Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Oppositional Defiant Disorder: A Primer on the Boy

There’s a reason I give out a handout on ODD to all of my son’s new teachers.  If I could, I’d put a disclaimer sticker on his forehead: Ask my mom about my ODD before engaging in an argument with me.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is tricky, because to everyone else these kids seem like typical kids.  In reality, though, there’s a glitch in the way their brains work.  Here’s a sampling of the ODD symptoms with which we are blessed:

    Excessive arguing with adults
    Often questioning rules
    Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
    Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
    Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
    Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others

When you find yourself in a position of authority with this kid, you will be held to a higher standard of adult conduct.  The old because I said so and I’m a grown up bit?  That dog won’t hunt, not with our boy. 

You will have to earn his respect.  You will have to show him it is worth his time to listen to you.  You might say this is complete malarkey, and a child must respect his elders, and I wouldn’t disagree with you.  However, the boy is what he is, and if you lose credibility with him… 

Well, let me just share a little story.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re active in local community theater.  We had a show this past weekend. 

In this particular show, the boy was working backstage crew rather than acting.  Part of his job was to fetch props from a prop table.  The prop table happened to be right outside the backstage dressing area. 

When your cast consists mostly of children, the best way to avoid uncomfortable situations is to have cast members wear a layer of clothing that they never take off.  A tank and running shorts, etc, stays on at all times, and costume changes can be done anywhere, no modesty concerns necessary.  Nobody gets naked backstage.  It’s a rule. 

Imagine the boy’s surprise, then, when a backstage mom shooed him away from the prop table.  She told him that girls were changing and he was not to come within 6 feet of the dressing room, period. 

He tried to explain he was getting props.

She cut him off.  I don’t care what you’re doing, you can’t be back here. 

He argued some more, trying to explain that the girls were all dressed, and he wasn’t going to see anything he shouldn’t see. 

She wouldn’t hear any of his protestations or attempts at explanation; she didn’t care what he was trying to tell her.  She cut him off and told him to go away. 

I wasn’t there, but I can describe with some confidence what happened inside my son’s head at that point:

This lady is an idiot.  She doesn’t know anything.  The girls have clothes on when they’re changing, what am I going to see?  Clearly, she’s never done this before.  She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  Since she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, I don’t need to listen to her.  Nothing she says to me from this point forward is relevant.  I will carry on with my tasks as if she isn’t there. 

This is not so much a thought process; rather, it is an instantaneous judgment call that happens, a switch that flips. 

I’ve witnessed it more times than I can count with both the boy and his father.  First, the brows raise slightly in an Is this person serious? expression they find difficult to conceal.  Then, there’s the moment when the switch flips: the face goes slack, the eyes lose interest, and the body gives off an impatient I don’t have time for this idiot vibe that is unmistakable. 

The boy carried on with his instructions, continuing to try to retrieve props from the table and continuing to get chastised by that particular backstage mom. 

He never said anything to me about it.  It was a non-issue, because she was irrelevant. 

I wasn't privy to the backstage drama (pun intended), because I was up in the control room.  I was in charge of tech, though, so I did have to go backstage for director’s notes.  On one trip backstage, a mom I only knew in passing stopped me and said, Are you Amanda?

Yes, why?

Then you’re Cole’s mom?

[sigh] Yes, that’s me.  What did he do?

Well, I was trying to tell him to stop [doing something annoying] and he said to me: Why don’t you just go back over there and do YOUR job?

Oh gosh, I’m sorry.  Okay, thank you, I’ll talk to him.

It’s not a big deal, I just would hope someone would tell me if my kid was talking to adults that way.

Yes, of course, thank you.  I’ll take care of it. 

I found the boy, chewed on him for being disrespectful, and when he protested that she was rude first, I told him that that didn't matter.  I reminded him that most of society is of the opinion that children should respect their elders regardless of whether or not they deserve it, and I made him swallow his pride and indignation, find her, and apologize. 

Later that night, I learned about the earlier difficulties.  He described to me what had been going on.  I had my light bulb moment: Well, that’s why he was rude!  She wasn’t someone he felt was worthy of his attention.  

The next day, I found a stage manager, explained the struggle he’d been having with the backstage mom, and asked them to please inform this woman that the girls never undress backstage, making her concerns unfounded. 

It was my hope that she would see the error of her ways and apologize to him for reprimanding him unnecessarily (after all, he did the right thing and apologized to her, right?).  In doing so, she would regain the respect from him she had previously lost, and there would be no further issues. 

The stage manager came back to me later and reported the following:  I talked to the backstage mom.  The prop table wasn’t the problem.  The problem was that he was rude to her and told her to go away and worry about her own job.  It didn’t have anything to do with him being back by the dressing rooms. 

