Well - to be fair - it was Zayd's fault. Anytime I ask him to do the most simple tasks, he digs in his heels for World War III.
When he arrived home from Boy Scout Camp yesterday morning, I asked him to unload his suitcase and throw the dirty clothes down the chute. He responded with:
Zayd: Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!! I DON"T WANT TOOOOOO!
I decided this was not the time to do battle.
This morning I revisited the issue. The suitcase still where he left it.
Me: Zayd.... I need you to...
Zayd: NOOOOOO!!!! I don't want tooooo!!!!
Seriously. My life is too short to deal with 9-year-old tantrums. He has been throwing them since he was 9 months old - not even kidding you. There were times I wanted to give him up. He is THE most stubborn child ever created. But I love him... because behind his extraordinary tenacity, is a loving, insightful, witty boy who will do wonderful things in his life.
Anyways, this time I was ready for battle.
Me: ZAYD. ENOUGH. You WILL do as I ask you to do. I don't CARE if you don't want to. I don't WANT to do 90 percent of what I do in this house. I don't WANT to make your breakfast, I don't WANT to help you with your homework, I don't WANT to wash your clothes, and I don't WANT to deal with your mood. Get over it and DO IT!
He backed off.
Zachary told me recently that he finds me easier than his father to get along with because I don't get angry over "everything." True - I don't get bent out of shape over what I think are trivial matters. Like the time Zach chose to spray paint his bike gold. All of it. Tires, chain, spokes, seat - all of it. In the garage. Right by the white van.
Paul went through the roof. I found it creative and funny.
So I take things in stride for the most part. We have four boys. It is difficult to keep up with the house and laundry and the everything. I figure that is the way it is going to be for a long while - why fight it? I also warn my children before I lose my temper. It usually goes something like this:
Me: (I whisper loudly) I swear to God, if you all don't get up and do what I have asked you to do for the millionth time... I am going to scream so loud that this house is going to shake and you are going to be scared out of your minds.
But, as Zach also pointed out to me -- when I do get mad... I get mad. He said he is more afraid of my temper than his father's because I show it so infrequently. He knows when I get mad I am serious.
This time - at Zayd - I was serious. He knew it. So did Ethan, Evan and Zach. And I wasn't just at the end of my fuse with Zayd - I was at all of them. Their rooms looked like garbage dumps, the house which was GLEAMING just 12 hours ago looked like crap. For example, apparently last night Zayd decided to "make something" in the bathroom. NEVER a good sign. I found aluminum foil and plastic wrap delicately floating in a sink full of water with a paper boat on top covered in scotch tape. Why? Why. I was tired of everyone's grumpy over-tired moods. It was my turn to be grumpy. I barked out my orders.
Me: Zachary, Zayd and Evan - your rooms are pits. I want them cleaned. And I do not want to see them looking like they do now - ANYMORE. That's it. I am sick and tired of it all! CLEAN THEM.
Ethan - you pick up your mess on the kitchen table. If you are going to do art project you need to pick up after yourself. Evan when you are done with your room, you get to clean the kitchen. Zachary, go downstairs and sort the laundry. Zayd - I swear to God if you don't do what I ask you to do you are going to hate your life for the rest of this week.
I stomped into the dining room to work on my dissertation.
And I could hear everyone shift into action mode. I had four men scurrying about the house doing their jobs - AND getting along. They were in this together. They knew if they started fighting there would be hell to pay from their mother.
Evan walks into the dining room with a cup of coffee for me. Zachary asks if there is anything else he can do for me. Ethan keeps showing me what he has accomplished. And Zayd is out of my sight - but he is quiet -- which is all I need from him.
Finally - when all has settled and the boys take me around to show me how good everything looks. I make my announcement.
Me: Boys. Just to warn you. Mom will become increasingly grumpy as the day wears on because I am going to watch what I am eating, I am working on my dissertation, and because you are all home with me today.
Zachary: Well then. There you go. Thanks for the notice.