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Tiger King

I could really live without the kids growling at me. And by kids, I mean Kaleb. (Drink) Ever since spring break ended, and online school started yesterday, he has been in a foul mood. I get it. He has zero interest in academics and because of the rain, his usual breaks throughout the day are spent in their ever-improving forts rather than outside.

(Drink) There's only so much sulking and stomping I can tolerate, though. Yesterday morning, after James and I squandered a lot of patience and energy wrangling his grumpy ass over to the computer for his morning meeting which he was already a couple minutes late for, he suddenly remembered that it was Mystery Monday and he forgot his mystery item. I flipped. (Drink) Caps locks indicates yelling "YOU HAD THE ENTIRE SPRING BREAK TO COME UP WITH A MONDAY MYSTERY AND (DRINK) YOU CHOOSE NOW...FIVE MINUTES INTO YOUR MEETING TO REMEMBER?" I scanned the counter and threw his Fit Bit at him. Lucky for him, there were no knives on the counter. (Drink) "Here, take this mysterious Fit Bit and from now on, make a point to remember these things." He skulked away and slammed the door behind him. The day was off to a fantastic start.

After his meeting, he was still glaring at us. (Drink) As if we were responsible for his online curriculum. And the weather. And the Corona Virus. (Drink) James asked what color he chose for his morning "check in." This is a system the teachers put in place to assess the spirit of their pupils. (Drink) Kaleb usually chooses blue for tired, just to be dramatic. Once, he chose purple indicating frustration. I got a call from the guidance counselor that afternoon concerned for my son's mental well being. His purple selection that morning was news to me, so I handed Kaleb the phone to explain his feelings. Turns out his frustration had nothing to do with school work. It was his twin sisters who set him off. Eye roll. I assured his guidance counselor that Kaleb was just fine and instructed him to please only use purple when his frustration pertains to school. So when James asked what color he chose yesterday, he said that he had to change it from purple to blue so we didn't get a phone call again. Ha!

We plowed through the day resolving ourselves to being Kaleb's personal punching bag. Our patience was tested. We employed different tactics. Humor didn't work. "Turn that frown upside down!" I cheered at one point. I thought about fishing the pom poms out of our dress up bin. But my effort was met with more growling. I wouldn't have been shocked if he flipped me the bird.

We tried coddling. I gave him a hug and tried to validate his feelings. But not too much. Your feelings are validated but you're being a little sh*t. We tag teamed sitting with him while he growled at the computer screen and complained about every key stroke. Watching (drink) a kid type is excruciating. I came very close to knocking back a bloody Mary.

We used positive reinforcement. "Kaleb, do you realize you just typed an entire sentence without complaining? Way to go buddy! We're so proud of you." Grumble. We offered (drink) plenty of opportunity for breaks. But the rain just gave him another reason to whine.

Finally, we realized we were powerless against his foul attitude which he seemed hell bent on sustaining. We truly felt bad for the kid, but there's only so much we could do without an internal desire to shift from him.

It wasn't until this afternoon that he finally abandoned his quest to perpetually sulk. The turning point came when his teacher sent an email praising his efforts using words like "hard working" and "terrific student." For the (drink) first time in two days, his face lit up like the Kaleb we know and love. Parents can try to lift kids up relentlessly to no avail. We can compliment them, console them, do really stupid things to elicit even a hint of a smile. And then an email from his teacher solves everything just like that (thank you Mrs. Chieffo).

This is the exact reason our kids are all melting down before our very eyes. They're sick of the same (drink) jokes we tell over and over to try to boost their spirits. They're sick of our constant nagging about socks on the floor and turning lights off. They're sick of the same solutions we continuously offer and the compliments we dish out which they think we have to say just because we're their parents. We need outsiders in our lives to mitigate the monotony of our voices. Kids need to hear their friends laugh at their jokes. They need to hear their coaches challenge them. They need to hear their teachers encourage them. They need their grandparents to indulge them. They need their lives back. And so do we.

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