His Royal Highness

The other night, we had a battle in our house. Well, at our dinner table to be more precise. Who hasn’t had dinner table battles? The rule at our house is, you have to try everything at the table. You do not have to clean your plate, nor do you have to eat a daddy-size portion of something you hate- but you must eat a bite of whatever we are having.

I don’t make really nasty things- I don’t make my kids eat brussel sprouts, or beets or even lima beans. But peas? Fresh, plump and tasty peas? Not the canned, grey, ucky ones. Nice peas.

Back to my story: Broiled chicken, peas, and rice pilaf. I added applesauce to the kids plates. Okey dokey. We know Jeffrey doesn’t like peas, so I don’t make them all that often- but he has to try one. ONE pea. One. Yes, only one pea. For heaven’s sake, you can swallow it with milk and not even taste it- you can bury it in your applesauce and never know- trust me, this is what I did with my lima beans when I was a kid.

Nope. Not my pigheaded Monkey. After much crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth, my biggest Monkey decided he would rather miss family night, and go to bed, than eat that one small pea. One small pea. We are changing his name to Princess.

The Chrysalis

Jeffrey comes into the bedroom where I’m getting Eric into his jammies. He is saying a word I cannot make out, and he keeps trying to communicate his idea, and is getting frustrated that I don’t understand. The word sounds like “chrussis” or “krissys”.

“What is the word about?” I ask, trying to help him along.

He looks exasperated and throws his arms out in cute annoyance “Mom! You know! It’s where a butterfly lives before it changes it’s outfit!”

Midnight Mothering

How little sleep can you function on? With a newborn, we find out pretty quickly, and I guess each of us has our own threshold. While I don’t need that much sleep, I am definitely a better mama when I get at least 5 or 6 hours. They don’t all have to be at once, but I am finding when I fall apart at the seams is when I don’t get more than an hour or so at a time. That’s when I loose my marbles, drop my basket, break the eggs, you know, become psycho mama.

The baby is actually sleeping pretty well, usually only waking once per night to eat, and going back to sleep fairly willingly. Not bad, especially compared to her brothers. Knowing that I will be up at some point in the night makes it easier to deal with, mentally and emotionally. What is making me go off the deep end is the other two Monkeys… All of the sudden, two boys who have been sleeping well for years are waking up- and waking me up. I may have just fallen back into bed, post baby feeding, just fallen off into the land of Nod, and some little person is standing beside my bed shaking me awake.

Nevermind the startle of opening your eyes to a person right at eye-level watching you, but my r.e.m. sleep has yet again been violated, because someone needs a drink of water. Or has to pee. Or had a bad dream about a big slug that was on fire. Or can’t find his foot bink. These are the things that, once or twice, I can still be a good mama, but more than that, I loose it.

So I am wondering if it would just be easier to not sleep at all. I seem to do better sometimes just staying up- there are nights that I look at the clock, know Abby will be up in a little while, and wonder if it will be worse to get an hour of shut-eye, or just stay up.

It’s kind of like my theory on dieting- I would have a much easier time loosing weight if I did not have to eat all, rather than venture into the kitchen to find something healthy. How bout nothing? That would be great, thanks! So for sleep, an hour or two, interrupted each time you reach deep-revitalizing, dreamy sleep? How bout nothing? Thanks, that would be just lovely!

If you see me, you’ll be able to recognize me by the steamer trunks under my eyes as I stumble around the grocery store. I will have a sign written in crayon hung on some yarn around my neck: “Mother of three, 5 weeks, 2 and 4; please be kind”.

Run ‘Em Ragged

It is possible I have discovered the trick to keeping little boys in line: Run them ragged! The last two days, I have taken the boys to the park and let them run for hours, and then today, to a friends house where they wrestled and ran and climbed and ran some more for, literally 5 hours. The two other mom’s and I made doughnuts from scratch while our 6 boys tore the yard apart.
(Do you know that doughnuts eaten while standing at a kitchen counter have no calories? It’s true, my friend told me so.)

