Dalyn’s Week 8: E + D Toy Room Challenge

Yesterday we had a parent-teacher conference with our kindergartener’s teacher and speech therapist. Our son has been thriving in kindergarten, so I was pretty sure that it would be a great meeting and it was. He’s still struggling with certain sounds (he tends to turn ‘y’ into ‘yl’ for instance), but he’s made a lot of progress using subject pronouns instead of object pronouns, which was a major concern last time around. And he’s excelling in all the typical kindergarten stuff like writing, recognizing sight words, and, especially, math, which just seems to make sense to him.

This is both good and bad news. He still has a number of things he needs to work on for speech, but his IEP runs out in September. Because he’ll be six-years-old, we need to show that his speech is interfering with his academic progress. As his teacher said, “That just won’t be possible. His academics are outstanding.” So, we’ll take advantage of summer support and do what we can in the remaining months. But, in the meantime, we had some serious celebrating to do for a job well done.

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1/3 of the toy room, 2/3 of the children

Our local store, Belmains, which reminds me a lot of an old Woolworth, has an ice cream counter that they moved inside for the winter. So, we took the kids to get ice cream. It was lovely family time that we so rarely get to have in the middle of the week in the middle of the school year. At least it was lovely until the boys ran off to peruse the lego aisle. The kids are obsessed with legos, particularly Eames, and they’ve come to associate this particular store with treats–usually legos rather than ice cream. So, even though we were very clear that no legos would be making their way home with us, Eames has a complete and total melt down in the store. The kind you’d give me dirty looks for if you were in the store with us.

The good news is that I didn’t yell at him. I explained that we’re working on saving money (makes no sense to him), that we just moved (has no relevance to him), and that the toy room I so carefully cleaned last week was already a complete and total disaster because he doesn’t clean up after himself and that I’m not buying him more sets until he learns to take care of the ones he has (I don’t think he realized I was channeling my mother). This, of course, prompted him to make promises that he would. There was more screaming and crying and the throwing on one’s self on the ground until Josh carried him out slung over one shoulder. Good times.

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Kids forget things easily, so Eames was over the whole thing before we got home. But, I realized that I had solved one problem (needlessly spending $10) but not the bigger problem of the toy room, which they have destroyed to such an extent that they don’t like to play in there until I clean it up. So, Eames and I planned an “E+D Toy Room Challenge.” For two weeks, they will pick up the toys they played with for the day and complete another task on the grid–tasks I came up with. When they cross out each of the squares, we can go back to Belmains to buy a small lego set. I’ve learned through other chore systems that they start to lose focus if the goal is too far out. Two weeks seem doable. And small lego sets won’t break the bank. I’m hoping that what we can do here is set up some habits, since that’s the purpose of this blog and I’ve just made them contributors, then start making the challenge more difficult with each iteration (making the timeline longer and adding different tasks, etc). These really are the best laid plans…

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Dalyn’s Week 4: My Name is Dalyn and I’m a Yeller

I have about a million excuses I could use for not having met any of my goals–especially my goal to blog here once a week–for the past two weeks. And frankly, the excuses are pretty good: kids didn’t let me sleep for over a week, semester kicked into high gear, we bought a house, etc. But that’s life right?

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What kind of asshole could possibly yell at these adorable children?

While I haven’t exactly been productive in ways that I’d like to report on, I have been doing some reading and thinking about what I would like to work on beyond becoming a morning person (that’s clearly going to be a long labor of love). With the stress of moving and school for many of us, the thing that keeps coming to mind, over and over and over again, is that I need to figure out new ways to communicate with my kids. Basically, I need to stop yelling at them.

I yell at them to get their coats on. I yell at them to get in bed. I yell at them to be careful around Moxie. I yell at them to stop fighting. I yell at them be quiet. The irony is just too much.

I’m a rhetorician. I should have about a million tools at my disposal to work on this issue. I shouldn’t need a challenge or an app, but I’m beginning to suspect that the 5-year-old and under mind is just not responsive to well-crafted rhetoric.

For example, I attempt to use some carefully crafted logos. “Dashiell, I know you’re upset that Eames took your toy. But actually, Eames picked up that toy first, then you walked over and took it from him, which he then took back. Therefore, he is the original owner and you actually took it from him. But, there’s the exact same toy over there that you can play with. Here.” Dashiell’s response? “This toy not the same. Eames no touch it. Stop busting me out.”

Fine. 3- and 5- year old brains are not wired for logic. But pathos should work, right? “Eames, when you do that it really hurts your brother’s feelings. He thinks you don’t like him and that makes him sad.” Eames’s response? “I just never ever. You jealous! He always gets to go first! I never ever want to play again. I just won’t play until ever!” This is followed by him complete surrender to gravity. Basically, he out-pathos’s me every time.

Ethos. Well, I think my yelling has effectively undermined my ethos, hasn’t it?

So, I’ve turned to the kind of parenting advice that has always made me shudder. I’m not ashamed to say I need a drink┬ámany days after the kids have been particularly trying, but I am a little ashamed to say that I watched a “positive parenting” webinar the other night too.

So, I’m taking the Orange Rhino Challenge. While that blogger decided to go 365 days without yelling, I’m aiming at a more modest 7 days. The reality is that I’ll stop feeling the motivation shortly (after about 3 weeks if this blog is any indication), so I need short frequent goals rather than a big.

The Orange Rhino chick suggests tracking your yelling for a few days to get a better sense of your triggers. I’m not sure I can handle that level of truth. I do know, however, that the yelling tends to happen during transitions–particularly, getting out the door for school and bedtime. Getting up early greatly reduced the stress of getting out the door, so that’s another reason to jump back on that train. Count downs and warnings about how much time is left also helps. But reality is that the kids are tired. An I’m tired. They can’t really control their emotions (and sometimes actions) yet, but I can even if I can’t always control theirs. So this week I will control mine by not yelling at them. And I’ll keep track of the times I do, if I do, and report them back here so I’m accountable. Sigh.