No One’s Ruining My Day
Authors note: This column was originally intended be about all things “green” from learning to be more environmentally friendly to my naiveté as a parent. As knowledgeable as I think I am about parenting (from my former days as a psychotherapist and now mom of three) there are always those days when I realize just how green I still am. The following column describes one of them.
“Get out of bed you rotten kids you’re ruining my Christmas!”
Those words were spoken more than two decades ago by my mother to her two teenage daughters who, like many teens, decided to lay nestled in their beds a little longer than she would have liked one Christmas morning. Grunting and groaning, begging for “one more minute please” Tiffany and I reluctantly crawled out of bed to begin the present-opening. And as usual we ended up having a wonderful family Christmas.
My sister and I still tease our mom about the rude holiday awakening we received that year, but Sunday I found myself on the verge of yelling very similar words from the bottom of the stairs to my pre-teen 11-year-olds; just a glimpse of things to come. …
Fall has been, to say the least, chaotic. From the slow-paced, unscheduled days of summer, our family of five leapt and bounded into September with force. School, drum and guitar lessons, sports practices and games were just a few of the myriad activities that engulfed the minutes of each day, leaving little time to breathe let alone connect as a family.
I felt as if my marriage had been reduced to the occasional flirtation via text or e-mail (in between the one’s that described when and who we had to shuffle where, and what needed to be picked up at the grocery store). And physical intimacy, well that consisted merely of the high-fives we gave each other as we passed each other on the way in or out of the house.
As for the kids … As involved as I thought I was as a parent the family was so busy that I missed the fact that my son’s medication dose for ADHD had long-since stopped working because I never saw him. My husband was usually responsible for getting him where he had to be so I didn’t notice the change in his behavior until my husband went away for a few days and I was carting him all over creation by myself. Poor kid. I also had no idea who the friends were in Shea’s class that he was talking about let alone the kid whose birthday he was invited to and McKenna, well my lack of attention to detail had me missing the fact that for the entire soccer season she (and most of her teammates) had been triple folding the waistbands of their shorts so that there butt cheeks were almost hanging out. What? I guess short-shorts are back in style, but that short. Really? I probably would have noticed what had been going on if I had stopped to breathe even once in the last two months.
So, I decided to do something about it…
My husband always says we better take advantage of time with our kids now while they still want to hang out with us (and I’ve already noticed that that isn’t always true). So with no games or practices or birthday parties or articles to write, the McIlquham’s were going to have a Surprise Sunday filled with fun activities and nothing but family — and I couldn’t wait!
But wait … and wait … and wait I did Sunday morning when my twins, who usually sleep until 8 maybe 9 a.m. at the latest on the weekends decided to sleep until 10 a.m. (McKenna) and — my mom will never believe this — 11 a.m. (Max). Each time I trekked up the stairs to see if they were awake I had visions of mom echoing in my head. Those rotten kids were ruining my special day. Didn’t they know I had plans? Didn’t they know how much fun they were missing? Didn’t they care? At the time — no they did not!
But I did. Enough to march upstairs and gently nudge (well maybe I poked a little) Max to get him to wake up. And when I did what did I say? Nope, I resisted. The day wasn’t over yet, and I’d be damned if I was going to let an 11-year-old ruin the spirit of the day. Instead I said, “Max, honey, you need to wake up or we are leaving for Surprise Sunday without you.” And when that didn’t work, I told him we were going to breakfast at his favorite breakfast joint in town and thankfully, his big appetite and growling stomach were enough to get him moving.
The rest of the day was jam-packed full with the family fun I had hoped. The kids, Mark and I chatted during breakfast and reminisced in the pumpkin patch about our visits there when the kids were toddlers. We marveled at the views as our car made its way to the Mount Greylock summit and then we took the rare family photo when we got there. Then we caught a family play (School House Rock Live!) at Mill City Productions in North Adams, bought Shea’s Halloween costume, made a quick stop at the grocery store for some special treats and then headed home for a family dinner and movie night. A little overkill, maybe, but it was worth it.
As I made my way up the stairs that night to tuck my kids into bed there were no thoughts of that rottenness from the morning (well early afternoon) and they definitely hadn’t ruined one bit of my day. And when as I gave McKenna a hug and kiss she told me what a great day she had and how she couldn’t wait to do it again, I knew that this green parent had learned another treasured lesson in parenting … or two:
- Despite the grunting, groaning, oversleeping, seemingly disinterested in their parents, preteens that occupy our house our kids still like hanging out with us, and we enjoy hanging out with them;
- Although schedules get busy, there is never an excuse for becoming disconnected as a family. Be it family dinners, game nights, movies or a few minutes at bedtime, there is always time in the day for families to talk and bond; and
- I am becoming more and more like my mother everyday, and even though I resisted the urge to repeat a familiar phrase from Christmas past this time, I am sure that some Christmas (or Surprise Sunday) morning my zonked-out children will awake to the phrase: “You rotten kids, you’re ruining (insert occasion here)!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. Her new blog “Green Mama” chronicles her journey as a “green” parent in every sense of the word — from her parenting naiveté to living greener. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. firstname.lastname@example.org