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Like Too Many Toys

August 12, 2010

So did you ever hear a child-of any age-say they’re bored. “I’m borrrrrred.” Yet their bedroom, the family room, the garage are overfilled with toys, dolls, cars & trucks, & tractors, dinosaurs, Diego figures & vehicles,  paints, crayons, Lego’s, bikes, scooters. You get the idea. You as a rational adult think, “Wha?! Bored?!?! Does Toys-R-Us even have anything left on the shelves?!”

And that’s the problem. Too many things. Too much. So very much. Sensory overload. And what happens when a circuit gets overloaded? Yeppers. It shuts down. It seems to be the same with a child (or with me as this introduction is supposed to artfully lead). Instead of being full of life and boundless energy and limitless curiosity and blessed imagination, the overwhelmed child is bored. The child has nothing to do. He doesn’t like any of his stupid toys. When you give him some options of some activities he might pursue, he sighs and wants to watch tv.

So I have had so much going on for, well for over four years, but I don’t feel like typing that much tonight and I’m not sure if WordPress has a policy on that level of profanity. Let’s just start this l’il chapter by saying that I’ve had so much going on since June, that I have become that child surrounded by obscene overabundance that all I want to do is surf the internet. And maybe make a hair wrap out of a scrap of fabric because: 1) my hair isn’t straight or wavy, just a little puffy; 2) I don’t style my hair on a daily basis; 3) I’m sick of putting my bad hair under a baseball cap; 4) I lugged my sewing machine with me to my in-laws’ since I’d surely have puh-lenty of time to do a coupla projects. (Excuse me for a second. I’m laughing so hard I have to just wipe my eyes.)

To be accurate it’s not quite that I am so extraordinarily busy as I have so many diverse things that require  my attention…at the same time. Constantly. Timing dinner in the oven to allow me enough time to shower and shave at least one leg…with two kids in the tub with me. Working out what our financial obligation to the hospital really is versus what the insurance papers seem to suggest. Finding a pediatric dentist that accepts the dental insurance we have for the kids. Getting to the bottom of Jamison’s behavior issues–is it on the sensory processing disorder spectrum, is it a food allergy or is it just him? Finding my way to some type of work, some type of schedule while providing child care 24/7 and trying to cope with my husband’s depression/physical issues/”medication” issues. Struggling with wanting to homeschool until my kids are in 3rd grade vs. seeing if maybe they’d be okay in Montessori. Driving 2 1/2 hours to my parents’ on Friday afternoons after preparing Ray’s dinners for three nights, so they can watch the kids while I work on Sat 1 1/2 hours away, so I can drive back to their house Sat night, sleep over & drive back to my in-laws’ Sunday night, so I can see the sink full of dirty dishes that couldn’t quite make it to the dishwasher, and the empty cream container in the garbage so there will only be skim milk for coffee in the morning because someone couldn’t call me to ask me to stop for creamer & bread. And start by 7 a.m. Monday being the loving nurturer that I want to be. So I can make breakfast, play trucks & clean the kitchen…and drink coffee with skim milk and not make French Toast because there’s no bread.

And all I want to do is surf the web and maybe leaf through magazines.

And finally post some pics I took recently! (Was there even a segue there?) On Thursday we went to Busch Gardens with new friends who live across the street! Jess and Joe’s son is 3 1/2 years old and is a perfect match for my two boys! It was a full, exhausting, fun day!

Friday we went to Sun & Fun with some friends–a great water park here. The thing is it’s kind of big. One of the pools is way over Jamison’s head & he wanted to stay in that pool with his friend while I had Curtis way on the other end of the pool area in the toddler spray park. Jamison can swim pretty well, but still! My girlfriend did keep her eye on both the boys, but during that whole day I did not take one photo! The one I would have taken, sadly, would have been the one of my sweet boy fighting back tears after his friend hurt his feelings. I’m getting better at quietly, gently giving him a safe space to tell me what’s upsetting him and he’s getting better at trusting me. He has always been so very very tender. I would rather take all his pain 100 times when I see that little chin tremble. I want to remember how gently and tender he is on the inside, especially when on the outside he acts hard and mean.

My parents drove here Sat morning to watch the kids while I was at work. I…um…meant to take some photos of the massage room I work in, but I forgot. I did however take two photos of my fave whole foods store with my cell phone! It’s up in my neighborhood, so I pass it as I travel to & from work–even if the to & from is all the way down here!

The boys & I slept so soundly Sat night! It felt wonderful. So wonderful that Curtis wanted to get up at 5:53 a.m. to eat cereal. And stay up. We rocked in the chair in the living room and watched the tv screen. I had the volume muted, so we got mesmerized by various colorful animated characters.

