It’s the first day of the summer and we are in big trouble here, people. I was so happy to have a loose day finally, even though we had so much to do. It’s been a super crazy few weeks.
The boys spent the better part of the morning (while I tried to clean up the kitchen and get some laundry going) arguing in the playroom downstairs. Matt and I stared at each other in disbelief at how they were acting. Within three minutes I turned off the monitor so I didn’t have to hear it, but before long it found its way to me. Lyle had produced a “magic balloon” which was said to create imaginary, invisible toys overnight that only belonged to him and couldn’t EVER be seen by Baxter. For his part, Baxter went completely bananas over this. He is, um, literal. And sometimes less than flexible. He couldn’t handle that Lyle kept taunting him, saying, “It’s REAL, Baxter!” This, by the way, made Lyle a “liar”. No one could let it go and I could not stand the inanity of it all.
Before too long, we left to go on some All-Important Secret Mystery Errands. (Let me remind you: Father’s Day is Sunday, June 20.) One or the other of them complained bitterly the whole way there, which only indicates to me that they haven’t had to go on enough shopping trips lately. Guess who’s going to a LOT of stores with me this summer? Ahem. Anyway, there was a lot of attitude from both of them along the way, but they soon realized they only got to play Angry Birds between errands if they’d behaved themselves in the store.
We had a decent stretch for a while there, eating lunch and taking Gus out for a walk that ended at the playground. Lyle climbed a tree and Baxter played on the swing for ages, and there was peace in the kingdom. But on the walk back home, conversation turned to summer camp, which begins for both of them the second week of summer break. Lyle has never been, but has always loved it when we dropped off and picked up his brother. Furthermore, he was so excited at the camp orientation that he wanted to start the next day. But somehow between that night in May and the transition of kindergarten ending, he has not only lost enthusiasm but seems to believe his life will end the day camp starts. He bitched. He moaned. He raged against camp and us and the entire world, calling all of it “stupid”. He won’t go, he’ll stay home. When I pointed out that we’ll all be at work or camp, he yelled that he’d call 911 and the police would come take care of him (!). He was acting like an out-of-control spoiled brat, to put it bluntly, all the way down the sidewalk.
Then he began kicking as he walked, and I sternly warned him to stop because he had almost kicked Gus in the head. Sure enough, along came another kick that DID catch Gus in the head. The dog who is already incredibly uncomfortable with a few hot spots and is going to the vet later today. I blew my top, friends. I angrily hauled Lyle back next to me by the arm and moved him over to sit on a grassy lawn next to us. There was a whole camp group leaving the beach walking past us so I wanted to get him out of the way fast so that I could deal with him. It is possible that I let loose with a “Goddammit” as I did so, but I cannot be sure. He was shocked and outraged by being moved in that way. I never manhandle my kids. I felt horrible and he was infuriated, but I was still at the end of my rope. He suggested afterwards that instead of grabbing him I should’ve “stuffed a donut in [his] mouth”, which broke the tension for Baxter and me but our laughter only upset him further. He mouthed off the rest of the way home.
When we got home he was sentenced to time out until he calmed down. Later, we talked about all the changes going on for him right now and how nervous they make him. I had tried to bring that up when he was raging about camp, sure that anxiety was the root cause of his misbehavior (it usually is), but he was already too far gone at that point. He admitted to being sad about kindergarten being over. He loves school and his friends, and said it’s not as much fun to be home. I suggested that this is why kids go to camp in the summer, to play with lots of kids again and have fun, and he didn’t argue this time. However, he did tell me afterwards that if we talk about camp again he’s going to go into the bathroom and flush himself down the toilet. He’s not at ALL dramatic.
I don’t know how I can still be blindsided by this behavior when we’ve experienced it so many times before, but it’s just impossible to believe it’s around the corner when he’s skipping merrily along, confident and loving school and friends, looking forward to everything about summer.
So, yes. Day One of Summer 2010 and already a parenting (and child behavior) low. I’m so proud.