Tonight didn't end so well in our house. In fact, it ended with the Grumpy Old Man and I completely losing our collective shit and yelling, loudly, for all four boys to go to bed, RIGHT NOW!!!
You know what Christmas can be like with kids - well, if you have kids, you'll more than likely know what I'm talking about, anyway.
There is so much excitement. Whether or not you go in for the over-the-top presents and travels here, there and everywhere to celebrate or just have a quiet family get together with a few modest presents, most kids get excited beyond all hope of actually having their expectations fulfilled.
And why wouldn't they? Christmas starts in August these days, I kid you not - we saw our first Chrissy advertising at the end of August this year. By November it's in full swing with the malls all decorated and Christmas carols and songs being played until they begin to sound just like crappy elevator music.
All the talk at school is about 'getting'. 'What are you getting?' 'I'm getting such and such, for sure!'
Then there are the seemingly endless rounds of Christmas parties, at school, with friends, at work.
And then there is the high pressure of the actual day - or if you're European, like us - DAYS of Christmas; and being expected to behave, and be polite, and be grateful (even when you don't feel it, because that's the done thing, and why wouldn't you feel it, are you a brat???).
So, yesterday was rather quiet with post Christmas comas enveloping all of us - my theory it that is something akin to shock after the fact…
Oh but today it all started to come out - like a festering boil. The short tempers, the resentments (why did he get that, it's not even for his age group?), the greed (but I was moooooooore!), the letdown (but I thought you said I was getting the other thing?). It just all came spewing out.
Finally, in the late afternoon, the Grumpy Old Man retreated to the study and I tried to engage the boys in a game of Doctor Who Monopoly - which we had all been looking forward to playing since Christmas Eve - and then they got the sillies. Everything was a joke, and everything was met with outrageous reactions of semi-hysteria until one of the boys pushed another boy's head into the back of a dining chair which earned the first boy a trip straight to his room - do not pass go, do not collect $200.
The rest of the game was more subdued, but then it wasn't much fun either.
So, we had dinner.
Then the boys settled in front of the television, but within ten minutes, someone had annoyed someone else, and then that someone had threatened the first someone causing him to begin wailing like a stuck pig.
The Grumpy Old Man couldn't not take another second of the arguing, he was on his feet and heading for the lounge room and I was hot on his heels. Boys was bundled to their respective rooms where they all received stern, somewhat - okay completely - shouty lectures on brotherly love and how from this point on we only wanted to see consideration and kindness from each one towards the others for the rest of the holidays - REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY ACTUALLY FELT!
Argh! This is not how we want to parent.
Some days I wonder where we're going wrong that our children can be so heartless to one another. Other days they are lovely with each other, but sometimes that feels more like a fluke than any kind of parental design.
We don't spoil our children, not are we cruel to them. We set very clear boundaries, and we also give them plenty of autonomy within those boundaries. We talk and we let them talk. So, why is it so hard for them to show a little tolerance and compassion - we certainly try to model these behaviour for them.
Tomorrow is a fresh day, but I still feel like we're standing in the shadow of that brick wall - anyone else?