Monday afternoon was all about the beach with Jess & her son. So much fun, so much sand everywhere, and out first (!!) thunder & lightning storm at the beach. Thunder and rain at the beach are fine, but lightning?! No ma’am! We ALL take that very seriously. It sure was awesome to see the black storm clouds rolling in from the horizon of the open Gulf waters. Too bad I didn’t take any pictures!

Tuesday was a blur. Library, Books A Million to play Thomas the Train, Jess & her son walked over & we played. Just a LOT of activity…with no pics to show for it. Sigh…

And this afternoon was such a good time! The boys & I went to our favorite playground because it had rained off & on all day and it was mostly overcast=cool playground equipment. The thing is it started pouring (no lightning) almost as soon as we got there. Honestly, I totally do not mind playing in the rain & I think it’s good for the kids to see cheerful flexibility and being cool with situations whenever they can. Somehow Jamison & I decided to sit in adjacent slides–pretty long and curvy (we mostly play at the 6-12 year old section because it’s the most fun)–AND RACE! O-M-G!!! We went so fast I truly screamed!! Then we flew at least six feet beyond the end of the slide and slammed down on the mulch! I made myself do it four or five more times, but I honestly got banged up!!! My right elbow will sport a huge dark bruise & I WILL need to see my chiropractor to adjust my sacrum! I can feel it pulling all the way up to my neck! (It was fun, though!) Then we went down a shorter slower slide (with my sneakers pushed against the sides) so Curtis could sit on my lap & have a little ride. By then the rain had stopped and the frogs had started! So…we looked for frogs. I swear they were teasing us jumping into the little ponds only when we were standing right next to them so that we could have grabbed them if we had seem them…before they jumped! Curtis did not want to leave until we hiked the nature trail. Good thing we did because we got to see our red-shouldered hawk!! Jamison thinks it’s a peregrine falcon & Curtis thinks it’s an owl. I can’t convince them that I’m right in this one isolated instance. Hope that description was great…because I took zippo photos. And that brings me to today.

(Pause. Begin the “real post.”)

I had to soothe Curtis back to sleep a moment ago. The boys are sleeping in the same bed here (and I’ll admit it, with me, too). As he fell asleep I just lied there and looked at my children, my babies. Their small smooth bodies.  Curtis still so plump like a baby, Jamison without a jam top, peeled shoulders from a little sunburn, so much leaner than Curtis. Once that baby chunk is gone they never quite get that look back, do they? Jamison still has baby eyes. Bright, wide, full of wonder and energy. They squint and truly twinkle when he smiles. I wish, I really do, that they could be my world. I wish that I wasn’t weighed down with what the lawyer tells me is an eventual bankruptcy. I wish my joy wasn’t smothered like with a heavy felt blanket. I wish I didn’t hate being home. I laugh a little using that word. Let me rephrase. I wish I didn’t hate being at home. (I don’t feel like we have a home. We live someplace.) When the boys and I leave to go somewhere–anywhere–I feel fresh air fill my lungs and lift my spirit. I am filled with appreciation for having children to tote around. A lot of my worries fade. (Then I wonder what I’m going to do when my minivan with 150+K miles dies & I fret again. And resent again. Until one of the boys sees a mixer truck or a vulture. Smiles again.)

I just had to soothe Jamison back to sleep. So sometimes I really do wish they could wake up, roll over & just go back to sleep! “Just close your eyes, and go back to sleep. I’m not gone. I’m just in the living room on the computer. You know that, so just go back to sleep without needing me to come in e-v-e-r-y time and soothe you to sleep, guys. ‘K?” Am I really that selfish?

So…when is it wiser in the long run-in the big picture-to scrap a project and start again? You know what I mean. There are so many examples we’ve all had. Here’s a simple one. The pot of homemade soup is waaaayyyy too salty. You add water. Then adjust all the other seasonings. Then add potatoes to absorb the saltiness. Let it simmer. Now it’s bland salty water. You add bouillon, but that just brings out the saltiness. Ya gotta dump that pot and start again. There really is no other solution at that point. Why suffer with lousy soup?! Why be so aggravated with your wasted effort and intentions to nourish your family?! Why feel resentful when someone at the table says that it’s gross, even though it is?! Didn’t they know how hard you were trying to be both frugal and nurturing? And why be embarrassed when you serve it to a visitor as if that was the best you could do?! Throw the damned $5 worth of ingredients out and make a pot of soup that will bring ya some freakin’ enjoyment! Gawd!

