I used to hate it when my parents sat us all down for a "family pow wow". They were epic come to Jesus talks that usually ended with us all getting up early, doing more chores and sorting out whatever major attitude problems were shaping up into WWIII. I loathed them so much, that early in our marriage when Jim casually mentioned "let's pow wow" I broke out into a cold sweat and treated the poor man like he'd just suggested a flogging post and torture rack.
Now I have four kids, and although the word "pow wow" is still strictly forbidden, I realized I totally do the same thing. Negotiating with a two year old is a slippery slope where you think peeling a banana a certain way or watching a show in the morning is not a big deal, and then before you know it you're standing on your head, holding your mouth a certain way and angling the banana so it correctly lines up with the earth's magnetic field as you peel it at 5 am while you watch the same dinosaur train episode. ...and you don't even know how it got this bad.
Multiply that by four, throw in the end of CC and state testing and it's no wonder people commonly burn out this time of year.
So I sat all of the kids down and told them we were having a week reset of absolutely no fun (you have to set the standard super low so something like playing math bingo feels like you're getting away with murder). We're doing nothing but learning poetry, reading books, doing math and re-learning how to play nicely with our siblings. I cleaned up our food while I was at it, because I figured you might as well bum everyone out with one swift kick in the pants. Our diet had slipped from pizza occasionally and cold cereal as an emergency backup to such a high level of consumption that they need to come up with a new scientific classification of consumers for us: Herbivores, Carnivores, Omnivores and the Junkavores.
It had gotten so bad even Jamie was craving healthy food. He's become so big and responsible this year (mostly) that he can babysit for short periods and go places independently. So when he kept bugging me and bugging me for lentil soup, I finally just handed him my card and told him if he wanted it that bad he was going to have to do it himself.
...and I was surprised he called my bluff, but he did. He walked to the grocery store and asked someone where the leeks and lentils were located, used the self checkout and was home in ten minutes total. Jim and I teased him later that the only reason someone didn't get him into trouble was because they probably had never met a potentially troublesome sixth grader shopping for lentils and leeks. Ahem.
I wonder sometimes if other families have to go through the monumental, boot slogging task of feeling like they have to troubleshoot every.single.area of their kids' lives. Oftentimes it seems like my kids only struggle struggle struggle, and never succeed. Everything needs extra work and effort, nothing comes easy. We were back to forming ABC's today like we're in Kindergarten to fix a bunch of letter reversals that have been cropping up lately. William probably needs speech therapy too, but there is a limit to how many "therapies" one can juggle in a week, and his issues are mild (in comparison). But see? It's a constant state of triage on who needs the most help. Of course after three kids who needed speech therapy to even start talking, I feel like at this point I should just write my own. "Speech Bootcamp For Stubborn Toddlers: The at home guide for parents who want to hear something other than 'EEEEEEEEGHH!' all day"
But hey, two days in and everyone is doing a lot better (food wise, school wise, and behavior wise) so maybe my parents were on to something with their "pow wows". And honestly there are worse things than sitting home all day eating watermelon and homemade beef jerky while you build epic train tracks and read Laddie aloud. But in defense of electronics and Netflix... Jamie said there wasn't one thing on his common core state test that wasn't in Wild Kratz and Magic Schoolbus. So there.