Please excuse the rambling, disconnected nature of this post. Last night I couldn’t sleep and so I was up from like 3am until 5:30am reading about carseats and how feasible it is to expect to get 4 of them into a Mazda5. As a result, my thought process today is even more jumbled than usual.
In the past couple days, I’ve seen this one article get passed around quite a bit. It’s about cutting out all the manufactured “magic” bullshit parents do to make their kids’ lives amazing. I think I’m down with the gist of the article, but I gotta say- why all the Pinterest hate, yo? Pinterest is flipping AWESOME and don’t try to pretend like all that overkill “cut up hot dogs in the shape of octopi to make lunchtime fun!” shit didn’t exist within the pages of Parents magazine when we were kids. I love pinterest. Srsly.
I recently joined a facebook group call “invitation to play” and in it, the mums all post pictures of all the ways they’ve “invited” their children to play that day. Lots of sensory bins and homemade play dough. Photos of the next day’s invitation lovingly set up the night before. And while I do many of those kinds of things (though not really the night before set-up thing, unless it’s for baby book club), I somehow find myself rolling my eyes a lot when I scroll through that particular feed. This is the EXACT same stuff that I pin on Pinterest. So why is it cringe-inducing on facebook? Maybe the good ideas become a bit pretentious once you make it a philosophy and give it a name? All I know is, when I read the phrase “invitation to play”, I hear my mother in my head, with a classic mom phrase- “I am NOT the entertainment director here.” Which was usually followed up with “Go find something to do, or I’ll find something for you.” And her something was ALWAYS chores. So uh, we found things to do.
On this particular morning, the first game was something about going to whatever color Fiona called out? I’m hazy on the rules, I was trying to drink a cup of coffee and play a game on my phone at the time. The second game was basically dumping and spraying water out to make it slippery enough to “skate” on the kitchen floor. The helmet was also her idea.
My interpretation of “inviting” kids to play is more along the lines of- go look at all that cool shit we have. Go play with something. Figure. It. Out. And leave me alone. (As I’m hiding in the corner of the kitchen eating cookies and watching LOST on my ipad, definitely not putting in too much effort in making my childrens’ lives magical.)
But then I’m also supposed to be present for them at all times? And not be staring at my phone/tablet? In the moment and all that shiz?
Here, guys. I “invite” you to play with the magnadoodle inside the dogs crate. While wearing a flower girl dress.
I can’t be all the things, you guys! Instead, I do the pick-and-choose. Sometimes I set up elaborate crafts and photograph us doing them. Sometimes I fall asleep on the living room floor and the kids make a slide out of couch cushions on the staircase.
The first time they just did the lower steps. The last two days the slide has moved up to the next section of stairs because it can be longer and “funner”. I think it’s funner because of the greater chance of head injury?
Sometimes I go shopping for those crafty days and then lose my shit and scream at children to “SIT DOWN AND BUCKLE UP AND STOP YELLING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD OR I WILL LEAVE YOU AT THE DOLLAR STORE I SWEAR I WILL DO IT” and sometimes I sit in the parking lot at Dollarama and ugly cry because I’m such a terrible excuse for a human being. And then I go buy everyone donuts even though we’ve got a car full of groceries and we’re about to go home for dinner. And then when Nate gets home I escape to the store by myself to buy more craft supplies and when I get back before the light in their bedroom is turned off I sit in the driveway and eat a half a box of wafer cookies and wait for their room to go dark so that I don’t have to deal with any part of bedtime.
In the interest of total transparency- lately I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch. With my eldest, in particular. There is a LOT of whining, and turns out I really cannot handle that. Like, at all. I realize that I’m the adult in the relationship and so it’s on me to find a way to move past it, but damn. The whining. It’s infuriating. Starts before she gets out of bed some days.
Last week was really rough. This week is Spring Break (wooo) and I was kind of dreading it, to be honest. The idea of dealing with that whining nonstop from 7 in the morning until 8 at night (aside from the 90-minute daily viewing of Frozen, of course) was daunting, to say the least. And yet- this week has been going much more smoothly than I had even dared to hope. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what’s been different, and yesterday I found something- morning snuggles.
We’ve long known that Fiona is a touchy feely huggy kind of kid. She will stop mid tantrum and whine/ask for a hug (which I actually find infuriating, which makes me feel like a MONSTER. Every time.) But on the past 3 mornings, she has come into our room early just for a snuggle. She just crawls in and cuddles right up next to me, for about a half hour or so, before even asking for the iPad. And the difference in our days has been noticeable. Could it really be that easy? A half hour of snuggling in the morning and I get a kid that not only whines less, but that willingly goes to her room to color by herself? And more importantly, how can I work this into our normal school day schedule? Can I haul my pregnant ass into her top bunk a half hour before I need to get her up for school? It’s worth a try.
But just when I think I’ve really fucked everything right up, and I really just can’t see how or why I’ve been entrusted to somehow raise these small people up into functional adults, we have a moment.
Yesterday, Fiona and Violet squabbled over… I don’t know, something. Violet was playing with a measuring tape and she whacked Fiona’s knuckles with it, and so Violet was placed in a 3-minute time-out. Predictably, she immediately lost it because of the injustice of it all, being forced to serve time and everything. By about the 2-minute mark, Fiona was over there ministering to the prisoner, trying to cheer her up despite her incarceration. When the timer rang, I heard a sniffly “I’m sorry, Fone-ya.” (which is how Violet says Fiona and its the most adorable thing ever and I hesitate to even correct her pronunciation). and then in reply I heard, “It’s okay, Violet. I forgive you. Here, let’s go down our slide together. Maybe that will help you be in a better mood.”
And then I realize that somehow, against all odds, and contrary to all the articles that list the many many ways I fall short every day, that somehow we’re all doing okay.