Last night did not turn things around the way I’d hoped. Yesterday, I talked about what a crummy few days it’s been at Casa de Katie, between the arguing and fighting and tuning out everything mom told them to do, and generally ignoring the rules. My kids aren’t generally like that. I mean, sure, they’re kids! They do annoying things kids do, like not pick up after themselves and pitch fits and drive me bonkers. They’re (almost) 10 and (almost) 8. I get that.
So I went into last night hoping things were going to turn around, just like the girls promised. Because they are truly good and adorable girls – when they do get into trouble, they’ll apologize and promise that they’ll have a better day the next day (or turn that day around if it’s still early). Teaching them that one bad day or poor choice doesn’t doom an entire day is one good thing I’ve done right, if I do say so myself.
Only our day didn’t turn around. I thought it might have – Bee stayed home by herself while I ran to get her sister. She listed off all the rules, chanted out the emergency numbers I made her memorize, and didn’t seem to get into any mischief while I was gone. Dinner was a piece of cake. Bee even started in on her homework without complaining. But when I went to show Gracie how to do something on the computer, I noticed someone had turned it off. No big deal, normally, except our computer has been dying a slow death and was slower than molasses. Turning it back on would be a 20-minute ordeal. I asked who had shut it off so I could explain why we don’t do that without making sure everyone else was finished with it. And a chorus of NOT-MEs smacked me in the face.
You guys, I know I should have chilled out, but I lost it. The girls knew it as soon as the NOT-MEs left their mouths – it’s a pet peeve of mine. They can say “I don’t think I did,” or they can keep quiet, but I hate hearing “Not me!” You know why? Because it’s confrontational and it makes it hard for them to change their story when they realize they did do it, and I am stuck either not believing them and not doing anything about it, or accusing them of not telling the truth. Two of my least favorite mom-tivities. And guess what happened? Neither kid changed her story, even after I explained that I wasn’t mad, but they couldn’t just tank the computer like that right now, and still no one owned up. So I said no one got to use it.
Of course, that went over really well. Gracie wanted to use it to find pictures for her craft project, which started another round of arguments. Which made me irritated. And Bee started crying over her spelling. It was just as delightful as it sounds.
That was just about the time that I stormed into the kitchen to tell them to stop arguing or else they were going to lose talking privileges. (Quite an effective way to get the bickering to stop for a bit.) And I noticed the $5 I left on the counter for Gracie’s pictures the next day – today – was missing. I looked on the island, the side counters, the table, and then asked if they had seen it. I checked my bureau, my pockets, and everywhere else I could think of. I told them why I needed it, and asked if someone had mistakenly thought it was theirs and taken it. It’s important to give kids (and people in general, really) an easy way out. Bee and Gracie swore they hadn’t touched it.
Great. Now we had the computer incident AND the missing money. I suppose the computer could have just shut itself off. I didn’t get a “Windows didn’t shut down properly” blah blah warning when I turned it back on, so I didn’t think that had happened, but it was dying a slow death. But the computer shutting itself off and the money blowing onto the floor and getting eaten by the dog or spontaneously combusting? Yeah, highly improbable.
I lost a bit more of my sanity.
I don’t know what I hate more – the idea of one or both of the girls could be entering that stage where they appropriate any money lying around and swear they didn’t do it (because don’t all kids go through that stage?), or the fact that I seriously wondered if I was going mad. I know the taking-money thing is a normal(ish) stage, and so is the lying thing, but I am so not ready for it. I hate having to mete out consequences for it. I hate not knowing who’s lying. I hate having to punish both girls – no desserts and no television until someone confesses – but I really have no idea what else to do. Really – send me how you deal with it or how your parents dealt with it. Or, you know, send wine and chocolate.
I have a feeling it’s going to be a long weekend and I’m going to need it. Even if I promise to have a better day tomorrow.