Mistake #1: I had high hopes
Knowing that C has a tough time transitioning, and having a bit of professional experience in this area, I've been talking to him about getting his pictures taken for the past week. Hyped it up, actually. Gave him the specifics-- but apparently not enough. I prepped him-- telling him that we were going to a store where a lady would take his pictures. If he smiled (we practiced smiling because he never smiles for the camera) and was a big boy (remember, this is debatable right now) then the two of us would go out for hot chocolate and a cupcake. It was going to be so fun!! It was going to be a date! (And the problem was that I believed this. Do you remember why I think our past vacations have been fun? Because I'm expecting them to be tons of work and not tons of fun. Apparently I thrive on pessimism.)
We arrived at the studio, only to have Charlie cling to me like a scared little mouse. He hid behind me. (I've always been a little annoyed by clingy behavior, so once again, the Universe laughs at me and gives me a clingy kid.) He wouldn't let go of me. He whined, "Mommy! Mommy!" Not only was I annoyed, I was a little embarrassed. Isn't this a reflection on me? My parenting? His inability to let go of me and have me sit two feet away?
Mistake #2: I had no back up plan
Seriously, note to self: Always have a back up plan. Always. Have I not learned a thing? Why hadn't I prepared for this? Why hadn't I arrived 30 minutes earlier? Why hadn't I let him explore a bit? When things stalled (can something stall if it never starts?), why didn't I just plan to have her take photos of both of us? Why hadn't I prepared myself to just prepare for the worst and be happy with whatever came of it? Why hadn't I just been able to soak it all up? Someday, this will incident will just be a happy memory! (Oh Mason, remember the time I drove all the way to Waverly to have Charlie's photos taken and he clung to me and cried the whole time!? ...(chuckle) He just hated getting his pictures taken, poor thing! Oh, what a sweetie. He was just such a cute and sensitive little boy.) Afterall, according to the rest of the world, "they grow up too fast!"
Because here's why. I DO soak it up. I soak and soak and soak. Quite frankly, I feel saturated. I'm so present in the moment that I think you could squeeze me and I might drip out a tantrum, or half eaten popsicle, or crusty unknown substance. I know I'll miss the hugs and the attention and sticky little hands, but honestly, at that moment in time, I couldn't help but think of how glorious it sounded to have a middle schooler who wouldn't want to be in the same room with me.
Mistake #3: I un-intentionally brought this on myself.
Our appointment was at 8:30 in a town 45 minutes away. That meant another quick and busy morning. (In my defense, we were supposed to have Kindergym after the photos and on paper, it looked like it would work out perfectly.) I know it takes C a long time to warm up, yet I didn't plan enough time for him to do this. I know C hates having his picture taken, yet I scheduled a whole (expensive) activity doing the thing he hates. I know C is more likely to refuse something the more I insist upon it, yet I kept insisting he sit on his own-- out of my lap. I know I get frustrated easily when he acts like a baby, yet I didn't cope well with it (Again. Are you noticing a pattern in my behavior?), and I'm a little embarrassed about it all.
I called Mason on the way home and cried. (I'm blaming it on my hormones being off-kilter) He laughed and told me that we just won't get pictures of him until he's in school. No biggie. That only made me cry more. Why can't our kid be normal!? Oh wait, this.... the above.... it IS normal.
There are soooooo many things about C that I think are out of this world amazing. He comes up with more profound thoughts than kids twice his age. He identifies and expresses so many feelings, and with so much honesty-- sometimes admitting that he is feeling two things. (I have second grade students who don't get that concept.) He's eager to learn and is incredibly interested in the alphabet and numbers right now. He can identify half of the alphabet and can get lost in books for hours. When we lie in bed and read books, snuggling and telling stories, I have this rush of love and everything seems right as rain. It's how I imagine other moms feeling about their cherubs all the time. It's how I thought I would feel about my child all the time... before I knew the rigors of parenthood.
But those million other things about my sweet little guy just drive me nuts. He has suddenly started ignoring everything we say. He's gone from super obediant and very helpful to defiant and avoidant. While he used to cry if he was hurt or really scared, now he cries over everything. And I ....mean.... everything. He refuses to eat anything with nutritional value and then cries at night because his tummy is growling. He hates having his clothes changed, he only wants me to get him out of the bathtub, he hates his seatbelt actually touching him. The list goes on. And on. It's maddening.
But more than the irritants, I love him like crazy. He's an amazing little boy that I'm lucky enough to call my son. I seem to have the patience of Job at school, when I'm confronted with the most challenging of behaviors, yet I have the quickest fuse at home-- with tiny irritants. I don't get this. Is it because somewhere subconsciously I know that while I won't walk away from the kid who needs me at school, I always can? As in, I know they're not coming home with me. I know it won't last forever. Or is it that I'm so concerned about how C's behavior is reflecting upon me and my parenting flaws? Or is it simply that I just care so much, have so much invested, want everything to be perfect when it comes to my kid?
I'm guessing it's a combination of everything. I'm getting better at forgiving myself for being real. For being an emotional person and largely acting upon those emotions. I'm starting to realize that many of my strengths actually come from this same thing that makes me struggle. (Now isn't that a clever design, eh Universe?) And slowly, one grown up tantrum at a time, I'm realizing that while I probably didn't just traumatize my child, I probably can change one little thing for the better next time. First... let's start with making a back up plan.
|In case you missed it, here is the only shot that we got of C. It's so cute, I would have loved to see what she could have done with just an ounce of cooperation from the model!|