We are in the midst of a serious negotiation in my house. My eight year is lobbying hard for a later bedtime. He has serious FOMO (fear of missing out). He is convinced that his older brother is having the time of his life that extra half hour he gets to stay up. While my older son seems to do well on less sleep, my younger one can become kind of a disaster when he’s over-tired, especially as the week winds down. By Friday, this kid is quick to meltdown, extra adversarial with his brother and not a fan of taking directions from me.
With summer, my husband and I have had a more casual approach to bedtime. This is part of what makes summer special. Throw in watching NBA finals, MLB games and some Women’s World Cup soccer (go USA!) and the nights are getting later and later. This has been a good test to see how my youngest will handle a later bedtime once school starts again. Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty.
This morning he was extra grumpy. I cracked a joke and his brother thought it was hilarious, which it was, but it infuriated him. He scrunched up his face in an angry scowl and shouted, “Mom, I hate when you do that! It is ANNOYING!” Well, I did what any self-respecting comedian would in that situation, I cracked another joke. “Stop it MOM!” Little man was getting angrier by the second.
Clearly, this guy is not a morning person. So, in the future, because ultimately I respect my kid, I will direct my hilarity early in the morning only towards his brother. Still, this was a teachable moment. Emotions, especially the difficult ones, can be hard to navigate. Outbursts, bad moods and crankiness are all a part of the human condition. I used to try to immediately remedy any negative emotions my kids were feeling because I thought that if they were unhappy, then I was somehow failing them. This isn’t realistic. Actually, I’m starting to believe that sometimes a cranky mood should be left alone to run its course. Once the dust settles, and everyone’s emotions are more calm, the underlying cause can be revisited and hopefully, everyone will learn from it.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent