I am in a constant state of over-stimulation – though, this really isn’t news to anyone who knows me. In my life, there is constant noise barraging my eardrum…..constant motion within my peripheral vision…and constant threat of bodily harm….as 5 little breathing, screaming, flailing bodies whiz throughout the house exemplifying chaos theory in action.
And I am an introvert, making my life overwhelming and basically exhausting.
Tuesday morning, I stood at the bus stop with two bouncy boys feeling so happy to be saying goodbye to them….even though I was heading straight to work. I turned to the mother beside me and asked how their holiday weekend had been. She replied that they had a nice day just “chilling at home.” I paused and considered how delightful that word sounded….”chilling”…. Then I laughed and told her, “we never chill at home. If we stay in the house, the 5 boys eventually start to kill each other. There’s no chilling. We must get out of the house at all costs!”
It’s a constant balancing act in the kids’ need for stimulation and my need to decrease the stimulation. I realized that it’s something almost always on my mind in terms of how much stimulation each of the kids is getting and what level “works” or doesn’t work for them. When Super Tall Guy becomes overstimulated, he falls apart into angry outbursts that usually result in objects soaring through space or a contusion to a brother or mother. I’d love to prevent these, but have trouble anticipating them (though we had 3 of them this past week, which is a record high of late!). Mr. Ornery, as one might expect, becomes even more ornery and devilish when he’s over-stimulated and over-tired. He has a couple times, though, asked questions like, “it’s pretty late, isn’t it?” or “it’s past my bedtime, right?” – to which I respond, “oh my, yes, we better get to bed” – and that seems to be just what he needs. And, The Little Guy…I can’t tell yet what his threshold is…he seems to be able to function in the mania that exists within the house.
Somehow, we must have blown right past Super Tall Guy’s ability to regulate stimulation this week. We had a knock-down 20-min battle on Wednesday and topped it off with 2 of them on Saturday. Thinking myself quite wise…after he tossed his spit at me during the morning rage….I proclaimed his punishment would be to clean the bathroom. As this is a new “skill” for him, it required much supervision and much biting of my tongue and refraining from yelling “just let me do it!!” I thought I had done well with the consequence to misbehavior, until he eagerly asked when he could clean the bathroom again! (don’t worry – I know – this enthusiasm will wane rapidly and scrubbing toilets will eventually become an undesired consequence…).
So, after dealing with two rage episodes yesterday, Super Tall Guy was banned from TV today and grounded from going anywhere (which takes me right back to “how kids punish you” – I try to discipline them….makes my life more difficult!!). I meditated some this morning about how to help Super Tall Guy work on finding control….and my mind drifted to the fact that he is really not showing respect for me or his siblings. I came up with a little mantra to think about some of the things I’d like my boys to be doing. My vision (of a great mother who puts her foot down) was to call a “Family Meeting” and review this concept…..but in the chaos of the day (Steeler loss despite hours and hours of football throwing practice inside the house, playing outside – in and out, in and out, mopping up watermelon and mopping up watermelon, rubber-band jump-rope and run around the inside track course to jump jump-rope, inside and out, inside and out), we somehow never got to it.
So I plan to work on being a great Mom tomorrow and see how that strategy works. At least my boys let me try a great deal of new techniques!