Tuesday, January 21, 2014

About Timing and Cycles

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” - J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit

Sometimes it seems like good parenting is all about timing and cycles.  Anyone who spends all day with their child knows the kiddo has a broad range of behaviors and attitudes, mostly based on how recently they've slept and eaten.

People who do not spend all day with kids do not know this, and will schedule events to happen during times you know your child will be a stubborn, grumpy mule or a ticking time bomb of emotion, and these are the times a parent can only call off the event, or grind their teeth in fear and worry for several hours, helpless against the tides of childhood emotion.

It's funny, really, how much of my day is planned around these shifting sands.  For instance, we never go anywhere or do anything right after the child awakens in the morning.  Of course, it helps that basically nothing is open at 6am, but still, we bide our time a good couple of hours till the initial Cranky has worn off.  But right after that is the absolute prime time of good behavior and focus, from 9am till noon or so.  Best time to do something with us, especially if you want Maeve to sit still and listen or treat other kids nicely.

But between noon and four, the naughtiness and tiredness slowly creeps in until either a nap or some time to lie low must occur.  If she's well rested, just an hour of tv or quiet alone play will do, but most days it's a nap.  Or God forbid, when she's super exhausted but too wound up to settle down for a nap or even some chill time on the couch, and she just winds herself into a crazy fit.  Heaven help me on those days.

Just after naptime is a worse crank than the morning, and we have to go pick up Daddy at the bus stop at that hour, much to Maeve's daily misery.  It is like pulling teeth to get that child in the car at 4:30pm, despite the fact that we do it every darned day.  Despite the fact that she's excited to see her dad.  It's just the timing is all wrong.  So I resign myself to a rough go of it, just about daily.

Right after dinner there's a brief respite of happy time, and then toward bedtime begins the downhill cycle again, so that when one of us suggests it may be time to get ready for bed, there is a hue and cry just about every night.  But we try to gently shepherd the child towards sleep without getting into a row, since there's no point in arguing with an emotional time-bomb of a child.

So if you've ever wondered why we don't often do dinner dates with Maeve and other couples, or why an afternoon birthday party is one of our biggest stressors, now you know.  Schedule accordingly, people.

I was probably leaving her well enough alone, it was the afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. This is (of course) our life too, and it's hard to explain to people!