Sweet baby Jesus.  Please wait here while I go find a wall on which to bang my head.  Of course that's what it was about, was nobody listening?? 

Looking back on the situation, it wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  It does inspire me to reflect on how we adults treat these children that are just trying to learn how to be adults, too, one day soon. 

I made him apologize because it was the “right” thing for me to do as an adult. His comment to her was wrong.  Was it wrong, though, for him to want to be respected enough to be heard in the first place?  

What was the “right thing” for her to do as an adult?  Is it right for us to disregard children when they are trying to communicate with us because we’ve already decided that we know more than them?  Is it okay to make children feel like they don’t have a right to be heard?  

When you're faced with an adult that is making wrong choices in their interactions with your children, is it right to ask your children to suck it up and get over it because that's the way the world works, or is it your job to tell another adult when they're being an asshole?  

Clearly, I have no answers here, only questions.  Please, discuss... 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bitch in a Lexus SUV

I drive a Lexus SUV.  Fancy, right?  Not really.  My husband is in the car business, it came in to his dealership as a trade, and we were able to buy it for a good price.  It’s a great sturdy dependable vehicle, and it’s comfortable on the inside.  It has nav, leather, a backup camera, and a rear DVD player.  HOWEVER… It’s nine years old.  The windshield is cracked, the dash is cracking, and there’s a slightly crumpled bumper where I might’ve backed into a Jeep.  Or a concrete pole.  Okay, both.  The rear DVD player won’t eject the Leave it to Beaver disc that’s been in there for several years now, so the Beav is the only thing the kids can watch.

The inside is messy (and a little crusty, because kids are gross).  We’ve taken it all over on trips – camping, mountain biking, off-roading – and we’ve had it through baseball, martial arts, and football practices (and the stink and dirt those activities bring into the car after).

Some people buy a Lexus because it’s a dressed up Toyota, and Toyotas are awesome.  Then some people buy a Lexus because that fancy ‘L’ on the front and back is some kind of status symbol for them.

I’m not one of those people.  This car has always caused me a bit of anxiety, truth be told.  Driving up in a Lexus tends to change peoples’ perspective of you.  Sometimes it’s subtle (Nice car) and other times not so much (What are you doing living in our neighborhood with a fancy car like this?? asked one neighbor.  And we don’t live in the hood, y’all).

I am not my car.  I’m not fancy and pretentious and worried about status.  I’m down to earth and approachable and easy to get to know.  So, I’ve always had reservations about people seeing my car before they know me.  I don’t like people to assume things about me because I drive a Lexus.
I’ve found myself, more than once, apologizing for my car: Oh, it’s old, we got it on trade, we’re not fancy, blah, blah… 

Am I trying to put myself at ease or them?  I’m not sure.

While browsing through my News Feed, I saw a post by one of my favorite bloggers.  She wrote:

This morning's commute has strengthened my growing suspicion that "bitch in a Lexus SUV" is redundant.  

I don't mean to call her out, because I think she's super fantastic.  She makes me smile all the time.  But...

Ouch.  See, this is what I always worry about.  It seems I was right all along; I’m being silently judged every time I leave my driveway.  Great.

Of course, the author of said post quickly issued a disclaimer that she was excluding her loyal following from said label.  But the subsequent comments made me cringe even more.  Comments included:
  yes it is
wholeheartedly agree 
that's because she's trying to be like the woman in the BMW SUV, but she doesn't have the money to do it, so she just has to act bitchy-er 
I used to live down the street from a bitch in a lexus suv and a bitch in a mercedes suv.. fuck em all.. lol 
Also, idiot in a Lexus, idiot in an Audi, and idiot in an Acura should be part of your vernacular… 
Is it possible to own a Lexus and NOT be a douchenozzle? 
Don't you know, rules don't apply to BMW, Lexus, and Audi owners. It's in the fine print when they sign the lease. 

Douchnozzle?  Really?  Sigh.  So, now I feel like I need to put more bumper stickers on my already stickered up Lexus so that she’ll be all incognito. 

Folks, I can assure you that the same things are going on in this Lexus as in your car, whatever you’re driving.  If you’re out and about and you see my Lexus SUV, remember:

The bitch driving may or may not have had time to shower yet today.  Odds are, she’s probably running late for something.  Behind those big trendy sunglasses, she might be hiding tired swollen eyes that could use a little make up she didn’t have time to apply.  

If she’s on her phone, she might be trying to arrange carpool or make a doctor’s appointment.  If she cuts you off, it might be because her spawn are fighting in the back seat and distracting the hell out of her.  

