Tuesday, March 19, 2013

They're Driving me Crazy!

I write a lot of nice things about my kids on this blog because there are a lot of nice things to write and because I like to try to keep things fairly positive when I share information about my kids. But wow, these kids of mine are giving me a run for my money lately! They cannot seem to stop bugging each other and/or being overly sensitive about what each other was doing. Some of them have been pretty critical of me - in a disrespectful way (I'm all for constructive criticism, but wow, the tone of voice needs to be nicer!) And some of them seem to have developed some bad habits that are awfully hard to break.

Here's some of what's getting to me (presented in as anonymous a way as possible):
  • One kid is going through this phase where they take every possible occasion to point out every little thing that anyone says slightly wrong. (Like someone will say we watched a certain movie Saturday night and it was actually Friday night and the error has to be thoroughly pointed out repeatedly until other family members chorus together "Who cares???")
  • One kid is constantly being called "annoying" by another kid. We've had to institute a new (and somewhat effective) policy that anyone who uses the word "annoying" owes me a dollar.
  • One kid is just plain grumpy most of the time lately, seems to have a perma-scowl on their face, and has something ranging from not-so-nice to downright mean to say to pretty much everyone.
  • One kid (or two) cannot sit still - always seems to be bouncing off the walls.
  • One kid wants to sit still way too much - wants to sit and read or be on the computer all day and resists all suggestions to get outside and do something active. 
  • One kid will never admit that they are ever wrong about anything - even in the face of pretty darn obvious proof.
  • One kid generally will not give complete answers to questions that Jared or I ask them and insists on being as evasive and vague as can be. I'll ask something perfectly nice and normal like "So what homework do you have tonight?" and they'll say "Math" then I'll say "what do you need to do for math? and they'll say "some stuff" and I'll say "can you please be a bit more specific? how long do you think it'll take" and they'll say "as long as it takes." It's painful.
  • One kid is really into "dog-piling." If Jared or I (or anyone else) points out something that someone else could work on, this kid likes to really drive the point home by re-iterating whatever we've said and adding some more criticism.
  • One kid gets their feelings hurt very easily and is not easily consoled (there are actually a couple kids who seem to trade off taking this role).
  • One kid uses superlatives a whole lot - "I NEVER get to _______." "You ALWAYS make me do ________."
  • One kid points out all the time what everyone else seems to be doing that we don't permit in our family and what everyone else in the world doesn't have to do that we do have to do in our family.
  • One kid bursts into tears over what seems like nothing sometimes and then can't seem to identify why the tears are happening.
  • One kid keeps getting sick and needing lots of special attention (not at all their fault but adds to the stress around here).
  • One kid cannot leave the computer alone and keeps sneaking onto the computer when their computer time is up.
  • We talk about our "sweet" - the best thing that happened to us, our "sour" - the worst thing that happened to us, and our "service" - something we did for someone else that day - every night at dinner. Last night, one child said that their "sour" was the nice dinner I'd worked hard to make.
  • One kid wants to talk to me all the time and gets offended when they don't get the full attention they require.
  • One kid takes off whenever I try to talk to them or has next-to-nothing to say.
  • One kid is just plain messy and cannot seem to remember to clean up the crayons and paper pieces and craft supplies that they are always spreading across the table and floor.
  • One kid is super smart but can't seem to remember to turn in school assignments so their grades are suffering (or make that two kids).
  • One kid is always late to the table for scriptures and moves in slow motion as we try to get out the door for school, often making us late. (It sort of switches off week by week which kid this is.)
  • One kid says "I know" in response to pretty much everything I say. "You need to clean up your room." "I know." "I've got to take so-and-so to such-and-such." "I know." I've tried to point out that if they know they're supposed to clean up their room, then why is it that I need to point it out? And how could they possibly know the things I'm just telling them for the first time?
  • Several kids tend to interrupt me and everyone else constantly. I keep suggesting that I really can't listen to them when I'm in the middle of saying something. It's not sinking in.
  • One kid leaves assignments until way too late in the game. I sat up until 11pm with one kid last night, helping them write a book report for the THIRD time since the original draft was inadvertently lost by the computer randomly shutting down and losing it then the second version was inadvertently lost by the kid not saving it correctly.
  • One kid does about 5% of any assigned job and then needs to go the the bathroom - every single time.
  • One kid does about 5% of any assigned job and then disappears without an excuse.

But you know what? I guess I'll keep them, warts and all. I'm sure I'm doing some things wrong to help inspire some of this behavior. And some of this stuff needs to be ignored. And more positive reinforcement is definitely needed. And more one-on-one time with each kid always helps. We'll get back on track here.

