My kids are growing up. Each one, in his/her own way, and sometimes it’s beautiful and sweet, and sometimes it’s wistful and kind of sad, and sometimes it’s just irritating and frustrating.
We had a rough Thanksgiving, in a lot of ways. (Future post to follow) We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in a lot of ways (ibid). But the biggest takeaway from yesterday was that I need to really pay attention, because my kids are growing up when I’m not paying attention and I’m consistently being shocked by these sweeping changes that have happened, and I end up playing catch up.
We (and by we, I mean Marc, because I thought he was mostly crazy) decided to make an elaborate and cook-everything-from-scratch-because-that’s-how-the-Pilgrims-did-it kind of Thanksgiving. For sixteen people at our house last night. Which would have been delightful and fun, if I hadn’t already spent the last 36 hours prepping Thanksgiving for fifteen people at my mother’s house. So I was tired, and frustrated, and the quick, quick, rush, rush, eat really fast because Daddy has to get home to cook (complicated by the fact that it took an addition two hours of cooking time for my turkey) didn’t make for a restful and gratitude filled meal at my mom’s.
I’m a grown up, and I had at least nominally agreed to the program. My ten year old had not. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday, she had been right beside me prepping everything, had cooked her little heart out and was furious and hurt that she had to cut it short. And she was right. Marc and I are very used to being parents of little kids. We make the decisions, we execute them. And while we make every effort to include the kids in the process, sometimes we forget. But she’s almost eleven, and we can’t forget anymore. She had every right to get mad, and I apologized to her. Because she ended up having a crappy holiday, and I still feel awful about that.
My Sammy – my boy, he’s going thru a stage that’s not entirely delightful for anyone. He’s kind of a pain. Not all the time, but this is a kid who’s always, always been my easiest, most laid back, most relaxed and eager to please kid at home. It may be a different story out in public – and he’s got some pretty intense anxiety that makes going to school and going to parties more challenging, but at home – my Sammy was my easiest. By the time last night rolled around, I wanted to squish him. He wasn’t listening to a word anyone said, he was bugging his sisters just for the sake of hearing them scream in frustration. I know it’s a stage, I even recognize that it’s just part of the growing process. He’s a kid, and he’s going to test the limits and push the envelope, and it’s precisely because he hasn’t for so long that it’s so challenging now. We had a long discussion last night before bed, and I’m going to keep working on it. Part of it is bumping up positive reinforcement when he does listen and do as I ask, when he’s patient and doesn’t scream at his baby sister, and giving him lots of opportunities to relate with Jessie on a positive level. But part of it, too, is making sure that he knows that the expectations are clear at home, and enforcing the rules. I’m really hoping for an easier day today.
And hold the phone – JULIANNA RUTH SLEPT WITHOUT ME ALL NIGHT FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. Part of our Thanksgiving tradition is that Marc takes Sam out for Chinese food and they stay home and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade the next morning, before meeting the girls and I at my mother’s. I’ve been spending the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving at my mother’s house since I moved out, and it’s Jessie’s favorite part of the holiday. We bake the desserts the day before and get up super early to get everything ready on Thanksgiving. This year, Julie chose to go home with her Boy instead.
I knew it wasn’t going to work, she was exhausted and overtired, and Girlfriend still nurses to sleep. But she really wanted to – and at one point, actually told me that she really wanted to go to Daddy, but I kept making her feel bad about doing it. She phrased it differently, but my three year old was able to look at me and express very clearly that she knew what she wanted, and I was making it harder by not encouraging her to take the risk. Way to put Mama in her place. So I smiled and told her to go with Daddy and have fun. I spent the rest of the night waiting for the phone call announcing that she had changed her mind and wanted to come sleep with me, and it didn’t come. She was fine. She cried a little before falling asleep, and cried a little when she woke up and realized that I wasn’t there – but she was fine. My baby isn’t a baby anymore.
I feel entirely worn out and I’m guessing so does the rest of my little troop. Because it’s quarter of nine, and nobody’s awake except for me. It’s entirely possible that yesterday was so crappy because everyone was just flat out exhausted. But today is a catch up and clean up day, and we’ll have the whole day to calm down, to regain some equilibrium, and possibly even catch up on the laundry and finish decorating for Hannukkah. Tonight, we’ll like the Shabbat candles, along with the third night menorahs, and maybe tonight will be book night. Or slipper night.