Alrighty, how was your weekend? Did you enjoy it? Was it fun? Restful? Did it rejuvenate you and prepare you for the long week ahead? Ya? Did it? That is so nice.
If ever I was in need of a parenting/survival guide, yesterday was it. And that's really saying something considering I'm a single parent who is required to randomly answer questions like, "Why do you and Daddy fight all the time?" or "Why can't you and Daddy live together like other Mommies and Daddies?" Those I can always dig deep down and find an answer that is truthful yet not too disturbing for a 5 almost 6 year old to understand. I've resigned myself to the fact that he'll need therapy when he's older anyways, so whatever damage my *intuition* my cause, I'm hopeful there will be a cure for it later on.
And if I had done a fabulous job parenting up until yesterday, I royally screwed it all up - while in a water park of all places.
Of course, I didn't plan to scar my child, but then does anyone ever really plan to do it? I really just needed a how-to manual that I could flip open to page 145 and find out how to best deal with the situation. I needed an 'ask the audience' button or 'call a friend' or maybe even just a time out to gather my thoughts and then deal.
Okay, so we decided to go to the water slides yesterday - Q, my brother, his girlfriend and me. I even gave Q a choice...beach or water park? Enthusiastically, he responded "Water slides, water slides...I wanna go to the water slides..."
So, not much of a question, right? It sounded pretty convincing to me. We went last year and he was a little cautious at first, but this is Q. He's always cautious. He's an almost 6 year old who thinks that motorcycles are dangerous, tattoos are painful and my hands should always be at 10 and 2 when I'm driving. There is no dancing with both hands while steering with my knees in our car...that's just...well...dangerous. Not to mention speeding. If Q knew he could make a citizen's arrest when the speedometer goes over the posted maximum, he would have put me in jail like 20 times...last week alone.
We drive the hour and a half to the water slides, we pay the $100 for the four of us - just to get in. We pay an additional $10 to rent a locker so we aren't robbed of the remaining pennies we have left. We find a life jacket that fits Q all snug and comfy like. We begin to walk up the ramp to the first water slide, and Q freaks out. FREAKS out. So we stop. He refuses to go on the water slides. Refuses. ANY of them.
We tried reasoning. We showed him how shallow the water was, how kids smaller than him were going down them, how he was with three adults who knew how to swim, how he was wearing a LIFE jacket.
We tried common sense. Has Mommy ever put you in a position that would put you in danger? No. Would I make you do something if I thought you were going to die? No.
He wouldn't budge.
I tried the guilt trip.
Ugh. I still feel horrible. Horrible. My only defense is that I was disappointed. If he didn't go on any of the slides, that meant that my day would be spent following him around all the baby slides. It meant that I just forked over $50 for the two of us to watch everyone else have fun.
It reminded me of when I was a kid and we went to Disneyland for the day. My dad, for reasons that are known only to him, decided to make the whole day difficult for everyone. "We're not waiting in that line up. That's ridiculous" and "I'll just wait here. You go on the ride, you don't need me" or my personal favourite, "No, we are not staying for the parade and fireworks. I don't care if they're free. We've been here long enough already."
I felt like that kid again. The kid who got the bum end of the deal. Here, let's take you to a super fun place...like just the most fun place on earth...so you can be miserable.
I took it out on Q, just a little.
We went and sat on the grass for a while. Q sat there, totally unassuming, eating grapes, totally not understanding the complete angst and fire welling up within me.
I couldn't really punish him for being fearful. I mean, c'mon this is me we're talking about...only the most fearful person on the face of the planet. I couldn't punish that when I understand it, when I live it practically every day.
And so I took a deep breath and thought...
What would my mom have done when I was little if we were in the same situation?
I had my answer.
"Q, where would you like to go? To the pirate ship or back to the kid slides?"
He looked at me.
"Can I go back to the little slides? Not the big ones?"
"Is that what you'd like to do?"
"Alright. That's what we'll do then."
I cannot even remember the number of times my mother sacrificed something for me and my brother. From going without things, to saving $10 from her weekly 'grocery' allowance for our family vacation, to wearing the same pair of winter boots for like 5 years so I could have a frilly Christmas dress to wear to church on Christmas Eve.
She did that for 18 years. There was never a guilt trip. There was never a punishment. There was only a smile, a kiss and a hug.
Once I decided that I would do the same thing, the whole day changed for me. I watched while Q went on the kiddie slides a tra-billion times. I watched while he splashed in the water park. I watched and I smiled. At one point he says, "Mommy. I'm really having fun!"
"Mmhmmm," I answered.
"Didn't you say when I have fun, you have fun?"
"Ya, let's go with that..."
I felt his hand inside mine. It still tears me up inside.
Hopefully, when he's 30, he'll remember how much fun he had at the water slides and not how Mommy made a complete ass of herself because she didn't get her way. And if not, then maybe I'll spring for a therapy session or two.
I apologised to my brother and his girlfriend too. Nothing like having a spoil sport along to ruin the day. They even volunteered to watch Q so I could go down a few slides, but I was already in martyrdom-ville.
Quite honestly, I still feel like shit.
What would you have done? Taken him kicking and screaming up 40 thousand stairs, wait in a line up for 20 minutes and force him to *have fun*? Would you have left on the spot in an if-I-can't-have-fun-neither-can-you revolt? Would you have smiled and said, "Whatever you wish, dear"? Or would you have handled it completely differently?
And if so, then where the hell were you yesterday? Lotta good it does me now...