Dinosaurs, Dolphins & Darn Dilemmas

I am off today. Simply off. I didn’t sleep well as I knew I wouldn’t. First grade orientation was last night and while my oldest son did great, mommy didn’t do so great. My stomach was in knots all night at the thought of meeting new mom friends; at the thought of all the volunteer opportunities and what I could say yes to versus what I wanted to say yes to; at the thought of my oldest son going to a school where he’ll be the youngest; at the thought of another big milestone sneaking up on me, pushing me to once again realize just how incredibly fast my boys are growing up.

So yeah, I went to bed with a lot of my mind, which meant I didn’t sleep a wink. Not a wink. And when my darling boys woke me up at 5:30am this morning (totally normal given their early bedtimes,) I practically lost it. Actually, I wanted to lose it but was too tired to even make words. I stumbled to their rooms, ordered them back to bed, ordered lights out and ordered them to stay quiet until 6:00.

6:00 came around and I dragged myself out of bed. My eyes could barely open, my legs were wobbly and my bed just screamed at me “come back! Please come back!” I knew it would be a rough morning until I had a good dose of Diet Coke. Turns out, my normal morning drink didn’t even get me going. Shucks. I continued to stumble through the morning, struggle to find patience wherever I could.

And just now, at 1:30 p.m., I looked hard for my friend patience but couldn’t find her anywhere (or at least fast enough.)

As I headed to get #3 and #4 down for naps, I sent #1 and #2 to their rooms for their quiet time. Not two seconds after sitting down to read to #3, I heard massive tears and screaming. I walked down the hall, calmly and slowly.

“What is the problem?” I asked.

“He took all the toys!” cried #2.

“But they are my toys!” screamed #1.

(But I just want quiet!) I thought to myself.

Meanwhile, #2 found something new to entertain him so I sent both boys back to their rooms, hopeful that naptime for the other two would commence.

As bloody if! #1 and #2 are at it again. I walked down the hall, less calmly and less slowly this time.

“What is the problem, now?” I asked.

“He came into my room asking for the toys!” cried #1.

“But he isn’t sharing and the dolphins aren’t his!” screamed #2.

(But really guys, they aren’t your toys to begin with they are your brothers, so enough already! Can you give me a break here?) I thought to myself.

I counted out even piles of dolphins and dinosaurs, gave a handful to each boy, sent them back to their rooms, again hopeful that naptime for the other two would commence.

What was I thinking? Both boys are overtired from late nights and sleeping problems; their current ability to listen and control impulses is, um, not virtually non-existent, it is non-existent!  #1 and #2 started up again. This time I didn’t walk down the hall; I stormed down the hall. There was no calm in my step. There was no slow saunter to my step. There was just sheer annoyance and impatience.

I got to the end of the hall, my heart beating, and my hands shaking.

RED FLAG! I know when my heart races, my hands shake, and my feet are stomping that a yell is brewing. I started to open my mouth but thankfully, my mind intercepted my words. My mind screamed: “Dude, don’t yell! I know you desperately want to and think it is the only thing that will work but it won’t! They will just cry and carry on more and then naptime really will never happen. Come on, you can do it.”

I slowly and cautiously opened my mouth, a little nervous as to what tone would come out.

“What is the problem NOW?” I asked.

“#1 came in my room without asking and took my dolphins and dinosaurs.” #2 sobbed.

“But moooooom, they are mine. Really. They are mine. I need all of them to play. Honesty. Truly.” #1 sobbed.

“You know what boys, enough is enough. Hand all of them over. They are mine. You are both tired and need a sleep. To your rooms, lights off, quiet time for 15 minutes. No ifs, ands, or buts.” I stated confidently and full of hope that it would work.

The thing about parenting without yelling is that while I know it is the right path for me, sometimes I still get sucked in by the notion that yelling is the only approach to parenting during difficult moments. Today was one of those moments. I was tired and had little energy to keep myself together. I wanted to scream my head off! I wanted to scream and cry and carry on like they were! I wanted to say,

“But boooooys, I don’t care about your dolphins and dinosaurs and dilemmas! I care about getting your other two brothers down for their naps. I mean I care about you, but right now, whoa nelly, do I not care about your small plastic toys.”

These small plastic dinosaurs and dolphins almost made me yell. Really?!

Oh yes, I was tempted. But I knew better. I knew screaming would have just induced more tears and more crying and would have prolonged naptime of the other two which would have then produced more crying and even more screaming. I totally knew yelling wasn’t worth it and that is what kept me from losing it.

Did my boys take a rest? Not really. Did they settle down long enough for me to get the other two for their naps? Yes. Did they perhaps learn that fighting over toys and not sharing leads to no one having their toys? I think so; I hope so. I do know though that the chances of them learning in that moment were a lot higher without me yelling.

