Sunday, November 30, 2008

"But We Could Have Adopted NICE Children."

I realize my latest entries have been all sweetness and light. But it's the fourth day of a four-day holiday weekend, parents alone with the kids, who are being their relentless selves, and THE GLOVES ARE OFF.

Yesterday, I nearly lost my mind. Here's how it happened.

Took Thing 2 (my daughter) to the beach, which is one of the amazing things you can do if you live in Southern California and it's two days after Thanksgiving. Let her play in the sand to her heart's delight, getting pants, socks and feet thoroughly filthy. Brought her to the amusement pier, where she rode on the kiddie merry-go-rounds, then met up with Daddy and Thing 1 at the carousel. Let her ride the carousel four times. Even let her eat a tootsie roll.

She fell asleep on the way to the pizza restaurant, even though it was only a five-minute drive, and though she briefly rallied to inhale a slice and a half, our troubles began soon after.

She would not leave the restaurant. Daddy and Thing 1, who'd already gotten too restless to remain, had gone back to the car in a garage that was charging us by the minute to park. I had to carry her out. She flailed and protested. I set her down. She wanted to dawdle on a bench. I picked her up again -- already a mistake on my part, since I've been nursing a hernia since I was pregnant with twins. I set her down again in an attempt to get her to cross the street. Protests continued unabated. And on it went, the sturm and drang, the whining, the flailing, all across the street, into the lobby of the building where we'd parked. That's where I made the big tactical blunder.

I put my purse and the diaper bag into the waiting elevator and turned to pick up my daughter. She darted away and the elevator doors closed. My money and drivers' license and house and car keys all disappeared behind those closed doors.

I lost it. Screamed at Thing 2. Called her an idiot, which was not at all the right word for the situation and not a word with which her nearly four-year-old brain is familiar. Uttered some curses. And desperately rang every elevator button hoping for the return of my stuff.

In a few moments, the elevator returned, and the doors opened.

My stuff was gone.

Round two of yelling commenced.

Within seconds, Thing 2 turned into a blubbering mass of jelly. She was crying. She was also terrified that her mostly kind, occasionally irritated, but normally loving Late Blooming Mom had turned into a red-faced, foot-stomping, yelling and bad-word-saying toddler who just happens to be in her forties.

I grabbed her and took her in the elevator down to her Daddy, handing her off rapidly while quickly shouting a terse version of what had transpired. I stomped off to the woman running the parking booth, hoping against hope -- but not believing -- that my stuff would have been turned in.

I steamed and seethed on the brief elevator ride to the parking attendant. And there, just outside the elevator, near her booth, sat my purse and the diaper bag -- rescued by some good Samaritan. Everything was undisturbed.

I'd blown a gasket for nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing. My daughter had disobeyed every request in the last twenty-plus minutes, after I'd done nothing but let her do as she pleased all morning. And she'd risked getting my wallet and keys stolen, even though she doesn't yet understand about that risk.

It was a good thing Daddy drove the kids home.

She fell asleep on the ride home, since we were way late for naps. So did he. But both woke up in the dreaded transition from the car to their beds. She refused to sleep. Daddy sat with her in front of the TV. I wanted nothing more to do with her. But I couldn't get him back to sleep either. And the cat wanted me to nap with him. He was meowing incessantly, the third "child" in need of mom's attention.

I snapped all over again.

I told Late Blooming Dad I was going out, and didn't know when I'd return.

Spent the next two hours wandering around the neighborhood. Cried. Brooded. Felt ashamed. Felt pissed off. Tried hard to get it all out of my system. Tried to remind myself this life -- family life -- is the life I've wanted and longed for. But just felt trapped. Wanted to be anywhere but home.

By the time I wandered back home, Dad had things under control and was plotting to take them out to dinner to get them off my hands a little while longer. I decompressed for another hour or so.

Later, after Dad gave them baths, I was able to get them changed, teeth brushed, books read, and into their beds. Going down for the night was a challenge, especially for my daughter -- I'd apologized already for screaming at her, reassured her I loved her, lectured her on the need to do what mommy asks, but she still had questions about the incident. Mercifully, they both finally drifted off by about nine-thirty.

Then it was time for the debriefing, on the couch, with Dad.

As we went over the day's events -- Thing 1 had had his share of fits, it wasn't all on Thing 2 -- and talked out our anger and exhaustion, I found myself ruefully telling dad, "We could've adopted, you know. After the miscarriages, you were the one who was so adamant that I soldier on, so we could have our biological offspring. When all along, we could've adopted NICE children."

We both cracked up.

Then Dad pointed out we were three days into a four-day holiday weekend, and he fully expected it to be like this. "My thought when the holiday began was, let's just get through the next 96 hours and make it back to work on Monday," he said. I was the one who'd had dewy-eyed, sentimental expectations of a perfect family holiday weekend. I was the one who'd been the idiot.

Now I realized that all over America, families had hit the day-three wall of the four-day holiday, and there were probably short fuses and fit-throwing kids and screaming parents all over this land of ours. Why should our family be any different?

Thankfully, it's 2/3 of the way through Day Four, and things are going a lot better.
But as Yogi Berra says, it ain't over till it's over. Wish us luck.


Anonymous said...

Dude. I adopted a child who throws just as hellacious tantrums as yours. Once she freaked out at a McDonalds and I had to carry her out, and then, in retribution, threw her Happy Meal toy out the window as we pulled out of the parking lot.

Loved this post. Susan sent me here. :)

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I kinda like the "sweetness and light" entries. But then, it's easy for me to romanticize: I have no children.

Danny W said...

Interesting read.