And on the other hand (I could do with less hands, by the way) here’s one for ya. I used to drive a ’74 VW Beetle. Cutest thing! I had wanted one since I was 15. Ray actually bought it for me for our 6th anniversary. Hm. Wouldn’t be so bad if I still knew that guy, but I digress. Fast-forward to the Summer of 2008. Stopped at a traffic light. Curtis in the carseat in the back. Car blows up. I see the flames, get him out, watch the car burn to a shell. N-o-t-h-i-n-g left but the frame. A guy bought it from me for $500, towed it and is rebuilding the thing piece by piece! (He really is. My mechanic knows him.) Okay, there are other cars on the market. What value is it to him to do whatever it is he has to do to get this piece of metal roadworthy? I suppose the end result has to be his focus. He sees progress as he invests his time and money in this pot of soup. I assume that if he spent gobs of time and money searching for a particular necessary part and determined that none existed, none could be fabricated that he would end this project, right? I mean how many trips across the country and wild goose chases does one endure for a ’74 Beetle?! Possibly even a fire in his garage that destroyed his work to that point would be enough to warrant an end to his restoration. Meaningful results is the key, I suppose. A pay off. Something for your effort.

Here’s the thing. What if “restoring the car” isn’t the project? What if “the restoration” is what’s keeping him sober? What if “the project” is building a relationship with his 13-year-old son who loves loves loves working on this old car? What if tinkering in HIS garage on HIS car on HIS time makes his 40+ hour work week at a job he hates tolerable? What is learning how to cope in a draining, unfulfilling, contentious, thankless, lonely, negative relationship brings stability and security and happiness to my children? What is the alternative? I don’t know. How do you know? I can’t justify a trial run with my children in the wake. What if another option is worse for them? “If you’re happier, they’ll be happier.” Um, how do you KNOW?

I feel as if I am constantly paying for a few bad decisions I made a long time ago, because truthfully I am.

(I hope my new friends aren’t scared away or feel the need to comment. This was one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog–to get this sh*t out of my head and start doing something with it. It hurts my wrist too much to write, & it’s easier to “erase” on a computer monitor.)


2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 2:39 pm

    Oh, we’re not easily scared away. I promise you that! And I just want to give you a big hug and a big cup of coffee. I wish I could invite your boys over and let you have a quiet morning of taking care of your many obligations OR sitting around and surfing the net in peace.

    I think the hard part is knowing when to keep working on the project, the soup…or when to walk away. Not walk away, as in, not trying, but I am a firm believer in both parties doing the hard work in a relationship to save it. One person can’t do it all, it’s not all one person’s ‘stuff’, if you know what I mean. As for it being better for the boys – I don’t think it’s all about happiness, absolutely not. Happiness is such a fleeting thing. We can’t chase happiness, but we need things like love, support, friendship, understanding, laughter in our partnerships. We need to know they are FOR us as much as we are FOR them.

    You know, whatever is going on with your husband, is it good for them to experience whatever is happening? What’s the father/son relationship like? Is he present with them? Because that’s what I would take into consideration, more than my own dissatisfaction. I am NEVER one to say ‘stay together for the kids’ because that just makes everyone miserable. But look at what it is, be honest with yourself: is it ‘medication’ or addiction? Because you can’t fight that battle. There’s nothing you can do to make it better, but you are the absorbing all the consequences. And that’s not fair – to you, the kids, or your husband.

    (And please know that I have dealt with a father who suffered from depression. He still does, sometimes. So I do know what’s that’s like. My dad got so bad that the only thing that made him sit up and take notice was my mom leaving – after 20 some years of marriage. They worked through things, and it was a painful time for all of us.)

    Please forgive me if I sound relentlessy bossy. I can’t help it. Take it with a grain of salt, or chuck the whole comment out, but know that it comes from a place of caring.

  2. August 12, 2010 6:35 pm

    Oh, Jamie~

    I am so glad that you wrote. You needed to. I think you are so brave to do so.

    I have had that place in my marriage where I put myself aside, and I don’t think it helps. I don’t think it helped me, my kids, or my husband. So I turned the tables. I started making ME happy. I tried to find the person that I had been when I had the husband that he used to be. It wasn’t easy. At. all. But, it worked. My aura (so to speak) changed the atmosphere in the whole house. It didn’t make my marriage magically all better, but it was a starting point. It took years to get back to a better place, and I don’t know if we will ever be back to where we started out. But, that is okay. I am at peace, and I know we are okay.

    I read over Sam’s comment, and I think she makes some really good points too. But for me, ending the marriage would have devastated my kids. And, sometimes I think that we expect to have these perfect lives, which is fiction. Sometimes you have to go through the darkness in life. And then you get to the light again.

    But, make no mistake, YOU are the one who knows best what is going on. You need to follow YOUR heart. You need to take care of yourself, and your boys. And if staying is pure torture, GET OUT. And Sam is absolutely right, it take TWO to tango. You both have to work at it.

    I also wish I could bring you some relief. All I can send is my love…and hugs….xoxo

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