Growing Up in the Right Direction

Jun 29, 2010

This past weekend our family went to visit my inlaws, who live down near the Gulf of Mexico. It was a fun trip, full of time at the beach, the pool and playing with squirt guns in the backyard. Unfortunately, though, the visit was not full of sleeping or napping - for the kids or me. As with most children, I imagine, unfamiliar environments seem to tamper with their sleep schedules - and they seem to tamper with mine.

By the time we got in the car on Sunday afternoon, to head home, I was exhausted. We timed the ride with the kids’ nap schedule, hoping for a quiet and peaceful ride home.

That, of course, did not happen.

I will spare you all the gory details. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of screaming and arguing and fighting and throwing things and people being whacked with pillows and shoes being thrown at each other’s heads. At one point, the noise level was so loud that when Rob put on the radio, I immediately turned it off.

“What are you doing?” he asked. I usually love the radio in the car.
“I can’t take it,” I told him. “I can either listen to the radio or I can try to deal with their screaming, but I just can’t handle both.”

When we were eventually forced to pull onto a dirt road, so Rob could get out of the car and discipline all three kids, I, right away, opened my door, hopped out and began to walk down the hot, dusty road – away from our car. I just couldn’t stand it any longer. The noise was about to make my head explode.

When I finally rejoined my family, armed with the intent to calmly get through the rest of the ride, our two-year-old took the top off his drink cup and poured the remainder onto our (new) portable DVD player – frying it.

That was it for me. I was done.

I couldn’t help but wonder, “What kind of kids am I raising? They are nuts. Crazy. Out of control. Clearly, I am doing something wrong here. How am I going to survive the next 16 or so years?”

We eventually made it home. Because of the DVD debacle, my 7-year-old daughter, Jordan, hadn’t had the chance to watch the original Karate Kid movie which I had rented for her. I told her, as soon as we walked in the door, to go up to my bed and I would put the movie on the TV in our room. She could go to bed once it was over.

“When do you need to take it back?” she asked me.

“Both movies I rented need to be back by 9 PM,”I said. “I’ll take them back when you’re done.”

The evening progressed. She watched the movie and I fed all the kids and got the boys in bed. By 8 o’clock, everyone was asleep except for Jordan (and including my husband). I told her to hurry and get into her pj’s. She asked if she could fall asleep in my bed and stay there until I went to sleep and I said that would be fine.

As I kissed her good-night, I told her that I was going across the street to “Ms. Angela’s house.” My neighbor, Angela, and I have a standing Sunday night date. We always watch Desperate Housewives or Brothers and Sisters or Army Wives together and catch up on each other’s weeks.

“What time will you be back?” she asked.

“In about an hour and a half,” I told her and reminded her to stay in bed.

I went over to Angela’s, collapsed into her chair and began to tell her the tale of our weekend insanity. About 10 minutes after I got there, though, her cell phone rang.

She looked at it with a quizzical expression.

“Your house is calling me,” she said and handed me the phone.

“Hello?” I said, answering it.

“Mommy,” a little voice replied. “Did you return the movies? Cause, they’re due at 9 o’clock and it’s 8:32.”

“Oh!” I said. “No, Jordan, you’re right. I totally forgot. I’ll be right home.”

I hung up the phone and told Angela I’d be back.

I went home and Jordan was waiting for me in the kitchen. She had not only remembered that the movies needed to be returned, but had the wherewithal to locate Angela’s phone number on the inside of our kitchen cabinet door (where I keep all important numbers) and dial it.

I gave her a big hug, as I grabbed the movies, told her to go back to bed and ran out the door.

The movies were returned just in the knick of time!

On the drive home, I thought about how proud I am of Jordan. Earlier that day, I had been at my rope’s end, convinced I was utterly failing as a mom. The kids were driving me crazy. They were out of control. They were whiney.

And then, out of the blue, Jordan did something small, yet so mature, reinforcing in me that under all of the screaming and moaning and groaning (both mine and the kids’), these children may actually be learning something. They may actually grow up to be responsible, contributing members of society.

Ultimately – dare I say it aloud – they may not drive me completely out of my mind.

At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

If I’m mistaken, please don’t take my joy by telling me so.

A girl needs to have her dreams.

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