06 May 2008

Notes on Parenting

Tonight, my friend called and asked how things were going with the kids. While this was one of the first undisturbed phone conversations I've ever had with anyone (you know this all too well - your family ignores you for hours on end and as soon as the phone rings and you're conversing with someone everyone suddenly desperately needs to talk to you or you become more popular than ever imagined), it wasn't quite private and I couldn't get into all of the trials and tribulations of being a Mom to Bella and Bubaloo.

Wifey is away on business. That means I'm solo parenting. She's been travelling a lot in the past few months and now I'm beginning to dread her departures because all of the intense emotions come out to play when she leaves town. It's like how the wheels on your shopping cart freeze and you get thrown backward with quite some force just as you're trying to push the cart ahead. Totally unexpected. Throws you off. And, it takes a bit of time to figure out what is wrong.

Bubaloo's has some significant meltdowns which after hours of negotiation and talking can be boiled down to one single, heart-wrenching question - "Why couldn't my birth mom get the money to keep me?"

He knows that Wifey and I both have jobs, and it seems quite easy, he just doesn't understand why if a person we claims loves him so much wasn't able to do such a simple thing as getting a job that paid enough money so he could have a warm place to sleep at night and food other than cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. Actually, given that he doesn't quite grasp accountability and responsibility, he doesn't really get why there wasn't a job that paid enough ready and waiting for his birth mom to fill, but that's a whole different issue.

Poverty and addiction are complex issues. Putting them into 10-year-old speak, what to say and not to say, isn't really the part of parenting I enjoy.

Bella's spending a lot of time not acknowledging how she really feels that her classmates don't like her. Given some of her well developed control issues, a penchant for being bossy and a love of tattle telling, it's not surprising that peer relationships aren't quite her forte.

While her brother was in meltdown mode in his bedroom, she sat at the dinner table and denied that it had any impact on her. When we finally got to the point where she could admit that it hurt, why she liked to be overly bossy and tattle tell, and perhaps other ways that could make her a better friend, we got somewhere. She spent some tearful time on my lap.

I'd been home from work for less than an hour, had somehow managed to get a meal on the table, and had yet to recover from my day at work before I have to be a full on solo parent.

These were the things I didn't get to tell my friend today.

Instead, what I got to tell her about was the 'why questions' I used to ask my children to understand, and why I've given up on asking why. I no longer ask why because I never get an answer that makes any rational sense.

The responses I get to 'why questions' don't make sense to me. It surely doesn't make sense to me as it's getting explained in the present moment. I'm not even sure it made sense at the time. But someone, at some time, must of thought it made sense because they chose to do it anyway.

I'd like to ask why, but I know better not to, how the new coffee table that's part of the backyard furniture set got caked with mud and dirt. All of the furniture is under a covered patio, so I know it didn't fall from the sky. The coffee table itself is a good 5-7 feet from the garden, and it's behind a low rock wall, so I know the wind didn't pick up some loose dirt and drop it on the table. I don't really know what kind of art one would do with mud that would involve it being caked and pressed into the wicker. I'm not sure what kind of experiment could be conducted with mud that would explode and cover a table with mud.

I'd like to ask why. But I know better not to.

I'd also like to ask why if one were to do something that would so obviously not be okay, why one wouldn't be industrious enough to try to cover their tracks - at least a little bit - in the first place. Does anyone really think I'm going to question the WHO in this situation?

I'd like to ask why, but I know better not to, what one thought would happen when slime thrown 10ft into the air hit the ceiling? What about experimenting with something easy to reach like the floor or the walls, or better yet, what about OUTSIDE on the driveway (wait, I know why outside wouldn't be good - the slime would get dirty). I'd like to know who thought mass producing slime in a can to market to children was a good idea in the first place. I'd like to know which parent (ahem, it wasn't me) bought the slime into the house to begin with. And, I'd like to know how the slime got out of the garbage can when the parent who neither brought it into the house nor wanted it in the house disposed of the toxic green goo.

I'd like to ask why. And, I'd like a better answer than, "I wanted to see what would happen." I'd also like someone to haul the ladder out of the garage, climb up it, wipe the slime off of the ceiling and then repaint it when it stains like I'm sure it has.

I was really getting into all of the wonders of the kid-brain when I was forced to end my phone conversation prematurely. I couldn't hear her over the barking dog who was sitting at the side door whining to go out. He was letting the whole house know that he had to pee.

Which led to my newest discovery that I'm the only person in my family who knows how to open a door.

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