If she almost turns out in front of you or doesn’t go when the light turns red, it might be because one of her kids said Look, Mom and her instinct to respond to her child takes her eyes off the road even though she’s told them time and again not to blurt, Look, Mom when she’s driving.  

Rest assured she’s not worried about appearances or status; she’s just thankful that she was able to buy such a comfortable and dependable car 6 years ago, because when the economy went to shit 2 years later she at least didn’t have to worry about needing a new car any time soon.  

She’s probably only worried about getting where she’s going without running out of gas, because she forgot her tank was almost empty, and she’s stressing how much said tank costs to fill up.

She’s just like you in all the ways that count, so cut her some slack; she doesn’t pay any attention to the fancy ‘L’s on her car, and neither should you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Not the only reason for the Season

[Author's note: This is an updated and edited version of an old post, for those of you that like your spiritual talk to not be mingled with profane(?) references to anatomy and whatnot.  If you're one of those folks, read on... and by all means, don't go looking for the old version.] 

I happen to have a certain fondness for religion.  All of them.  Spirituality in general fascinates me.  I know God, and I even think Jesus was a pretty cool guy.  But...

I am not a Christian.  

Nope.  I was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic, but I've never held much interest in the teachings of that particular Church.  It is my belief that more truth about God can be found in the movie Avatar than in any given modern Christian church service.  I would bet, though, that if I started preaching the gospel according to Avatar, some people would get offended.

What if I said that I think that every one of you who thinks hell exists with a capital H and is a place that God will send you if you displease Her are totally mistaken in your understanding of the divine?  Would that offend you?

You see, I have some less-than-mainstream views about God and religion, and I am part of the minority.

I might "preach" freedom of religion, but I have no interest in making you think like me.  I also have no interest in making you feel bad for NOT thinking like me.
My favorite color is purple.  I adore purple.  I can't imagine anyone liking any other color more than purple.  It's truly the most spectacular color in the spectrum.  It just makes me feel good.  If you like blue, though... well, that's okay.  If blue makes you feel good, then that makes me happy, too.  I can celebrate blue with you without feeling like I made the wrong choice when I chose purple as my favorite color.  I can have a blue themed celebration and then return to my purple passion.  Both of the colors exist on the spectrum, and both are relevant and necessary.  I just gravitate to one while you gravitate to another. 

So... What if I want to celebrate the Season just as a special time that has been celebrated by many different religions across time?  What if it's not about the birth of your Christ for me?  People have been celebrating this holiday for as far back as anyone can remember.  The Christians call it Christmas now, but that's just another name for a much older celebration.  

Pagans cut down trees to symbolize the death and rebirth as a tree of one of their gods.  They were doing it long before Jesus entered the picture.  So, you go right ahead and call it a Christmas tree if you want.  If you're Christian and you have a tree up in your house, then it is a Christmas tree. But don't get offended because everyone else doesn't want it to be a Christmas tree.  Don't preach on your facebook wall about all the evil people that are trying to kill Christmas and replace it with the word holiday.

I love words.  As a word lover, I know that holiday is a word that means holy day.  And how can that offend you?

Using the word holiday is meant to be inclusive of everyone's beliefs.  The term is not meant to be exclusive, to take Jesus out of Christmas; it's used as a gentle remind that Jesus isn't the only reason for the Season.  Lets celebrate all the reasons that this time of year is held dear, all the reasons to find joy and magic in this winter celebration.

There's nothing wrong with religion, but it can be turned into a weapon of hate and exclusion when religion, and religious intolerance, is forced on others.

Happy Holidays

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dirty secrets

My last post was a “…to be continued” that I failed to continue.  So, let me start there. 

I put his ass on the school bus. 

I’m sure you saw that coming.  Then, of course, I felt bad about it all day.  However, I would do it again.  I’m all about the tough love.

Anyway… that’s not why I’m here today.  I’m here today because I read a post this morning by a blogger that I “met” when her blog was brand new.  She had a just handful of likes, but I thought she was great.  I read her facebook posts and blog posts on a regular basis, and I’ve watch her popularity soar quickly. 

Meanwhile, my little blog stagnates.  Jealous?  No.  Absolutely not.  “Jennay” over at What I Really Meant to Say is a hoot!  Many blessings to her and her success as a blogger. 

I have been too “busy” to write.  Or so I tell myself.  Which is to say that I do not allow myself time to write because then I will feel guilty that I’m not doing something else.  This has come up before;  it’s a daily thing, really. 

This morning I read the newest post over at What I Really Meant to Say.

Go ahead and take a look.  I’ll be here when you get back.

