I will cling to this moment in our day:
The three of us (the boys and I), sitting in the grass under the shade of the big redwood tree at 5 p.m. as it finally began to cool down, priming our new blackboards and then just enjoying the process of creating. We were calm, happy, and centered. We were dancing the dance.
Everything fell apart after movie time. I asked the boys to clean their room for 5 minutes, then Papa decided they needed a bath. Bad decision, and I knew it, and I contributed to the situation by not stepping in. They don't ever have a bath on Fridays, and they are creatures of habit. They melted, they cried, they stalled. Boy #2 was temporarily redirected with a few kitchen items to play with in the bath, but there was no placating Boy #1.
I made him oatmeal for his snack. He wanted a story, which is part of the rhythm. I didn't want to read; I read quite a bit today and have been taking it on at night and honestly, I want Papa to do it. I think children need both parents (and many other adults) to read to them. Well, he and Papa couldn't agree on a story, for utterly dumb reasons. Finally they decided on a pirate book, but then the boys couldn't decide which story to hear and Papa threw up his hands and left the room (after making several attempts to redirect the energy by starting a story, which they would interrupt).
It wasn't his fault, not the book thing. There wasn't going to be any pleasing them. Even if I had read I probably couldn't have gotten them to agree on a story. That's why they aren't supposed to have a choice; Papa is just supposed to read, but that got short-circuited this week as I kept having to read and was letting them take turns choosing picture books.
Of course, Boy #1 was already sobbing hysterically before the book thing. It just added fuel to the fire. These crying jags used to happen more frequently; I would say it has been at least a year since he got into this pattern and couldn't stop crying. He just gets stuck, and I can hold him, rock him, sing to him, try to comfort him...and he sobs.
In a way I can relate, for I cry so rarely that when I do it is as if flood gates open and sometimes I cry for an hour. I cry about everything in my life, past, present, and future. How frightening to be 7 and to face such strong emotion!
We lit the candle, got in bed, and I held them and sang. I told them I loved them no matter what, even on the days that go badly. I told them that we could start over - right now, and that tomorrow would be a better day. I tried to get everyone back up on the horse...and he sobbed.
I asked Papa to go in and make amends with them - to tell them that he loved them. After that I blew out the candle, touched their foreheads, and left. I think they were asleep within 30 seconds.
Now I need to look back and figure out what could have been done differently. We did have a much more lax rhythm this week, and this may have been the result of that. Certainly they were tired, far more tired than we realized. I don't know about hidden food allergies, because we are still exploring that.
At the first tear drops I should have stopped everything, held my boy, and gotten him quickly to sleep.
I am so glad that he forgives me so quickly and easily.