I walked into Fleet’s room. He was sitting on the stairs of the bunk beds that he shares with his brother. I sent him there ten minutes ago for time out. The problem was that he hadn’t really done anything wrong.
Ten minutes ago the baby was crying on his quilt on the living room floor. He was tired and ready to be put down for a nap. Elle had just dumped banana gram’s all over the floor, all 362,000 pieces. It’s probably only 50 pieces but when they fly to the far corners of two different rooms, it feels like more. Luke came into the kitchen, crying. Fleet was close on his heels exclaiming, “I didn’t do it,” a sure tell that he did. I was trying to make sandwiches while having the same one minute conversation with my mom, which went something like this, “What were we talking about?” . . . “Um, I can’t remember.”
I couldn’t handle all of these needs at the same time.
I sent Fleet to his room and Elle to timeout. It was the second time the banana grams were dumped in the last 5 minutes. I comforted Luke who had gotten his head slammed into the dresser during one of the many daily wrestling matches that take place around here. The baby had to cry for a few more minutes before I could get him down for a nap.
I went to talk to Elle in timeout and I helped her clean the banana grams. Then I went to Fleet.
I told him that he wasn’t in trouble. They were willing partners in the wrestling game. However, they need to be more careful. No head slams. He says, “Why did I have to go to time out if I’m not in trouble?”
“Well, I have to take care of the most immediate needs first. You didn’t need me in that moment. But you were making it harder for me to take care of the people who did by (incessantly) exclaiming that it “wasn’t your fault.” I needed you to go away.” I said it nicer than that…I think.
He says, “Well, why didn’t you just tell me to go play in my room.”
Another good question.
“Well, when everyone needs something at the same time, it’s hard to think clearly. Your brain turns to mush because there is only so much you can process at one time. And so you do the best you can. And I know it sucks. And I’m always going to try to do better.” I hope the “sucks” part of this dialogue was only in my head.
And don’t slam your brother’s head into the dresser again.