I just closed my feed reader rejoicing that there is not one post left unread in there. Marked unread, that is. I found – again – that the thought of not having read my bloggy friend’s posts was a heavy burden upon my shoulders. So I scrolled through some, commented on some others, and deleted the rest.
I know that I have subscribed to too many blogs, I really know, only I don’t know which to unsubscribe from.
This week was supposed to be a week of rest after months of sickness, and hectic life. It’s carnival break after all. Well, it started with – yet another bout of sickness which was thankfully brief, and now I find myself sitting lethargically at the kitchen table, knitting frantically without much enjoyment, drinking tea or beer, reading a book that I don’t particularly like, while the dirty dishes are staring at me, and dust bunnies accumulate in the corners.
Family life at the moment consists mostly of me and my son fighting over things like putting on clothes, or going to sleep. He isn’t good with transitions (is there anyone who is good with transitions?), I know that. But it’s really no fun that getting him to change his clothes is a 30 minute drama twice a day, complete with yelling, tears, howling, and tantrums.
I am a teacher, I know my pedagogy, and I have tried all the tricks and strategies I know. I have given up, sometimes, and dressed him myself only to have him yell at me because he wanted to do something else instead. I have tried the “do what you want, if you’re still in your pajamas by 8.15 you’ll wear those to kindergarten”-approach only to have a howling 6-year-old scrambling into his clothes at the last minute. Sometimes he has to go without breakfast because of the dressing debacle but he never went without his pants.
We have the same sort of conflict in the evening. Asking him to put on his pajamas, or any clothes results in him pulling down his pants, and then standing there staring into space for the next twenty minutes or so. The funny thing is that I remember being the same as a child, only I don’t remember any conflict. I remember that in third grade I realized that it often took me so long to put on my socks that my feet were ice-cold by the time I got around to it. Also I finally realized that taking such a long time to dress made me late for breakfast, and then I decided to learn how to dress myself faster.
So I totally understand having difficulties with transitions, and being slow in things like dressing, only the transitions don’t get easier by procrastination, they get harder, and more hectic. When, for a short time, using a timer my son had to beat was an effective method to remind him about the passage of time while dressing oneself, we found that it took him less than six minutes to dress himself. On any given day it takes him between 20 and 30 minutes while two adults nag him, and he whines, and we all get angrier by the second.
The other thing is his falling asleep, or better, his lack of falling asleep. Sleep has always been an issue with him. But there have been times when we could tuck him in, turn off the light in his room (not in the corridor, never in the corridor, and the door has to remain open), and go off to watch TV, or play music, or talk, or read blogs. Not anymore. For months at least somebody had to sit in the kitchen until he fell asleep. Which may take more than an hour. With him getting out of bed just when you thought he’d surely be asleep, asking you something, and then needing you to guide him back to bed because he is afraid to go back into his room even though the light on his nightstand is on.
To minimize anger throughout our family we devised a new tactic yesterday: I’m helping to put our son to bed but my husband will be the one sitting in the kitchen. So that I have the feeling of not being on duty 24/7. We only remind him once about changing into his pajamas, and such, and then he’s on his own. When he isn’t into his pajamas by 7.50 there will be no story-reading. Likewise I talked to him yesterday, and reminded him of the conflicts we used to have about washing hands before meals. At some point he just gave in, realizing (with a bit of help) that we always insist on washing the hands, and that if he just did it life became much more pleasant. I made a deal with him about the dressing and undressing. In the mornings my husband will stay in bed until we are finished with breakfast. He’s not a morning person, and having to eat breakfast while two people yell at each other ruins the day more effectively for him than for any of us. So he gets to stay in bed a little longer, and I get evenings off.
This morning my son fetched his clothes, and dressed himself without any conflict whatsoever. It took him 11 minutes. I felt an intense happiness. Until we started to fight about the “cutting of the fingernails because of recorder lessons” half an hour later.
Yesterday evening, by the way, ended with my son falling asleep next to my husband in our bed while watching soccer an hour after his bedtime. We’re working on it.
You might think that he needs less sleep, and that’s the reason why he can’t fall asleep but against that stands that a) he falls asleep in about 5 minutes when he’s sleeping in our bed, and b) on weekends he always sleeps at least half an hour longer than on weekdays even though he goes to bed at the same time.
Life’s not all confusion and conflict, though, on Tuesday I met a friend and we went to this very special sauna. It was very nice to meet my friend again, since we hadn’t seen each other for months, and the sauna was very relaxing.
I also finished a lot of knitting which I will get around to show you eventually, and finishing means that I can start new things. I made a hat, finished a shawl, a beret, a pair of mittens which make me very proud because I learned how to do two-handed stranded knitting for them, and two pairs of socks. Oh, and a cardigan.
And who knows, maybe my son will learn to dress himself without drama like he learned to wash his hands without drama. He’s an intelligent chap, he’ll figure it out eventually.