Not your typical Mission Trip Essay (Part 2) – Surviving at home.

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Let me be honest, I knew things were not going to be easy with the hubby out of the country for 10 days. Having 4 kids under 9 – three of those being “our kids from hard places” is challenging even when both parents are under the same roof.  These three little bundles of joy can be conniving, defiant, spiteful, and oppositional defiant.  We don’t have the typical “kids will be kids” type of challenges.  No amount of talking, pleading, punishing or negotiating seems to work.  The challenges these kids present are much more complicated.  These kids are “those kids”, kids with attachment issues, kids with fears of abandonment, kids with ADHD and bipolar disorders.  Dealing with these kids is exhausting.   My husband and I have a “divide and conquer” technique that seems to keep us afloat most days. Other days can be hell -pure hell.

They have us outnumbered and have the advantage of youth.  This would seem to give them the upper hand.  They can create an atmosphere of confusion with their subatomic energy levels.  They use the “tag-team” approach; when one kid stops whining, demanding or throwing a tantrum the next takes over.  Think Chinese water torture.   They even manage to use this tactic during the night.  Every evening they get in a huddle and designate the evening intruder.  The intruder’s job is to wake up every hour and a half, climb into our bed and commence wiggling, twisting, turning and kicking our faces.  If this maneuver is unsuccessful at making us get up out of bed, they will demand a glass of water.  If this demand is not met quickly, they sound the alarm.  If the others hear the alarm – they will come.  Then all alarms go off in unison, causing the house to shake.  This usually achieves their plan to prevent us from completing a full REM cycle.

Luckily, my husband is a planner.  He uses logic and reason.  He sets rules and establishes guidelines.  Usually this does not work so he resorts to the basics in parenting – wear the little buggers out.   He takes them to the YMCA, the park, the pool – never stopping for naps or breaks.  Any time school is out, hubby has them doing something.  Hubby is simply known as “Activity man”.  This week “Activity man” is gone.  He left me the pool passes, the Y passes and directions to five different parks.  He warned me to keep the busy.  He said he would pray for me.

Let’s face it, I am not Activity man.  I am just mom – much more laid back (lazy maybe).  By the time the laundry is done, kids are fed, the dishes are clean, kids are bathed and wrestled into bed – I am done.  I would rather hang around and let the kids destroy the house than load up 4 kids and go chase after them – in different directions – all over the park.   So, although I’m a little bit worried that this is going to push me to drinking, I have no real plan.

Surviving the Mission Trip – the Home Front

Day 1

4 a.m. – Activity Man and son head off to the airport.  I’m oblivious to this as I’m fast asleep.

6 a.m. – The Informer started the attack by refusing to get dressed for school.  She knows the rule is “no breakfast until you’re dressed – complete with socks”.   She informed me – with arms crossed – that I could not make her get dressed, nor could I make her go to school.  I simply reminded her of the rule and calmly went about my business.  I had my cool on.  I would not let a 5 year old ruffle my feathers.   When she came downstairs – not meeting the dressing requirement – she was calmly escorted to the van and buckled into her 5- point car restraint and calmly told she would wait there until the others were ready.  She sounded the alarm which could be heard 2 blocks away.

The alarm must have been the signal for the others to gorge some pop –tarts.  Within 3 minutes, The Ring Leader and The Boy had inhaled an entire box.  Admittedly, they did get some of the contents onto their school clothes that now had to be changed.  Still yet, they ingested enough sugary goodness to put them into a sugar high.  They were running around in circles and laughing uncontrollably.

By the time I finally caught The Ring Leader, took her upstairs to get changed and came back down, The Boy had destroyed the living room.  I may have used my upset momma voice to tell Little Miss Independent to stop playing with her iphone and get her shoes on.  This caused her to have one of her over sensitive meltdowns “I’m not even doing anything wrong and you always yell at me.”  Guilt sets in.  I apologize, give hugs and try to comfort the only child not creating havoc.

7:00 a.m. – We missed the bus.

8:30 a.m.  – I arrived with a smile on my face to The Ring Leaders kindergarten graduation ceremony.  She informed me that she somehow lost her brand new sweater.  The sweater I told her not to wear since it was a warm day and she would not need it.  The sweater she insisted made her look beautiful.  The sweater she promised not to take off until after her graduation when she would then hand it to me so I could bring it home.  That’s the sweater she managed to lose between 7:15 drop off to school and the 8:30 graduation.  I’m still convinced she threw it in the trash.

3 p.m. – Phone call from daycare director informing me that The Informer had hit, kicked and scratched her teacher and that I needed to come immediately before said teacher walked out which would lead to my kids being expelled.  Expulsion can NOT happen this week.

4 p.m. – I arrive to pick up The Informer who was sitting next to The Boy in the director’s office.  Apparently, he heard of his sister’s actions.  Of course, he didn’t want to take the chance that he would be left at school without her, so the only reasonable thing to do was attack his teacher.

I apologized for my children.  I pleaded for another chance.  I informed the director of my missing husband who was off having fun in Haiti while I was home alone with these hellions.  I played the sympathy card.  I was granted another day.

7 p.m. – The children got their melatonin gummies early.

11:30 p.m. – I am unable to sleep.  Day one was done with no casualties – well, except for the poor teachers who were attacked and the missing sweater.  Overall not horrible, I mean social services wasn’t called.  I know I must plan for more strikes.  After all, they will wake up in the morning recharged.  I need to be on the offense.

I need a mom strategy – something that I can sustain for the next 9 days.

 Here’s the plan…………….

Step 1 – Wake up early.  Shower and dress before they wake.   This way I can monitor their every move.  It will also eliminate the need to be rushing around in a frantic attempt to be on time.  Allow a full hour and a half before the bus arrives.  Schedule time for a few bumps in the road.

Step 2 – Keep them together.  I know the strategy of divide and conquer. They must not be allowed to use this against me.  They must be kept in close proximity at all costs.  Lock the doors, use gates, leashes, and duct tape – anything necessary.  Do not let them split up.

Step 3 – Stay “calm and collected”.  They expect me to lose it.  This strategy has an element of surprise.  This will throw them off their game and keep me thinking straight.  Expect the unexpected and don’t overreact.

Step 4 – Bribery/Reward.  Use the ipad, TV, candy, desert, and movies – whatever it takes.  These little sugar monsters will do almost anything for an M&M.  My pockets will be full of them.  The Ipad will be fully charged and movie night before bedtime is as good as money for these kids.  I know their weaknesses and I will use them.

It’s a good plan.  A solid plan.  I sleep well – for 4 hours.

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