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September 16, 2008

Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Children?

5 Pinch me.

"Is it real?"  I ask myself. 

"Did aliens abduct my kids while I was asleep and leave me with perfect little clones?

I'm scared to admit it, for fear I'll jinx this positive moon I'm under, but the last two weeks with my children have been... dare I say it ... a dream

My 12 year old is experiencing, what I assume is, the calm before the adolescent storm.  She is happy in school and occupied pursuing her interests of dance, reading and video-chatting with friends. 

Now that she's reached middle school, I am no longer trapped in my house or forced to bring both kids along to buy a gallon of milk or pick up take-out.  Last night, after a run to the pharmacy,  I found myself walking the streets of my neighborhood village, alone.  The traffic thinning, the air cooling, and the sun setting behind the mountains, I'd forgotten the beauty and peace that comes with evening time.

For over a decade, I dreaded the time between 4 and 8pm - the witching hours.  Like clockwork my kids sensed the time and morphed into demons; demanding, moody, and inconsolable demons.  Dinner, bath time, constant motion trying to soothe a colicky baby - I thought I'd never make it out alive.

My son, now 8 years old, has always been my biggest challenge.  He continues on a daily basis to push my buttons and test my patience.  To describe my son I'll borrow a phrase he uses often when talking about others,

"He has anger management issues."  (He picked the phrase up from an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody). 

His tolerance for frustration and confusion are at base levels.  Lose a Pokemon card? Don't understand a homework problem? Time to turn off the television?  Prepare for battle.  I am worn out from wearing the heavy coat of armor necessary to keep me from killing my spawn (or going insane - whichever comes first.)

But, this week, for some magical, mysterious reason, my son is behaving.  He's not always agreeing with me but he's listening.  Rather than erupting into glass-shattering shrieks when asked to set the table or take a shower, he's calmly obliging or quietly proposing an alternative. If he freaks out because he's misplaced one of his toys or can't make it to the next level of Mario Kart, I take a breath and by the time I've exhaled, he's managed to calm himself down. Lately, when we differ, we have actual, two-party discussions about it.  It's  so... civilized. 

I'm shocked.  I'm suspicious.  What could be the reason for this tectonic shift? 

I could credit my own mothering skills but what would that say about the next time(s) he's a whiny, pain in the butt.  I could attribute it to his age and maturity but who am I kidding, I have socks older than him. 

That leaves alien abduction as the only reasonable explanation.

So until the freaky little green fellows finish their research, I'm going to stop analyzing the changes and put down my shield.  Once my real kids have returned,  I hope the calm mornings and tantrum-less evenings I experienced will sharply contradict and inform those times when we slip into old patterns.  I'm going take this opportunity to enjoy my new found freedom and learn, once again, to appreciate the evenings rather than just hope to survive them.

This is an original post to LA Moms Blog.

Fran B. is a wife/mother/writer living in Los Angeles and doing her best to conquer each day without the help of pharmaceuticals. (No one said anything about wine.) You can read more about her zany life at her personal blog, www.merlotmom.com.

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