“I love your blog, but you never have anything like this in it” Grandpa Mel said quietly as Shayla threw herself into her third round of violent weeping and begging for… oh I can’t remember what. To bring a toy with us? To get something from her brother Jaden or deny something to him? Hot chocolate before dinner, a puppy that poos candy? These scenes tend to be repetitive and it’s hard to remember the details.

Later Jaden re-upped his game, proving his sister’s not the only drama queen. Shrieking and head-banging me because he refused to have his diaper changed before we went downstairs. I sat against the door, keeping it closed as he lunged his poopy self at it and yanked at the handle. I calmly repeated that we can go see papa and have dinner as soon as we change his dirty diaper. I’ve learned my lesson, I don’t wrestle him to the ground and force clean clothes on him, it gets me too mad (and it’s too hard to win). I wait him out, daydreaming about a beach trip to Mexico, while I murmer calm retorts to his murderous yelling. Everyone’s gone ahead, and it’s just a three year old and me. I can wait him out. There was a knock at the door. Not the police, fortunately. Grandpa Mel again, looking shocked that his darling grandson had only slightly less foam coming out of his mouth than a rabid dog.

Have I forgotten to mention the screaming and yelling the children do, in this blog?  I’m better and better at tuning it out, but it is a significant feature of life with kids 6 and “terrible 3”. These kids have some pipes.

One benefit of staying at your father-in-law’s retirement community is that noise isn’t a huge problem. I met a nice man who told me he lives right next door to the room we’re renting for a few days. “I’m so sorry,” I said to him. But he laughed and told me he pops his hearing aids out, no problem.

Still, it’s a shock to the system to be yelled at, viciously, at close range and high volume, with such… I guess the word is sincerity. With their purity of feeling, for that moment they truly detest what you stand for and your ridiculous rules and requirements. I used to think I’d be less affected by their outbursts over time, but the truth is the onset always brings a reaction. It’s a second later that my new skills kick in. Rather than taking the bait, most often I’m able to unhook, register that they need someone to push against and I’m him right now, and do my duty. Trying to stay reasonable, often staying calm-ish, proudly never resorting to murder.

Christmas, a whole week so far off school, away from home and routine. Of course the little ones have more than the usual need for a meltdown. But it’s at least the second night this week Jay and I have congratulated each other for making it relatively unscratched through some version of the Exorcist. Wow, that was exhausting. And did I mention we went to the mall for shoes? It’s me who should be drooling and pounding the walls.

But I have to say post meltdown is really great. When the weeping subsides, and the quiet is so sweet. All that crying oxygenated their brains and gave them quite a workout. They’ve got a peaceful sense of accomplishment being done with all that. I’m proud that I only got mad this time, not furious. Small victories.

I can hear the train headed through Northridge, the cars on the street. An hour of my own thoughts before bed (if I can make it a whole hour) is pure bliss. Hang in there everyone, just one more week before the schools have to take them all back!