Monday, May 16, 2005

Counting Down

Come close. I can only whisper this. Shhhhh.

I can't wait until my twins are old enough to leave home. Only six more years.

I'm not kidding.

This afternoon at 2:30 p.m., Babygirl woke just as my husband took the twins to their meeting with their mentor teacher. I'd secretly hoped she'd sleep longer so the house would be quiet all at once. It was not to be. Instead, her long-legged, lean body wobbled on my left knee while I clicked and clacked on the computer keyboard and discovered that the twins had done very little work for the day.

We are on Week Five, counting down to the end of the school year. They must accomplish a great deal of work so we can end on schedule. It's not optional. Each day this week, they need to do eight lessons. Today, TwinBoyA did three lessons successfully. TwinBoyB did four lessons, all wrong. He failed two assessments and skimmed over his literature to such an extent that he missed had no idea when the Middle Ages were and what the Crusades were.

I typed out a letter to each child explaining what they'd accomplished and what they needed to finish before they could play or watch television. Upon their return, TwinBoyA read his letter and cheerfully finished five more lessons. TwinBoyB exclaimed at the unfairness of life, stomped his feet, cried a few dramatic tears, declared he would not do anymore work and furthermore told me firmly, "DO NOT TALK TO ME ANYMORE!"

I search my heart and find that I will not miss this. As my husband left (I can't remember where he went), DaycareKid and CuteBaby woke. YoungestBoy returned from school. The two neighbor boys showed up and I told them they could only play in the back yard. The baby needed his bottle, so I sat on the floor feeding him while TwinBoyB babbled on and on, struggling to find a way to avoid actually reading his science material. He took the assessment four more times after failing it the first time. Finally, he understood that the inner core of the earth is the inner part.

At one point, I was trying to get to the laundry room to put YoungestBoy's baseball shirt into the dryer, but I kept getting distracted. CuteBaby needed a diaper change. The phone rang. Babygirl wanted shoes on. I need to pee. Oh wait, the laundry room . . . oh, I need to fold that basket of stuff.

Then I smelled the unmistakable odor of a half-potty-trained kid gone wrong.

"Did you p o o p in your pants?" I asked DaycareKid.

Big brown eyes looked innocent and he said, "No."

I said, "Come here."

I felt his backside and found a solid little ping-pong ball of it hanging in his brand new Spiderman underpants. Why do kids think no one will notice this personal problem?

(Well, this is a rambling story, isn't it?)

At 5:20 p.m., I carted CuteBaby upstairs to hand over YoungestBoy's baseball shirt to my news-watching husband and he said in surprise, "He's still here?"

Yes. Him, DaycareKid, Babygirl, TwinBoyA, TwinBoyB, YoungestBoy, and Neighbor Kid One and Neighbor Kid Two. I was trying to feed YoungestBoy an early dinner, answer the phone, hold CuteBaby, wipe DaycareKid's nose, shake off the leech-like grip of Babygirl, boil potatoes and not go insane. The daycare moms both came at once, the phone rang again, my husband left with YoungestKid, but not before bumping the car into Babygirl's trike which was abandoned at the car bumper by DaycareKid on the way to his own car.

Yes, yes, yes . . . we've been over this before and I should be am savoring these crazy days of mothering. But I can't see how I will miss TwinBoyB's antics and his complete lack of interest in all things academic. I sat in the living room at 7:00 p.m., going over his literature lesson with him. He is fully capable of reading his student guide and the accompanying literature book, but he most often won't do so without eagle-eyed supervision.

Why? Why? Why? (I say this while flailing my arms in the air, clutching great snarls of my own unruly hair and foaming--just a little--at the mouth.)

Maybe this is like transition in labor. You know, that point where you think, "I absolutely cannot do this. I changed my mind. I'm not having a baby." You are too far in to change your mind and there is no choice but to carry on, breathe in, breathe out, focus on the end result, maybe scream a little and clutch the sides of the birthing pool and look into the eyes of the women in the room who know that they did it and you will, too, and someday, you'll forget just how much it hurt. Maybe even tomorrow.

I hope so. I'm looking into the eyes of those of you who did this and lived--and I'm talking about having twelve-year old boys who hate school. We'll be okay, right? Right? I can do this, right?

Okay, then. Okay. Tomorrow's a new day, a new opportunity to accidentally squish slugs while I'm walking in the rain and a new chance to get this mothering thing right.


Blogger WordsRock said...

My son didn't hate school, but he was twelve at one point. So I may not be qualified to say it, but yeah. You can do it. You'll be okay.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Cuppa said...

