consequences of the storm

After Hurricane Elliott (and his playdate friend) rolled through the house, they left in their paths three rooms covered with stuff – kitchenette items here, silkies there, baskets of toys dumped, more mess than I have ever seen. While playing, I had suggested a few times that clean up after said friend left would be hard but his responsibility. But on the storm rolled.

Once his friend left, he was suddenly too tired to clean up and the tears started up. I offered music to aid the clean up process and to help some after I finished my work. But the picking up did not start. Calmly (but pulling out all the tactics), I stated that if he was too tired to clean up, he was too tired for gymnastics with friends tonight, too tired to stay up tonight, and he would no longer have friends over if he could not follow up a playdate with clean up. Then, I see Oliver with beads in mouth as he slipped on a kitchen baking pan. At that point, I lost it and yelled, well, a lot. As I rattled off all the consequences to him again in my loud mama voice, I realized it would not work. Elliott is strong-willed and will drag out something until I go nuts. But I wanted the house picked up NOW. So I decided I could still enforce consequences, but I would keep Oliver safe by picking the items up into boxes. So now four boxes sit in the laundry room and Elliott is starting to realize that not being able to play with any other toys until the mess is cleaned up stinks. He can be stubborn, but at least I have the house picked up and I am not going to go (as) nuts.

In the midst of situations like this, all ideas of how to act or suggestions I have heard seem to go out the window. I am left not knowing if my reaction was the best reaction. If I had not made so many of the toys or liked some of these gifts from friends, I would be inclined to box them up and say good-bye at Goodwill. Not sure that would be an appropriate reaction either.  But at least if I can find a plan that stops me from yelling, it has to be a decent one. I think. Any thoughts?

(To give you an idea of what this near five-year old is like: Just before I cleaned up into the boxes, I said in anger, “You’re not doing ANYTHING else until this mess is cleaned up.” He followed up with “Can I turn on a light? Can I sit down?” … Now, as I write this, he is asking me to pack up more of his stuff and asking if he can just touch his toys… I just might go nuts! Daily, I miss the window for clear calm communications and it is all downhill from there…. But, after posting, I asked him (calmly) to tell me what has happened and why. It is clear he understands and he can detail it out. And the internal screaming starts.)

for my son

Today, for my son, I made the weirdest call I think I have even made. Worse yet, it was left on the answering machine so I could not possibly explain in detail why I was calling.  It went something like this:

“Um, hi Peg, this is Diana, from down the street. Elliott and I found a dead squirrel at the edge of your grass. Uh, we wanted to know if you would like us to come and remove it. Well, I mean, Elliott is interested so we could do it for you, if you wanted. Well, give us a call. Thanks.”

I am sure you can guess why Elliott was interested. He wanted to see a dead animal up close, one that Mama clearly said we could not keep in a specimen jar! But I like to imagine what my elderly neighbor Peg might think. She is not our immediate neighbor, we know her only from a few neighborhood gatherings, and I never call her for anything. Yet here we are asking to come scrape up a dead squirrel. Maybe it is just me, but it seemed like an odd call.

When Peg did call back, I joked about the weird message. She did admit it was likely the weirdest one she has gotten.

And while the internet has oodles of pictures of dead, squished squirrels, here is cute baby one, to take your mind off the task we faced tonight, shovel and bucket in hand, while pushing a half-naked Oliver in a stroller. The woman walking her dog just had to ask what we were up to. Can I blame her?