Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Tonight, for example, I begged and pleaded all through dinner. I finally gave up when the peas started flying. (At some point one has to resolve themselves to picking battles wisely and I knew I was outnumbered. I had learned that similar to dogs, one is a pet and two is a pack.) I gave up and they knew it too. I tried to save a little face with the old mommy addage of "Well, that's all you're getting for dinner. You can go to bed hungry." But knew in my heart they were smirking at eachother behind my back. They always do...
Next came the bath struggle. Now I'm no super mom. (If you have read any of the above posts, you are already well aware of that fact.) However, I feel strongly that on certain occasions, a wet-wipe bath will serve as a suitable replacement to an all-out water fight in the bathroom. Tonight was one of those nights.
The bedtime struggle is always the best. 'Little Sprucey' never fights. He actually requests to go 'see his duckies' and is gone in a matter of minutes. Beaux on the other hand, is always a different story. He will come up with the most amazing excuses for not sleeping. Honestly, I am secretly proud of his tanacity. One night he actually put liquid hand soap on his tongue as an excuse to come down stairs. I was shocked, and worried at the same time. Of course, this IS coming from the kid who peed down the air conditioning vent to keep from taking naps. Guess I shouldn't be too shocked. I digress. So the soap thing has taught me one valuable lesson. Not only will he go to extremes, he has no fear. (That and I can always threaten to 'wash his mouth out with soap' and know I don't have to follow through with it!)
Tonight the first attempt was "I have to pee." Fortunatly, he has his own bathroom, so that was a pretty lame one. Next came the "I'm scared." Which I do believe as he's been having bad dreams lately...but you have to sleep to dream, so I sent him back to bed. Finally he got up the nerve to march himself downstairs and announce that his pants were inside out. That they were. I can invision him sitting in the bathroom floor trying to get them inside out just so he could come down and tell me... Tanacity. It's impressive. I fixed his pants, kissed him goodnight and sent him back upstairs. Good mommy. Didn't get upset. Didn't raise my voice. Just told him goodnight.
But I am pretty sure the 'thump' I just heard was him falling out of bed... He better have a broken bone.
I don't think I have lost control yet, he still obeys when I throw out ultimatums that he knows I will follow through on. I have never made empty promises (or empty threats when needed.) I have always been honest with him, given him choices, and responded when he made the wrong one. Lately, I have decided to focus on the theory of 'give a dog a good name' and just shower him with praise. But to be honest, it is damn hard to compliment someone on their 'good behavior' when you have been gritting your teeth all day.
Tonight, for example, he looked my dear girlfriend in the eye and told her "NO" when she asked him to turn off the water. (This was after he yelled at her son for being a 'bad boy' for getting water all over the floor trying to get out of the tub to escape!) Nice. Nothing makes you feel like an incompetent parent faster than that!
So now that he is asleep, I am rehashing the day and analyzing my every mistake. Each time that I lost my temper, each time that I rolled my eyes, and every smirk on my face just helps me to realize how easily we condition our kids to act in the same way that we despise. Maybe one day I will learn to communicate to get the desired result with him and him with me.
But as I hear his little feet thumping around upstairs when he should be sleeping I remind myself that there is always tomorrow...
Now mind you, I have lived my entire life in Knoxville. It wasn't that I was afraid to leave here, not at all, it was that the opportunity had never presented itself. Now that it has, I must admit that it is pretty darn scary. I am leaving behind a disabled mother who will have to be attended to by my wonderful 82-year-old grandmother and grandfather, and a devoted father who cannot even discuss his 'little Amo' moving. I worry more for my grandmother as she has devoted the last 4 years of her life to my sons. Not a week goes by that she doesn't see them nor a day that she doesn't call. She has been my rock, my teacher, my best friend. I cannot fathom the thought of something happening to her and me not being here to help. I realize that decisions of that magnitude are out of my hands, but you have to understand that I have somehow ended up the matriarch of this family. I have been the one that they call when someone is sick, needs a ride to wherever, or simply needs a hole dug in their yard. I have fixed phones and brownies in the same day. It has just been the way.
My father is my other concern. He and I have always been close. He has brought stability to an otherwise shaky childhood. He prevented many bad situations form happening just by being there. He guarded me with his life and sacrificed much to ensure my success. He has been an inspiration and a confidant for many years. I know he will be lonely. I have no doubt. I regret taking his grandsons six hours away for a job. But what I hate the most is that he doesn't understand the motive. He sees it as 'chasing the dollar', which is not the focus at all. Certainly it is a pay increase, but the position that is offered is one that Steve would never attain at his current employer.