And do you know what? There have been little or no behavior problems in our house. Today when we got home, poor little Eric could barely pick up his feet to walk in the house, and Jeff has been complaining that his legs hurt. Hooray! Eric is in bed, sound asleep already, and I’m listening on the baby monitor to the DH brush Jeffrey’s teeth and put his jammies on right now. No griping, no mouthing off, just mellow, tired and compliant kids…

Oh, happy, happy day! I think I can do this, I really do.

Surprises in the Mail

I really wish this picture was better, then you could see the amazing embroidery on this little sampler sent to me today by the marvelous Em. Another internet friend that turns out to be a wonderful, kind and talented woman in real life.

It is a darling scene with a little red-headed girl in a buggy, with Abby’s birth information added, circled by a ring of flowers. It looks like it is embroidered on tea-dyed linen, too… I love it! It’s hanging over the changing table.

The thing is, I have never seen such fine embroidery- the stitches are perfect and tiny and neat- it really looks like a sampler from 100 years ago when the ladies knew what they were doing. Now I have to come up with another idea for Em’s first baby, due later this summer- because this lady makes me look like a hack! Thanks, Em. Very, very much.

Ah, That IS the Question!

To spank or not to spank… sigh. Once, before I had kids and knew everything about how and what I would do, I thought this was not even an option. End of discussion. Well. Tempis fugit, and here we are. Let’s discuss.

We’ve got some seriously difficult little boys right now- I don’t call them The Terrorists for no good reason. I’m not sold on spanking being a really, or even marginally, effective means of behavior change- but I would be lying if I said we have never done it. Now, when I say spank, I mean a swat on the bottom, not beating with wooden spoons, belts or any means of torture may have been status quo 50 years ago. A swat. With an open hand. But still…

What if the the spanking doesn’t work? Doesn’t correct the horrid behavior? The problem seems to be, what do you do then? You have played your ace, and your out of the game. And, I have read that you should be dispassionate when disciplining, and I don’t think I have ever been calm when I wanted to spank one of the boys… How do you do it? So are there situations that simply warrant a little bit of corporal punishment?

Here is what happened at our house today: We had a great day, so I can’t figure out what or where we turned left when we should have gone straight, but anyway… We went to the park, we had a picnic lunch, Jeffrey helped me cook dinner and we sang songs while we cooked, Eric read books and complained about our singing, and Abby slept in her bouncy seat on the counter, to be safe from Eric. After dinner the boys had a bath, got ready for bed and I read them three (three!) bedtime books. I’m feeling like I’ve got this one in the bag. Big Mistake.

As I am ushering the boys off to bed, at the same time as every night, Jeffrey starts to give me some grief, asking for more stories and griping about not wanting to go to bed. When I tell him no, he starts to pout and whine. He begins with the garbage about not loving me, wanting a new mommy, that I am not his mommy anymore, blah, blah, blah… I can totally let this roll off my back, but then Eric chimes in and starts to mimic Jeff, saying all the same yucky things. Now I am ticked. He had taught my two-year old to say crappy crap to me. They receive verbal warnings, first once, then twice, and three times- on the third, Jeffrey looses his favorite toy. It’s standard procedure here.

At this point, he is climbing the ladder to his bed, and reaches out and hits me. Here is where I loose it and swat him. Cool, now I have spanked my kid for hitting me! Give mom a prize!

Ultimately, it went downhill from there, and DH had to come in and take over. In our house, we are still old fashioned, and dad is the big-guns. Both boys ended up getting spankings. I feel like crap about it.

So when your kid is spewing really nasty stuff at you, teaching his younger brother to do the same and then hits you, what do you do? Perhaps if I were getting more sleep, not tired, didn’t have a new baby (definitely part of the problem) I might have come up with something more creative and effective… So, is it ever ok?

(I’ll tell you what makes me think it’s not: It is really hard to say your prayers after you’ve spanked your kid. Just a thought…)