Today, the kids started second grade. At a school we love. With friends that are fabulous.
And, apparently, my kids are lovely humans at school. Kind, smart, relatively normal children.
At home, not so much.
I posted the obligatory back to school photos. Two out of three smiled.
Then, I posted about my absolute favorite tradition. Since Pre-K4, I pick the kids up from their first day of school and take them for ice cream to hear all about their first day. I love it. When you get them straight from school, you get all the good stories and the fresh excitement from the events of the day. If you work and get home at 6, all the stories are gone and responses look a lot more like “fine, mom.”
However, I didn’t post about the temper tantrums and total loss of parental patience and exhaustion of disciplinary remedies.
It’s been a brutal few days. The kids lost their minds. Particularly my previously angry kid who largely grew out of his massive rage. It’s back in full force including slapping me and punching his brother in the ear. AGH! They are all loud and disobedient, although little bit has been the best. I hate to lump her in with the wildly raging emotions and disrespect rampant in the boys.
Seven has been a hard year for us. I’ve posted about it before. Seven was a hard year for our marriage too. Maybe there’s something about seven years that triggers bad behavior. I honestly don’t think we’ve gone through so many hurdles since the terrible twos and threes. These terrible sevens are an entirely different ballgame. Time out isn’t an effective tactic now. Even though we do send them to their room. They don’t have too many “privileges,” so once those are gone (in one case for A WEEK), you’re out of things to take away as discipline. When they’re more levelheaded, we’ve tried reason. No success.
I’m proud of them and what they’ve accomplished thus far. Typically, they are relatively compassionate human beings with an interest in the world around them, a desire to help, and a curiosity for learning about everything. (I spent two nights ago watching a video on cubic feet and how to calculate volume with the little man because he was curious about conversions.)
But me and my handsome co-parent are exhausted. We are out of tricks. We have no more rabbits left in our hat. I told him last night I was glad we were in in this together. To which he wryly smiled and responded, “Yeah, they’re writing parenting books about us…”
I talked with a couple of moms this morning going through a similar stretching of boundaries, which can include outright disobedience and disrespect.
I’m fully aware losing my temper does not help. Nevertheless, I am struggling when I get a look-you-in-the-eye-and-dismiss-your-statement behavior.
One of my best friends said a few months after her son turned eight, he matured and is so much easier. I told her I was suing her if my kids didn’t turn on a dime in December. After struggling through both the terrible twos and threes, I remember how stunned Bray and I were at how beautiful age four was. Does something similar happen after 7?!?!? (Don’t tell me if the answer is no.)
So, in the iconic words of Paul Harvey, that is the rest of the story. I’m unbelievably thankful we have made it to second grade with triplets. It’s a miracle. I’m grateful for traditions like ice cream and stories after school, and I pray it lasts through high school. But parenting is brutally hard. A truth we should make sure we preach from time to time so folks don’t look at the sweet pictures and think everything is rainbows and cupcakes. It ain’t. We’re all in this thing together.
(And if you have an eight year old turned angelic after a seven year old psycho season, I welcome those stories. I do not welcome the “it only gets harder” stories, thank you very much. We’re hanging on here by a thread.)