Ok Mel. Look into my eyes. Focus and breathe. Just breathe.
Innnnnn! Ouuuut!
Innnnnn! Ouuuut!

You can do this. Yes you can.
Innnnn! Ouuuut!

My kids are grown and on their own now and I am still standing. Some days when they were young I didn't think I would make it through till the morrow, but I did and you will too. Hang on girl. You are doing an amazing job and you will live to see tomorrow and even be standing and sane when you do.

Princess Mole Whacker! Long may she reign.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Two twelve year olds' at once.

Oh, boy - oh, boy.

Now, repeat after me (in a voice much like dorothy's in the wizard of oz...)

"They DO grow up! They DO grow up! They DO grow up!"

5:59 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Take him to see Kingdom of Heaven, maybe after seeing an action movie filled with the kind of violence only boys (and me) love, he will be more interested in reading more about the middle ages and the Crusades.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

I have to confess... Yes, it is kinda wonderful when the mouthy-ones move out on their But in the meantime, just try to see it all with a sense of humor and as wonderful blog fodder for those of us who love to read what you write! :) God bless... Debra

7:41 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

Maybe it would be helpful to implement a penalty/reward system -- if you don't already for the Twin boys.

If they don't do their school work on-time and as requested -- and completely finish it by a set time -- then there are penalties (no rewards).

If they do finish everything -- give them points which allow them to earn some of their favorite things (movie out, games, day out, etc)!

Explain to the boys that life is all about dedication and hard work. If they don't want to work, they don't get rewards. It's that simple. Start explaining to them how you work to pay for the house, for the food, etc.

Just a thought.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Angi said...

In our house, when they aren't "into" doing school, mouthing off, and various other preteen-teen boy things, they have to work. Hard labor does wonders for the attitude. Vacumning, mowing, just pushing the mower around the yard a few times, even with it off. It helps with the agression that boys build up at this age.

And like you, I will be SOOOOOO glad when this stage for each one of them is over.

My pediatrician told her 14 year old "If I could sell you, I would". lol.

9:38 AM  
Blogger tab said...

call it character-building skills. My kiddos still have 2 more days of school until summer break and I'm already counting the days for when school starts up in the fall(don't get me wrong, I love them but enough is enough). I'd have to have my own personalized straightjacket if I even considered for one second to homeschool my kiddos.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Julana said...

Maybe you should have given Twin B the salamander.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Wash Lady said...

Perhaps twin boy needs a tad bit more *motivation* to do what he is told?
I realize that sounds so trite and compartmentalized; however, it worked VERY well for us when I wasn't getting the minimal cooperation that I requested, then demanded but ALWAYS deserved.
If he isn't motivated to do it - then why should he?

2:31 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

I can sure relate to your post today. Just a little bit ago, my little guy (age 7) screamed "I hate you!" as he stomped his feet to his room.

Guess that we savor the good moments... and dream of adulthood for the bad ones!

4:00 PM  
Blogger Monika said...

"Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him." -Proverbs

I'd spank him! I don't see anybody else recommending corporal punishment so I guess I'm a minority? I do not tolerate that sort of behavior.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Monika, I do believe my 12-year old, 125 pound boy is a bit beyond the stage where a spanking would be effective. I actually used to spank the twins when they were small, but I don't spank anyone anymore. But thanks for stopping by my blog, Monika, whoever you are.

Wash Lady and Eyes for Lies: I actually do have a built-in system of rewards--the boys can't play Nintendo, watch t.v. or have free time until they have done a certain amount of work. Yesterday, TwinBoyB didn't get any privileges until 7:30 p.m. when his work was complete. Today, he had a much better day.

Everyone else: Thank you for the support and encouragement. I appreciate it.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Monika said...

I'm just a homeschooling mom of 5 from CA. I read your blog frequently; I love to read. I think I found you through Amy's Humble Musings, but I'm not sure.

Well I occasionally dole it out to my 14 year old, also my 12 year old who apparently is bigger than your son, at least weight-wise. I had thought that by the time they got to be 8 or 9 the spanks would be over, but they are not. They are a lot more rare, though.

It is always for attitude. Seems to be the prevailing problem.

I, too, have disencentives. Dessert, computer, tv are taken away. Chores such as weeding are assigned. But sometimes these disincentives are not enough.

I certainly try to reason with them, too, explaining the importance of behaving properly and so on, setting a good example myself, etc. etc. I wish that was all it takes.

On a bright note, my 17 year old is way past any such thing and is a wonderful young man. My other sons are usually well behaved, too. They just have bad days sometimes.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Monika, thanks again for stopping by. If that works for you, great! I'm just not comfortable with corporal punishment at this point in my mothering career. :)

4:24 PM  

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