Parenting often calls for a bit of gallows humor. There are moments when the moment-by-moment drama of little children challenges you to keep your cool and stick to your values. Sometimes I succeed, other times I fail and lose my temper. It helps to have a distanced view of the cycles of your household.
On some days, particularly those when we don’t have any outside activities for the kids to do (rainy, yucky weather and no school this week, for example), a switch seems to flip in my children sometime between 3 and 5:30pm, starting what we’ve come to call the witching hour. It’s during this time that Avery will goad Finn into misbehavior, doors will slam, children will run around in the rooms not safe or allowed for running, and tantrums will follow.
Scolding, chasing, cajoling, calm talking, reasoning, distracting, and any other manner of intervention seems to do nothing during the witching hour. Like the pilgrims who lamented that they were bewitched powerless by the Salem witches, so too do we find ourselves seemingly powerless in the face of the escalating behavior cyclone in these moments.
During one such tantrum, when Jenny wouldn’t allow Avery (who’s 5, you’ll remember) to do some thing she wanted, Avery crossed her arms and moaned loudly, “You’re ruining my life.”
Getting the kids to step back and disconnect from the whirlwind behavior of these moments is particularly challenging, and we’ve tried a variety of solutions. But mostly I just try to remember the British motto from the war that’s become so ubiquitous: Keep Calm and Carry On.