Monday, July 11, 2016

Why Bother?

This weekend had a lot of potential--not a ton planned, but just enough to make it both restful and fun.  But alas, it was a bit of a rough one. 

It started Friday afternoon with a call from camp, saying that Jacob had participated in the three-legged race and was complaining that his (surgically-repaired) leg was hurting him.  I talked to him on the phone, and while I don't doubt that the race could have irritated the scar or felt a little odd, he was SO insistent that someone come pick him up early that I think it was just a convenient excuse to get picked up early.  No offer of Tylenol or rest was good enough for him--he HAD to be picked up.  He knows that Craig gets out early on Fridays and the four straight days at camp were his longest span there yet.  So I think he was just over it.  He got in a similar rut with the afterschool program for the last couple months, where he was annoyed with some of the kids and a couple teachers for various reasons, and he simply didn't want to be there.  It's not something we can indulge, as we don't always have that sort of availability, but Craig did do his best to help him out.  In this case, Craig made him wait until later in the afternoon, which I think set a solid precedent.  I don't want to get those calls every week.

Our plan for the evening was to go to the drive-in and see The Secret Life of Pets.  I'd have rather seen Finding Dory, but Jacob has been excited about this one since he saw the preview months ago.  We opted to go to the closer one to us, rather than the super fun one that's over an hour away that we went to last year.  The good news about this one is that it's literally five minutes from our favorite gluten-free pizza place (which itself is a half hour from home).  So we ordered pizza, picked it up, and went to get our spot.  Going to the drive-in with a minivan is such a different experience than the car.  Pillows, blankets, and lawn chairs were packed, and when we got there we had to park in a designated area and were given a piece of twine that is used to tie the hatchback down to roof level.  I never knew people had to do that!  We struggled a bit because our van door had nothing to tie on to, but eventually a license plate tie was rigged up.

We ate our pizza, and of course Jacob was the first one to christen the van, luckily only with flavored sparkling water (no sugar or dyes, thankfully).  He also inadvertently dumped a nearly full box of Milk Duds into every nook and cranny under his seat.  Ugh.  No damage done in the end, but geez.  As we finished up dinner and an SUV took its place next to us, Jacob realized it was one of his best friends from school!  Mind you, we were a half hour from home and they ended up next to us at a multi-screen drive-in!  Small world.  That worked out pretty well, actually, as Jacob sat in the lawn chair next to his friend and Carter and I had more room to spread out in the back of the van.  Our angle was a little off so the one side wasn't the best view, meaning two people were pretty much the max.

Aside from Carter saying he had to pee 3/4 of the way through the movie and then saying he was "joking" once Craig took him up, it went pretty well.  Jacob freaked out a little bit about Carter being near his pillow and blanket, but as a whole it wasn't bad.  The movie was cute.  Hopefully next time we can take the time to play mini-golf.  Both kids fell asleep on the way home, which was a relief.  Here are pics of our setup...

Sitting nicely!

Not sure why it looks like it's snowing here...either bugs or something on the camera?

I swear, he was happy to be there!

Waiting for the show to start!
Saturday was a pretty quiet day.  We had some rain come through, so mostly we just hung out around the house.  I meant to go out and run some errands, but it never happened.  Still, I was happy with the things that I did do, so I guess it was fine.  But my big plan for the evening was to do a family s'mores night!  Years ago my mom gifted us a secondhand (but like new) s'mores kit--complete with a wooden turntable, skewers, and a metal cylinder that holds a can of sterno to create the flame.  We've used it a handful of times, and honestly, it's fun.  Microwave s'mores are good, but nothing is quite like real fire-roasted marshmallows.  So, on Saturday night I hauled everything outside--the graham crackers (gluten-free and regular), marshmallows, Hershey bars, new cans of sterno, paper towels, and my camera--and when I went back in to grab the s'mores kit, which was right by the back door, I came out to everything being wet.  Carter was holding the hose, and Jacob was standing by grinning.  I quickly surmised that Jacob turned on the hose and Carter sprayed it.  The stuff on the table was wet, the chairs were wet, the tree was dripping on the table further, and I was very lucky my camera was in the case and facing the direction it was facing because that would have been bad.  Obviously I was furious and s'mores night got canceled.  Jacob blamed it on Carter, but he was the one that turned on the hose and encouraged him to pick it up.  Clearly three-year-olds don't have much concept of direction, so while he should know better about spraying it (as he knows he's not supposed to unless we give him permission), I couldn't specifically be mad about where he sprayed it.  But I was definitely mad at Jacob for turning it on in the first place.  But of course he refused to take responsibility and blamed it on Carter since he was the one that sprayed.

