I have recently discovered that my children do not respect me. They love me, but couldn't care less what I think, do, or say. Mealtime has always been a horror, as you know if you've read more than one post on this blog. But now bedtime (a time of day I've always enjoyed with my kids) is vying for title of Most Loathed Two Hours of the Day.
Jeremy has always been a little tricky with bedtime ever since he figured out how to crawl out of his crib. Then we bought him a big boy bed and the getting out of bed problem changed only in frequency. Megan was always great at bedtime-until the last few months.
Now it isn't like we don't have a routine or haven't tried different tactics. We have a routine of brushing teeth, reading a story to each kid, saying night-nights, a prayer, and then we sing quiet songs. It's about a half hour long routine and you'd think by the end of it the kids would know what is expected of them on their end of the deal.
Unfortunately, they don't care what their end of the deal is. Jeremy gets out of bed even if I'm still in the room. If I'm not in the room he likes to see how far out of his room he can get and if he can score some extra food (which makes perfect sense because of course he's still starving, the kid didn't eat all his dinner!) Megan talks to herself (sometimes in an attempt to keep Jeremy awake so that she has more reason to be up). They both kick the walls by their beds, kick off their blankets when I attempt to tuck them back into bed, and make crying, screaming, and other generally unpleasant sounds. Timeouts and spankings don't work, taking away privileges doesn't work (or maybe I haven't discovered what the magic privileges are that would work, I don't know).
Two days ago I'd had it. Megan and Jeremy weren't going to sleep, they kept getting up and playing in their room. I knew they were tired and could tell Megan was getting a little congested and needed to rest. After an hour of trying to get them to sleep ( keep in mind that they hadn't exactly been angels the rest of the day, or week- I'm still finding rice and sugar on the floor of my laundry room, but that's another story) I was finished. I told them to get out of bed and get dressed. I got Emma ready and we went out to the car. I told them that if they wouldn't go to sleep then they couldn't go to sleep. I'm so cruel, aren't I?
We drove up to campus, I parked, and then we walked to the Quad. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Utah State University campus, the Quad is a beautiful grassy area that is surrounded by trees and campus buildings. It is frequented by sunbathing, studying, or general chilling out students. As soon as the weather is remotely not frozen (note, not frozen doesn't mean actually warm) many teachers can be persuaded to take their classes out to the Quad for lecture.
Anyway, we walked onto the Quad and once we reached it I looked at the kids, let go of their hands (I had Emma in the Snugli) and said, "Run." I made them run around the Quad until they were too tired to run. Then I made them walk around campus, from the Quad, to the Eccles Conference Center, to the Taggart Student Building, to the Institute Building, to the Bus area, back to the Institute, to the Physics Buildilng, to Old Main, the Quad and back to the parking lot. I had planned on taking them somewhere else they could run more, but Megan skinned her knee in the parking lot. It hurt her to walk, so I wasn't going to make her run, no matter how much she needed the lesson. Instead we went to Wal-Mart to see Nathan. Actually, we went so I could vent to Nathan.
When we got home he put them to bed because I didn't want to do it- obviously.
Now, yesterday it was the same thing plus some. They wouldn't go to sleep and Emma wouldn't go to sleep. She also wouldn't stop crying, so I had no chance of getting the other two to sleep with her howling. I finally got Emma to sleep after feeding her (probably more than she needed, but it made her tummy full and closed her eyes for more than ten minutes at a time) and so I went back to trying to get Megan and Jeremy to sleep. The continued to ignore me. They ignored my speaking, my yells, my pleas, my threats, my laying down with them, my bribes. They didn't just say no, or that they didn't care, or look at me defiantly. They just flat out ignored the fact that I was talking. They didn't even look at me most of the time. They acted like I wasn't even in the room talking to them at all.
I finally couldn't handle it anymore and called my friends Amber and Zann. I asked them to come over and watch the kids until Nathan got home so I could escape. Being the wonderful people they are, they rushed over and actually got my kids to go to sleep. Amber offered to come with me if I needed to talk, but really I just needed to drive and have my music up at an obnoxious volume. I hadn't had a 7-11 Slurpee in a long time, so I went and bought one (I no longer have cravings for one since it was pretty gross) and a Baby Ruth ice cream cone. I was going to find a nice spot to read, but realized I was feeling kind of violent. Maybe I shouldn't say violent, maybe I should say I felt like I had a lot of energy I needed to get out, but all the only ways I could think of to get rid of the energy were violent- kickboxing, punching a punching bag, kicking something. . . . So instead of reading I went to Wal-Mart and bought a soccer ball. I took it to Adams Park and kicked it around until I was too exhausted to run any more. Then I got into the car and read my book until it was too dark to read. When I got home Nathan had some Rocky Road ice cream ready for me and we watched a few episodes of House, packing boxes while they loaded from the website.
Nathan said he'd been praying about me and the kids, trying to know what to do to help us. He said the only impression he's received is for us to be better about having Family Home Evening. If you don't know what F.H.E. is, it is a program started by our Church where we as a family spend time with each other. We have an opening hymn, a prayer, a lesson, activity, treat, and a closing song and prayer. It doesn't have to be fancy or long, but it does need to be quality. Most of our lessons are off the cuff and all of our F.H.E.s are few and far between, so we have plenty of room for improvement.
So this is our current strategy. Does anyone else have any suggestions on gaining respect from their kids? We've noticed the problem isn't just at bed time, that's just when it is at its worst. They ignore me quite frequently through the day, so it is frustrating all day long, then when bed time comes and I'm ready to be by myself for a bit before Nathan comes home and they do this, I'm just finished and can't do it anymore.
Ok, Emma's crying so this is the end of the blog for today. Send suggestions, please!!