Given that it’s still so hot, we pretty much make it to a pool every day. We’re lucky to have lots of free city pools, and when I’m by myself I almost always end up taking the girls to one of the shallower wading pools. I can sit and cool off, and it’s shallow enough that the girls can fling themselves around and can still stand up on their own. I don’t usually take them to regular pools by myself because there’s a lot of “Mama! Watch THIS!” and sometimes I’m not fast enough to get there to stop one or both of the girls from doing themselves bodily harm. Adele has a slightly chipped front tooth which resulted from this very situation, so I usually just stick to the little pools. In any case, though, we were meeting another adult yesterday for a swim, so we went to a big pool. Extra adult eyes FTW!
At the big pool, there were a few other parents with kids; one was a mom with four children. Four children is fine! Four children is lovely! Four children is too many for one person to watch easily IN A POOL.
We showed up with our little inflatable monkey inner tube, which Adele likes to use even though she’s pretty comfortable swimming on her own or being held by an adult in the water. We brought it in the pool with us at first, but then just left it on the side as she didn’t feel like using it at that moment. An older boy of about 8, the oldest of the four aforementioned kids, came along an grabbed it to play with it. I have NO problem with this; whenever we bring toys to the pool, other people wind up playing with them, and it’s totally fine. If we’re leaving, I ask for them back and it’s no big deal. Sharing! It’s a good thing!
So this boy was being pretty rough with the monkey and I asked him to please be careful with it, since it’s really for babies and not really meant for older kids. His mom was within earshot, but said nothing; I wasn’t being rude, just matter-of-fact. Side note: I REALLY don’t like disciplining other people’s kids. Like, EVER.
He calmed down a little, but then I saw him sitting on it again and submerging it a few minutes later; Adele saw him too and asked for me to get it back, so I did. (Politely.) May I also make note of the fact that he’s said nothing to me during all of this? Not an “ok, I’ll be careful” or anything along those lines. No big deal, but worth noting.
She used it for a few minutes and was finished with it, so I put it back on the side of the pool and the boy’s little sister (maybe 2 years old?) grabbed it. Again, TOTALLY FINE until he came back up, grabbed it from her and started jumping in to the pool while sitting on it. Again, mom is within earshot; she can see he grabbed it away from his sister (who is now wailing) and has done nothing. I go up, politely let him know that his sister was using it, that it’s REALLY FOR LITTLE BABIES, and I put it under our swim bag, up on the deck away from the pool. We go back to swimming.
Then the little sister sees it, takes it from under our bag and puts it on. Again, FINE. I’m really just trying to keep it from her brother at this point. He runs up to grab it from her, yanks it off her body and POPS IT. Adele sees and starts shrieking because hello, she is TWO and it’s HER TOY.
The mom (finally) comes over and says “Oh, did they pop your toy?” I say yes, because they did, but I’m also holding Adele and trying to calm her down because she’s really upset. And the mom says “Did they apologize to you?”
OKAY. Here is where I need input. Had it been me, I would have had the child apologize to Adele. And probably to me, since I had already tried to keep the toy from him SEVERAL times without input from his mother. The mother, however, did not do this. I said that they had not apologized (really, it was just the boy who needed to) and she… did not do anything. She did not reprimand him other than to say “that really wasn’t nice” and people? SHE did not apologize to me or to Adele.
This is something, as a parent, that I do. If my child is behaving in a manner that justifies apology, I apologize FOR them. I then handle it with my child on my own, after having my child ALSO apologize. And, had my child broken someone else’s toy, I would certainly have offered to pay for it. (That’s really not at all the issue, though… it’s more the principle of the thing in this situation.)
I was really irritated with the whole thing, and we left not long after.
So my question is… am I wrong to be irritated? Should I just write it off? It takes a lot to get me hot under the collar, but for some reason I’m still annoyed when I think about this.
Like so many others lately, I’ve started reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.” As I’m reading, I alternate between feeling totally inspired and totally overwhelmed; I can absolutely see why she decided to make her changes over the course of a year, rather than tackling them all at once. I’m only reading about her changes and I’m exhausted.
She does make a lot of points that really speak to me, though. Most pertinent to my current situation in terms of parenting is her approach to her temper and her patience. Before I had kids, I wouldn’t have called myself a yeller. If you met me today, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t think that I’m a yeller. (As an aside, I mean a yeller to be “one who yells” not “one who is yellow.” Just thought I would clear that up.) One of my biggest pet peeves is that my children don’t listen. OF COURSE they don’t listen… they’re four and one! What do I expect? Well, I think I sometimes expect them to meet me halfway. And why would they? They haven’t learned to do that yet! The word “compromise” isn’t in their collective vocabulary. And yet I, a thirty-one year old, expect my children to act as I, frankly, am not. I don’t want them to have bad tempers, but how can I expect anything more of them than I do of myself? This is all a very round-about way of saying that parenting is a freaking black hole of paradoxes and I am ILL EQUIPPED at times. Thank goodness for people like Gretchen Rubin and every other mama-writer on the internet who make me feel like we’re all ill equipped together.
