Monday, June 22, 2015

O'Briens Going For Broke: Parenting On The Road

So I've always been honest on the blog, you know by now, it's my thing. Everyone's always like, "Thanks for your candidness on the blog!" and in my head I'm like, "If you think that's candid you should meet me in real life." SO... Cheers to some good road trip candidness happening RIGHT. NOW. (If you're new here and wanting to follow the road trip, this is my third post since we started, you can type in "O'Briens Going For Broke" in the search to read the first two.)

"Parenting on the Road" is my topic. A good timely one... Wouldn't you say?

I don't want to come across in any way like I was somehow thinking my kids were going to just be all-together saints and love every moment of this 12,000 mile road trip. I'd be an idiot. I knew we'd have moments- great ones and terrible ones and a lot of in-between. And we have had great moments. If you're following on IG, you know we've already in the first 10 or so days done some super fun stuff... The kids have loved camping across America, meeting new friends and experiencing new things. Shawn and I have had some great laughs and are loving the bond the road trip is creating between us. All in all I wouldn't change this idea for the world.

But I would change one thing. The car time as of late. For it has been brutal.

I'd love to tell you the kids have been singing kumbaya in the car for the last 2,450 miles of getting to Chicago... But if kumbaya comes in the form of Birdie screaming so loud it startles you in to thinking you've just collided metal to metal with another car... Then yes, absolutely.

Her screaming started on Day 5. The first time we heard it, Shawn and I gave each other the look of, "WOW that octave is downright impressive". It was definitely Mariah Carrey in toddler form, gone insane. I don't think I had ever heard Birdie make this high pitched of a scream before. I have heard her scream of course, she's a hellion of sorts... But nothing like this, this is road trip-only material.

{She got ahold of my phone briefly and without permission, to video herself doing it. Brace yourself and avoid playing if you have a child sleeping.}

You see, what prevented me (us) from immediately stopping it in it's tracks is that Cormac heard it and within seconds was yelling, "DO IT AGAIN BIRDIE!". To which she responded... With more screaming... Somehow even louder which initially I didn't think was possible... Let me tell you it was. At first we were like, "Ok, it'll wear itself out, her throat will hurt... This too shall pass... Cormac will become annoyed with it, 3 against one, it won't go on for more than a day". Well let me tell you something... From days 5-10... It did not pass. It only, somehow grew in power. Her throat never grew scratchy, or if it did, she didn't once let on. And Cormac never once grew annoyed by it, he only egged her on more.

We tried everything... Pretending it wasn't happening. Scolding her. We tried ear plugs. We tried "Hershey kisses for good behavior"... We took away things. But the thing with Birdie is that once she knows you really want her to stop or do something, once she tastes even the smallest bit of desperation... YOU. ARE. SCREWED. As in, taking away things from an already screaming child. Ya... Great idea... Because that doesn't make the screaming worse.

The second day going through Nebraska I thought I was likely going to loose my good mind. I was downright pleading/begging/bribing her to stop. I was singing songs, playing games (btw I'm not a sing-song-ie or game play-ie mom)... But I was desperate. When she napped, it was like fireworks of excitement would go off inside of me... I was selfie-ing nap time left and right because: IT WAS THAT SPECIAL.

Moving on to Cormac. My sweet dear 6 year old son who's given me little to no problems. He is typically well-behaved, well-mannered and an all around "first born type A" child. Enter, the road trip and early on Cormac took a wrong turn to Meltdown City. Upon getting to a friends house in Iowa City and telling her how many tantrums he's had on the road the last few days... She shed some light: Cormac thrives on structure. Rules. Schedule. Bed times. Predictability. And see, life on the road has almost none of these. Getting to a campground after 4 hours of driving... You can't just put your kids to bed because it's 7:30pm and their normal bed time. #1, it's still light out (the mid west has sunsets at 9pm!) and #2, every other camping child is fishing and running around catching lightning bugs. So as parents, we're flexible.

As much as I know Cormac wants to fish and chase bugs and mingle with new friends... I also know he needs a structure we can't totally give him right now. In his ideal world, he learns the rules and then makes sure everyone else knows them too. He gets downright mad if he catches you breaking a rule (like if I unbuckle to look for something in the car, he practically pulls out his police badge). So I now can see, that the trip is messing with his very nature and it's in turn causing him to have some out-bursts which we're not used to with him.

So we've had to learn this trip, how to parent slightly differently. Because on a road trip, your kids are going to loose it for a number of reasons: being cooped up in a car, not having enough structure, etc. and you can't discipline them the same way you would at home. And that's been hard, mainly for me, because one of the things I pour the most effort in to in my life, is having well-behaved children. I take pride in correcting their talking back, any unkind behavior, or "potty" talk I hear... I am fairly strict in today's parenting standards. But in a car, you choose your battles. If Birdie talking about how she farted on her hands only to smell it lightens the car mood... You take it. If Cormac throws his 10th tantrum of the day because Birdie spotted a sign before him in car bingo... You look at your husband and say, "That's from you you know..."

At the end of each day, I honestly think the road trip is teaching us ALL more patience, more forgiveness and more flexibility. Not to say we won't still have "bad car days" where I feel like I'm a step away from jumping out of a moving car on a Nebraska highway... But I am learning to laugh at things I'd normally discipline... Play games I hate for the sake of no screaming... And sing Ol' McDonald when all I want to do is nap.

This trip was never meant to be perfect... It was just meant to get us out doing new things as a family, away from the monotony of life. I'm trying to remember that, through the high pitched screaming.

xo road trip or die xo

1 comment:

  1. I was laughing while reading through the screaming part. You have a beautiful family and awesome kids! :)


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