Monday, February 7, 2011

Out of Commish

I’ve been so sick – hit me hard Saturday night. The kids were dropped off Sunday morning all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Their dad offered to take them along to a Super Bowl party, but we declined. He mercifully left a care package of Gatorade and soup and stuff that got us through most of the day.

Sunday morning, I start out hopeful, suggesting to the kids that we color. I’m thinking pencils on blank paper. The kids are thinking fussing on top of drama. When I join Daisy at the table, she has lined paper set out for each of us with our names written at the top. I explain that I’m going to use blank paper, but thank you. She argues that we should all do it the same. I told her she isn’t the boss of the world – I’m going to do it my way, and she can do it hers. 

Violet joins us at the table just as Daisy leaves in a huff. I decide to draw nice relaxing flowers, and as soon as Violet sees the first flower, she wants me to draw the same thing on her paper, but just the outline so she can color it in. I do that then go back to my picture, and Violet notices the center of my flower looks like a star, and she wants that too. I try to replicate it on her paper but can’t. Violet leaves in a huff. I consider coloring by myself, but I’m far-out spacey sick.

New approach. I pull out the couch bed and cover it with toys and invite the kids to play next to me as I lay prone and miserable. Every few minutes, I have to roll myself out of bed to shuffle around like a middle-aged, cursing Ozzy Osborne to attend to Needs 1 and Needs 2. I get everyone ready for the park at one point then curl up on the bed, exhausted and dizzy. Park's canceled. How about a refreshing bath?

We did eventually get to the park, and it really wasn’t that bad of a day. It was relaxing, especially when we watched the Puppy Bowl. Daisy loves that; Violet kind of loves, kind of hates. I’m just floored that something involving puppies could be that excruciatingly boring. And don’t get me started about the kitty half-time show . . . there was nothing going on there!

It being another sweltering winter day, we spent a good deal of it in our underwear . . . one of the member privileges of our girls club. Violet actually put one of her nighttime pull-ups on. When I questioned her choice, Daisy set me straight, “That’s the way she rolls when she’s relaxing, Mom.” Oh, Ok. So you agree with her on that? Shouldn’t we be having a shouting match about pull-ups vs. big girl underwear?

Because that’s how most of the rest of the day went. The kids fought over what wii games to play, sharing water for their paints, having to sit next to each other on the bed, what show to watch on TV, what videogames they were going to play on their Leapsters, if they should give each other tastes of their Gatorades, if it was an actual race as they scootered to the park, who’s turn it was to climb up on the monkey bars, if it was fair that Violet opted for Tic-Tacs while Daisy got gum when we ran by the store . . . it didn’t stop. And in the relative silence, there was poking and punching.

I thought I was going to lose my freaking mind, and I was weak. So, I refused to get involved, gave calm warnings, gave agro warnings, gave time-outs, threatened to take things away, took things away, made jokes, laid down and laughed, ignored them, played the sick card, pleaded, scolded, begged.

Not my most effective parenting work. It’s bugging me how even when I’m not sick, I’m not operating at full parent capacity yet. I’m still working on a new structure that melds with another household, and the kids are frenetic with the changes. They are relentlessly pushing to feel for the boundaries. They also want info. Violet, my four-year-old, has asked me repeatedly if I was going to “change my mind about Daddy.” During a playdate last week, she started to explain the new living situation to her friend, and then shouted at me, “Why are we doing this hard stuff again?”

I’m not satisfied with my responses to her questions – working that out with my counselor. At the state-mandated parenting class a few weeks ago, I did appreciate it when the court official bellowed in her cop way of talking, “This is a time when your children are going to require more from you, and this is also a time when you are going to be at a diminished capacity to give them what they need. Do the best you can, forgive yourself when you make mistakes, and your children will most likely go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives.” Her point was that 53% of children in California split time between households. There are plenty of people who are making it work. I just know it’s going to get a lot better for our reorganized family than it has been in a long time, but we’re not there yet.


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