Thursday, November 29, 2012

Field trip.

This morning the boys and I went on a "field trip" to the symphony. I'm not sure why I'm using air quotes, it really was a field trip. There were school buses parked out front and when I asked the usher where I could park my stroller, I told her we were with the Middle Tennessee Inclusive Homeschoolers.

She didn't care a lick but it made me feel a bit more like we belonged. Homeschool is weird like that. I know we're "with a group" (yay, appropriate air quotes!) but for all anyone could tell by looking at us, we may have just wandered off the pedestrian bridge looking for a warm spot to rest and some free entertainment.

Today was especially weird because I honestly don't know the Middle Tennessee Inclusive Homeschoolers from a hole in the wall. I got an email reminder (reminder might be a strong word as it was nowhere on my calendar...) and we didn't have anything else going on so I figured, why not watch the symphony rehearse? Heck, we'd make a whole morning of it!

A quick walk across the pedestrian bridge overlooking downtown Nashville, free tickets to watch rehearsal in the incredibly beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a stroll down Lower Broadway, lunch at a restaurant, playing at the cool riverside park, maybe even ice cream or a little honky tonkin'... what a fantastic day!

And it was. Mostly. But there were also more than a handful of those moments.

Running across the pedestrian bridge because even though I had given him two calls to action and three reminders, Liam was still barefoot with no idea where his shoes were when it was time to walk out the door.

Finn crying, "Leave!" from about five minutes into the rehearsal until we bailed a song and a half later. Because, you know, he's TWO and probably shouldn't be taken places where sitting still and being quiet are part of the program.

Spending twenty five bucks on lunch  that no one but me made an effort to eat.

Just the normal stuff that comes with hanging out with little people, I guess. And honestly, I'm more than used to brushing it off on a regular basis (it's in the job description, right?). But as the Liam is not impressed moments piled up, I found my patience starting to slip.

Do you know what I'm talking about? It's the, "How much longer?" during the incredible symphony that we're lucky enough to see. And the, "I can't believe we can't get ice cream!" after not eating (or thanking me for) his lunch. And the, "We're leaving?! But I haven't even played in the sand yet! This is the worst day EVER!!!" as I try to drag him away from the park for Finny's nap. You know, just the general attitude and pouty face that is threatening to drive me absolutely insane these days.

After the park (our last stop for the day), I kind of lost it. I mean, not really. I wasn't screaming or anything like that. But for how much fun we had been having all morning, my attitude on the drive home was anything but cheerful. I told Liam I was afraid he was starting to act like a spoiled brat. And that I felt disrespected when he didn't listen to me or talked back. I told him I felt like I must be failing as a parent because I did not want to raise kids who didn't respect or appreciate their parents. And that it made me sad that instead of enjoying what he has, he's pouting about what he doesn't have.

This probably has more to do with my anxiety over the upcoming gimme season than anything (and a lingering feeling that homeschool is completely indulgent). But still. I pretty much read him the riot act the entire (short) drive home. And then instead of counting our "field trip" as school for the day, I gave him a list of assignments so he wouldn't be able to have any free time the rest of the day. I think it was my way of saying, "You have NO IDEA how good you have it, kid. You wanna pout? I'll give you something to pout about!"

Pretty nice, huh?

I went into the office to work while he sat at the kitchen table. He shut the door so we could work quietly but I think the real reason was so he could slip this note underneath:

"I'm sorry if I made your day a little sad. Want happy? Look on the back." (We obviously need a refresher on punctuation...) Here's the back:

I called him in and we hugged it out and talked about our feelings. Then a little later I slipped a note to him thanking him and telling him how much I loved him and making sure he knows that he can't make me sad. That when I overreact or get upset about something, that's a choice I make. It's my job to help him grow and make better choices for himself but I can't control him. I don't even want to! But I do want to do a better job controlling myself.

We promised to help each other out.

Then I let him off the hook for some of his work so he could go read in the bath ("like a grown up") and sent myself to my room to read some of my new book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. It arrived from Amazon right after we got home from the park. I'd say that's pretty much perfect timing.

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