Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
Our good friends, Anne and Thomas live not far from us here in the Neustadt and we are so thankful they do! Anne took it upon herself to take Olivia and Chris to school while first Randy was gone for a week for the men’s retreat and then when I was gone for the following week during the ladies’ retreat. That means 10 days of taking two sleepy kids to school at the crack of dawn in the cold! Well, somewhere in there, Anne told Chris and Olivia that she would be taking them to the Dinosaurier Park which is about an hour’s drive away, so during the fall break, the big day came. Here were my instructions to my children:
1) Do not ask them to buy you toys 2) Do not throw fits–be polite and 3) Do not walk away from the group. If you see something you want to look at, ASK first! I made sure to re-iterate this last one about three times as they walked out the door.
So, as I sent them off for a day of fun, I was pretty confident the day would go well. They both behave when we are on outings together as a family, so I had no worries. *I hear chuckling….who’s chuckling at my naivete?!*
When Anne rang my bell at the end of the day, she mentioned first that they fell asleep on the way home and were still sleeping out in the car and that since they weren’t there to hear, she would take the opportunity to tell me up front that Chris ran away at the end of the day.
I just stood there looking dumb. Then she told me what happened: Chris asked her (actually both of them asked her I found out later) if she would buy him a dinosaur (rule-breaking #1) and when she said no, citing that she had already put a lot of money down for the tickets, he got mad at her (rule-breaking #2) and then ran away (rule-breaking #3).
Great. Just great. She then proceeded to tell me about how she freaked out and she, her husband, Olivia, Anne’s sister, Anne’s sister’s daughter and husband and two kids…all split up to go look for Chris in a huge outdoor forested park for an HOUR. Just when they were about to go home. Wonderful. He was found and was very repentant and though Anne couldn’t find it in her heart to gripe him out, her sister did, for which I am thankful! 🙂
I played dumb when I brought them in and asked them how their day went. Great! Wonderful! Look at our pictures! And then after those remarks and after some looking at pictures I asked “and did you follow the rules of behavior I mentioned this morning?” Immediate guilty looks appeared and they exchanged the classic sibling look between them “uh-oh, what do we say?” After a few minutes of coaxing I got it out of them. Well, to wrap this up, Chris colored a picture for Anne, we stopped and bought some flowers and then we all trouped up to Anne’s apartment where her sister still was, as well, and Chris apologized to everyone in the apartment individually. It was a good lesson all around and from his behavior, I’m pretty sure he felt relieved that everyone was not mad at him anymore and that he had ‘made it right’ receiving forgiveness and hugs.
So ends the story of Mr. Hyde…
Two days later, we’re milling around getting ready to sit down in the big room at the church building for Sunday morning worship. It usually goes something like this…Olivia finds someone (anyone) who is not a member of her family to sit next to and behaves well, singing songs and generally enjoying herself. Chris tries to look up the songs in the book, but usually gets bored quickly, asking after every song if it’s time for bible class yet and tries to ignore Alex talking to him so he’ll get a “star” for good behavior. Alex wiggles, talks, whispers and generally causes a scene unless he’s having and unusually good day or he’s extremely sleepy. I was interested to find Chris helping Randy pick out songs just before worship and surprised when he was perfectly attentive during the singing, looking up songs, trying to sing them all; and then I was even more surprised when I said “time to go to bible class” Chris said “I’m staying to sit with Daddy during his sermon.” I debated…do I say “be still, be good, why are you doing this? just come with me anyway?” I just looked at him and said, “okay, but if you get bored, come on back to the kids’ room.” What? Chris is always the first one to shoot out of his chair to escape the boring sermon 🙂
After bible class at least three people from the church made a point to go up to him and say that he behaved very well during worship and that they were very proud of him. I asked Randy how he did. “Fine. He paid attention, didn’t fidget and looked up each of the songs. When he was tired, he yawned loud, but he wasn’t disrespectful.” I asked Chris what the sermon was about. “It was about God.” Okay. Good. ?
So there’s the story of a surprising Dr. Jekyll who, without any prompting floored everyone with his wonderful behavior after just a few days of the worst behavior he’s every displayed. I’m not sure what to think of these Jekyll/Hyde moments…it’s easier with Alex because I can predict the fits with regularity. At least he’s consistent….