Last Monday, Ryan had the going-to-school blues. He seemed fine early through breakfast, but when I made the 8:25 AM call for getting shoes on and backpack ready, he suddenly fell gravely ill:
“NUMBER 1, I feel SO sick, I can’t even move. NUMBER 2. I HATE school and I AM NOT going.”
(Apologies to Miss Rosenfield if you are reading this. You know he LOVES you and school!)
I had a feeling that Ryan just wanted a day home with me after my big girls’ weekend away. I wanted time with him too, but I knew I could wait until 12:30 PM. I wish I could say I quietly ignored his pleas while I got him in the car. Instead, I took his temperature. With two different apparatuses. I reminded him of our playdate plans with Courtney. That I was supposed to drive carpool that afternoon. That it was nice out and he wouldn’t want to spend the day in bed. I even pretended to call the doctor’s office (I didn’t have a pretend conversation, just told Ryan they were closed until 9 AM).
I managed to get him to school. I wish I could say I dropped him off and vanished. Instead, I stood there awkwardly as he carried on and hugged me. Even his teachers thought he might be sick. Maybe he was sick? Enter Ms. Pamela, in all her brilliance, “Ryan, how about if Mom comes to pick you up a little early?”
“Okay,” he smiled, loosening his grip on me and joining his friends. Tantrum/trance broken.
When I returned at 12:20 PM, Ryan said he still felt sick. His teachers laughed – he had had a great day. “Could we still have a playdate with Courtney?” Ryan asked. I watched both Ryan and Courtney’s faces plummet into disappointment as I shook my head. It felt mean. Terrible. But he was either sick, tired or faking. Any of those = no playdate.
Letting kids deal with the consequences of situations they’ve created is the essence of Love & Logic, a national training program with techniques meant to help parents hold kids accountable for their decisions and behavior. Last year, Scott and I took a few sessions of the course with a talented local instructor. I haven’t mastered it all. I especially have a hard time delivering “empathy” with consequences, without lecturing or sarcasm…like “I know, bud. I’m so sorry about your playdate.”). To keep me on my toes, I receive (and diligently read) the free Love & Logic e-newsletter and reinforce nuggets like:
“Kids learn to make great decisions about big and critically important matters by making plenty of poor decisions about small and relatively unimportant matters… and by experiencing the natural and logical consequences.Are your children making enough affordable mistakes?Are you allowing them to experience the consequences instead of rescuing them?Are you holding them accountable with love and empathy…instead of anger, frustration, or lectures?If you answered “yes” to all three of these questions, the odds are high that your children will have a good enough grasp of cause and effect to survive when life and death decisions come knocking on their door.”
Ryan cried all the way through carpool, kicking my seat and threatening “If I don’t have a playdate, I’m going to do nothing but punch you all day.” I wish I could say I stayed calm and empathetic and pretty much ignored him. Actually, I can say that. I did just that! I totally Love and Logic-ed him.
As soon as we got home, the drama stopped and we had a great afternoon together. Yesterday, one week after the incident, we had the playdate make-up with Courtney. Ryan went to school like a champ and the playdate, one week in the waiting, went wonderfully. It was 75 degrees in Connecticut, so we tried out this Clean Eating Dip-N-Dots recipe from The Gracious Pantry that my sister Melanie sent me.
Ryan, Courtney, Noah and I settled on four flavors: honey, maple syrup, strawberry (fresh, all mashed up) and chocolate (courtesy of Trader Joe’s Organic Midnight Moo Chocolate Syrup). I dumped a heaping scoop of plain nonfat Fage yogurt into four ziploc bags. Each of us added a single topping, sealed the bag and smushed it around with our hands. We used the toppings sparingly at first, but went through a lot of tasting spoons to make sure each mixture was sweet enough. Then, I cut a small corner of the ziploc bag and we went to work, squeezing the yogurt into little dots on baking pans covered with parchment paper.
The dotted trays went into the freezer. One might want to plan ahead for this step. I was so surprised that all four of these baking sheets did not fit in my freezer at one time.
You could use smaller trays, plates, tupperware, anything. The dots froze quite quickly (an hour or two) and melted just as fast when we took them out. With a spatula, I quickly scraped some of each flavor into our bowls and the rest into a tupperware that went back to the freezer.
Chocolate was the huge winner, with flavor that transported the greek yogurt into something resembling an ice cream treat. The other flavors just tasted good, just like, well, “frozen” yogurt.