Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fireworks and Meltdowns

There are so many different things that the title of this post could possibly refer to, such as: the heat around here, the wildfires in surrounding states, the fireworks, whatever. But this isn't about any of that, although they may all make it further into this post before I'm done.

I'm talking about emotional meltdowns. When my kids really get going, I fully and completely expect to see a big ol' puddle of Cephas or Koren, Oralee or Jeriah just laying there on the ground. Thankfully, it is a figurative term and not a literal one because with the heat around here, they probably would have evaporated in an hour's time. (Heat - further mention - 1 for 3)

Our city allows fireworks to be sold and lit only on July 3rd and July 4th. There are nearby towns that allow fireworks sales prior to that (something like up to ten days in advance of the 4th?) but here in the city, you are out of luck til the 3rd. (Fireworks - further mention - 2 for 3)

Our city's big holiday hoopla actually happens on the 3rd as well. Multimillion dollar display, free activities for the day for families, it's a great event and a great idea. However, with the heat indexes being over 100 and the humidity making it dangerous to even be outside (your body cannot efficiently cool itself), we had made the decision not to attend this year.

We went last year. Hubby, myself, our four kids, Shea, her hubby and their four kids. It was an absolute BLAST! (pardon the pun) We had discussed doing it again this year, but due to the fact that Hubby was scheduled the 3rd and the 4th and that we would be having BabyCakes overnight on the 3rd and into the 4th (weekday daycare took a holiday), we weren't planning on going to it. Add to that the fact that with two children on the Spectrum, one of whom needs a VERY consistent schedule - at minimum a regular sleep schedule - and the other who has developed some sensory processing issues, and how that would affect them, we made our choice.

Cephas and Koren wanted to spend some time outdoors yesterday (3rd) watching neighbors do their fireworks. I was completely fine with that. I gave them some very specific instructions. Stay away from the fireworks and ABSOLUTELY no holding or lighting fireworks. They both disobeyed and got caught. They both were given one more chance and did well with it.

Our neighbors decided to go to the lake nearby to just watch the fireworks display. It happens maybe only a mile or a mile and a half from us (as the eagle flies) but there are a lot of trees and hills between here and there and we wouldn't be able to see the display from here. They asked if Cephas could join them. I reluctantly agreed. Our bedtime around here is 8:30 year round. It seems really early in the summer, but the kids NEED it. Granted, there are times when it gets pushed back to 9:00 or sometimes even 10:00, but not much later than that at all.

The fireworks display doesn't happen til 10:00pm. It's a 22 minute show. Then there is traffic. So on and so forth. Cephas got home just before 11:00. He wanted to stay outside and watch the neighbors do some more of their fireworks. The fireworks are actually supposed to end at 11pm, but I didn't know that. I found that out afterward. But I let him and Koren both go over and watch the neighbors. The little kids were asleep inside and Hubby was too.

I sat on the porch and watched the kids and waited for BabyCakes to get dropped off as well (they had also gone to the show and had to walk back home after to drive over here). BabyCakes got dropped off, I brought him inside and put him to bed. He was out instantly. He normally goes to bed around 8:30 as well. I called for the boys to come in just before midnight. They were asleep within ten minutes as I figured they would be.

Today, everyone was up at their normal times. My kids have never figured out the whole sleeping in thing. Well, except for Koren. He'd gladly sleep in til 9am, usually. But the rest of them are usually up pretty early. They did their chores (most willingly, might I add) and earned their game time. I lost track of time and they ended up with double the amount that they were supposed to have.

Then, this afternoon, the friends starting showing up at the door, all asking for the boys to come out and play, which we allowed them to do. After awhile, we had them come in to cool off, even though they said that they were "just fine". Sorry kiddos, it is my job as your mom to be the parent and as such, I need to make sure that you ARE just fine. With this heat, you may not be able to tell the difference.

Then, they started asking if they could watch this person or that person do fireworks tonight. I told them that we would see. I knew that they were already short on sleep and after playing outside, it REALLY showed. I suggested that they go lay down and rest for a bit. They vetoed that suggestion.

