October 7, 2013 by Julia
This morning Jack had so much trouble waking up that he had to sit in my lap crying with a blanket over his head. (Sometimes I wish I could switch places with my two-year-old: I could cry every time I woke up, throw huge tantrums, and then sprawl face-down with my blankie for a nap. Can you imagine the catharsis?!) We were waiting for Fiona to get dressed so we could go downstairs for breakfast, and as she pulled her leggings on, she pretended to cry along with Jack, whining, “Waaah! Wa-waaahh!”
Jack yelled from beneath the blanket, “Stop!”
Fiona kept on. “Waaaaa. Waaahhhh!!”
Jack pulled the blanket off his head, stormed over to where she was sitting, and smacked her directly on top of the head. I laughed and immediately tried to cover that up with a very serious “NOOOOO, Jack!!” His anger at Fiona for mocking him still boiled over, however, so I had to restrain him. Can I just tell you, angry toddlers who don’t want to be mocked are pretty funny? As much as I don’t condone hitting under ANY circumstances, I must admit to feeling a little satisfaction that he now recognizes the subtle ways Fiona might try to get the upper hand, and he addresses that squarely on the head, so to speak. Still, NO HITTING.
Fiona insisted that she was only fake-crying along with Jack to make him laugh, though. I believed her. She’s pretty good at snapping him out of his waking crying spells, better than I am. When he wakes up crying, I cuddle him relentlessly and offer him a drink or a book or his favorite show on TV…all of the things I’d like to wake up to. He probably just needs to be shocked awake, though. Fiona acting loud and goofy to make him laugh usually does the trick.
Yesterday we went to the Renaissance Festival, which we attend every year. We all arrived with metaphorical bells on. (I only make the distinction because there were also people with literal bells on.) Fiona: “This is so great. I love this place, I want to do that ribbon on the pole thing (maypole), see the puppets, go down the big slide, etc., this is the best day ever, and we get treats!! Treats, Jack!” she exclaimed to her brother. “Playground, Jack!”
Dennis and I had a great time with our usual Renfest gang, too – most of whom now have kids of their own. Dennis got to throw axes with the men and I got to sit and watch my favorite Renaissance band while lightly buzzed on golden, delicious mead, exhorting my children to dance because I am too embarrassed to. Poor children. I was in my happy place, though. Also, the maze was a fun activity for the whole family.
But it was hot, too hot for October. I don’t know if it ever got this hot during the Renaissance, but it certainly doesn’t jive with the Medieval Nostalgia vibe. So, due to heat and over-stimulation, Fiona got a little…whiny.
I was having a wonderful time – as was the rest of my family, I believe. But suddenly it all went tumbling over a precipice, as our days are wont to do. (The key is to forget the falling into a deep pit of despair and/or blinding rage part, or turn it into a joke, and then remember that just a short hour or two ago this was the best day ever.)
We had been meeting children’s demands left and right, and finally it was time to go; we had to whip out the map to figure out which direction to walk. While trying to make sense of the map, Fiona kept yelling at us, “I want to GO. Why aren’t we GOING yet?!” until finally I said, “FIONA! You need to SHUT …(deep breath)…your mouth RIGHT NOW.” She stared at me with wide eyes, shocked that I’d come this close to telling her to shut up. I might as well have said shut up, though, and I was so mad in the moment I didn’t even regret it. As we walked to the exit, she said, in a tone implying both shame and resentment, “Mommy, you said a bad word.” I said, “Yes, I know I did, and I’m sorry about that, but YOU NEED TO BE MORE PATIENT.” And we talked about it, and admitted to wrongdoing on both sides, and I think we avoided emotional scarring, but the moment has stuck with me, and maybe her, too.
And then today in Panera Bread, Jack was basically running circles around our table, or screaming into my hand, or leaning full force away from me while I gripped his arm and tried to eat with my other hand. Meanwhile, the two little girls at our table would turn around slightly in their chairs and their moms (my friends) would say, “Please sit facing the table,” or some such thing and their girls would comply. They would comply! I’ve given up on manners for the time being. Also, eating. My goal with Jack in restaurants is simple: keep him quiet. I can force him to sit in his chair and we can all listen to the screams and then I have to leave, food untouched. Or I can let him be the bad kid bouncing off the walls, but smiling. I figure as long as he’s not literally in anyone’s face, or hurting himself or others, it’s the better option.
At one point he was making eyes at an elderly couple sitting nearby, and the woman told him to come over and give her a high-five. I jokingly said, “Don’t encourage him!” She put her hand over her mouth, stricken, and said, “Excuse me.”
“Oh, no!” I exclaimed. “I was just kidding! He loves high-fives!”
On Saturday while looking at a picture of Jack with my Grandma, I told her that his impish grin reminds me of Grandpa, who we lost in 2007. She and my mom declared that I was absolutely right; we smiled and looked at the picture together, marveling at the way Grandpa’s good looks and rascally charm have been passed down to his great-grandson, as if by magic.
Every little thing is gonna be alright.