(Continuing with the Retro theme... I typed this on the fourth of August before Chris's brilliant parenting maneuver.)
Well, I don't know who had a longer day yesterday. It was either Habtamu who was angrified most of the day, or Chris who had to deal with him. The first call I got at work was, "Well, we're right back to where we started last year..." and I heard Habtamu banging around in the background. He had already stormed away from his school lesson, gone out to ride his bike but not actually done it, and then had been sent out twice since then. His MO is to tell everyone to leave and/or go away, but then if you do he follows you around and makes sure you know he's still there. Chris somehow remained calm through all this as we came to the conclusion that he was acting out because he was really nervous about his first official soccer practice that evening. Of course, you couldn't tell him that, but it became more and more apparent as the day wore on. Eventually I got a call from him, but it was pleasantly NOT like previous phone conversations... usually when he wants to talk, all I get is him yelling 'NO' over and over into the phone. This time he was clearly upset, but not yelling. I asked him if he figured out what was wrong yet. Usually this question gets a rabid, "NOTHING!" but this time I got a cracked, "I don't know." So we went over the basics. Hungry? No. Tired? No. Need the bathroom? No. Thirsty? No. Again... not the angry defiant "NO's" I'm used to, civil ones. We chatted a little longer and decided that taking the flat tire off his (old) bike would be a good change of pace and take his mind off things. It worked for a while. He came back in, got through school and lunch, and then proceeded to swing wildly emotionally the rest of the afternoon. By the time I met up with the family at soccer practice Yordi was bopping around the playground, Habtamu was stepping through a gauntlet of footwork drills, and Chris was totally shot but distracting herself by taking pictures of the team.
Things are much better than they were last year, but it's really frustrating how quickly we can slip into the old routines. Chris and Habtamu had a discussion about 'Fight or Flight' in an attempt to explain to him that pushing people away is a 'flight' response to being scared. It doesn't make him a bad person, but it doesn't excuse bad behavior. Chris and I talked about how even soldiers get training on resisting the 'flight' instinct and that we can help him deal with his fears. Who knows how much of it stuck.
Today was another day of iron sharpening iron. The kids had dental appointments this morning, which got Habtamu nervous and twichy. Chris reminded him that not only was his sister going first, but that this trip to the dentist would be exactly the same as the one 6 months ago. "I know mom," he said, "Different people different feelings." Chris seded the point and quit using the shame/logic angle and just comforted him. There was also some altercation that ended with Chris going into the bedroom alone feeling that nothing she said or did made a difference. Instead of just watching a movie and stewing, which they had been given permission to do, or finding something to bang on, which they didn't have permission to do but often do anyway, they came into the bedroom crying asking mommy to please keep telling them what to do because she knows everything. There were tears, group hugs, and even a mommy sandwich. Chris spent yesterday fueled by the knowledge that tonight she would get to go out to coffee with the ladies, and didn't even end up going.
Kids over coffee? What's this world coming to?