I Just Can’t Even*

My day began at 4:30am today.

I heard P stirring on the monitor, and as he started crying I slipped out of bed and dashed down the hall to comfort him so he wouldn’t wake H & S. I was in with him for a few minutes, then I crept back down the hall and into bed.

Of course, that’s when my head started spinning with all the many, many things I have on my to-do list this week and I couldn’t fall back asleep. After a half hour or so, I managed to quiet my mind and started to drift off..

…just as I heard the door to the kids’ room click open. Thinking it might be P again, I rolled out and tip toed into the hallway. I found H creeping down the stairs. When I stopped him and asked him what he was doing, he said that he wanted to go play toys or the Nintendo DS. As it was only 5:20am, I kiboshed that idea and herded him back into bed. I knew he was still tired and would cry if I left, so I crawled into bed with him thinking he would fall back asleep in a few minutes.

I was wrong.

He squirmed and wiggled, sang the ABCs quietly, flipped and flopped and sighed great sighs. After an hour, I finally just told him to go down and play quietly and I trudged back to my own bed, hoping for 15 minutes of sleep before I had to begin the day.

M took care of breakfast for me so that I could try and wake up a bit and shower, and then we traded off as he left for work and I started school prep for H & S. We have our morning routine down to a science, and there are really very few variations. They know the drills and usually play quietly until it’s time to go. Occasionally there is a squabble or two, but generally they are pretty good.

And then today happened. Today was an abomination.

S & H were bickering non-stop all. morning. long. They fought over toys, they fought over space, they fought over different interpretations of my instructions, they fought over who started what and who didn’t do what. P threw himself into the mix now and again by throwing toys at H or tackling S. All of this of course upsets my very sensitive H who cries very easily.

Except this morning he wasn’t crying. It was like he knew the fights were so lame that they couldn’t produce a real cry, so he was trying to fake it. And the noise that was coming out of him was this awful, low moaning sound, like, “Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh.”

I’d hear S say something, then, “Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh.”

Then he’d say something back, followed by another, “Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh.”

By the time it was time to put coats and shoes on, Mama had had enough. I lost my cool. I yelled the great yell and put my angry face on. I threatened the end of their advent calendars. I threatened the loss of toys. I was about ready cancel Christmas when they finally realized that I was serious.

Somehow we all made it to school in one piece. We were running into the yard as the bell was ringing, but we made it. It was only 9am, but I was already ready to throw in the towel and end the day.

I didn’t, but I wanted to. I ran a zillion errands and cleaned my house all day instead. (WHY do I do this instead of napping? I’m losing it.)

I did want to let the kids know that their behaviour this morning was unacceptable though. So, when I got home from my hours-long errand expedition with P, I hid the elves. I can’t remember if I mentioned it before, but I now have two elves, not one. I went and bought one Elf on the Shelf at Dollarama after S asked me about it a couple of weeks ago, but then as we were decorating the tree on Sunday, guess what I found in our tote? ANOTHER Elf on the Shelf. (When will I learn to check the totes first!?) Apparently I knew this would happen last year and bought and Elf in advance. So, when the kids found it there was much shock and awe… which I explained away with “this elf has been hiding and sleeping as he didn’t have a name yet!”

They bought it, hook line and sinker.

Moral of the story: We now have two elves.

So, every evening M & I have been moving the elves into different spots around the house. I have to admit, we’ve having way more fun with it than I thought we would. We’re not doing anything crazy, basically just playing hide and seek with the kids. And they LOVE it. S races down the stairs every morning to look for them, with H hot on her tails.

After the fiasco that was this morning, I took the elves down from their perch this morning and put them away. I knew the kids would come check to see if they were still there as soon as they walked in the house, and I needed them to understand that this morning was not okay. When they came home I explained that the elves had been missing as soon as I got back from school. That they had heard all the fighting and had left, and that I wasn’t sure if they were coming back.

S was sad, but logically proposed a solution: maybe if everyone was kind to each other, didn’t fight and helped Mom and Dad then the elves might come back. She seemed to take it to heart, and our evening was worlds better than the morning. There was much less bickering, less moaning (“Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh”) and less talking back.

I put “Candy Cane” and “Frosty” back out, and I’m hoping that S and H will be able to decipher their message to the kids.

More love, less fighting.

I’m so tired. Time for bed.

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