Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Progress Report

Summer seems to be passing by in a half-okay, half-painful way. There's definitely some struggle inherent in the fact that the kids span 6 years. What is appropriate for the 7 year old doesn't work so well for the 1 year old. And this is really apparent when we are all together all the time.

[retired photo]

Below is an indicative photo. The background story is that Noah sprung nimbly across (and along) the creek. Can you see him WAY down at the bend? He's trying to find a log to ride while playing in the water. Fritz was helping Mattias scramble awkwardly after Noah. (You can barely make them out on the right side of the photo.) Trixie and I were stranded behind on the opposite bank. I can be adventurous. (Really! I promise!) But this water was a little fast and a little deep to carry squirmy Trixie through.

While the boys played in the creek, Trixie and I opted for playing in the dust. (Ha!)

[photo gone, sorry]

Oh, well, she plays in the dust at home, too. Despite my intentions to be more organized around the house this summer, it still feels like there's a lot of messiness. Nevermind dust. Look: we're not even going to attempt to tackle the dust for another year. Remember how I was all energized to instill my children with responsibilities to keep the house orderly this summer? I thought we would have scheduled clean up times twice a day. Hasn't happened. It's like our schedule isn't scheduled enough for this to really work.

[this photo removed, too]

I think in my head, things are always going to be planned and scheduled and organized like it belongs in a daily planner. But the way that it works in practice is much more strategic at the moment. If Noah wants to play with a friend, first I make him pick up all the legos in his room. If the boys tear all cushions off the sofa to make a fort, I ask them to put them back before we go the library. I suspect this methodology works better partially because 1) Noah's schedule does, in fact, vary greatly each week this summer with camps or not 2) Mattias' schedule is not scheduled 3) There's a ongoing influx of houseguests to change whatever schedule might be a schedule 4) There are playdates at varying times 5) Trixie is such a wild card in terms of her needs and when.

Let's pause right there. Oh, Trixie! I had hoped she would stick like glue to one nap a day. But, it's just not happening. Many things can upset the napping: teething (cursed molars!), wringing, beeping, buzzing noises, a car ride at the wrong time (oops! impromptu nap!), or some overly excited play ("Sorry, Mommy! I forgot! I'm sorry!" That's a lie: they're NOT apologetic. But let's pretend they are, because it makes me feel better.)

The last few days, we've been dealing with what we think is teething. Whatever IT is IT means Trixie is waking up all night long, cramming her fingers into her mouth, biting, not eating, with a snuffy nose, and a light fever. She refuses to take painkillers. She spits out fluids. She adamantly refuses anything crushed, coated or dissolved. Fritz dubbed her "Pointless Suffering" after she refused even this chocolate coated painkiller delivery attempt:

"I hope the next time you go through this you are mature enough to be reasoned with," Fritz told her.

The good news in all of this is that, the house isn't as messy as I thought it would be, even if our methodology isn't as planned as I thought it would be. I console myself with the fact that they ARE cleaning up (sometimes), but in a different manner than I thought. We are getting to do some fun things, even if the baby isn't sleeping as well as I would like. Lowered expectations are keeping me happier. Also: mental gymnastics (or a good spin) are key to sanity.

[another gone...]

Other ups: camps. Camps are a good thing for Noah, because I CAN NOT supply whatever it is that he needs to be sufficiently content. He's not an extreme extrovert, but relative to Mattias and I, Noah is not an introvert, either. Mattias and I need our space, our quiet, our repetitive time for creation. But Noah is completely frustrated by too much of these things. He just needs more – PEOPLE – for his sense of balance. Last summer, I didn't plan for the boys to go to any camps. It was a big mistake. I took it as a lesson. Over the course of the last year, I carefully set aside money each month so that they could go to camp this summer. I set aside an equal amount for each kid, but when it came time to pick camps, Mattias had less interest than Noah. Most of the money ended up paying for Noah to be in camp. And I felt a little guilty about this. But you know, in the end, it has worked out well. We are all much happier when Noah is content. (He controls a disproportionate amount of the household mood.) I do, however, want Noah to experience those things that come with a summer of free time: you know, like BOREDOM. I don't believe in scheduling him fully. SO: One week of camp, one week off seems to be the correct balance this summer.

[last one gone]

Also in The Ups category, Mattias and Noah are visiting grandma and grandpa in Rhode Island. Just the two of them. With two kids gone, and only Trixie at home, life feels Easy. Which, of course, means it is all relative, because 5 years ago, when it was just Noah and no other children, life did not feel easy AT ALL. Going on a trip, feeling independent of your parents: I believe these are good summer activities for self esteem building. Grandma and grandpa, with just two kids (instead of all three) are better poised to do more age-appropriate activities with Noah and Mattias.

That makes me a little sad, actually. But, you know, NEXT summer. NEXT summer Trixie might be a little more ready for romping in creeks.


Pregnantly Plump said...

It's hard with varying ages. Even though Cheese Puff is 2, I've still had to pull tiny legos out of his mouth -- some really do look like candy. Little Elvis also controls the mood in our household. It's frustrating, but he has gotten a little better this summer.

Anonymous said...

Wow, your are a huge step ahead of me. After reading your post, certain dynamics around here make so much sense. I have a very strong speculation about who controls the mood in our household (besides me and my hormonal ups and downs, of course). I'll test that over the next weeks, sending certains kids away to see what happens.
Your approach to cleaning sounds very realistic. That is pretty much what works for us, too. Certains thinks have to happen before something else can be started. I am not always happy with it. It has backfired before. But I learned to sit out struggles...most of the time.