Got the boys back at 5 today. They were with their father for most of the day. He picked them up at 8:30, them brought the older two to Hebrew school and picked up the middle when that was done and then the third got a ride home from an event at 2. I went home after school and crashed, having worked until 2 this AM and already feeling completely crappy before that.
The boys were good all evening until bedtime. Not just good, but exceptionally responsive. It's not that they weren't as potentially challenging as ever, but they did listen. They walked with me to the store without throwing a fit. They came in for dinner. They cleaned up the wet muddy mess they made from filling up latex gloves with water and going back and forth to the backyard from the guest bath. Then, even more impressive was the after dinner scene. The older boys were being pretty good at dinner, but when number three started fooling around and spilled his milk accidentally, I called it quits for him. He was tired. No nap today. Then another cup of milk was spilled. I did a pretty good job of keeping my cool. I told them that it was early enough in the evening that there was plenty of time to get done what we needed to get done and have a lot of spare time left over. I decided to ask them to clear the table, clean up the second cup of spilled milk, put food in the fridge and load the dishwasher. Remarkably, they did it! I was so impressed. I came down to check on them while giving the little one a bath and they had done it. Not perfectly of course, but for a six and nine-year-old who generally throw a fit about everything, they did a darn good job. I have lots of praise to be sure. The nine-year-old was in the bathroom (which can be a long process), and the six-year-old was goofing around. I asked the younger to finish by doing three more things which amazingly, with a little encouragement, he did successfully. I told big brother to clean up the milk puddle that remained on the floor and then get upstairs. He also complied. Heaps of praise on them both. Still just 7:15 or so, I shared with them how pleased I was that this would mean we had plenty of time to enjoy each other before bedtime. Stories, snuggles, whatnot. I asked them both to get ready for bed and pick up their bedrooms while I was reading to their little brother. The MC decided to hop in the leftover, still-warm bath water, with my blessing. He was still being cooperative. Yay! I'm thinking to myself, the tide is turning! Things are going to get better. Look at this beautiful cooperative evening. I'm going to write about this on the blog as evidence that I'm not always whining, that there are good days. I was so demonstratively pleased. Lots of praise. Lots of enthusiasm. And then it turned ugly. My eldest got silly out of control and then the MC joined suit. Legs in pillows, underwear on heads, rolling on the floor, boinging the doorstops, throwing stink bombs, kicking doors, you name it. I kept my calm. In fact I was exceptionally proud of what a good job I did staying calm. I kept reminding them how we had all this time left to have a lovely time together and they just needed to pull it together and do what I asked. I could go on and on, but the point is, they didn't. I finally had to force darkness by taking away lights. Sad. So sad to end the night that way. Was so looking forward to that time with them. And my eldest turned into a complete asshole. I can't believe I'm using such an ugly word to describe my beloved son. I hardly use that word for anyone, but that's how he was acting. Couldn't care less. Quite intentionally choosing to piss people off and be the worst he could be and laughing about it the whole time. He wasn't just throwing a fit. He was intentionally amusing himself with his defiance. Worse than an angry defiance is a bemused defiance I think. But I stayed calm!!!!!!!! There's one victory. He can look back at the situation tomorrow and know very clearly that this was about him losing it because of his choices. It was not about Mom being mean or unfair.