Wednesday, December 21, 2011

to freak out, or not to freak out, that is the question!

ha... i was originally going to call this post 'to yell or not to yell' but then i realized that totally does not adequately describe the challenge that i am faced with like 80 times a day! ok so the [first] time it happened today was before the sun even came up... you see, my kids are early risers, so i try to stay in bed until the last possible minute in a desperate attempt for a little more rest to help propel me through the day... however, this more than often leads to full (or at least near) disaster!

to set the scene: so we are blessed to live in the old city of jerusalem in the jewish quarter. we have a beautiful 2-bedroom apartment in a quiet courtyard with this kind of amazing secret garden (that my neighbour maintains and i just enjoy!) that you get to by opening a non-descript metal door on a winding, jerusalem stone-paved street. we also have a really incredible 360 degree view from our rooftop balcony that includes glimpses of the jewish quarter, the gold dome, mt. of olives, hebrew university, modern jerusalem, surrounding arab villages, the security fence, the desert, and the mountains of jordan! you gotta see it to believe it... (and all you far away friends are definitely invited to come see for yourself if you can ever make it to these here parts!) anyway, the point is that we love where we live and are so grateful for our home and don't want to move... meanwhile that means that our kids all share one room which Baruch Hashem (or 'thank G-d'... kind of the jewish punctuation to about half our sentences which basically means 'i am so lucky and don't take this for granted, i know it too is a blessing from G-d, and i certainly don't want to forget') has been working out so far for the most part... but the morning requires the most delicate balance for this because from about 4-6am they all become much lighter sleepers and have a great possibility to wake each other up either by accident or eventually on purpose (to my dismay!)

ok, right. back to this morning. so my big kids started their pitter patter mount up the stairs to our room (oh ya i forgot, our apt is on 2 floors with us upstairs and the kids downstairs, but don't worry you can hear well with the bedroom doors open...)... ok so in my half sleep i hear the approach and get ready... i think to myself 'can i convince them to crawl in bed for a cuddle and a little more rest?' 'have they already climbed up to the 'treats cupboard' and helped themselves to a fistful of chocolate or candy? (which btw happens a lot... only recently i upped my game on the treats hiding spots)' 'or maybe they'll just play quietly while i sleep?'...

well at first they're content to kind of lie down/sit in our bed and just hang out... and from downstairs i hear the baby cooing to herself, which leads me to assume the light's been switched on and she probably can't fall back to sleep, but i'll let her play as long as possible...

then i must have dozed off because a few minutes later we hear a loud 'thud.thud.thud.glug.'... i reassure my husband that they are just rolling the closed water bottle we had in our room down the stairs, harmlessly of course...

i think i doze off again, only to be aroused a few minutes later by full-fledged crying from the baby... this is my final cue to 'jump up and start my day like a lion' as the Torah instructs, yelling out a line in hebrew about how i am grateful to be alive, which i promptly do before running downstairs to see what the yeladim (children in hebrew) could have done to bother the baby or if they are innocent then just to take care of her if she is hungry/needs mommy, etc...

i walk in to the room. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!
(this scream is still just in my head, haven't reacted out loud yet- go me!)
but what happened?
i quickly see that the water bottle i claimed was harmless has been dumped all over the baby and her crib, leaving her soaking wet and sobbing!!!!!!!!! urrggghh.... ok so i go to pick her up and change her, and as i turn around, i see that also both my son's and daughter's beds are drenched with water!!!!!!!!!
deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath... inhale, exhale.
i freeze and think about my friend fran whose parenting course i recently took... she introduced us to this anger management ruler with a happy face on one end and progressively angrier/more upset faces as you go down to the other end with a scale of 1 to 10 along the way... she says that 5-10 should really be reserved for very serious problems like G-d forbid illness or death in the family, etc... and she reminded us that although spilt milk can often feel like a 10, especially as it happens, we have to try to get ourselves to remember it's really just a 1...
so, Baruch Hashem, I actually remembered this in the moment! i decided this was more of a 1 and i would simply dress the baby in dry clothes, feed her, and get the kids to follow me out of the room where we would calmly discuss the situation.

what followed seemed like genuine remorse on their part (to their credit they are thank G-d good kids, just curious and adventurous, oy!)... and i think it might have been partly because they were in shock that they didn't get in trouble, but they really wanted to help me after by playing nicely with the baby and helping me strip the beds to deal with the wet sheets, and i actually think they learned that pouring water on top of the baby and all of their beds is in fact NOT a reasonable thing to do! so anyway, are you proud of me?? on many other occassions i totally would have lost my temper and probably nothing good would have come out of it... and you know how i know i really passed this test? when i later accidentally sat on one of their beds while it was still wet and got my newly put-on outfit soaked and had to change, i still didn't freak out :)

anyway, to answer the question, it seems that 'not to freak out' is the way to go...

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