I'd never win in Vegas, even if I had the guts to gamble. I just have a crappy poker face.
And it's also proving to be difficult in parenting.
I think Lance's behavior might be a lot better if I had a better poker face. He seems so connected to my emotions, and when I'm really upset with him, he just falls apart. Combine this with his resistance to change and slow adaptability and poof! One big mess.
Turns out he has an issue with substitute teachers. (I can just see it now in elementary school - yikes.) On Monday, his gymnastics teacher was sick on the LAST day of the session. He froze when he saw the sub and refused to go in. Since it was the last class, parents were allowed to watch, so I dragged him into the room, but he refused to participate. Even watching the other kids show all their skills and having fun wasn't enough to get him to join.
And today his swimming teacher was sick. He's only had her 3 times, so it's not like they have this deep relationship, but he refused to get in the water for his lesson. We sat on the bleachers, watching the class, Lance shivering in his swimsuit and me not even being nice enough to offer him his towel. I was trying to semi-ignore him so that it wasn't some sort of reward, but I just ended up being snarky to him.
What bothers me the most about these kinds of incidents is how I behave.
I am really honestly upset at him. I'm not surprised that he resists a change in routine--I know exactly where he gets that one, since I cried hysterically the first day of kindergarten and 1st grade, sniffled into 3rd grade, and hated the first week of every new year/quarter all through college. But the fact that he's so stubborn and refuses to participate, even when I'm right there and he can see the other kids having fun--I just don't get it. I have this weird mix of irritation, that I'm sitting there with Audrey while he's not doing anything. And I'm mad that we're wasting the money on the class. And I'm embarrassed that the teacher and other parents don't seem to know how to react. And I'm sad that I'm not getting to watch him swim or do gym, etc. He's not screaming and throwing a fit - just silently, stubbornly protesting.
I should be--and in the future, I will be--more kind about it. I am conflicted about whether I should just leave (does that reward him) or make him sit through the class (does that punish him). Each time, I kept thinking "he's going to join in any second," but he never did. But I catch myself being so visibly irritated, and making mean little comments like "Wow, that looks fun - you're missing out." And then after we leave I am SO short with him.
Because after we get home from the non-class, I have to put a tired baby to bed, deal with her crying if she has also intuitively sensed Mama's agitation, decide whether Lance can watch a movie, clean up lunch dishes and other miscellaneous morning messes, and deal with Lance. And when he knows I'm irritated, he is EXTRA clingy and whiny or disobedient or uncooperative. He cannot stand when I'm mad at him. Then we have a tense afternoon, sometimes he recovers, but then falls apart when Pat gets home. It's like that "Just wait until your father gets home," except I never say that. He just knows Pat will find out. So there's inevitably a dinner argument, cleanup argument, or bedtime tantrum. And God help us all if Audrey doesn't go to bed easily.
But tonight, after Swimmergate, I think I set a new record for thick-headed Mommy. He was ok in the afternoon, helped Pat wash the car but was whiny and agitated, made it through dinner and a movie. Audrey went to bed early, I watched the end of Cinderella with Lance, and decided I needed to be off duty, and said Daddy was putting him to bed because I had to do some work. Somehow he wakes Audrey up while brushing his teeth and then has a fit and starts kicking Pat. We end up trying to get him to go to bed without any more stories or anyone lying down with him.
NOTE TO SELF: Don't take away this part of bedtime. This is like "Never go to bed mad."
So of course he won't go to sleep--says he's not tired, scared of monsters, has to pee, etc. And sternly telling him to stay in his room just doesn't work. You know what works? Lying down with him for a 5-10 minute snuggle, telling him I love him no matter what ("Even if you're mad at me?" "Yes, even when I'm mad at you."), and rubbing his back. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME? The kid needs his normal bedtime routine, especially after a day like today.
Why do I not see this ahead of time?
He's only 4 years old. He cannot deal with the complex emotions he feels when he's scared and then worried about letting me down or making me mad. He's a creature of his routines and does not do well when they are disrupted. He will be like this always, but will hopefully learn to deal with it internally, or we're going to spend a lot of time in the principal's office or conferencing with his kindergarten teacher.
I'm just mad that I can't hide my feelings better. For Lance's sake, it would make things much easier. Let's not even start worrying about what Audrey 1) Already senses and 2) Will react to when she's older...