Of course, when I posted on Facebook about the big fail, there were moms that were like, "Cherish these moments," and "I would have laughed and sprayed them back."  As much as I would love to be that mom, I am not.  Maybe it's my personality, or maybe it's just years of Jacob's misbehavior and bad judgment.  He's old enough to be more responsible than that, and when you deal with these kind of moments daily, they lose their humor quickly.  I don't have the luxury of letting it slide because it's another symptom of the bigger problem.  Another mom who's more on the traditional side asked if punishment was handed down.  Aside from no s'mores, I honestly didn't do anything more.  I explained that disciplining Jacob walks a fine line between punishment when he should know better and a "teachable moment" when he gets himself going and can't help himself, so discipline is a bit more complicated.  Not much phases him anyway, and the punishment to us when something gets taken away (i.e., constant complaining) makes me very careful in how I use that technique.  It was yet another reminder that our lives are so much more complex than what most people could ever imagine.  We seem normal enough...until something like that reminds me that we don't have the luxury of just going with the flow unless we want chaos to reign.  And if that wasn't enough of a reminder, Sunday it got taken to a whole new level.  But that's another story for another post.

Despite the rough start to Sunday in the story-to-be-shared-later, we managed to sneak in s'mores night last night.  Of course, I had to scream at Jacob just prior because I walked out into the yard to him wielding a Super Soaker.  Seriously?  After everything we went through the previous night?  A squirt gun?  UGH.  Thankfully he controlled himself after brief but urgent convincing, and we had a nice little s'mores party.

Carter getting ready for his first one

Thumb lickin' good :)

The aftermath

A moment of peace and harmony, courtesy of chocolate and marshmallows
Of course Jacob had more fun burning them than eating them, but we did discover that you could squeeze a less-melted middle out of a burned shell!  At least we finally had our fun!

Over the weekend I booked part of our summer vacation, and of course in the midst of all the misbehavior, it makes me wonder why I even bother planning fun things when one or both kids manage to ruin it.  Even these couple fun and relatively successful activities had their share of moments where I wondered why we bothered.  The kids bicker back and forth, Jacob is ungrateful and uses terrible judgment, and everything just ends up way harder than it should be.  The effort just doesn't seem worth it sometimes.  So why do we do it?

It seems logical to just withhold rewards and fun from kids who ruin those things at every opportunity.  But ultimately, I just can't do that.  We only have a limited amount of time with our kids and God forbid they grow up and feel like they don't have any good memories of our times together.  Maybe they'll remember doing things at home, but I think they need some of these special times together as a family doing something different than the everyday stuff.  So we try. 

In a few weeks we'll be going on the latest in our series of short, semi-local summer vacations.  I have booked the hotel and need to set up a couple more things before we go.  Part of me is really looking forward to it, and the other part of me is dreading it because I know how things usually go.  On one hand, why spend the money to travel when we could just be equally miserable at home?  But on the other, isn't it just a tiny bit better to put up with their crap while you get to do new, fun things?  Despite the frustration I do love looking back at pictures from our past vacations, so I think ultimately it's worth the stress.  But I just wish it was easier.  Just like every other day...I just wish it was easier.

Tonight I wanted to celebrate free Slurpee day, because I've never done it before, but Jacob was apparently tired from camp so I just took Carter with me. 

He was such a great little partner, and I had that little glimpse of how easy I wish it was with Jacob.  I desperately wish my relationship with Jacob was as simple and effortless as it is with Carter.  It breaks my heart when I see pictures of Jacob and me from years ago, knowing I can't even get near him now.  Something is so wrong and we have to fix it...and I hope that happens before this phase of life has passed us by.

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