Monday, Bloody Monday

Monday morning I got up a bit later than usual and said to my husband (Jerry), “Ok, honey, are you ready to do nothing and say nothing with me?” Yes, good. I got dressed for work and went downstairs. I stood there feeling all my urges to remind and direct and do and then forced myself to sit down.

Fenner and Ellen were busy getting ready and were soon set to go. But where was Charlotte? I shrugged. “I don’t know. When everyone is ready in the car, I’ll take you to school.” Fenner and Ellen waited impatiently a bit longer and then took turns trying to wake her up and convince her to get dressed. Finally she got up and got dressed and we all got in the car. But Charlotte had no coat, no backpack, and no lunch. As I cranked the engine I thought: I don’t know if I can do this! Send her to school like that? What would everyone think? And then Fenner said, “Charlotte please put on your seatbelt,” and I thought, ok, ok, good, that’s a good reason not to go yet. And I turned the engine off and calmly said, “That’s ok, I can wait.”

Just then it dawned on Charlotte that she didn’t have a coat or her backpack or any food and so she refused to put her seat belt on. I said, “When everyone’s ready with seat belts on, I will drive to school.” Charlotte started crying, and they all started fighting, really badly. Fenner let out a truly blood-curdling scream of frustration directed right at Charlotte and I think she might have punched her, but I kept my eyes forward and said, “I’m going back inside. When everyone’s ready, come get me.”

Charlotte followed me inside and started having a full-out tantrum. I said, “As soon as you’re ready, we’ll go.” And I went back to the car. I sat out there and listened to the 2 older girls make a plan that tomorrow they would take the bus to school so they wouldn’t have to wait for Charlotte. Charlotte continued her tantrum inside. When she saw that her lunch wasn’t made she came out and opened the driver-side door and yelled, “You are a butt-head mommy and I’m going to punch you in the nose!” I put my hand up to my face because it seemed like she really might do it. She ended up punching me twice in the arm instead. I sat there looking at my hands and saying, “When everyone’s ready I’ll drive to school.” Charlotte went back inside again. Behind me, Fenner was hyperventilating and Ellen was working very hard to try to make her laugh. (Meanwhile, we’re having work done on our house and the workmen were coming in and out and I tried not to think about what they must think!)

Pretty soon we all got cold and joined Charlotte inside. Before long, they all ended up in the living room and turned on the TV and debated about going to school.  Someone came out and made popcorn and went back to the living room. Jerry was beside himself. It was all he could do to keep his mouth shut. I had to talk him through it. He said, “What’s to keep them from just doing this all week?” Secretly I thought to myself: I’m not really sure. But what came out of my mouth was, “We have to trust that they will figure out that going to school is a good idea.” Please, please…. All day long and into the night they watched a lot of TV. Jerry left on his business trip. (It’ll be just me until Friday afternoon.) And then, at 9:20pm, all three of them said, “I’m tired,” and marched upstairs and totally put themselves to bed. Charlotte cried for about 30 seconds when she couldn’t get the cap off of something, and then it was quiet.

That night I thought to myself: So, if they choose not to go to school, then I don’t go to work … Is that right? It must be, because the only way to change their minds–if that’s what they choose–is to coax, cajole, direct, beg, etc. All those things I can’t do. Wow, what a trip.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 1: Do nothing. Say nothing

11 Comments on “Monday, Bloody Monday”

  1. julie mazza Says:

    Are you able to work from home when Charlotte decides not to go to school? How would your method of dealing w/ her refusal to go to school change if you worked outside the home and had to go to work?

    • flockmother Says:

      Hi, great question. I’ve wondered about that myself! I am fortunate to be able to work from home as needed. Although many times I do have meetings and appointments that require my coming in to the office, so it’s not completely flexible. So my husband and I talked about this issue during the first week and basically we agreed to commit to doing this thing whole hog, and that for this first week, because it was so important to learn where our kids were at, our jobs would take a back seat, and we would call in sick if we had to. We knew we couldn’t do that indefinitely, so we just had to trust that with all this new information, we’d be able to figure out: what will it take for all our girls to choose to go to school? So far this approach has worked beautifully.

  2. JohninVT Says:

    I work from home too, and my two (six and seven yrs.) were a mess this week. The first night, at eight o’clock (the usual bedtime) I said that I was going to bed and I went upstairs. They decided to stay up and watch tv, and it was past midnight when they finally came upstairs. They overslept the next day, and when they finally woke up, I explained to them that I had appointments that I had to keep, and that I was leaving in 30 minutes. I told them that I was going past the school, so I could give them a ride, but otherwise, they would have to call a taxi – and did they have the required $12-15 in the piggy banks upstairs? They did forget a backpack, they wore the same clothes to school for a second day in a row, but they were in the car when I turned the key…

    • flockmother Says:

      Hi, thanks for writing! Sorry for my slow response, I’ve been out on medical leave. (Nothing serious.) Hey, they were in the car when you turned the key – amazing, aren’t they? They can handle sooo much. I’m getting ready to post about letting my girls set their own bedtime. Fascinating journey. How are things going for your kids now?

