Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Children Are Losing It Advisory System

Do you all know Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy? She's one of our dearest friends that we've never met.  She is hilarious and awesome and honest and an amazing writer and we adore her.  If you haven't read her stuff yet, we just know you're going to love her and her blog as much as we do.


About a year ago, Kate and Lydia were kind enough to provide all of our children the Mommy May Lose Her Schmidt Advisory System. It's a simple enough system to follow; when Mommy is happy, everyone is happy.

Thanks to this helpful system, my kids are pretty clear on when I'm about to lose my schmidt. Or maybe they just finally noticed that when the veins are popping out on my forehead, and you can actually hear my jaw clenching, that I'm about to lose it. However, the minivan still remains challenging for them, because they can't see my face. They do seem to be picking up on the fact that if I throw a soft pretzel across the van, I might be losing it. If they fail to notice that, I might have to slam tap the breaks slightly harder than necessary to get their attention, because nothing drives the point home like a little whiplash.

It's really best if you only throw
*one* pretzel across the van. 
Any more than that,
 and it's just wasteful.

In all fairness, though, it works both ways: when our kids are happy, we are happy. Perhaps the kids need a similar advisory system to keep us informed as to their own schmidt-losing status.

We have way too much experience with the schmidt-losing in our house. We have four kids, all within five years of age. Toss in an ADHD diagnosis and an autism diagnosis, and believe me, we have seen our share of tantrums.

Recently, my son Little Dude had a flat-out, jacket-throwing, on-the-floor meltdown. At Target. There's really nothing quite like the special, special pride of seeing your child kicking the floor in a public place. Nothing to see here, folks. Just a five-year-old having a conniption fit. Don't act like this has never happened to you.

Following the Schmidt Advisory System format, we'll start at the bottom.

Green: I'm happy. I slept well last night and I know where all my Littlest Pet Shops / Lego guys / Webkinz are. I have eaten recently, but I don't need to poop.

What Mom and Dad should do: Nothing. Ab-so-freaking-lutely nothing. You know how they tell you never to wake a sleeping baby. Don't mess with a happy kid.

Blue: I'm a little sad. And maybe a little whiny. I need a snack but I can't figure out that I'm hungry, so I'm just going to whine and whinge at you. My stomach hurts a little bit and it's embarrassing how every time I saw that my stomach hurts, you ask if I need to poop. And then it's super-annoying that you're always right; I need to poop. Also, I want to watch TV but there's nothing good on. Why don't we have all the premium channels?

What Mom and Dad should do: Sniff the diaper and respond appropriately, or tell the child to sit on the potty. Provide a snack and a hug, and then point out that if they can't find something else to do, you'll be happy to provide a list of suggested activities like cleaning under the beds or moisturizing mom's feet.

Yellow: Things are falling apart here, folks. We need a full meal and a nap, and if those things don't happen quickly, it's really not going to be pretty. We reached Code Yellow on a near-daily basis for years in our house, always during the witching hours of 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. By the time Daddy got home, things would be back to happy-happy Code Green. This is not due to some miraculous Daddy Power. It's because by then they would have eaten dinner, pooped, and gotten clean diapers.

Fine. I won't
super-size the nuggets.
What Mom and Dad should do: You still have a chance that distraction in the form of hugs, stickers, or SpongeBob might turn things around or at least buy you time to microwave some macaroni and cheese. Now is not the time to prep and cook a lovely five-course meal. Your kid doesn't need a fine dining experience; your kid needs the quickest, reasonably healthy thing you can dump into a bowl. Cereal is your friend. And if you're out and about? There's a reason they call it the Happy Meal. Yeah, I know Morgan Spurlock doesn't approve. But he doesn't have to deal with my whiny, hungry kids for the next two hours while I brave traffic with four kids in the car, get home, and cook dinner. Yes, I should have packed organic carrot sticks and boxes of soy milk. But I didn't, Morgan. And now I will buy some peace and quiet in the form of nugget-shaped processed chicken.

[Editor's Note: Don't you think Morgan Spurlock looks like Steve Sanders from 90210? - xo, K & L]
Orange: Things are not good. Someone took my toy, I have a diaper rash, Webkinz is down for maintenance, I missed a nap today because the line at the Post Office was so long, I am overloaded with long division homework, and/or I'm just completely overwhelmed by the lights, noise, and other sensory crap we've encountered today. There is sobbing but not screaming.

What Mom and Dad should do: Get out. Get out of the store, leave the party, go home. Pretty much the only thing that's going to help now is hugging and rocking.

We have a Code Red, people. 
Please send a T-box.

Red: You didn't move fast enough and now we have screaming. We have moved right past sadness and into rage. There may be kicking, throwing, and flailing. If you're the lucky parent of a barfer, you might even have the sobbing-vomiting combination known as "vobiting." This is the point where kids don't even know anymore why they're so upset.

What Mom and Dad should do: Seriously, it's a coin toss. You can try to calm the child down, or you can just let them exhaust themselves with crying, but either way, it's going to take a while. Also, as frustrating as the situation may be, parental yelling never makes a child calm down faster. It is okay, though, to ask for help. At the grocery store this week, Little Dude was starting to melt down just as we got to the cashier.

 "How are we doing today?" she asked cheerily.

"I need to get the hell out of here or we're going to have a Code Red," I responded.

She nodded and bagged the groceries toot sweet.

I guess the Code Red is universal.


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