And I know that the toilet directly in front of me during this entire exchange offered me great support – while one side of my head said “just yell, just do it,” and the other side said “no, don’t!” the toilet lovingly said “hey babe, if you need to yell just yell into me and flush it away. Problem Solved.”

And yes, I did actually consider yelling into the toilet at that moment. If there is another thing I have learning from The Orange Rhino Challenge besides the fact that yelling just makes things worse, I’ve learned that letting out frustration into toilets, freezers, bags and closets, works. While yelling into the toilet may be unconventional, it is definitely better than yelling at my kids. 

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11 thoughts on “Dinosaurs, Dolphins & Darn Dilemmas

  1. Ahhh thank Goodness that I am not the only one that still has hard days or moments. Today was a tough one for me too. MY 2 yr old is going through a yelling screaming at the top of his lungs stage- and once he is in it- it can be 10 minutes to about 45. SO so hard not to lose my cool- but I do know that since I have yelled less, my three boys have yelled less as well. And I know that not every moment will be cake. My healer- was that my boy actualyl did take a nap today in his crib- I turned on Stepmom, bawled my eyes out, felt totally recharged and blessed and appreciative, and I am ready to go on with my day. I forgive myself for using my dinosaur voice once today, and it will get better. :) THANK YOU from the top of the mountain!!!!

  2. If you yell into the toilet, does it freak the kids out? Geez, we better be quiet. Mommy is screaming into the toilet. I think she’s lost it.

  3. I to was extremely exhausted! I think my annemia is kicking in again, & with having a husband with Bi-Polar, I don’t have to much help! So this challenge has been extremely difficult for me, because I don’t get veryany breaks, & have way less energy… I def. lost it today, & of course it had nothing to do with my kids, well not really, just bad timing on their part :( I’m so discouraged.. And I’m not sure what to do at this point, especially since its not just yelling, when I’m angry I curse as well :s I def. need an outlet and the gym once a wk is not enough at this point!!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing and being completely honest and real! Im soooooo glad that you didnt end up yelling!! It gives the rest of us hope that you have these crazy moments and really want to yell (because you are human) but you find the strength not to!! Toot Toot your Rhino Horn!!

  5. Thank you for writing this! It helped me so much. Today was better for me – didn’t need to yell into anything (yet) and had the same realization go over in my head saying yelling just doesn’t work – no matter how much you want to. So congrats on your success today and I’m giving myself a little kudos too – still only day two for me.

  6. Wow! Good for you, Orange Rhino! What a great inspirational blog. My day went ok. I was annoyed earlier because my boys used up all the money I left for the week for snacks at basketball camp. I was annoyed but didn’t yell. I found in two separate occasions this evening where my anger starts to grow. The first occasion “a” didn’t do something the way I would have and it caused me to be late for my meeting. The second occasion was very interesting and I realized that I do this a lot: I made dinner for the family and then left for my meeting. When I returned the kitchen was a mess. Now if I had been home I would have had no problem cleaning up. I was angry that it was left for me. The interesting thing was that my anger was more directed at the future — you see i am going back to work full time this Fall. I am really afraid that our lives are going to fall apart with both of us working full time– the house will be a mess and we will all be so tired. Anyway I didn’t have an anger outburst because i was so intrigued that I pinpointed what was bothering me. I ended up putting what I could in the dishwasher and said to myself “I can finish up in the morning”. Would love to hear comments on this. Does anyone else forecast like that?

  7. WOW! I hear ya! It is so hard not to lose it. I guess we all have our version of “plastic toys” that triggers and causes our yelling. Thanks OR for the support!

  8. My girls are so much more loving since I started the challenge and I myself am much happier not being wrenched with guilt from exploding, though back at day 1 after yesterday :(.

    My husband has a wonderful method for remedying toy disputes that I wanted to share. The toy gets put in time out for 5 minutes. After that time they are to have a resolution for how they will both play with the toy. It always amazes me how wonderful and creative a 5 year old and 3 year old are at compromise!

  9. Oh! It is so encouraging to know that I am NOT the only one that has days like this. Since starting the Challenge, I have learned to recognize my triggers and my symptoms. My biggest problem has not been allowing colorful language to creep itself back into my speech (I am a member of the millitary, so colorful language is prominent all around me and it is so easy to slip into it.)

    Lately, I’ve noticed when my yell temptation flares up, my neck gets hot and my head pounds. That has become my indication to back off and find something to do that will help me cool and calm down.

    I think yelling into the toilet would be an indication to #s 1&2 that mom has definitley had enough. LOL. Thanks for the tip.

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