Wallets and Weather

Having ADHD causes moments of extreme D’ohness, which I usually control nicely with pharmaceuticals. Sometimes though, my internal Homer breaks free and I got nothing but D’oh for ya. Two epic fails this week–read on and enjoy.

First was The Wallet. No, it did not used to be a ziplock bag. However, my other one was really messed up after it got run over by a half dozen cars on the side of a busy highway. The how of my wallet being on the side of a highway remains a mystery. I assume I put it on top of my car and that it eventually fell off.

Note: Much thanks to the stranger that saw the wallet, retrieved it (and its contents), and managed to track me down through my insurance company. I promise the fact that I spent 5-10 minutes considering the potential for you to be a serial killer is a function of my overactive imagination, and not a reflection of your kindness.

Next was The Cabana. A group of friends with similarly aged children decided to take a trip to Wet’n Wild waterpark. To a kid (as memory serves) a waterpark is, like, the coolest thing…evah. We had tickets, I reserved the cabana ($100 split among a group isn’t expensive) and we were ready to roll.

Until it started storming last night and I realized I hadn’t–not once–checked the weather forecast for the day of our trip. Actually checking it–50% chance of rain– made my head start to hurt; reading the small-“cabana-fee-non-refundable”-print triggered a full headache. But, one thing about living in NC–if you don’t like the weather just wait an hour, it’ll change. My friends, good-natured people that they are, loaded up minivans with kids and contraband snacks, taking the risk that the storms would hold off until the afternoon.

This is about what it looked like when we got there. And it stayed looking like that for the next two hours.

See, there is a difference between forgetting important details ahem– the weather forecast for an outdoor trip–when the plans do/don’t include Small People. Your adult friends might give you a hard time, but it is unlikely that you will have to drag them — limp-bodied, purple-faced, and screaming — out to the car. I mean, it’s happened…but it’s just not as likely.

But when you forget those kinds of details and those adults are now the Parents of Small People (six total, ranging in age from 20 months to 3.5 years) the potential for disaster is high. Now it’s not just your screaming kid, but the screaming kids of your close friends. And being trapped in the car with them screaming for the 1.5 hour trip back home.

Elliot yelled at me for 15 minutes the other day because I gave him a bowl of Craisins rather than leaving them in the bag. Zach has thrown himself to the floor and sobbed over getting a blue, instead of an orange, cup. Anyone with kids knows it would have only taken one of them to start in on a good tantrum before the rest of them followed.

For close to two hours we sat under our nonrefundable cabana listening to the repeated PA-announcement of “…park currently closed due to bad weather. We will re-open as soon the threat passes…”

What did our group of perfect (today, at least) Small People do? They re-stacked the brick edging, cleaned up trash, examined leaves, hopped on the steps, turned loungers into climbing structures, snacked (contraband snacks = best thing ever) and remained generally affable.

Right as I went to petition for a cabana-fee refund (inexplicably easy–it only took me saying “I worked Customer Service for 10 years, and I assure you that they don’t pay you enough to deal with me if y’all try and fight this”) the storm system broke enough to give the kids 30 minutes of play time. We all got rain-checks and went out for pizza.

As an adult, the natural conclusion was that the trip was a consummate failure. But as one of the Dad’s pointed out to Joel, none of the kids realized that they had gotten screwed–thus no tantrums. In the car–right before he passed out–Zach told us that the “Wet and Water” park was “so much fun” and “we should do that again”. And we are, next weekend, sans cabana and weather permitting.

How AA Helps Parent a Toddler

I’m not an alcoholic which might make how AA helps me parent a toddler seem strange. But it’s all about the Serenity Prayer.

…grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference…–Reinhold Niebuhr

I’ve been reciting this to myself for weeks. It’s not to keep me from drinking, but rather to help me make it through parenting a three year-old. My own natural tendency toward control-freakishness and impatience makes this stage particularly difficult for me to deal with. But I will persevere—he’s far too old to be dropped off at the fire station.

From the beginning of Zach’s second year—new sibling included—I was smug because all signs suggested that the Terrible Two’s weren’t going to be so bad for us. I tried NOT to be smug, and even when I failed my smugness wasn’t borne of maliciousness. Zach was E.A.S.Y. Yeah, we dealt with the occasional tantrum, including one that lasted—no lie—for 12 straight hours soon after Elliot was born, but he was a generally affable kid. I assumed (incorrectly) that this was the result of our stellar (ha!) parenting.

Well, I was smug. Then he turned three and exchanged compliance for defiance without apology—or warning. He tries to call my bluff every day—still not believing that I don’t deliver empty threats. Part of me (a very small part that only comes out while he sleeps) admits to being proud of his determination. Surely this personality trait will serve him well in his future.

wisdom to know the difference

Ah, the most important line. A thousand times a day I remind myself that I cannot control him (or anyone else), but I can control myself. I give choices when appropriate. Bad behavior delivers consequences; good behavior provides rewards. Our family’s definitions of good and bad are well-defined and consistent. Sadly, making the appropriate choices often requires applying logic and reason and well, we aren’t there yet.

Freud has a semi-famous theory about Id (instincts), Ego (pleasure), and Super Ego (conscience). My delightfully laid-back infant has grown from being little more than an Id-filled, baby-blob to a little person. A little person so full of Ego, that his eyes are brown with it. Eventually he will also develop his Super Ego and things will presumably get easier. Presumably.

The irony of being an adult in a life surrounded by three-year-old-Ego includes the realization that all this defiance and emotional lability also happens to be developmentally appropriate. Teaching a young preschooler to get control of those murderous feelings of rage (today prompted by me cutting a sandwich into rectangles and not triangles) is the most important/difficult job for me.

Hell, I sometimes struggle with overwhelming feelings of impatience and anger, and I’m well beyond my preschool years.

I am humbled.

With Zach, as a first-time parent, I had the pleasure of not knowing what was to come. I assumed I had thrown the right bait into the lake of genetics and landed a large bass. With Elliot I have no such illusions. Maybe second children move into the Ego stage earlier thanks to all of that older-sibling modeling. Maybe Elliot will revert to a laid-back kid when he’s three. Maybe I’ll get a punching bag for the basement.