To get my mind and heart in a better place, I'm going to share some of the great things going on around here - many of which are the flip-side of the behaviors laid out above:

  • One kid produces beautiful artwork (and messes) constantly. The artwork is totally worth the mess.
  • One kid has an amazing smile that is all the more beautiful given how seldom I get to see it lately.
  • One kid tells me interesting facts about what's going on in the world of technology and helps me fix any computer problem I have.
  • A couple kids are developing great senses of humor. I love it when we laugh together.
  • Most of the kids are generally very respectful and obedient when asked to do something or not to do something. They seem to appreciate and embrace the logic of our family rules.
  • One kid loves talking with me and tells me all the details about their day along with assessment of what was great, OK and not-so-good.
  • One kid is so tender-hearted and loving (and sensitive) and notices whenever I or anyone else needs a little extra love.
  • One kid's teacher told me they were so impressed with this kid's kindness as they continually helped a child with special needs in their class. The teacher said "That kid just has a kind and good spirit - really unique and special."
  • One kid points out all the little beautiful things in the world around us.
  • One kid loves to help me with any project I need to do (and is actually very capable and helpful).
  • Three kids always say "thanks for the ride, I love you" and blow me kisses when I drop them off at school.
  • One kid has had their grades improve quite a bit this year. Another has had them improve dramatically this year.
  • One kid is totally great (almost fastidious) about making sure they do all their homework in a timely manner.
  • One kid (or two) does their after-dinner job and "zone" clean-up area of the house quickly, happily and well (switches off which kids this is).
  • Most kids happily eat everything I ever make for them.
  • One kid (or two) is at the table on time for scriptures every morning (even when I'm a bit late). 
  • One emotional kid is more full of happy and joyous emotions than sad emotions.
  • All the big kids are so very kind and helpful to all the younger kids at church and in the neighborhood.
  • One kid practically trips me with big hugs several times a day.
  • One kid gives me a spontaneous hug about once every few months and that hug is priceless.
  • One kid sings me this sweet song they made up about how much they love me several times a day.
  • One kid tells me every night that I'm the best mom in the whole wide world.
There is no all-or-nothing. There's very little black-and-white. There's just a lot of up and down and around and around. And that's OK.


A Mom said...

I had to read your list to my husband....we were laughing pretty hard because you just described our kids! It's like you've been a fly on the wall at our home. We also have 5-kids, their ages are 7-14 and it must just be their developmental stages. But they are so much like yours. Thanks for helping me realize that we are just going through phases with them and there are lots of great things to focus on with them.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing! Sometimes it's nice to know that our kids are normal. It is easy to get down and feel like a horrible parent when so many discouraging things/attitudes seem to be swirling around! I am a huge fan of the Eyre family. I read your Mom's book when my oldest (19) was a few years old and have come back to "3 Steps to a Strong Family" many times. (I am probably close to your age, but got started very young!) I only recently stumbled upon your blog and have since started reading your sister Shawni and your Mom's blog. I so admire what your parents were able to do and am enjoying following what you and your siblings are doing with the wonderful upbringing you were blessed with. Coming from a very dysfunctional family I have craved to be able to create a very different family culture. We have definitely improved this generation, but my husband and I have talked many times how breaking destructive patterns completely takes time and our hope and prayer is that our children will have families that start to resemble what the Eyre's had.:) Thank you for keeping it real on your blog! Thank you for sharing and encouraging a generation of Moms!

Lindsay said...

I agree with the other comments--wow it helps to hear that so many of these things are happening to others! It makes me feel less like I'm doing something desperately wrong, because I know you're not! Now if I could just be a little more resilient and cheerful despite those things... :) Thanks again so much for sharing.

Linda said...

Love this Saren. It's just what everyone needs to hear! Maybe it's in the genes because lots of this was in the family fiber growing up with our mob! Glad you added a few nice things. Sometimes it's hard to even see the good when you're so frustrated with the hard!

Rachelle said...

Loved this post Saren!

emily ballard said...

It sounds like older kids sometimes have different agendas too!

Feel the love, feel the love :)

Becky said...

Great article! I often forget to find the positive. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Loved your post. I too am a mother of 5 ( 4 boys and 1 girl, ages 15-8) and we live in Chicago! Your honesty is so refreshing! I believe strongly that the ending of WINTER and lack of sunshine has something to do with it! You are a great mom!

Steph said...

I came across this completely by chance. but thank you... this was just what I needed.

chercard said...

I love the realness of this! Thank you for sharing, my kids drive me crazy too, but I also love them fiercely and adore being their Mom!

Heather said...

Black and white. Up and down. What a wonderful job we have of being entrusted with these powerful spirits. My children sound a lot like yours, the ups and the downs. Sometimes the ups outnumber the downs, but not all the time. (or in Nottingham) Way to note the positive.

Jenny Borup said...

Yep, they all sound pretty normal. One suggestion on the homework, inadvertently lost or not saved, your rescue by staying up and helping them finish til all hours of the night teaches that child that they are not to worry, Mom will always step in when they are careless. How about a lesson here of consequence? Too many parents are coming to the rescue especially when it comes to schoolwork. Accountability is the name of the game. Sometimes it takes some F's on projects to get the drift(which also comes with consequences at home). Don't let the teacher rescue either by accepting late work. This is such a disservice to our children.


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