However, I DO want to make positive changes, and what better time to start than now? As Rubin says, what you do every day matters more than what you do every once in awhile. So I need to work on my everyday behavior and interactions with my children, starting now. It’s always said that all people want for their children is for them to be happy, right? So I want to teach my kids how to learn to make themselves happy. It’s the least I can do while I’m learning it myself.
I’m shamelessly stealing this from Elizabeth long after the fact, but I now present to you:
Things the Internet and Many People Seem to Love but I Do Not
1. Diet Coke
2. The Real Housewives of Anything – I do not get this. Not even a little.
3. reality TV
4. cooking shows – If I can’t eat it, it’s not fun. On TV= can’t eat it.
6. Twilight – the books AND the movies. Especially the fourth book, which I put down and WOULD NOT finish when Bella named that fricking baby “Renesmee.” Especially pissed because Esme was on my short list for baby names, and after that stupid series came out I couldn’t use it because people would have said “Oh, did you find that name in Twilight?” NO. NO, I did not.
7. jean shorts (or “jorts,” if you will) – I do not understand why these are making a comeback.
8. bumperstickers on cars wherein people declare their love for Jesus – Do these people really think anyone is going to convert because of their bumpersticker? I think not.
9. Nuts in cookies
I like to say yes to my kids. (Well, my kid who can talk.) I say “no” a lot, as I imagine all parents do. “Can I have popcorn for breakfast?” “Can I climb this ladder?” “Can I wear your shoes to school?” But I like to say yes. Every once in a while I do get to say yes and it’s a lot of fun. I do, however, have a line in the sand and it’s a pretty steadfast one. I am not a fan really don’t like throw up in my mouth every time I think about absolutely loathe the way things are so aggressively marketed towards children. I’m happy to let my child watch TV and movies now and again, and I don’t judge anyone who does. Not even a little. But I do judge the industry that feels the need to not just make all these movies and shows, but also market the products associated with them DIRECTLY to my three-year old. She doesn’t need all that stuff. No one does.
I think this is coming to a head with me now more than ever because I’m getting bogged down by all the sadness I’m seeing lately in the world. Haiti is, of course, forefront in my mind and I hate feeling helpless. Everyone does, I think, and while everyone wants to help, what can we actually DO? It’s so hard. So can’t the industry that spends millions on making sure my kid wants their products just do the right thing? Quit the unnecessary marketing and for God’s sake, put that money somewhere it’s needed.
Is anyone else with me in thinking that these “ponte stretch pants” are merely fancy talk for “leggings?” For EIGHTY EIGHT DOLLARS? I think not, J.Crew. I am not fooled by your fancy marketing talk.
For the Christmas holiday, we’re driving to Colorado to stay with my husband’s family. Which is a 21-or-so hour drive from where we live. Which sounds like a recipe for disaster, I know. We’ve actually done this trip several times, but never with both kids. Also, my immediate family (mother, father, sister) will be joining us as well, which is a whole other story and I’m sure will make for interesting fodder later. My sister, who lives five blocks from us, will be driving up there with us, as will the dog. Needless to say, five humans plus one dog plus luggage plus Christmas gifts will not be fitting into a small Toyota. I mean, it might be physically possible, but I can’t think of anything that sounds more painful. (Well, I guess trying to bring the cats would add an interesting element of both mental and physical pain.)
In any case, we’re renting a minivan. Yes, a minivan. I talk with people who drive them, and I hear amazing things about “so spacious!” I hear “the doors open on their own with the merest touch of a button!” I hear “so easy for the kids to get in and out of on their own!” But then my mind thinks “I am not there yet, and I don’t think I will ever be.” Something makes me have an unreasonable fear of being stereotyped because of what I drive, which I know is ridiculous. And why should I care what anyone thinks anyway? But I do. And also, C claims that I will fall in deep, deep love with this mode of transport and thinks I will be begging for one when we return from the trip. To which I say, I THINK NOT. I am only 31. Plenty of time yet for me to get the mom haircut, pull my jeans up and start toting the kids to all those afterschool activities. Which I can do without a minivan, thanks very much.
It’s two days post-Thanksgiving. There is still turkey to be eaten, cranberry sauce to congeal unappealingly in the back of the fridge, and stains to be removed from the tablecloth. There are still “hand turkeys” – hm, that sounds a little dirty – to be found decorating multiple surfaces in my house. There are pilgrim hats being worn,and fall leaves swirling, and yet today I got in the car and the radio was playing that ridiculous song about the child who was buying the beautiful shoes for his mother who is ABOUT TO DIE and he wants her to look beautiful for Jesus.
I’m sorry, but I am not on board with this song. I loathe it with every fiber of my being. And I feel like it gets played about a billion times more than any other song around this time of year because I swear I hear it every time I’m in the car (I don’t really listen to the radio at all besides when I’m driving). But the worst part is that it is SUCH an earworm. If I hear it once, it’s in my head for the rest of the day. Just what I need. It’s not even December yet, for frick’s sake.
Ah, the Christmas spirit. I have it, can’t you tell?