We have exactly two weeks before school starts. (Yeah, my town likes to start as close to October as possible so that when it snows all of December, January, and February we can make sure that we are still in school in June when it is gorgeous out and the beach beckons.) Sorry for the sarcasm. Nope, not bitter at all that our summer started really late this year and as a result went way, way too fast! Not bitter at all.
Anywho, so with school around the corner my boys and I hit the local Staples to buy school supplies. We are a little color happy in this household and not just because of The Orange Rhino! It all started when my now 5 year old had Mononucleosis (a.k.a. the kissing disease) at the age of 2 ½ ! I had three kids at the time and immediately created a color system so that no child would make the mistake of drinking from the wrong sippy cup. Mono had wreaked havoc on one son, absolute havoc, and I was not about to have my other two sons go through the same misery. So, #1 became “Red”, #2 “Green” and #3 “Blue.” My system worked flawlessly and not only did no one else get Mono, but everyone loved having their “own” color and they naturally started applying the color system to other things too. Jackets. Backpacks. T-shirts. Toys. Oh did a color system make life simple.
So naturally when we went school shopping, #1 and #2 had to find their colors. We dug through dual-pocket folders to find red and green ones. We dug through bins of three ring binders to find red and green ones. We dug through bins of composition And we went up and down the pencil and eraser aisle to find, you guessed it, packs of just green erasers and packs of just red erasers. And yes, that was an absolute fail! But for the most part, we succeeded in finding the right back to school items in the right colors.
As we were shopping and searching for the right colors, I was fighting the urge to snap really nastily while saying wrong things like, “Just hurry up already, it doesn’t matter, it’s just a folder!” and “For the umpteenth time, put your hands in your pockets and stop touching your brother and everything else in site!” I was just not in a calm, relaxed, let’s enjoy this moment together mood. You see, not only were my boys fed up with each other that day and trying so very, very hard to successfully piss the other one off, but also the store was packed with people and the aisles were full of extra bins leaving little wiggle room. Every step I took was, “Excuse me, I just need to squeeze by.” Yeah, it was a really awesome shopping experience, especially for someone like myself who does not like crowds. The whole back to school shopping experience had me irritable, impatient and well clearly, wanting to yell at my boys for no real reason!
Finally (thankfully!) we got to the last item on the list: black marble composition notebook. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. As we approached I noticed something I didn’t notice last year. There weren’t just black and white notebooks, there were colors. Yee haw! As my boys started the dig for red and green (why would they ever be on the top of the huge, gigantic, boxes?) my eye caught something else. An orange composition notebook. Well, you all know how my mind works. As in, it always thinkgs of The Orange Rhino Challenge and it often makes the oddest connections and makes no real logical sense! Here is a perfect example.
Orange composition notebook. Hum. Orange makes me think of The Orange Rhino Challenge. Hum. I could write in an orange notebook when I want to scream. Hum. Wait. What other back to school supplies are here that I could buy to help me keep from screaming over the next few weeks as we transition back to school and everyone is cranky and tired and not wanting to walk out the door? What do I need for my back to school backpack to help me learn? To help me practice not yelling?
Here is the list I came up with as my boys rummaged through the box looking for red and green notebooks. (I say rummage because we were late shopping and what mostly remained was yellow and black!)
2. Composition Notebook: Tear out paper from a composition notebookand crumble it up instead of causing your child to crumble to the ground in tears. Or write down your anger on paper and then throw it out. It is all oddly satisfying.
3. Water bottle: Chug water from a water bottle so you swallow the yell and literally cool down. My kids are all instructed to bring a water bottle for their desk. Why shouldn’t I do the same? Instead of open mouth insert foot, open mouth insert water bottle (okay, straw, but you get the point!) When I have to swallow something, I have to slow down so I don’t you know, choke! Drinking slows me down and therefore calms me down. Well, except coffee. That can get me all sorts of revved up. Again, water bottle!
4. Post-It Notes: Yes, I know, this is an old one but honestly, it has worked for me since day one two years ago and it works for me now! Grab an orange Post-It note and write a love note to your child instead of yelling a mean message. Last year I wrote love notes and put them in the lunch bags. It is amazing how just thinking positive thoughts can transform a mood instantaneously! You can also use those notes to postpone yells by sticking them up in high yelling zones (backpacks, car, door that leads to school) as a warm reminder to Yell Less and Love More. My house may or may not be decorated with orange post-it notes in two weeks when we are trying to get out of the door on time!
5. Orange Double Pocket Folder: Fill an orange double pocket folder with sheets of paper covered with favorite inspirational sayings to stay calm (I can yell less, I love my kids, I will send my kids to school with lunch and love not yells, I just need to stay cool until 8:15, that’s nothing!) as well as top tips to not yell that have worked for you (yelling into freezer, singing, talking to yourself.)
In case you are wondering, yes, I did pick up some back to school supplies for myself that day. They are currently stored in the “I will not think about school today because it is still summer” section of the dining room along with my boys’ supplies. But come 10 days from now, as we start to pack the backpacks, I will be pulling them out and placing them on the kitchen counter, ready for me to grab at any moment if the stress of the first day of school (week really!) gets to me.