Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On raising a weirdo

or, potentially, weirdoes.

The Big Yam last week: "Sometimes at school, my brain shows me pictures from last year, and I don't want to see them, but they go wherever my face goes."

Me and the Dotytron: "What."

LOL.  This kid, man.  This kid, who comes home from school periodically and will say stuff like, "I didn't play with anyone.  No one wanted to play with me," and then I drop him off at school and everyone's like, "BIG YAM!!!"  "Over here!!!" and I ask him, "Who is that?" and he's like, *shrugs* "I don't know."  He's such a little weirdo.  Such a clueless, lost-in-his-own-world weirdo sometimes. I find it very believable that he might be so immersed in his own world of play that he ignores kids trying to play with him.

When I came back from my trip, the Big Yam spent the weekend punishing me for leaving by being a giant beast.  Screaming, disobedient, obstructionist, difficult to the extreme and basically the worst version of himself, which in turn, made me the worst version of myself.  This Maclean's article on "The Collapse of Parenting" had already made the rounds and we had already fielded significant looks from our respective mothers about our "parenting" (or perceived lack thereof).  I ended up listening to this guy on the CBC and that Maclean's article is pretty terrible in the way it misrepresents him.  First of all, I'm not sure he's entirely qualified to talk about it, being a family physician (and psychologist, but whatevers) and second of all, the approach that he espoused on the radio was "strict but loving" which is what the Dotytron and I generally aspire to, and have actually been told we're more on the strict end of the spectrum.  This guy's approach seemed to come back to common sense stuff - like, putting the family back at the centre (don't overschedule your kids), limit activities, eat dinner together, not everything is a consensus, etc., etc.  We've heard it all before, and yet...sometimes it feels like nothing is working!

That weekend when I came back from my week away wasn't great, I'm not gonna lie.  I ended up screaming my face off and hauling the Big Yam's butt upstairs and dumping him on his bed when he was screaming at me and hitting me in the face (which is no easy task because he's pretty much 7/9ths my size at this point) and I also stuck him in the basement bathroom with the lights off (he can reach the lights but was too busy losing his s**t to remember that) when I caught him kicking Lindsay in the head.  At the same time, I tried the progressive discipline thing, I tried mirroring back his feelings, I gave him opportunities to express himself in a more constructive way, but at a certain point, after 15 minutes of this in a grocery store when your kid is sitting on the floor and freaking out, there is a point where you have to hiss at them that they are embarrassing themselves in front of everyone.  Or is there?  I dunno.  I'm just trying to muddle my way through!  What would YOU do?

Shortly after, we ended up having another bad weekend where the Dotytron and I were both stressed from work and brought it home and just weren't up for 15 minutes of variations on, "I know you're mad, but your behaviour is inappropriate, if you want to go up to your room and scream there, you can and come back when you're ready to talk..." and we both snapped more than a few times.  That night, I resurrected the "fireside chat" model, and I had a talk with him, starting with apologizing for raising my voice.  The worst part?  When he said that: "When you scream at me it makes me more mad and I can't stop being mad."  Way to cut to the heart of me, Baxter.  So we talked about how screaming is not an appropriate response to being mad and that if he does want to scream, he can do it in his room and we'll give him one warning and then if he still screams we'll take him up to his room but we won't be mad when we do it, etc.  I think we might have gotten through?  Who knows.  It was definitely worthwhile to have the conversation just to be reminded that my losing control was feeding into his loop of losing control and it wasn't helping anyone.  Things have been better since the chat, but he's still an emotionally volatile weirdo.  Not sure there's anything that can be done about that.

I also take solace in JJ telling me that she heard from a psychologist that some kids need to be yelled at because it kind of snaps them out of their inward cycle.  It's the equivalent of a bucket of cold water to the head.  All justifications aside, the fact that my kid could self-identify the effects of us raising our voices is enough incentive to make adjustments to the way we handle outbursts.

It's just not very easy, this whole, raising people thing.  Making sure you're strict but loving and you preserve their weirdness but also allow them to buck convention.  Imagine if your kids end up basic? How often do you think that happens?

The twins are at the stage where they have cottoned on to how boss it is to sleep in your parents' bed and actively campaign for it, every night.  Twin B will go from punching me in the face and then laughing uproariously and otherwise being a complete and utter maniac and then at night, he's the softest, sweetest little bag of smushes - it's like all the fight just exhales on a breath at night.  He insists on having us lie next to him on his floor mattress, and then he turns to face you, throws an arm around your neck to pull you in close, and then presses his face against yours.

On to other weirdoes.  Am **I** a weirdo for feeling the hots for Zayn Malik?  Or, a 2016-Grammys version of Justin Bieber? The one with the voice of an angel and who was part of a hype-inducing Jack U performance at the Grammys?

I'm just already getting excited for an EDM show this summer, and I just don't care who knows it.  Being able to party with my brother who is 10 year's younger and his girlfriend and get messy to top 40 EDM is a pretty fun outlet for my pent-up dancing desires.

This weekend was kind of insanely busy - I loved every minute of everything, but I could have used a touch more downtime.  Friday was the Big Yam's parent-teacher interview and then I did a million errands and then took the Big Yam to a skating session with his homie.  The good thing is that I learned that I'm actually NOT a terrible skater.  I can do it.  I just get shook and too much in my own head.  This time was way better.  Saturday we had another Big Yam homie over, then we packed up and visited friends in KW and then came home and hosted another group of the Dotytron's musician friends.  One of whom had just finished treatment for Hodgkins.  Can you imagine?  I can't.  It takes my breath away.  I can't imagine how scared and scarred and freaked out I would be.  This is happening now.  You read stories of people your own age who are getting cancer and some of them make it and some of them don't, and while it's rare, it's not freakishly rare.  We are moving into that cohort.  We are not young anymore.

That digression notwithstanding (if you want more catch-your-breath-at-your-own-mortality material, read this stunning article in the Guardian), it was actually a great hang.  One of my god-Dotytrons was there.  He's a ginger, which I never thought would be appealing, but him and Domhnall Gleason are turning me around.

Saturday we took the kids swimming, where we learned conclusively that Twin B has NEGATIVE instinct for survival/self-preservation.  There was a ramp into the pool and he would RUN across the deck and then start trotting down the ramp, his eyes alight and his mouth open in big, belly-chuckling glee, even as the water is coming up over his head.  He will no-look jump into the pool and just trust that everything will turn out alright.  It's terrifying.  We spent Saturday and Sunday with my family, doing a delayed Xmas and then came back on Sunday, did a quick tidy of the house, and then hosted our favorite non-blood family, the Dr. Rei-Hans.  I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Family Day then sitting in the basement playing Super Mario Brothers with those guys.  My heart was filled to the brim with love this weekend, even if the Dotytron and I did nothing to observe Valentine's Day, other than get into a heated exchange about whether Kendrick Lamar's first album was "commercial."  Ain't love grand?

Multiple, multiple, book reviews coming at you soontime!


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