The day after…

We were so lucky.

Sandy swept through, but we never lost power, our basement didn’t flood, and our roof remained almost completely intact (little leak into our bathroom).

So, today, we faced a day of drizzle, and two bored boys. So, we invited a friend of S’s over to play.

This strategy to survive the day had its pluses and minuses.

S has been a guest at other kids’ homes quite a bit, and the kids that he has hosted for play dates at our house are kids who have been here a lot with their parents, and they feel at home. This friend was someone he knows from school, but hasn’t played with too often outside of school. And it really highlighted his lack of comfort at playing the role of host!

It took him several minutes to even welcome his friend when he arrived! For some odd reason, he was playing shy, and had gone out on our back deck when the boy, L, got here. I finally insisted that he come in and say hello, and he came in the house, but just kept a goofy grin on his face, and wouldn’t say a word to L. When I eventually got him to say hello, things got a little better, and they started playing nicely. A game of Sorry was played, followed by another board game, and then I suggested that we go out and play in the playground, just to get us all outside.

Boots were located that fit L, and we all got ready, but we severely underestimated how cold it was!! The two old boys went ahead, with a basketball, to get to the playground and shoot some hoops. I trailed behind with J, who was enjoying splashing in the water in the gutter. W made very slow progress, but he was happy.

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He and I had just made it within sight of the entrance to the school where the playground is when we saw S and L returning. “We’re too cold; we want to go home”, they said.

J wanted to go to the playground, so I sent the older boys home, where daddy would get them warm and dry. But as they started walking back, J realized that he was cold, also, and he didn’t want to go to the playground. And, he didn’t want to walk home. We were stuck.

“Why didn’t we bring the car?”, he wailed. (Because we were out for a walk, I thought).

“I’m too cold to walk!”, he sobbed. (If you would walk instead of cry, we’d be home by now).

And he cried all the way home, loudly. Even on our doorstep, he was still crying. Sigh.

It probably had something to do with needing to eat. We’ve discovered, recently, that these meltdowns are often tied to no breakfast, or a long time since last meal, and feeding him often restores his equanimity.

But, this aversion to walking seems to have rooted itself in his core, and I’m finding myself getting increasingly frustrated by it. I love to walk. His brother has walked, uncomplaining, for long distances, since day one of his life with us. But J seems to hate to walk.

I’m reading a memoir called Behind the Woodpile, by Emily Rosenbaum, which describes, in sometimes painful revelations, the pain of growing up in an abusive home, and seeing the echos of that abuse in her own parenting. The book was made available to me via From Left To Write an online book club that I’ve recently joined. As I’ve been reading, I’ve felt a bit self-congratulatory that I think I have been pretty self-aware as a parent. I have tried consciously to avoid inflicting the anxieties and weaknesses of my own parents when raising me. I also feel I have an advantage in that I have one child who has made it successfully to adulthood (she’s over 30!), and I have that experience to refer back to now that we’re raising two more. Yes, boys are different, and siblings are different from an only child, but I think I have acquired a certain confidence about what a parent does and doesn’t have control over that frees me of some of the pressures that I see among some of the parent-peers that now surround me (who tend to be at least 10 years younger than I – in stark contrast to the first time around, when all the other parents were 10+ years older than I).

But, on this painful walk home, which seemed to take an eternity, I felt my temper rising, and I experienced that angst that hits all parents: “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get this child to walk on his own? For that matter, why does this child have to climb into our bed EVERY night? As we spoiling him? Are we not being firm enough?”

I’m sure he’ll start walking distances without complaining.

I’m sure he will start sleeping through the night in his own bed.

And feeding him did help!

And, my sincerest prayers for restoration of electricity, and homes, and roads, and normal life to all who were impacted more than we were by Hurricane Sandy

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