I have not given a Orange Rhino update since December 26th, when I had raised my voice after the boys were giggly and antsy during midnight mass. I understand their goofiness was more likely due to it being so late (early?) and my own exhaustion, however I did lose my cool and allow my voice to be raised. I only mark down when I wasn't successful and with everything had was going on with the holidays I completely forgot to count how many days I had not yelled. Things have been going swimming that I would have not thought about my commitment to the Orange Rhino, but last Friday I yelled. (Boy, did I yell!) Before I get to why I flew off the handle let me tally up how many yell free days I already had under my belt. 23 days! That's a new record for me. For 23 days I did not yell, raise my voice or even talk through my teeth. I hadn't even been concentrating on not yelling. Not until the day I totally blew it.
Jordan doesn't get to spend much time with friends during basketball season between practices, games, and homework. After Thursday's game (which was their first home court win, YAY!) he asked to go home with a friend, things were busy for that day. He made plans to spend some time with his buddy the next day after practice with the understanding he would complete any homework over the weekend. It ended up being trying to arrange how Jordan was to get to his friend's house, as the friend was not on the basketball team, and I wouldn't allow Jordan to walk alone after practice. Most of the plotting and planning was left up to the boys. Jordan was to finalize the plans with his friend and call me after school but before practice to let me know if I'd have to double back to drop him off at his friends. I planned on taking younger boys sledding as soon as they got out of school, making homemade pizza and playing a couple board games or watch a movie of their choice. Spending some one-on two-time isn't as good as one-on-one time, but we take what we can get (one-on-one time as a single parent is harder to come by).
Being helpful but still leaving the responsibility up to Jordan I sent him a reminder text "call mom" when school let out (at 2:50). Giving him the benefit of doubt that he'll remember, I waited for him to call. I just wanted to know what the plan was so I would know if I could head straight to the snow hill with the other boys or to hang out to give him ride. Five minutes before practice (3:15) I called him, and I after a couple rings was sent to voice mail, I wasn't happy about it ,but understandably he could already be practicing. I figured just to play it safe the boys and I will hang out and wait for Jordan in case he does need a ride (4:00). Blessedly the other boys were being exceptionally well behaved. We had a half hour to wait before practice was over. For a while we entertained each other with how our days had gone so far and all 3 of us singing horribly off key with the radio. I finally get a text from Jordan (at 4:25) "I think his mom's coming to pick me up". I text back that I'm already there and I'll just drive so she doesn't have to come back out in the snow. Then we wait. And wait. Other kids were now leaving practice and we're still waiting (4:45). Sensing that mom was going to lose it Jake and Joe contently played with action figures and cards without any arguing. I tried calling Jordan (4:50) and every time I got sent to voicemail after fewer and fewer rings, the more irritated I get. I tried texting him (5:00) No response. I drive around the school hoping to spot the other mom so I can get my two that are being angels to the hill. I didn't see her. Thankfully she wasn't there as I was feeling really bad that my kid was making her wait for over a half hour. Finally (5:10) I get a call from Jordan!! By now my nerves are fried, I informed him in a not very pleasant tone that I have been sitting there for over an hour waiting to find out if he had a ride. My goofy kid's response to that "Cool, I'll call (friend's name) and see if his mom will come get me." That's when I lost it! I screamed at him to get his behind outside right then. He must have finally figured out that I wasn't all too pleased with him, as he came out wearing his practice clothes and only carrying his gym bag (5:15). Believe it or not talking to his friend on the phone. I not so nicely inquired about his backpack and coat and he pushed me over the end by giving me "in a minute" hand gesture. I wasn't nice about informing him he had lost his phone and send him back into he school to get his coat and book bag. By then my blood is boiling. As he returns and hands over his lifeline to his friends, the phone beeps. His friends responding message to him "just walk to my house". He is granted 30 seconds to call and let the friend know he wouldn't be coming over and the plans for the following weekend to stay the night over there are canceled. I was fuming and along with the taking away the phone I went for where it really hurt and he lost electronics until further notice.
Bless the younger two who sat very still and quiet during my exchange with Jordan, and who managed to play nicely for the 45 minutes we had to wait for Jordan, never once asking when we were going to the hill. Although I was beyond upset with Jordan, I was extremely proud of the younger two. We all proceeded to the snow hill down the street, I was not going to let Jordan's mess up, take away from what I had promised the other boys. The whole ride there Jordan tried convincing me of how unreasonable I was for requesting to know what his plan were, even blaming "no signal" for not calling (but had no explanation for how the "signal" worked for his friend to call him). I did what had been my habit and lectured (loudly) the whole way there.
Once at the hill, Jordan hops out with the rest of us and grabs a sled. I was still too upset with him to let the whole thing go. Jordan was granted the opportunity to sit in the van (wrapped in blankets) for a half hour so he could better understand how the rest of us had felt, when we were eager to go sledding. The younger boys and I took to the hill which we had mostly to ourselves. I made sure I could keep an eye on Jordan and the van the whole time. While the boys raced down the hill, I was able to distress before Jordan joined us. After exactly 30 minutes Jordan got out of the van and was walking towards us with his snow clothes on and a snowboard in hand. I apologized to him (and the other boys) for yelling, after a bit he then apologized for not calling and we let the subject drop. We had races down the hill seeing which pairing off sent us down the hill the fastest.
We actually had a fairly decent evening after that. We ended up grabbing a pizza (as it was too late to start cooking dinner) and picnicked on my bed while watching old HVS home movies.
While most of my blow up was internal, I did lash out with my words at Jordan. I had raised my voice and I had tried to make him feel just how upset he made me. That's not how I want to raise my boys. People make mistakes and people upset you, but that does give them (or you) the right to lay into them. I knew there were better ways to handle the situation, but at the time I was too irritated to look for them. While I had yelled, I can see the progress I have made. I was able to let go the frustration and disappointment in myself for yelling and move on. In the past I would have held on to the anger both with myself and with Jordan. I would have continued to lecture Jordan every time he reached the top of hill making it a very unpleasant event for both of us. Or I would have just taken everyone home, even though the other two had one nothing wrong, made soup or cereal for dinner and hole myself up in my room.
By letting go my anger of "just how irresponsible my 13can be" and seeing it for what it was, my teenager was only thinking about himself and his wants, typical teenager behavior. I know in my heart he didn't do it to be disrespectful, even if it had felt that way at the time. My not dwelling on how "I had destroyed my kids, by yelling", we were able to salvage the night.
I know I'm not the only parent who has lost their temper with a teenager over something in hindsight doesn't seem like it called for the tongue lashing they got. This is by far not one of my proudest parenting moments, but as you can see we are all still learning and growing, myself as much so as my boys.
I'm back on "The Orange Rhino Wagon" yesterday was day 5 of yelling less, loving more.