  3. […] that first week when Charlotte threatened to punch me in the nose because her lunch wasn’t made? I do. But it […]

  4. Tonya Says:

    Yesterday was day one of DNSN with my 3 and 5 year old girls… Morning was positive, but pick up at school was rough to say the least! When we got in the car I sat and waited for the girls to buckle up. They sat down at first but my 3 year old didn’t buckle. Next thing I knew they were climbing over the seats, pounding on the windows, fighting, playing, folding the seats down, etc. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, but I just sat there in the parking lot as the other parent came and went and the school was closed up and locked.

    After half and hour my 5 year old Bella said “Mommy I have to go potty really bad…”

    My reply “Sure sweetie, as soon as we are home you can go potty.”

    Bella “I am going to cry and scream my head off until you let me go.”

    So I sat and waited… and waited… She eventually climbed into the back of the van again and began playing with her sister. I began to panic and think “what am I doing? This is crazy. I am going to be here all night.” It was a hot day and I thought let’s speed this up, so I turned the heat on and sat there sweating and waiting.

    A little while later my 3 year old Maya said “Mommy, I’m hot can you please turn the cold air on?”

    My reply “Sure sweetie, as soon as we are driving.”

    Wait…wait..listen to fighting, hitting, screaming, complaining about the heat… and then Maya began hitting and scratching me… She hit and scratched me and her sister repeatedly. I had no idea what to do!

    So I waited and blocked her attack.

    After 1-1/2 hours sitting there they finally decided to sit down and buckle up and I said nothing and drove away.

    Later, after getting home, doing contributions (with my reminder that we would eat dinner when they were done) and eventually eating dinner they wanted to play. I explained that it was bed time and that they had run out of time to play because we sat in the car for 1-1/2 hours. They were sad and they said that it wasn’t a fun way to spend the evening and that they were not going to do it again. We will see…

    I am truly scared!


    • flockmother Says:

      I am truly inspired! Wow, you really hung in there. 1-1/2 hours sitting in the car! You showed them you really mean it and even followed through with a natural consequence (sorry, playtime is all used up!). Please keep me posted, because I’m guessing that if you keep up that level of committment, you will never again need to wait more than a minute or two for them to settle and buckle. (Goal achieved; relationship intact!)

      • Tonya Says:

        Thanks! It feels good to hear that because I was sitting there thinking “I have no idea what I am doing!”

        I will keep you posted! This is scary business!! lol

  5. […] in April of 2009 and decided to chronicle her journey, for the benefit of others. If you read her first blog post the first day of her DNSN week, you will see that the girls in fact did not go to school. That, my […]

  6. Susan Says:

    I’ve tried to step back more, saying nothing and doing nothing, but HOW do I get them to bed at a reasonable time? It’s tough just watching them lurch around at night (they are 2 and 5), no bath, no teeth brushed. I’ve told them, if they’re ready for bed by 9 p.m., I will read them stories and tuck them in, but they’re just not interested. They want to play and scream and run around the house. So now I’ve locked myself in my room and will just see what happens, I guess. I have a feeling there’s going to be hysterical crying soon . . . Thanks for any insight or tips! (Maybe 2 years old is too young for this? But the alternative is to physically force her to do things, which is no fun.)

    • flockmother Says:

      Hi Susan,
      Are you in the middle of the “Do nothing, say nothing” week? If so, it’s been my experience that the more you can let go, the more transformation occurs and the more you learn about your kids and the more they learn about themselves. YES it’s tough to watch them figure things out and give them enough TIME to do it. But ask yourself: why do we expect them to figure things like bedtime out so quickly, especially when most grownups are still working on getting enough sleep themselves? Also ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I give them space to ‘lurch around’ on their own at bedtime? What unexpected progress might occur if I give them a week, or two, or six to practice? Am I willing to do that? Is that a worthwhile experiment in the grand scheme of things? Am I able and willing to let go? Why or why not? So much to learn and explore! And no wrong way to do it. Experiment. Observe. Ask questions. Trust that your kids will be just fine. When you don’t know what to say, say, “I know you can handle this and you’ll figure it out. I love you no matter what.” Easier said than done, I know:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: