I have the right to wince when you do.
Obesity. Aesthetic objections cloaked in fake medical concern? Be sure to pass that on to your kids!
Lame. Ableism. Boo.
Carbs. (Or carbohydrates. It’s not the shortening that bothers me; it’s the nutritional ignorance.) Two-thirds of the calories in kale come from carbohydrates. Are you going to stop eating it?
Leadership. Do the math: Fewer than 50 percent of all people are going to qualify as leaders. The odds that all your kids are going to make the cut are not good. And deciding to pursue something that is dependent on other people’s reaction seems unhealthy, like trying to be popular.
Passion.* Surely people can think of a way to establish their commitment to something without using this word? I don’t want to hear you talk about your feelings about what you do. I want to see you be good at what you do, and if that results from diligence rather than some sort of spiritual burning, wonderful. Persistence and clear-eyed self-assessment make me want to bake brownies for the possessor. Or kale chips, if that’s more your style.
*Not the crucifixion kind.
I am old enough that I used to watch Phil Donohue. He once had a guest who had written about being raised by parents who were madly in love and didn’t seem to be nearly as interested in the children as they were in each other. She insisted, however, that she wasn’t bitter, because as an adult, she realized that her parents were doing the best they could. “And that’s what we’re all doing,” she declared. “We all do the best we can.”
If that’s true, should it be reassuring? Is HB really doing the best he can at any given time, and is he going to have a better “best he can”? Is my grumping and snapping the best I can do?
The best-I-can theory reminds me of The Vanishing, in which a psychopath decides that the only way to prove our actions aren’t predetermined is to do the worst, stupidest, cruelest thing you can imagine. After I saw it, I felt a desperate need to sit outside with my friends and have a drink. Not so different from how I felt when HoneyBadger was at his worst, and yet I resist believing that our best self and our worst self are the same thing at any point — that every horrible thing we do is just the best we could manage at the moment.
First day of group for HoneyBadger was . . . OK. I think it went fine, except for the part where he was (just barely) late to school. As we left the parking lot at group, HB said, “OK, it looks like you should drive dangerously.” Which I didn’t. But by the time we got to school, the PE teacher and the tardy staffer were waiting in front for stragglers. On the plus side, HB was bothered by not being on time.
I am sorry he’s bothered but glad that this is something he is now capable of being bothered about.
The other parents seem fine, but – and I am not saying this in judgment of the other kids’ worth, just wondering about the fit for HB – there are a lot of kids with a lot of annoying behaviors waiting for group. HB seemed like one of the two Reigning Lords of Docility and Appropriate Behavior as we were waiting.
Fun event to kick off the whole experience: As I was walking to the car after dropping Cheeks off at before-school care, another mother said, “Excuse me, ma’am – you have a bleach stain or something on your pants.” And I said “Oh, OK, thanks.” To which she replied, “I just though, if you were going to work . . .” “I am, and I don’t have time to change,” I announced as I hurried to the car to take HB to group.
When I got to work, I found that the bleach stain was, in fact, a big hole in the back of my pants.
I wonder if any of the parents at group thought, “No wonder the kid has problems, with a mother who flashes her butt around like that.”
HoneyBadger and Cheeks wanted some friends from school to come trick-or-treating with us. Look! HB reaching out to make social connections! Yay!
They came, they got loads of candy, they had fun, they came back to the house. Kids and parents, sitting around the table, eating candy, chatting . . . .
But what’s this? One of the friends is lying on the sofa, not interested in candy. “He said today his throat hurts,” his brother volunteered.
His mother goes over to investigate. “Is that true?”
“Yes. I want to go home.”
“Oh, well. Everybody’s been exposed already! We’ll go home soon.”
I like to think of myself as someone with an appropriate response to any comment, but I was stumped. That she didn’t know her kid was sick until that moment? Been there. That you just give up and ignore the request of your sick child and the health of everyone else? Does the concept of minimizing damage not ring any bells?
Yesterday, I got a text from Freaking Negligent Mom thanking me for having everyone over, and I thought, “Well, I guess Sore Throat Boy wasn’t sick after all, just tired.”
At dinner I found out that he had been out of school. My husband said, “Well, he couldn’t have been that sick.”
“Really? What makes you say that?” I asked.
“[FNM] would have mentioned it in her text,” he said.
Right. Because this woman is a model of common sense and information-sharing. Gotcha.
I am looking back and remembering the time she brought her kid to HB’s laser tag birthday party, even though his arm was broken and he was not allowed to play laser tag. I thought it was an aberration. I wondered if he had wanted a piece of cake so much that he wanted to come just for that, even if he had to sit around doing nothing for an hour an a half.
I work really hard to make excuses for people.
But if one of my kids gets sick, I am going to be paper-bagging her house, and someone can make excuses for me.
While I wait to see what happens, I will be reminding myself how great it is that HB has friends.
Even if their parents are idiots.
When HoneyBadger started therapy, He of the Soothing Voice said he thought it take about two years.
That was two years ago.
Last week, he said he thought HB should start group therapy.
Crap. Crap to the max.
So school is . . . a thing. But I don’t even know where to begin talking about school, whereas I know I hate going on vacation as a family. I have tried not to. I made a color-coded chart to figure out what everyone liked to do, and it turns out that my kids would be perfectly happy going to baseball games and going up in really high buildings. I’m guessing we can’t fill up an entire day with those two activities unless we make the kids take the stairs, and I don’t think that’s allowed.
I hate being confronted by my children’s refusal to cooperate. I hate they way they don’t want to take turns doing what each one wants. I hate that they want to eat oodles of crap, no matter how crummy it makes them feel (just like at home! you have brought the same digestive system with you!). I hate that we waste so much time resolving conflicts on a trip we have been discussing for weeks, strategizing about for days, only to be splashed with a slimy bucket of reality: Really? You think this is going to be the day we all change our minds about everything and just bow to your every whim? Well then, it’s time for the latest round of “working through disappointment in a way that will make the people in the next room hate us.” Well done, sir.
You know what all the things I hate stem from? From their understanding of vacation as a Super Fun Time When You Get to Do Things You Don’t Usually Do. No matter how many conversations I have with them, they don’t seem to grasp that this does not mean getting to do whatever you want, all day, every day.
Occasionally, I mention my . . . distaste . . . for family vacations to someone who feels the need to talk about how she enjoyed her vacations as a child. The implication is that only a fiend would deny her children these magical memories.
There must be people out there who think vacation is a big fat waste of time and money. Where are they? If the norm were staycations, I would fit right in. And while I would try not to join in when people start smugly announcing that their kids are capable of having fun at home — Why, they just need a box of Froot Loops and a trip to local museum and maybe a friend to sleep over, and they think it’s the best day ever! We’re making memories! — I would be so very grateful to know that I don’t have to commit a couple of weeks every year to something that doesn’t seem to serve anyone’s needs.
We’re in a phase in which we’re making memories I don’t want: memories of my children bickering and me snarling.
And this very weekend, my Peerless Spouse is away with one kid. They’re having a great time. And I am home with the other two, who are also having a great time. There’s no baseball at the moment, and our house doesn’t count as a really tall building, but we’re managing. It’s nice. Maybe not Magical Memories They Will Cherish Forever nice, but still. I like nice.
Despite that, and despite the title of this post, this summer we’ll be going out of town in search of fun. Yay.
I hear from people who don’t live with him that Honey Badger is doing much better. I think so, too, but things aren’t perfect and maybe it’s just a temporary respite or maybe I’m seeing what I want to see or…
Parenthood isn’t the first situation that gave me a vast array of opportunities to second-guess myself, but parenthood took those opportunities to new levels of fretting.
Calling in a professional helped us deal with Honey Badger’s self-defeating patterns. Calling on certain of my friends helps me with mine. I’ve got a core group among my friends that I think of as Team Sanity. They have my best interests at heart. They think I’m a good mother. And each one of them has a child who has required therapy. So when I fire up the Crap Signal, they provide informed perspective on how crappy things are, whether what I did made things worse, and what can be done to improve the situation.
I can never ever thank them enough — I try, I do! — but I’m throwing out some gratitude into the universe to unnamed women on an anonymous blog. Maybe some of it will reach someone else’s Team Sanity. I’d hate to think I’m the only person who has one, although it doesn’t bother me that mine is the best. I need a Team Sanity. It’s not my fault I’ve got the best one possible. (Is it? Maybe I’m being greedy. Wow. I am terrible.)