Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Low Energy

Today I had an amazingly Low Energy Day. I spent most of the day talking myself out of lying flat on the floor and staring at the ceiling. If it hadn't been for the unpleasant thought of suddenly becoming Noah and Mattias' indoor jungle gym, I probably would have done it. Instead, I settled into a slump in my desk chair. Normal families have sofas for such lounging about, but we don't have a sofa for lounging; we have a sofa for the Art of Proper Conversation, so the desk chair it was.

I've been waking up early in the morning - way too early in the morning - writing essays on the State of Builder Designed Housing in the United States and Failures of New Urbanist Neighborhoods and Encroachments of the DIY Culture on Design Professionals and People Who are Not Architects but Call Themselves Architects Anyway. Really, you only need to hear the titles.  There's not much more there. These essays are kind of like my version of dramatic play. Obviously, I'm spending too much time with preschoolers. But I only mention it because some true Writers with blogs will be happy to know that I have complete and utter empathy for the attack of your field by the hobby-ist.  We architects have attacks, too. And also from many directions, thus my early morning rants. Rants to myself, really; because I, at the moment, am hardly in a position to crusade for anything.

Well, whatever. I think this particular line of discussion is about to become some sort of babbling, so let me stop or save it for another (more focused) time and place. Instead:

What I really wanted to say is that I think all of my tiredness has accumulated and taken the form of an actual ache in my left arm. Fritz tries to tell me it's from carrying around Mattias. Mattias is getting heavy. He doesn't really walk very far alone, He's not happy being contained in the stroller. So, I am carrying him a lot. But this ache feels like more than a carrying-around-Mattias-ache.

This morning, Noah began pulling tissues out of the box. It was second time that this particular tissue box had been pulled apart this week. The first time it was Mattias. And the first time, I never quite got around to stuffing the tissues back in the box, because, I don't know, something happened and I got distracted and the tissues weren't really in the way, or not in the way in an In-my-face-kind-of-way.  And around here, things that aren't In-my-face generally get a low priority.

Fritz used to comment on stuff like that. He'd say something like, "What happened to these tissues?" And I might be all witty and reply something back about how Noah thought we needed a new carpet in the bedroom.  Or more likely, I would just look at him and throw my hands in the air, like, "Well?  What do you expect?" and then mutter something about how I can't keep up. It's probably some sort of testament to our ever-maturing relationship and perspective on parenting that after Mattias emptied the box, Fritz said nothing.  He just stuffed the tissues back in the box so that Noah could pull them out again two days later.

So, anyway, Noah knows better than to pull tissues out of the box. Which means that I needed to tell him "no" and make him clean up the mess he was making. And it just felt so... redundant and negative and exhausting to tell him to stop taking the tissues out of the box.  And I thought about how he was going to ask me "Why?" for the twentieth time this morning. And "Why?" although I'm sure he's been told WHY we don't take tissues out of the box DOZENS of times.  Did I REALLY have to do this again? And if he didn't stop then I'd send him to his room... and he'd make a scene of stomping to his room and crying loudly and fake-ly. And it just felt like so much effort to make him stop. I said I was low energy, remember?

Just thinking about saying, "No" or "Stop" was making my arm ache even more. And while I was pondering all this, Noah started ripping the tissue box itself into little pieces, a sure sign that he was trying to get my attention. My attention to the situation at hand began to drift from Noah to myself and I started wondering why I can never seem to give him as much attention as he wants. I mean, what is wrong with me?

(With hindsight, I can see that something is going to need to change here; that we need to shake things up because it's not healthy for either Noah or I when the whole scene becomes a routine like this. And it's pretty counter productive to be pondering yourself when your kid obviously wants your attention.)

Nonetheless, what kind of ache is this in my arm and what is it trying to tell me?  I thought: Fritz will tell me to stop carrying around Mattias. And maybe I should clean up those tissues and the ripped up tissue box. Or get Noah to do it. Right now, it's almost the same thing.

Rather than face the tissues or Noah, I left the room.  Carrying Mattias.

Later today, when the ache was duller, I directed Noah back to the tissues. The tissues were not only pulled out of the box, but ripped into tiny pieces, just like the tissue box had been. Noah must have completed that little touch after Mattias and I left the room. Tissues pieces were all over the room. But Noah bounced around the room, picking them up and throwing them away. I directed and he was content with that. It was almost too easy. Perhaps throwing them away was wasteful, but it seemed to inspire Noah that he didn't have to put them back in the (ripped apart) box. I'm pretty sure my grandmother, who lived through the Great Depression, would never waste tissues like that.

And this delayed punishment consequence probably wastes the effectiveness of punishments consequences.

Also, Fritz came home and asked, "Where are all the tissues?  There was a whole box here."

Note: if anyone commented, and the comments disappeared - I'm sorry, no: blame Blogger - which did some wonky updating overnight on Thursday and seemingly, lost comments.


Swistle said...

Oh, I know this kind of tiredness. Mine collects in a sore back, which Paul thinks is because of my poor posture, but NO, it is the tiredness collecting there.

Pregnantly Plump said...

Sorry you had a rough day, and hope your arm gets better. My back is what always hurt when the boys weren't mobile, and stretching usually helped. But I don't know any arm stretches.

Anonymous said...

You are left handed, right? I don't know where your pain is, but mine
was in the elbow - right arm. And I also realized that it hurt more
when I used a lot of energy to parent my kids (read: telling and
yelling for the tenth time to do or not to do something, or pulling
them apart, holding them to brush their you get the idea?).
So in the evening (late afternoons and evenings are still the most
intense times around here), my arm really hurt.
I had massages and of course the therapist related the pain to my work
as a mother - but last year I was not carrying around any kid more
than the nine years before.
Half a year before it started I was in an accident than affected my
neck, maybe that set it on? Strange! Looking back - and with your
latest input - it must have been a sign to think more about myself. So
I started to work out, and it did not hurt at all.

And I had afternoons like yours before. You know what I do in such
cases? I offer to be a model and the kids take all the brushes and
hair things and get busy. I can close my eyes and enjoy it...until
they fight about who gets which section of my had. So, one more reason
to have long hair! Now that I tell you about it - I had a hair cut
last Monday and now it it short again...

Ann Wyse said...

My arm is feeling better this weekend...for some mysterious reason that I'm not complaining about.

Also, I tried the hairdresser idea. And it worked GREAT. The boys were so happy to climb all over and around me. And is was kind of nice to have someone else (try) to brush my hair. I'll be using that one again!

Anonymous said...

From one "Anonymous" to another - what a great idea! I wish I had thought of that years ago. It makes a lot of sense when I now put on my child development/psychology hat. Take a developmental behavior and an emotional need and turn it into an opportunity for something positive instead of letting it get you down. BRILLIANTLY CREATIVE idea. It even worked with boys AND mommy gets some benefit! Whoopee!

Anonymous said...

Had another idea this weekend: we moved the play kitchen into the living room not long ago. we had it since my second daughter turned two (she is now eight years old), and it was not used as much as I had hoped for. but last weekend, the kids cooked and prepared tons of cough medicine: while two lay 'coughing' on the sofa, the other two were busy taking care of them. all my lemons were gone at the end of that weekend and I decided it will soon be my turn to be 'sick'. The game was called: Madita und Lisabeth (for those who know these stories by Astrid Lindgren)