a single file formation. As Mad Dog and T.Puzzle eased in front of us as a truck whooshed by, Full Speed let out a tantrumific cry. He was outraged and boy, did he let me know it.
That’s it. I was done. I pulled us over to the sidewalk, hopped off the bike and refused to ride in the insanity any longer.
Full Speed’s response?
He leapt off the bike and attempted to beat his Dad and his brother by foot.
And wouldn’t you know it? That little man almost beat them.
T.Puzzle’s new glasses had finally arrived. There was only one minor problem.
He refused to wear them.
As I sat facing him in the optometrist’s office with his new glasses neatly folded in my palm, I ran through possible actions or threats to get him to comply.
I could validate his sense of injustice at having to wear glasses that actually fit snug on his head (as opposed to his very old, very stretched out former pair). Maybe if he felt ‘heard’ he’d be open to reason.
I could square up my shoulders, look him dead in they eye and say, ‘Put the glasses on. If you don’t, you will go to your room when you get home and you won’t come out until you decide to where them.”
I assessed the people milling about the waiting room.
They looked like the judgmental lot that we mothers are so used to encountering.
I knew I was going to look like a Mom-with-no-soul (T.Puzzle’s baby face and dimples make him look like an innocent lamb) but I went for the second option anyway.
As my threat of being sent to his room reverberated through the office and T.Puzzle wailed, a ripple of compassion went through the air.
I heard things like, ‘bless his heart,’ and ‘he doesn’t like how they feel, poor thing.’
The technician who adjusts the glasses swooped into the room with his pliers at the ready. “I’ll loosen them for him. Maybe that will help.”
Since I already had long surpassed the coddling route I decided to go all the way with it.
“Nope. They fit just fine (they honestly did). I have dealt with stubborn boys for years. He will wear them as is. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but he WILL wear them.”
I took the glasses and dramatically placed them in my purse.
“Well, T.Puzzle, we better get home so you can go to your room.”
“Nooooooo, Mommy! I do wear them! I do wear them!”
And simple as that, he did.
Not five minutes later away from prying eyes, he was perfectly content and proud to wear his new ‘big boy’ glasses.
So at this point, Mom sent herself to her room and will be refusing to come out until further notice.
Yesterday, the four of us hopped on our bikes and headed to the soccer fields. The mail lady commented on how she wished she could join us in the sunshine as we whizzed by.
Full Speed rode his big boy bike. No training wheels, no how.
We were golden. We did some drills (all according to Mad Dog’s direction–my soccer knowledge consists of ‘kick the ball’ and ‘don’t use your hands’).
The best part was when Mad Dog played ‘keep away’ from the me and the boys. It took all three of us, intense concentration and sometimes we caught a break to occasionally knock the ball from Mad Dog’s skilled feet. The boys loved this game.
Then, Mad Dog tried to have Full Speed run a ‘dribbling’ drill. Apparently this means doing something with your feet and has nothing to do with the fine motor control of retaining saliva in your mouth. Since Full Speed wasn’t good at controlling the ball in this manner; he pouted, cried and acted like a very spoiled two year old.
The bike ride home was drama-filled and drawn out. Full Speed refused to pedal (he’s not so great at riding without training wheels yet either).
At least the weather was lovely.
Eventually, Mad Dog had to coax Full Speed home on foot and I had to carry his bike while balancing mine with my free hand. It was a long walk home.
I’m so thankful for second chances and new days.
So far so good.
I guess sometimes you need to go to the brink of bad behavior before you can return to the land of the well-behaved.