I was tired.
She was tired.
A long day of school followed by Girls on the Run. I let them watch TV while I made dinner.
Homework started out okay. Seth at the dining room table, Riley in the kitchen. Always separate them because if she notices him finishing first, there is trouble.
Spelling was done, she'd moved to geometry. Checking her work, I noted she had written two mistakes in a "match the word with the meaning" exercise. She'd just flipped them. Easy fix.
She could not deal.
For twenty minutes she screamed and cried and hit herself in the head, and even bit her arm. For a mistake that could have been fixed in three seconds. She could not just erase it and move on.
"We'll skip it. Let's go back to geometry. Sorry I interrupted."
She could not skip it. And she could not move on. She'd entered a continuous loop of...
"It's too hard!"
"It's too much homework!"
"I am tired."
"I'm so lazy."
"Riley you are not lazy. You are overwhelmed," I said.
She'd rather DIE than leave her homework incomplete, but she just could not get it together. Looking at the clock, it was getting late. 25 minutes 'til bedtime.
Seth kept coming in to offer bits of,"She's making all that fuss over one little sheet?" And, "I'm glad she's not in my class." Not his usual Buddha. He was tired too. "GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN SETH!" He ran off to work on a new Lego Todd's sister sent him for his birthday. Thank God for the distraction it gave him.
She started back with Geometry but the assignment wasn't clear cut. The answers don't scream out at you from the book. There is grey area and deciphering is required.
More screaming, screaming, screaming, and finally I lost it. I took her homework sheet, crumpled it up and shot it across the room.
Riley why is your homework wrinkled?
Why yes teacher, it's because my mother lost her shit and crumpled it up.
"RILEY UP TO YOUR ROOM NOW!"
I could feel myself shaking.
I am such a loser.
I have not come any further than when she was two.
I want to run away and never look back.
I am sick of it.
I could have handled it differently.
I didn't need to yell at her and crumple her work.
This is too hard.
As I walk up the stairs to the bathroom, she comes out of her room and meets me in the hall. Her face blotchy and red.
"Mommy you need to calm me down," she begs.
Anger wells in me.
"I can't calm you down Riley. You have to calm you down."
"But can we do a meditation?" she asks through her crying hiccups.
My heart softens.
We go into the bedroom. I light a candle, turn out the lights and shut the door. We lie side by side on the king size bed and I begin.
Let's tense our toes. Squeeze them, squeeze them. Now with a big exhale, let them go.
Now our ankles and our whole feet. Tense them, really tight. Breath out and let them go.
Tense the calves all the way up to the kneecaps. Squeeze, squeeze.....now let them go with a big breath..........
Next are the thighs, tense those muscles, really really hard.......now breathe out and let them go.........
Both of us are doing the exercise with all we've got. I can hear her big exhales.
Now your butt. Let's tense our butts Riley. Squeeze! Hold it! Now let it go. Breathe........
Now our bellies. Tense every muscle in our bellies.
Let it go........
Our chests. Squeeze.
Let it go..........
Let them go.........
Let it go...........
Our arms, all the way down to our fingers.
Let them go..........
Our eyes. Squeeze them tight.
Let them go...........
Let it go............
Now the whole body.
Let it go...........
Now as we lay here, we're going to leave this Riley and this mommy, and we're going to float way into the sky. And we're going to look down at this Riley and this mommy, and we're going to smile, because we know how much they love each other.
Riley reaches for my hand.
Floating way above the earth, we can see from this perspective, how this one bad homework night isn't all that important. It's even kind of silly from up here.
Way, up, up above the clouds, we hold hands and float along, feeling how much love we have for each other. We are weightless, and worry-less. Floating, floating...........
And now we look down at that Riley and that mommy, and we see them at the kitchen table. Finishing the homework with no problem. It's easier than it seemed.
Breathing, breathing, we visualize the scene.
After a while....
And now, we are back on this bed, our hearts filled with love for each other.
We are breathing..........
We are calm.
We lay there in the candlelight.
"Riley that was such a good idea. So great you knew what we needed and suggested a meditation."
She threw her arm over my chest and hugged me.
Back downstairs, the rest of her homework took roughly ten minutes.
After tucking them in, I spend the evening wondering why my bag of tricks went flying out the window. Why couldn't I think in the moment? How did I get so far gone? Who crumples up their kid's homework? Seriously?
Focus on the turn around we made.
Look at what we do want, not at what we don't.
Let it go......
Let it go.