Labels: Family LIfe
Ava joined me in the bathroom this morning, as I was getting ready for the day. To entertain her, I sang "So This is Love" from the ballroom scene in Cinderella.
Ava:"And after they danced, Cinderella ran away from the prince and never came back!"
Me: "But he found her, right? He found her because he loved her, right?"
Ava: (with stars in her eyes) "Yeah..."
Me: "Did you know that Jesus finds us if WE run away from Him? Because we're His princesses and He loves us, too."
Ava: *big grin* "I wanna play hide and seek with Jesus!"
I didn't try to explain to her three year old cuteness that that notion would never work...
a week of NO schedule (except my own)
Way better than chocolate!
Labels: Goodwill finds
Now, after crying a while and talking to Marvin, I feel incredibly guilty. Because, honestly, what this all boils down to is selfishness. Sure, Benji wants to hold on to me, but so what? He's still there, experiencing music and participating. I just don't like it. I don't want to be a security blanket. I want to take my other kids out in the hall (or in the lovely seating area on the second floor) and read books to them or chat with the other mommies while they play quietly.
I don't want to be the center of attention, the plus-size momma that sticks out like a coffee stain on a white shirt, with all my kids clinging onto me. I don't like the looks of judgement that I see, and the way it makes me look like I'm a bad parent or one who easily gives in and lets the kids walk all over me. I'm the one who is uncomfortable here, not my kids.
Sure, Benji cried a little at Awana, but for the most part, he had a good time and benefited from it. I just don't like the inconvenience of entertaining a three year old while I"m on a 2 foot leash attached to my 6 year old. And yeah, Benji wanted me to be touching him while I sat behind him at choir, but when the teacher handed him the drum to repeat a rhythm, he did it perfectly with a huge grin on his face. I just didn't like the awkwardness and claustrophobia that came with it.
Being a good parent involves dying to self on a minute-by-minute basis. BUT it also involves knowing where your limits are and saying no when saying yes means an unhealthy level of stress. So, where's the line? How do I find a balance between being unselfish, a bit uncomfortable and nurturing a shy child, and ratcheting up my stress level to a point that I'm completely unable to function.
I don't know. I simply don't know.
Marvin and I decided to "force" our boys to take choir as the music portion of school. By "force" I litterally mean FORCE. If they had their 'druthers, they'd never leave the house. They'd have all their play dates here, they'd never play outside, they'd only shop online (Ha!), etc. Yes, I did say "they'd never play outside"! What? Yeah, I know, they're boys...not sure what happened there...
Anyways, amidst the moaning and tears, I shoved them into the van this afternoon. I was prepared to quietly entertain Ava while I (and Ava) sat beside Benji on the risers for 30 min. as he (hopefully) listened and followed instructions. I was then prepared to quietly entertain Ava and Benji in another room while Alec, the braver of the two boys, (hopefully) listened and followed instructions for 50 min.
I was also prepared to park a block or so away and walk to the building with three kids, three bulky winter coats, two backpacks and my bag and water bottle. Oh, and prepared to pay $50 for the privilege of experiencing this once a week for several months!
So we get there and the building is like something out of one of my claustrophobia nightmares. A maze of unmarked hallways were constipated with parents, kids and all of their bulky coats and bags. Not to mention that we're supposed to be quiet so as not to compromise our working relationship with the college who is graciously letting us rent the space for our humble little homeschool choir!
By this point, Benji's eyes were filled with tears and he had a death grip on my hand, Ava was running away, and Alec was frozen wide-eyed like a scared prairie dog. I convinced Alec to sit at the other end of the room and read, and made my way up to the very front, apologizing profusely to the very gracious choir teacher, and sat down behind Benji with Ava beside me.
I spent the next 30 min trying as inconspicuously as possible to keep Ava quiet while I remained in constant physical contact with Benji so that he wouldn't turn around in a panic, thinking that I had somehow mysteriously vaporized from the seat behind him.
I spent the 10 minute break afterward wading through the constipated hallways again to the postage-stamp sized bathroom and then back to the choir room to get Alec situated for his session. When we got to the bathroom, Ava relieved herself and then threw a tantrum when I insisted on closing the door while I relieved myself. She must have missed those 5 emails about being quiet.
The next 50 min. were spent sitting in a minorly larger area of the hallway, talking with a couple other moms and pooling our efforts to again keep naturally loud children quiet.
After one final trip through my favorite hallway, we found our way out of the building. Ava refused to hold my hand, and hurtled herself VERY LOUDLY through the lobby, out the doors and towards the icy concrete steps. The picture of her bloody lip from an accident yesterday still fresh in my mind, I clamped my hand around her wrist and hauled her down the stairs while she protested.
We're home now and the leftovers that I thought would feed the five of us for dinner barely fed the three kids.
I try to be brave and prepared for anything when I take my kids to this stuff. But...Benji is painfully shy. I was as a kid and know how he feels. Ava is three and fiercely independent. Alec is a little shy, but has three years of public school under his belt, so he knows the drill.
When we get to the class or whatever it is, no matter how much I've psyched myself up, no matter how much stuff I've brought to keep Ava in one place, no matter how many times I've told Benji that I'm not leaving him, I'm never really prepared.
I always end up feeling really angry and frustrated with Benji. He follows EVERY STEP I take, and has to have constant eye contact or feel me beside him or the tears start to fall. Ava, on the other hand, wants her own seat, her own books, to have privacy in the bathroom (even though she routinely falls into the toilet).
So taking the kids to an activity other than a playdate is a total disaster. We've taken them to Awana for four weeks and stayed for the 2 1/2 hours so that Benji would hopefully feel comfortable enough to even just participate, let alone stay without us. Is it working? NO. I feel like giving up on everything and just keeping the kids in the house with me like they want for another year.
I know it's good for them to experience a wide variety of activities, participate in organized things lead by someone other than me, to meet new people, etc. But at what cost? Right now it doesn't seem worth it.
(I hear that there is a lovely seating area on the second floor of the building where choir is, for parents of "normal" kids...Maybe one day I'll get to see it, or maybe sit there and read a book!)
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