They started talking about how they wanted to just be able to light this type of firework or that type of firework and I told them again, "NO fireworks. You may watch them and that is IT"

Shortly after that, they went outside to play again and both of them broke the rule and were caught lighting fireworks. They were told that if they were going to be allowed to watch fireworks in the evening, it would be from our porch. They had broken the rules again and they were done. They were not allowed to play outside, they were not allowed to watch the fireworks unless it was from our porch, they were just DONE with outdoor activities for the day.

That is when Cephas melted. Koren is eight, almost nine and he sat there, listening and quickly and quietly took his consequence for it and moved on. Cephas melted. He cried, he complained, he whined, he nagged, he kept at it. We explained, we reasoned with him, we remained firm on the issue. No matter how much he tried and tried to get his own way about it, we didn't budge. I told him that if he kept it up, he'd end up with an 8pm bedtime and miss out on everything altogether.

So then the evening came and the boys were outside on the porch to watch other people light their fireworks. I had the little kids inside, watching different displays on T.V. I asked the boys if they wanted to come in and watch the displays as well. They didn't at first. But then Cephas decided to come indoors and melt all over the living room again. So that was the end of the outdoors for him. I gave him the option of going to his room and watching out his window or laying on the couch and watching on TV. He chose his room. Koren came in as well and went to lay down because he was tired.

Cephas then came out and melted again, saying that he couldn't see anything. All the good stuff was every direction but the one that his window faced. I told him he still had the option of watching the display on TV. Koren came out and asked if he, too, could watch the TV display. We agreed to it and they fell asleep watching the display on TV (around 9:15 or so).

I know that this is an issue that will be coming up soon with Cephas' therapist. We see a behavioral therapist every other week to work on various issues with Cephas. Well, technically, we see her for Jeriah as well, but this whole post is about Cephas. So anyhow, we will see her soon and I know this will come up. I know that she will back me on these issues. And that is reassuring to know.

I am feeling a bit stressed myself right now though, because although I know that the B.T. will back me on this and Hubby obviously does as well, my mother-in-law probably won't. She is constantly pressuring me to "give him some additional freedom" and to "make his bedtime just a little bit later than the others, maybe an hour or so" and various other things like that. And it angers me. I am the one that has to make these decisions, I am the one who has to live with the consequences of my decisions on how I raise my children. Yes, I agree that my 11 year old should have a later bedtime than my 4 year old. But you know what? He can't handle it. He melts the next day if loses more than half an hour of sleep. He doesn't sleep in. We have finally gotten to the point where he is willingly staying in his room quietly (and usually without waking his brother) until 8am. He has room darkening curtains. There really isn't much more that I can do, so his bedtime will remain 8:30. He will not be allowed to play with fireworks. He will need to stay in his room quietly until 8:00am for the remainder of summer. These are all things that I am not going to budge on.

Also, with regard to the firework issue, basically, my thought on it (in addition to these ones that I had mentioned the other day) is that allowing my children to light fireworks is giving them permission to play with fire, which I don't think is okay at ANY point in time. Also, if I were to ever allow them to do it, they would have to show me that they could be personally responsible. They need to be able to be responsible and accountable for their actions - and by that definition, Koren would probably be okay to light fireworks but he's only eight. No way is he going to be allowed to do that.

Cephas mentioned camping and the fact that he is allowed to start fires in that instance. I explained that fires during camping are a tool, not a toy. It is used for warmth, for food in addition to enjoyment. But the first two are the primary reasons for a fire during camping. He is also a Scout and they have the "Leave No Trace" policy that they practice. And the last point about it, campfires (done correctly) are CONTAINED.

Speaking of fires being contained, the fire that was raging in our state's national forest (which I didn't even know existed until recently) is now 100% contained. I'm so thankful! (Oh - and wildfires - mention - 3 for 3 - got 'em all in here!)

Apart from the meltdowns, I'd say it was a pleasant 4th of July. It was a quiet day, mostly spent with just our immediate family here at home. I got some personal and family planning done, finalized some details for the remainder of the month (or mostly finalized) and just relaxed as much as possible.

How was your fourth? Did you go to a professional display or stay home and do your own? What is your take on kids and fireworks?