I was thinking that maybe, I was just complaining too much about school. Many of my friends handle far far more than I do, after all. Maybe I was blowing it out of proportion, and I was just being overwhelmed by projects around the holidays and chronic disorganization. The new year would certainly bring improvements.
Nope. It's just as much of a pain in the ass now.
Actually, I do have additional insight as to why, though it's nothing new. The challenges of picking up kids, walking in the door and getting everyone settled, making dinner, cleaning up lunches, dealing with homework and all that are very real, but it's all made much much more difficult by how rude and resistant the boys are.
Every step of the way, they have to be pushed, reminded, threatened. Just getting them out of the car, inside, jackets and knapsacks hung up, hands washed, lunch put away, is a tremendous effort. It can take 20 minutes just for this baseline state, with reminders turning to threats for absolutely every step.
Katrina, on the other hand, overall is very cooperative. She might get distracted and lose her way, she might leave her lunch on the porch, she might forget to hang up her jacket, but all it takes is a reminder or two, and she cheerfully does it. If they were all like this -- putzy, forgetful, needing reminders, even every day, it would be SO much easier. But the boys are relentlessly rude and defiant.
"I don't HAVE TO!"
"It's a FREE COUNTRY!"
"I'm not GOING to school tomorrow, WHO CARES about homework!"
"Oh PLEASE MOOOOMMMM, I KNOWWWWWW!
"What are you, STUPID?! Why do you keep TELLING ME!"
"It's MY LIFE and I'll live it HOWEVER I WANT!"
"Stop ORDERING ME AROUND!"
"Fine then I'll take YOUR dessert away!"
"EEEIEIEEIEEEEEEE!!!! Why do I have to do ALL THIS WORK!!!!!!!"
"Why don't YOU do it!"
That's before we even get into the house.
Then if I implement a consequence -- Julian lost dessert for not coming to the table after being told numerous times, then running down a countdown -- I've lost my leverage and they're even worse until bedtime. Julian got sent out to sit on the porch bench twice during dinner for rudeness ("Who's the STUPIDEST one in the family? DAD!").
Oh JOY. This is such a FUN LIFE. "You signed up for it," you might think. No. No one signs up for this part of child-raising. It just tags along, like a burrs on your socks that you can't pick off.
I took this video of Katrina because she was reading this "Zelda and Ivy" book so well. She reads aloud, but she is really truly reading now, and I'm super proud of her. And happy for her, she loves it.
However, that's not why I'm posting the video -- you really can't make out her words, but her reaction when she notices the camera is pretty funny.
She can be plenty defiant too -- of course she has great role models, but she's the only one who flat-out answers with a straight "NO!" and an evil glare (Gabriel's great at those too). Tonight she too threw a fit around dinnertime and we had a struggle, but she's much much easier to distract out of it.
Still I can't help to wonder how different -- ok, easier -- our lives would be in this phase if we had girls. And to think, I'm told the hardest years are the teenage ones.