My husband has worked harder than I have ever seen anyone else to ensure a good life for his family. He put himself through grad school while working full-time, teaching full-time and operating our balloon company on the weekends. It was crazy. We never saw him...and I was pregnant with Spruce and on bed rest! It was the busiest time of our lives. But, we both know that God carried us through all that for a reason. Doors have been opened that ordinarily would not have been and it is amazing.
Through all of this worry, my biggest concern is the boys. Spruce isn't really old enough to understand the impact of the word 'moving', but Beaux is a different story. Just past October we moved from Fountain City to Powell. Not a big jump, but we left behind the home he knew, the friends that were just up the street, and the park that we walked to often. It was a big change for him. Much bigger than I had anticipated. Because of that, our preparation for this move must be as low-hype as possible...which with family members who can't even discuss it...geez.
Last week the realtor put the big yellow sign in the yard. We hadn't thought much about it until we pulled in the neighborhood and saw it for the first time. Beaux honed in on it immediately. "Daddy! Why is that sign in our yard?!" My husband tried to explain it to the best of his ability, but the timing was just bad. The rest of the evening, Beaux was acting worse than I have ever seen. That night, as I was tucking him in, I asked him what was wrong. He fidgeted around and finally said, "Mommy, I just don't know what is going to happen to me."
Talk about clarity...
My oldest son has always been a bit of a flirt. It started when he developed a crush on the nurse practitioner at the pediatrician's office. He was about 18-months-old yet was immediately smitten. We have made trips there for the oddest illnesses until I realized that he was just wanting to see 'Miss Molly'. Well, at the age of 4, I am surprised to say, 'Miss Molly' has been replaced. I am sure there is still a special place in his heart for her, but she sent over one of her friends to baby sit. That was all it took. The cute little college girl bounded in the door talking of how Molly had told her 'all about Beaux and Spruce' and that was it. He was gone. He ran up and down the hall to show 'Miss Annie' how fast he could go. He jumped off every piece of furniture to show 'Miss Annie' how high he could jump. He even pulled out every one of his favorite frogs to show 'Miss Annie' his collection. (Little did he realize that while he was showing her his tumbling techniques, his little brother was sitting on her lap, petting her hair.)
Now tell me I have nothing to worry about?!
My oldest has always been the master of it. In fact, my husband and I are constantly second-guessing everything we tell him. Now mind you, we don't always tell him the exact truth on everything, simply because the truth is usually boring. We have gotten into this habit of making up answers to questions where we know the answer will take too long and probably be over his head.
Last week, Beaux was watching Molly bury a dog treat in the back yard. Of course, he wondered why she didn't just eat it...as we were wondering too. My husband proceeds to explain that Molly thinks if she buries her bone, a bone tree will grow there and she will have all the bones she wants. (He generally doesn't come up with the quickest responses, so I was actually proud of him for that one.) Well, Beaux, who is accostomed to our humerous (to us) responses, says, "Dad. Are you kidding?" Steve responded with, "Maybe. Why don't you ask Molly yourself."
As we walked off giggling to ourselves, I told Steve how bad it was of him to do that. He said, "Really?! Beaux told me last week that birds can sit on electric wires and not get shocked because they have rubber feet."
We've all experienced this. You're shopping in the store and you see another mom. You immediately begin judging. "Humph. She looks good. Must have a nanny for those kids." Or, "I can't believe she let her son go out without a coat! Some mom."
I have realized that you don't have to be a mom to do it.
"Look at how wrinkled that man's clothes are! His wife must not be much of a wife." "I can't believe she's wearing THAT!"
Why do we judge so quickly. Does it make us feel better about our own decisions? Do we really think that we are justifying our recent weight-gain by criticizing someone's desperate need for spandex?
And none of us are exempt from this. Even the sweet, soft-spoken friend that never says a cross word about anyone does it in their head. See, they have learned that verbalizing it tends to get you in trouble. They are the smart ones...
A personal example: On one such occasion when I verbalized my criticisms, my great-grandmother asked me, "Honey, does it make your candle glow brighter to blow someone else's out?" (She just kept her criticisms to herself, I'm convinced.)
So just remember, when you point the finger, there are three of your own pointing back at you.