Friday, April 13, 2018

Morning has broken, like the first morning...

It was a morning not unlike any other morning—full of teasing and screaming and fighting and yelling. And maybe the kids were doing what they were supposed to be doing...but maybe they weren't.

I don't know. I was upstairs sitting on the couch, pumping.

Tangent time: To be honest, I was ready to start weaning off pumping. I mean, Alexander is six months old (or will be on Saturday) so I've been pumping for about half a year now. I've donated 4232.5 fluid ounces (33 gallons (Rachel is doing a unit on measurement so she should know that's 132.25 quarts, 264.5 pints)) of milk! It can be a bit of a burden, but it's a labour of love. Still, it's simply more of a challenge to do with a (fussy) baby on the cusp of mobility than with a sleepy newborn so I'd been thinking of retiring the pumps. But then my friend Joy sent me a message about her sister, who was desperately trying to get her baby to eat. She hadn't been able to nurse him and he'd been failing to thrive on formula (plummeting off his growth chart). He's doing better on breastmilk but he's not quite out of the woods yet.

So he's my new motivation for sitting on the couch pumping...while my children run amok downstairs in the mornings. It's fine. Usually. I mean, they're generally good children.

This particular morning, however, they were overly good. Or, at least, one of them was.

Benjamin had come upstairs and was being all crazy so I asked him to go downstairs to work on his chore: putting away the clean dishes. He actually complied and thundered down the stairs to get to work.

Everything was fine until all three of his sisters started screaming at him at once.

"Benjamin! Benjamin! Benjamin!" his older sisters chorused (Benjamin is a very common refrain at our house) while his younger sister screeched unintelligibly at him.

"You guys!" I hollered from the couch before...




Everyone in the kitchen started screaming, but I think Andrew started screaming louder than anyone.

"NOBODY MOVE!" he yelled as he raced out of the bedroom and down the stairs, his halfway-tied tie flapping. "STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!"

What happened was this...

I hadn't yet done my "share" of the dishes (I usually put away all the sharp and/or potentially sharp objects (so glassware and knives and things of that ilk)) so Benjamin decided to "help" me out.

He put all the glasses (and some plates) on the kitchen counter before deciding that wasn't helpful enough. He wanted to put them into the cabinet. So he pulled over Zoë's special stool (that she sits on at the table; it's like a high chair but a regular chair (IKEA calls it a "junior" chair)) and climbed up on that, glass in hand.

She noticed him using her special chair and started screaming at him to get off. Rachel and Miriam started screaming, "Benjamin! Benjamin! Benjamin!" because he was probably breaking at least fifty house rules and they didn't know which one to chide him for.

Benjamin did not get off the chair. He put the glass away. Nothing bad happened.

His success fuelled his effort. He picked up another glass. He reached up to put it away.

Up, up, up on his tippy toes, Benjamin stretched to put the glass away when Zoë decided to take her chair back by force and gave it an angry yank, sending him toppling and the glass he had been holding flying.

By the time Andrew made it downstairs Zoë was standing by her overturned stool—frozen with fear (but screaming and crying)—surrounded by broken glass. Benjamin had somehow removed himself from the scene of the crime and was cowering over by the fridge (thank goodness he was already wearing his shoes). I, frankly, have no idea where Rachel and Miriam got off to, but somehow Andrew was able to round all the children up, get them to stop screaming, and tease out some semblance of the truth. He also swept up the bulk of the glass.

Benjamin was unconsolable for a long time, but managed to stop crying before he left for school. He'd only been trying to help. *sigh*

We reminded him that before you can "go the second mile," which is a wonderful thing to do, you must go the first mile (otherwise it's not a second's just chaos).

We reminded him of one of our family's maxims: "Do what you can do." It's kind of like remembering to go the first mile before going the second mile, but it's a little bit different. Our kids have this awful habit of finding the one thing they can't do and using it as an excuse for not being able to do anything. If they have to unload the dishwasher, for example, instead of putting away the dozens of things that they do know the location for, they will find the one odd doodad in there and puzzle over it forever. "Where does this go? What is this? I don't know what this is or where it goes. Therefore I can't do my job." Seriously, kiddo—just do what you can do. And then worry about whatever that is.

We reminded him that if you're trying to help by doing something you've been expressly asked not to do time and time again, that's not really helping. And there's probably a good reason you're not supposed to do the "helpful" thing. Sometimes "helping" isn't helping. So, no, Zoë is not allowed to get Alexander out of his crib. And, no, Benjamin, you should not climb up high to put the glasses away.

Zoë was chided for being such a bully goat about her chair. I understand that she's two-going-on-three and that sharing suuuuuuucks but, seriously, she came very close to causing grave bodily harm to her brother (and, for that matter, herself). I honestly don't know how there were no broken bones/loss of blood over the course of this incident.

When all was said and done, that's what we reminded the kids was important. We don't care about the glass (it wasn't ours anyway—it's one of Grandma's!) but we do care that everyone was okay. No one was punished very severely because natural consequences seemed to have done a bang up job of helping the children understand how/why they were out of line. Unfortunately, I fear we may have gone too easy on them because when Benjamin got home from school he boasted about "not even getting in trouble" over the morning's shenanigans.

That's because it's quite impossible to punish a child who's shaking with an adrenaline buzz while blubbering, "I'm so sorry, Mommy! I will never do it again! I didn't mean to break anything! I just wanted to help! I know I wasn't supposed to do that! I'm so sorry!"

At that point you just comfort the child, right? Or am I doing parenting wrong...?

Andrew said that when he was talking with Benjamin about it, the thing Benjamin was most upset about (besides, you know, nearly falling to his death) was that "now [he's] in the breaking dishes club like Daddy."

We have a standing joke in our house that Andrew breaks everything because we had this bad run in North Carolina where Andrew broke four glasses in a very short period of time. It was like every time we turned around he'd broken another glass (or two).

But I just looked up the post about Andrew breaking glasses and it turns out the reason I wrote the post was because Benjamin had broken a glass (so he was already a member of the breaking dishes club).

Anyway, I think we finally have all the glass picked up. Andrew swept, like I mentioned, and then I mopped the floor with a wet paper towel to pick up all the little shards he missed. And then I vacuumed the floor because I was still finding glass all over. And then I did some more mopping.

And then I had to leave the house for kindergarten pickup (these mornings go by so fast) so I sent Karen and Reid text messages telling them to beware shuffling around in the kitchen barefooted.

Karen found a few piece of glass while she was in there.

And then I found more during lunch. There was glass all over the kitchen. But I'm pretty sure we've got it all now. And I think we learned our lesson? Maybe...

1 comment:

  1. I hate broken glass! It is so scary and so hard to clean up. Best of luck finding it all before someone’s foot finds it. :( And I think you’re an awesome mom! :)