Easter morning went really well. There was a lot more bickering than normal, some crabbiness, and it was as expected. My children are always out of sorts at any change in schedule, even if it is a positive change.
After lunch we tried for nap time, but the baby wasn’t having it. We had Easter hunts and brunch at home and a trip to the store and she was a bit keyed up.
I let her stay up, and we went out for a bike ride instead.
My oldest child ran into me. I told him quite strictly he may not do that to anyone. Then he crashed into his brother, on a bike (I was on foot, pushing the baby in a stroller). His brother got up protesting and hopped back on and kept going. My oldest had pushed the chain off track with his recklessness, and his bike needed some help. I yelled for my middle child, he kept going. I looked after him in despair.
I could not leave the baby and my most special needs kid on a street corner and run after him. I am fast for my age, but he was far. Neither of those kids standing with me have very good judgement. I could not leave them there, even for a minute.
He looked back, rather over, having turned a corner, and I waved him in. No response, just biking forward, though he had seen me, twice.
I had to choose. I hate doing that. I had to bring the oldest and the youngest home and then go back out for middle child.
Who was merrily arriving just across the street as I came out.
I was furious.
Before we left I had told him if he got too far ahead, to turn around and come back. Not stop and wait, but to turn around and come back. He not once did this. He went around an entire block, which was undeveloped, but was not fully in my sight, either, due to trees.
My children are not allowed to leave my sight when outside of our home, unless we are at an indoor play park with tunnels. They KNOW this. They repeat this, to me, to each other. It is practically a family motto. Stay In My Eyes. It was the rule of the shelter, for good reason, and I kept it.
I was so angry, I would call it spanking mad. But of course I did not. I did tell him, as this was a safety issue, that he was lucky I do not spank. I went over with him, and his brother, all the issues of that bike ride. In my drill sergeant voice. It was loud, and not my usual MO.
I sent them to their room after disconnecting their electronics and got the baby a snack.
They asked me for help in opening a puzzle. I refused. When asked why, I said because I am angry that you don’t care to follow safety rules. I told them I don’t feel like helping you when you don’t feel like staying safe and have left your room when instructed otherwise. Oldest started crying and told me he was sad. I told him it was not really my problem that he was sad, because recklessly riding your bike is not something that I can let him off the hook for. This is not the first year that he has thought little of plowing into people.
I pulled up a video on how to secure the chain properly and went outside with my tools, which did not fit the bolt. I did it by hand, as best I could, which did get it all functioning satisfactorily. I need to buy some tools in larger sizes.
Then I called the boys down.
They complained of being hungry. I told them I was not very concerned about that. I advised them that hunger is tolerable, but violating safety issues can lead to permanent complications in our lives. I told them I was disappointed and that my first instinct is to keep them in the house forever and never let them play outside if they choose not to follow the rules. I told them that would not be very nice, and they have a chance, right now, to prove to me that they can follow the bike ride rules. I gave them the basics, again.
We went back out. Oldest son failed the first round, when he wandered across a street. Oldest son failed the second round, for the same reason plus riding in the street curbside rather than the sidewalk. Middle child got too far one time, the home stretch, though he was very conscientious the rest of the ride not to get too far ahead of me.
The baby told me quite a few times that she was behaving, had behaved, and would continue to do so. Which made me feel pretty darn awful though I cheerfully agreed with her.
I informed the boys that they would have to pass a ride before we could go off the path we took today.
I hope the neighbors didn’t mind my yelling.
At home I fed them well and they asked to pick a movie. I told them they could watch bicycle safety movies. So they did, and reported all that they had learned to me, of their own volition.
I told my son later that I am not sorry for yelling, as it was a serious issue, but that I am sorry if the yelling scared him. He said it did not. He remembered the last time I was so upset, when the baby lied to me about where her belongings were and it cost us an hour’s ride in a downpour at night. That was a year ago. His memory works. I hope he remembers this.
I hate yelling. As my son went out of sight, I just kept seeing a truck pull up and him being pulled into it- in my mind- my PTSD going nuts. I am pretty sure I could have stayed calm if I did not have this trigger. I should have stayed there, left the nonworking bike and the stroller, and walked with my other kids over the grass to a point to try yelling for him again before he went behind the trees. Instead I hustled my other kids inside behind a locked door half a football field away before meeting middle child. I just went nuts in the exposed open. I had to get us out of it. I don’t think I can be found, and if found, I don’t think it likely that a successful stalking operation would occur, but my mind does not analyze when triggered. I just had to hide us. Any vulnerable moment does this to me.
They know the safety plan. We need to practice it. Maybe that will calm my panicked self, some successful safety drills.
I am lucky my oldest son can ride a bike and sometimes tie his shoes. Last year I never thought that would happen. I have hope that he can get this. I want him to be able to drive, so the sooner he gets this sort of awareness down pat, the better.
I am going to have to go back to whispering everything with a hand on one shoulder and my face lowered to their height. I hate doing it the yelling way. It seems the boys are back to not hearing me unless I yell. Some of it is ADHD, and some of it is me not accommodating their executive functioning issues. It is so hard to instruct them over and over and take them by the hand to the task that needs doing. It is so time consuming, so frustrating that they cannot just go to put something away, brush their teeth or remember basic safety rules. But reminding them over and over until I lose my patience is far worse. I will give it a few weeks and change tactics if it yields no results. I will also keep showing them those bicycle safety videos.
I have to do better.