I’ve been on solo parent duty the last two days while Hubby travels to a conference for work. I went into my solo parent duty overtired, stressed, and hormonal. Not a good combo….but somehow I made it through the shuffle of daily tasks with three kids (because I always just do). Add in a playdate for one, early checkout for an other’s anxious trip to the dentist, all while attempting to potty train a two year old, annnd I was in a spectacular mood for the homework battle.
As I’ve said in previous posts, homework has been just that – a battle. Various plans were attempted, and we seem to have found one that would stick around for awhile with good results. However, insert the variable of Daddy being away, and you get an edgy atmosphere for homework. I. Was trying. To get through the day. To finish all the running around and the appointments, to get laundry done because half the family were out of pants, to make a sit-down meal for the kids, to deal with the Buzz Lightyear underwear that got themselves stinked the moment I let my guard down…baths for three and bedtime looming over my head. Enter, the homework battle.
J was irritable and arguing the moment I suggested we get some of the homework out of the way. There was stomping and grumbling and some yelling. I was over my limit and threw the pencil. Lovely. I then put myself in a time out in the bathroom, plugging my ears while J danced around the idea of having an explosion in the kitchen. Then something really amazing happened.
I came out and stood at the counter with my eyes closed, taking a few deep breaths. J was a scowling, growling tiger. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was trying to calm down, because I was very tired and frustrated. I muttered that I wished I was someplace else. He said, “That’s a good idea. Sometimes I do breaths like this *deeply in and out* And if I concentrate really hard I can pretend I am somewhere else…..see?”
He then proceeded to close his eyes, with his hands out palm-down on the table. He sat so still and quiet and just breathed. It was only for about thirty seconds, but it felt like hours as I stood watching him. He opened his eyes and said “just like that Mommy.”
Um…who are you?? I think both my eyebrows were on the ceiling.
I told him that what he showed me was impressive. That I could tell it worked, because he looked, and sounded, a lot more calm. I told him he did a great job, and I very sincerely meant it. I asked him if he was ready to try again with the homework. He simply said, “Yes, but can you sharpen my pencil for me?” That would be the pencil that I threw across the room. A-hem. I apologized to him for that and got it ready. He proceeded to do a whopping three sides of worksheets with no further issue, according to the plan already in place. The plan which moments before was going horribly.
This evening, I could tell that he was irritated by having to stop playing his DS to do some homework. I could see that same struggle teasing to come out. But again, he stood at the counter with his clipboard in front of him, closed his eyes with his hands loose on the counter, and took two breaths. Then he told me that he didn’t feel quite ready. Next he pushed against the edge of the counter and ran sliding steps on the floor in his socks, faster and faster. Next he jumped up and down in place several times. Next he did a version of pull-ups on the edge of the counter.
Then he did his homework.
I’m just flabbergasted that he was able to get control like that. First of his emotions, with the deep breathing/centering thing, and secondly to regulate his body enough to focus on the task at hand, with a series of repetitive moves that gave him sensory input. I thought, wow, he’s breathing with his eyes closed again. Then he verbalized that he wasn’t ready…while in itself notable, I inwardly cringed wondering just how long this homework thing was going to drag out. When I saw him start to, more or less, do OT…I was floored. Whoa, he’s jumping….he’s pushing…he’s pulling….he’s calm, and he’s doing his homework.
Even though my mind is jumbling with updates to post about, both progress and concerns…I felt this triumph worthy of its own blog post. So there it is.
Bravo for J!