We are going to our annual family camp-out with my bio-dad's side of the family, which means dad, stepmom, sisters, spouses and kiddos. This year, our location is Cape Disappointment, located near the mouth of the grand and glorious Columbia river. Unlike the last two years, this venture seems ominous because rain is predicted for all three days we are there. I'm determined to make it work, even if it means hanging enough tarps to make our site look like an Occupy camp.
What's been challenging is trying to prep without doing too much too soon. What's also been challenging is that Kiddo is still adjusting to the new routine of days at home. I have been mindful of his need to keep busy. Monday found us at the zoo and then the Farmer's Market. Tuesday I traded childcare with my neighbor, Ang, and while the kids played busily all morning, Kiddo's room looked like a cyclone has passed through it. Then, during my 'down time', I hurt my back shoveling out the compost. I just love when Joe tells me to "enjoy your 'me time' ". Yeah, sure will. Because that time is Me doing dishes and Me folding laundry and Me getting groceries for dinner... yeah, a whole lot of Me. Ha. Wednesday I had Super Girl (Ang's daughter) over again and this time planned for something easier which was a neighborhood walk and playdough. Took about an hour less to clean up! For my time alone, I headed over to Belmont Station for a book and a pint and some tater tots.
Coming home in a good mood was a mistake. First, I got into a discussion with someone about Kiddo and some early intervention services this person had told me about. Had I called? I explained that we'd just had an eye exam done and vision therapy had been scheduled. (I am fine with this-- it's not a big deal.) But they wouldn't let it drop. Would I call early intervention? I explained (in a much nicer tone that I felt was warranted) that after the three previous evaluations, nothing else was coming up for the therapists other than vision.
" But maybe you should call anyway, just for peace of mind?"
This is the time when I really wanted to ask this person, point blank: "So, what do you think is wrong with my kid? What's so wrong that he's got to meet another stranger, go through another tiring round of playing 'games' and I've got to wait another few weeks to get results back and sweat that again?"
Instead, I replied that I was fine with where we were now and that I would certainly look into any concerns his kindergarten teacher brought to my attention. "
Their reply: "Well, you know, the services are still free and available until he's six."
Yeah, and so is my service of kicking you in the pants, hard. In fact, this offer never expires...
After that lovely exchange, I went and collected Kiddo up. Despite the fact that I had worked hard to make a nice day for him, he was surly. Surrr-leeee. Like the uncooperative eighth dwarf that got kicked out of Snow White's cottage. Complaining the whole way home, he was having one of those moments when he just decided to dig his heels in about everything. Everything was a trial and tribulation. Wash hands? How dare I ask him to do that! Not let him play with pieces of broken glass? What kind of a horrible, mean mom deprives a child of this pleasure?! He didn't want the smoked salmon I was serving with dinner, so I made him a couple of hard-boiled eggs. Gratitude? Ha!
At last, when Joe came home and dinner was being served, Kiddo dealt the low blow. "I don't want Grumpy Mama. I want Happy Daddy."
I cannot tell you how pissed-off I was, lest this blog become an adults-only affair. I took a deep breath and said "You know, I think I'd rather eat my dinner upstairs and watch a little tv" and I high-tailed it out of there before the wrath of Zeus came forth from my lips.
Now, some parents might have stayed in the kitchen and punished Kiddo for his obvious disrespect. I could have sent him to his room. But in this instance, just like with the nosy person earlier, leaving without confrontation was the better way to go. With the Nosy Person, there was nothing I could have said to change the their perspective that wouldn't have been considered ultra-defensive. With Kiddo, there was nothing I could have said that wouldn't have singed his ears closed. Sometimes, it's good to let your spouse do the talking. I knew Joe had my back and that a stern admonishment from Mr Fun Time was going to be more effective-- and likely more thoroughly received-- than any punishment I could dole out.
Later that evening, Joe did fill me in, sweet man. "I told him 'Oh no you didn't just say that to your mother'. I made sure he knew that he was being pretty offensive." And then he handed me a chocolate croissant and a martini. Because he is a good man. He understood that sometimes, walking away is really the only sane option. And that some things, like chocolate and a stiff drink, are very, very appropriate balms at 9 pm when one finally gets to sit down.
I have employed this tactic a few times today, and with pretty good results. I can't walk away from the rest of the work I have to do for this trip, but I can walk away from the whining, from the tasks that holler at me but can wait until we return. I can even walk away from the idea of a gin and tonic right now, even though it would be really, really nice on this hot, semi-frustrating day. I have walked toward trying to gain some ground with Kiddo-- we've played games, I've let him help me make tabbouleh, set up and take down the tent, let him be my sole focus several times today-- and though it is apparently not enough for him, I can tell myself that I am doing okay as a mom. I can walk away from the idea that I'm not measuring up and toward the idea that just for today, I am doing as fine as I can. Maybe this means reassuring myself that I'm not a bad mom for not getting Kiddo tested yet another time or that I can tell myself that Kiddo has had some very good time with me, whether he realizes it or not. Sometimes the feedback is more about their perspective than the reality. The reality is that I am tired, hungry and need to walk up to the pizza place in a moment. At last! Something to walk toward!