Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Trying Weekend

Ever had one of those weekends when you find your patience is always being tested? I'm having one of them.

Maybe it's because I'm going through one of those sleepless jags. Those stretches when I feel perpetually beat. By the time 8:30, 9, 9:30 rolls around, I'm dead tired, and I go to bed. But I can't sleep. My mind races, from things minorly consequential to truly, well, mindless. I don't know how to shut off the mental movie reel that turns on as soon as the bedroom lights are turned off.

So, I imagine my troubles with sleep exacerbates my frustration with the boys, and I'm sure it's shortened my patience fuse. But I digress, mostly, because the boys have been a handful.

Let's start with Nathaniel. We all know he's high-energy, super octane, hyper kinetic. A five-course meal of activity. But this weekend he's been all that and more. Leading up to the weekend, he already was in full spazzy mode, traumatizing Michelle so much that she called me in the middle of the day spluttering that she couldn't take it any more. And that mommy can take a lot, so I know she felt as if she were at the end of her rope.

So, Saturday morning rolled around. I got up – or more accurately, Nathaniel the human alarm clock woke me – and I went downstairs to compile a breakfast of breakfast-for-dinner leftovers (awesome scrambled eggs with asparagus, spinach and peppers and pancakes) with a side of freshly cooked bacon. So far, so good. Mostly. The boys played, but mostly they wanted me to play with them. I'll take that as a compliment at this point, as they don't see a whole lot of me during the week, and, maybe they like me some, too. And, I try to oblige, to a point. After all, they are brothers, and I feel they need to learn to play together, or separately, without Michelle and/or I being involved. Still, it's nice to be wanted, so this is a tricky little tightrope to traverse. I remember one of my friends from our church's men's club saying to his son, "I'm not your friend. I'm your father." His son was several years older than even our oldest, but it still struck me as a stark line-in-the-sand declaration that I don't look forward to making but realize that I ultimately I likely will.

Anyway, I digress again, I guess The point is, I also wanted to watch some college basketball on TV (If you can call it a TV; our flat-screen tube picked a fine time to die, so we brought this tiny box that we use to show the boys VHS movies downstairs as a sub), but every time I settled on the floor to squint at the tiny figures on the screen, one of the boys would interrupt me. Plus, there was a lot of eye rubbing, and we hadn't even hit noon yet. I endured this for an hour or so, and finally announced lunch and nap time.

And that is where the games began. Isaiah was exhausted. He had slept in Natty's room the night before, and apparently the "sleepover" wasn't all that restful for him. He was yawning and pawing at his eyes at like 9:30. He was done. Normally the quiescent one, I figured he'd be an easy one for nap time. And he appeared to be, snuggling into his woobie as I lay him in his crib.

When I got downstairs, though, I heard thumping, shrieking, whoops, war cries, screams, shouts, stomps, jumps, falls and general mayhem. Had some devil entered his body? When I entered his room to check, the carnage was apparent: Stuffed animals strewn throughout the room, blankets roiled and abused and a major stench of a little boy who had worked out an awful poop. Diaper changed and scolding administered, I figured mission accomplished. He was very tired. But for the better part of another hour, he wouldn't let up. The thumping, the whooping, the screaming, the yelling, the stomping, the jumping, the knocking, the careening, continued.

I would've done something about it, but I was preoccupied with the other one. Nathaniel has gotten wise to nap time and now treats it as a game of "Can I get out of my bed and raise hell and then get back in my bed before mommy or daddy get upstairs and check on me?" He's pretty good at it, too. His ally are the stairs, which creak as you walk on them. It's nigh to impossible to sneak upstairs and bust him. There are too many creaky spots. Believe me, I've looked for them. So, I settle in to watch some college hoops, and WHUMP! I go upstairs and enter Nathaniel's room, and lo and behold, he's in his bed, under the covers no less, eyes closed. I think it's him, but with his warrior brother, I'm not sure. I've got to give him the benefit of the doubt. I go back downstairs, sit on the floor to watch, and WHUMP!

And this goes on for a few more time before I start to get really pissed. Quiet time is not so quiet, and it's actually more irritating than if the boys were raising Cain around me downstairs. Finally, Isaiah falls asleep, and I thought Nathaniel had, too, until he "woke" up, came downstairs and within minutes, started bouncing off the walls and rubbing his eyes.

We'll fast forward to Sunday. Remarkably, the boys behaved well in church, darn near angelic until we neared the end of what must have been at least a 30-minute sermon (and this for a service geared for families). Lunch was on the early side, and I shuttled the boys to quiet time, in separate rooms. This time, Isaiah went quietly, exhaustion winning out over crib madness. Nathaniel also snuggled into his covers, nary a protest, appearing to welcome the rest.

For a bit, there was no noise, and I settled on to the floor to squint at the tiny figures running around on the TV. Then, WHUMP! BANG! WHUMP! This time, I didn't bother trying to be sneaky; I sprinted upstairs and caught Nathaniel trying to sneak from  Isaiah's room back into his own.

I was furious. I can barely describe how mad I was. Not only had Nathaniel disobeyed me about quiet time (don't get out of your bed), but he had gone into Isaiah's room and woken him up, too. I wanted to spank him, but I wouldn't; instead, I did my best verbally intimidating, fear-of-God, make-him-pee-in-his-pants admonishment that I could. The jig was up. No more games. He would stay in that bed for as long as it takes. THIS IS IT.

His eyes grew very, very large. And then he began bawling.

And so I picked him up, sat on his bed, took several deep breaths and rocked him for a while. I whispered to him that I was really, really mad at him, not because he got out of his bed and woke up his brother per se, but that he wasn't listening to his mommy or me, and was disobeying us.

He nodded as if he understood. Then, I told him he would stay in his bed until I came back and got him.

And, this time, he did.


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