Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two Meltdowns For The Price Of One

 The delicate, crinkled new foliage of goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus).

We had a great visit with my parents over the past two days.  It was good to drive down to spend a night with them, even though the schizo weather was giving me a sinus headache.  The kids like to visit Grandma and Grandpa because of the abundance of TVs and snacks in their big house.  The kids can get away from each other and entertain themselves and eat - what could be better?  For my part, I like being able to turn them loose there and have time with my parents to talk, play Scrabble, kibbitz, craft, whatever.  It's not like when the kids were little and needed to be supervised all the time.  Visiting Mom and Dad is a little bit of freedom for ME, and boy did I need to get out and away from my own walls this week.

We had a good drive down, listening to the CDs Safety Guy and I brought, and watching for the Amish farms along the route, so Princess Yakyak could see the horses and other livestock.  We saw some new lambs along the way, and speculated about when the farm raising Belgian draft horses would have new foals out in the pasture.  We went out for lunch with my parents, and later I stopped at the pottery shop in town and picked up a handful of pendants to work on.  I played Scrabble on the XBox with my Mom.  (Our son is quite impressed that his Grandma has an XBox 360.  She gained quite a few coolness points with that purchase.  The ONLY game she plays on it is Scrabble.)  The kids got to OD on cable TV (which we don't have at home - PYY loves Animal Planet, while Safety Guy goes for a mixed bag of stuff.)  Safety Guy spent some time using Grandpa's train and flight simulators on the computer.  After dinner, I got to take a lovely long walk with my sister Debbie.  I spent a good chunk of the evening working on the pendants, and on two other ceramic pieces my sister had that needed glazing but she hadn't gotten around to finishing.  The work was quite relaxing; I hope the pieces and pendants fire well.

I love the new foliage of columbine, 
especially the way it catches raindrops.

Today was more of the same:  hanging out with my parents, kids watching TV, me finishing the ceramics, lunch all around.  After lunch the kids helped me pick up fallen branches from the yard.  (It's been a windy week, and Mom and Dad's lot is partially wooded, and pretty big.  It's a spring chore to clean up the winter's dead-fall so Dad can mow.  Tossing the branches saved my Dad an extra chore his back could do without.)  Finally it was time to go home.  About an hour after we got in the car, halfway home, the kids' behavior took a turn for the worse.  And kept going south from there.

I don't know what it is about late afternoons and kids.  It's like they have some internal timer that goes off and their limited daily ration of patience, good humor and common sense abruptly runs out.  When they were really little, we called it the witching hour.  Since it's spring break, I guess I've been half waiting for this to happen at some point anyway, because their normal routine is gone this week.  We home schooled year round just for that reason - prolonged breaks are NOT good for the kids' behavior, especially for Safety Guy.  I have not been looking forward to spring break.  I'm not really looking forward to that aspect of the summer off, either.

The hellebores, slightly faded from their 
first-opened darker plum color, but still lovely.

It started with the usual sibling picking nonsense.  It gradually built up, our son reacting more and more out of proportion to the jibes from his sister and the enforced "togetherness" in the car.   At one point he got annoyed that I was singing along softly to some songs on the radio (he doesn't like it when people sing along).  He was mad at having to be in the same vehicle as his sister.  (What did he want me to do - make her get out and walk?)  Princess Yakyak was extremely talkative, living up to her nickname in spades.  Nobody was happy.

We stopped to pick up dinner and a few odds and ends at the grocery store, and they squabbled through picking out their food, past the produce, past the meats, and into the Easter goodies (at which point Safety Guy called his Dad at work to complain about his sister - aren't cell phones wonderful?). They continued to snap and snark at each other through the rest of the store and into the checkout line.  By the time I paid, they had both earned an early bedtime.  By the time we got home, I had asked them not to talk to each other at all.  By the time their early bedtime rolled around, Safety Guy was in full-blown Aspergers meltdown mode, and Princess Yakyak was all self-righteous and snarky while provoking him (as if we couldn't see what she was doing).  The evening finally ended with a yelling/crying/frustrated son (slamming his bedroom door in my face when I told him it was time for lights out), a shouting/whining/nasty daughter (who just happened to forget how to turn off a loud, annoying electronic toy that was keeping her brother agitated), a confiscated noisy toy, two closed bedroom doors (with sniffling, upset but finally quiet kids on the other side), and a girl grounded for the following day.

I told my wonderful husband, who has Good Friday off, that I am going to finish the groceries ALONE tomorrow.   It might take me a while.