All posts tagged: double x

Rockin’ on the home front, struggling at work

I had a solo morning, which means all four kids have to be out of the house by 7:40, with all their gear, lunches and etcetera, etcetera, which today included nordic ski gear for Sam and I…and it happened, on time and with relative calm. For reasons I can’t explain, Rory was the issue this morning. I told them to get boots and coats on, handed Rory her boots, as she was dithering, then went to start loading the car. The lock on the ski box stuck, so it took me a few minutes, during which Lily appeared with everything well in hand (which was kind of a surprise, as she’d been complaining). I went back inside to find Wyatt struggling with his zipper–fair enough–and Rory standing there, completely uncoated and unbooted. That’s actually unusual for her, but I didn’t have time to sort it out. Instead, she got shoveled into the car, coatless and bootless. Wyatt got a zip but had to go in without his boots, and we were off, making Sam’s school with time to spare, but with Rory wailing the whole way.

Once Sam was stowed, I parked, helped the little ones with their boots and let Rory use her coat as a blanket, but until then, I let them shiver a (very) little. (warm car, five minute drive max), and I said, repeatedly (I’m pretty sure this is why Rory was wailing) that they’d had plenty of time to put their stuff on (which was true) and they’d chosen not to, and that they did not get to choose to make Sam late for school. Ah, guilt…

But it did make me wonder what the consequence should be for the child who stubbornly refuses to put on his or her gear and get out to the car. That wasn’t quite the situation this morning, but it has been, and no doubt will be again, and I don’t like to hold up two or three other kids to favor the recalcitrant or the laggard–it puts all the wrong incentives into place. When I say coat and boots, I mean coat and boots, and I need them to know that. Could I send them to school with no coat and boots? I asked, and the school said no. I’m not really surprised–I think they’d have to leave a teacher off the playground, and they probably don’t want to suggest to the other kids that not going outside is an option. So I get that. But I need something more, I think, than guilt and a chilly car ride. ( already have an incentive going (that would be the vitamins, always and only given in the car), but I do like to have a threat as well.

Most of my working time today went into a blog post– (The Least Important Million-Dollar Question ABout Childhood Vaccinations)–which wasn’t at all the way I’d planned to spend it. I’d alloted X time for blogging, X time for a pitch I was working on, and X time for book and other work…but the blog post turned out to be, shall we say, TripleX.

KJRockin’ on the home front, struggling at work
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Personal Failings, We’ve Got a Few

The BPS invited a bunch of psychologists to name things they didn’t understand about themselves, and while some of them took it as an opportunity to muse about consciousness and neurons, a bunch kept it real, and said, in essence–if I KNOW why people make certain mistakes, and I even studied it–why do I keep making the same mistakes?

We’ve all got tropes we keep repeating even when we know what we do, why we do it and why we shouldn’t–my topic of the day on Double X.

KJPersonal Failings, We’ve Got a Few
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News Flash: Not Everything is About Rory

Or having four kids instead of three (or two, or one, for that matter). At some point over the weekend I said to myself “Self, you have got to quit this blaming it all on Rory/having four kids business.”
I had bad days before we had Rory. I had days when I felt like I would never get out of the house, that the dishes would never be done and the laundry would never be washed (Full disclosure: I have help with those things, so this is a doubly pitiful stance). When I was convinced that my life was a pit of endless dispair and I would never, ever get to go for a bike ride or advance my career again. During those times I took this out on everyone around me, and myself, hard. Just like I still do. (A buddy and author of this really good kids’ book that everyone should own refers to his evil alter ego “Black Mood”, a horrendous monster who can destroy the mood of a whole household in thirty seconds or less.)
The good news about this revelation is that it enables me to stop focusing on Rory as the cause of all stress (whether directly, or as the harbinger of the difficult four kids phenomena). The bad news is that, well, I will undoubtably still have bad days.

Not that this was one, in fact, it wasn’t at all. Here are some recent miracles: I took all four kids for pizza the other night solo, and it was relatively painless and indeed almost pleasant, what with the whole not having to cook or clean up thing. Rory did drop her whole Sprite on the floor–she was so grieved and embarrassed–but these things just happen, it’s not like she was goofing around with it, although she may have been attempting to carry it with one hand. Another cup full of 3/4 ice and 1/4 Sprite was easily obtained. And she thanked the young guy who cleaned up beautifully, which was especially nice as her earlier attempts to ask the same kid for a straw resulted in his asking me if she spoke English. (I didn’t hear her asking, since I was actually getting her a straw and she was actually pointing to the cup of pens on the counter, which she could barely see over. I think we can all agree that pens look like straws, and that four-year-olds can be tough to understand at the best of times, but this guy looked a little young to get that. So I’m not sure if she remembered the word “Straw” or not. She does forget when she’s nervous, and it’s kind of a big deal for her to talk to a stranger at all, so I was pleased with her and not bothered by him. It was fine.)
Oh, back to the miracles:
Two days worth of lunches already prepped tonight.
Rory enchanted by adorable green corduroy jumper and tights I put out for her this am. (She likes comfy clothes, so I wasn’t sure they would qualify.) “I pretty!” And she was–my favorite lime green is a perfect color on her and I predict she’ll sport it often, since she doesn’t share her big sister’s passion for all things pink…yet.
Lily equally enchanted by her one super special new school outfit, which it was too warm to wear until now: Purple and green with no pink in sight.
Wyatt very pleased by new shirt, gift of grandma several weeks ago, as yet unworn, and pants that he perceived as new in spite of their handy-down status. (Rory’s ensemble was a handy-down too, but she has a few new things coming. I think Lily wore through a few pair of leggings. Plus I couldn’t resist…Rory lets us dress her, and Lily wouldn’t accept anything I wanted her to wear, so it’s nice to have a little girl to deck out. Although many of the things Lily would not wear are waiting, nearly pristine, for Rory.)

Any more miracles? I can’t think of any. I’ve been asked–which is to say, hired–to cover more parenting issues for DoubleX, and I’m happy to be in such good company, while still struggling to balance varying work assignments. Getting there, though, definitely getting there.

I told Rob about our pizza dinner, and said I thought we’d all crossed some sort of rubicon. (I think I really said we’d gotten over the hump.) He shrugged. “The rest of us were there weeks ago.”

Hey, at least I’m there.

KJNews Flash: Not Everything is About Rory
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