As I angrily paced outside my oldest son's bedroom and waited for the tantrum to subside, I sniffed my shirt to see if the smell from the excorist style vomit that the little one threw up on me earlier was somehow on the new clothes or if I just smelled that way forever now. I found myself wondering if everyone's Halloween ended this way. Apparently my kids can NOT handle being up past their bedtime. I have always insisted that the kids have consistent and early bedtimes. It's my ONE cause as a parent. TV? Sure! Watch as much as you want. Fruit loops for breakfast? Yeah, why not. Don't want to do your hair this morning? Sure, go to school looking crazy. See if I care. We will match! But you will go to bed at 7:30 or Mommy will lose her shit. So naturally they turned into angry screaming devil children by the end of it all. There are those times when your toddler is screaming 'I want, I want, I want' over and over again and you're telling yourself 'Don't say you don't care. Don't say it. Don't say it. Say something else. Anything else.' Because you know the next time the kid gets upset he's going to say that to you and he's going to get in trouble and its would be your fault and you could just avoid the whole thing by not saying it right now. And then you say it anyway and feel horrible afterwards. Sigh.
My bff and I were talking the other day about whether or not losing your temper and yelling at your kids is as terrible as it makes us feel afterwards. We decided that the answer is no. Probably not. Eventually we have to send them into the real world and they have to know that people have limits. They have to know that outbursts happen and yes we can all forgive each other and move on afterwards. The thing that probably does them a bigger disservice is the parenting inconsistencies that lead up to the yelling to begin with. I read a a very revealing article (I will link to it if I can find it again) that described what happens to me perfectly. I get tired or lazy or lenient and I let things go that I probably shouldn't. And I just keep letting it go until that one day where I'm frustrated or extra tired or stressed and I'm fed up with it and that's when I yell about it. And that's not fair to him. But learning to pick your battles as a parent is important and I'm still learning which ones to pick.
My husband and I both work with kids so we have a ton of tricks up our sleeves when it comes to winning compliance. We don't often have to put our foot down because usually we can just ask for what we want out of our toddler and 95% of the time he listens. And I have to give my kiddo some credit here. He is an easy and good kid who just wants to be in our good graces. But every now and then, usually when he's growing or working through some psychological milestone that will show up the week after, he will spend about a week testing every boundary and just generally being a threenager. Whatever he's working on this week I hope he finds it soon because he's not himself and lordy I have been spoiled rotten by him so far when it comes to good behavior.
I have to admit that I don't really know how to do Halloween. Growing up we didn't participate in any holidays or birthdays. As a kid I felt so left out. I remember hiding in the front room watching the kids in their costumes go down the street and not really getting why we couldn't play too. But now as an adult I'm both confused by them and touched by how wonderful everyone is to each other during the holidays. I don't really understand why we aren't always like that or why it's so important that these things happen on certain days and we can't just do them any old time. But I am happy that my kids get to do them and that I get live vicariously through them. I lean pretty hard on my husband during the holidays because I'm feel like I'm just along for the ride. I still have to ask him a bunch of stupid questions every year like "is it too early to start trick or treating now?" "How about now?" "Now?" "Is he supposed to say thank you or is just Happy Halloween ok?" "When do we stop trick or treating? When the bucket is full?" He's very patient with me! In my head Halloween was going to end with us all snuggling and watching The Great Pumpkin. But instead it ended with two over-tired tantrums, baby vomit, the big one sleeping in his school clothes with a pocket full of acorns and candy still on his face. Please tell me I'm not the only one because I have nothing to compare it too!
I think I should note though that the actual evening of Halloween was wonderful. The big one was adorable and sweet. He smiled and said Happy Halloween to everyone. The little one only made it two houses before he went back to Nana's house but in spite of his tiredness (he goes to bed at 5:30pm. His idea actually. Not mine.) he played sweetly until we got back. The weather was great and the kiddo didn't notice the candy we pilfered and snuck into the kitchen to eat. Nana and Papa ordered fajitas and we all had a really wonderful time. It could not have been more perfect. Sometimes when I'm with the kids I feel like I learn more from them than they do from me. Yesterday was one of those days.