Done? Okay, so I read that, and I immediately thought: That’s why I’m not writing anything. 

So, I’m going to use Jenn’s blog post as a writing prompt and give these fingers some much needed exercise. 

So, here....here is what you will find if you were to come to my house on a NORMAL day:

We have too much stuff in our house.  Sadly, the two “extra” rooms are right off the entryway.  So, the very worst part of my house is the very first thing you’ll see when you step inside.  One of them is my fault; I have some extra furniture, donation piles, bookshelves, etc. in there.  The other larger room, though, is what shall henceforth be known as the Hotel for Bikes.  There are about 15 bicycles, give or take a few, housed in my former office at any given time.  Many of them like to hang out in the entryway, as well.  We treat our bikes like family around here.  

We have 3 dogs.  We had 2 for a while after our Belle passed away earlier this year, but we’re back to 3 now; Danny thought it would be nice of us to dog-sit.  For 6 months.  He’s got a big heart, what can I say?  She’s not really a problem except that our mastiff tries to attack her several times a day.  Which is really fun.  So, as you step in through the front door into the messiest part of the house you will be accosted by three canine family members that love to make new friends. 

We also have 2 cats.  I hope you’re not allergic.  Oh, and fish, too.  I haven't managed to kill them off.  Yet.  Take a look at the fish tank, it's quite lovely actually.  

Watch out for the vacuum cleaner cords and other random appliances or power tools lying around.  We do try to clean, but we tend to get distracted and/or not put things back where they go when we’re done with them.  A lot. 

We don’t have any carpet, thank God, but that means that the tumbleweeds of dog hair are free to roam around at their leisure.  See above re: vacuuming. 

Little Dog thinks it is his duty to mark his territory all throughout the house.  Please watch out for tiny but lethal puddles of dog pee.  We have resorted to putting a belly band on him to discourage this — when we can find one of them (we have 3). 

Dust.  Lots of dust.  If it wasn’t bad before — and okay, it was — we’ve been pulling out old carpet and scraping up old linoleum, so… yeah.  Dust. 

Don't walk around barefoot.  Three rooms have concrete floors right now.  I couldn’t stand the old floors, and new ones aren’t quite in the budget yet.  Maybe Christmas?  Maybe not.  We’ll see.

All of the walls are dinged or have paint scraped off in various places.  Children are hell on walls, amiright?

My beautiful WHITE microfiber sectional is… no longer white.  What were you thinking? you might ask.  I liked it, okay?  Damn kids… Oh, and the dog peed on it, too, which was a nice addition to the general grime. I did clean it the other day with a steam cleaner, so it's okay to sit on, but it ain't so purty anymore.  

I don’t do dishes.  I mean, I DO do them sometimes, even though Danny thinks I have craptastic dishwasher loading skills and would rather do them himself.  Right now, though?  Our dishwasher is broken.  Broken!  I cannot be expected to cope with that.  I have been avoiding the sink like the plague for 3 days now.  Use your imagination. 

(Danny said he doesn’t understand why I hate to wash dishes by hand.  He gets a sense of accomplishment by performing such tasks.  I said I don’t understand why he doesn’t just do the fucking dishes, then.  He’s not doing them because I’m not doing them.  He’s not doing them because the kids aren’t doing them.  He doesn’t mind doing them, gets a sense of accomplishment even, but HE’S STILL NOT DOING THEM. sigh)

The kitchen counters are a catch-all for every damn thing in this house.  At any given moment you might find anything from dirty clothes to power tools to food left out—sometimes all at the same time.  Also, the cats like to get on the counters and knock over drink glasses—only the ones that aren’t empty, of course.  (While trying to finish writing this, one of the cats actually pawed open an UPPER kitchen cabinet and tried to jump in with the glasses. Seriously, it’s a zoo in here.)

The big pile of trash you see over in the kitchen corner? That’s the recycling.  We’re doing our part, okay?  It turns out that almost everything you throw into your garbage can is recyclable.  Paper, cardboard, hard plastic, soft plastic, glass, metal… Don’t throw it away!  Recycle, dammit!  It gets a little out of hand, though.  By Friday, the recycling bins (yes, plural) look like a mini trash dump site in the corner of the kitchen.  We, as a family of four, usually only put out 2 bags per week of actual trash.  The rest is a mountain of recycling.  I bet the people that have to sort that shit hate us. 

The living room is Command Central.  Currently, the coffee table contains dishes, jewelry, hair pins, headphones, nail polish remover, coupon books, a ball cap, nail clippers, an iPhone wall charger, school work, school reminder notes, a tissue box, a mountain bike race medal, and a paper Spelling Queen crown.  Oh, and the candles and coasters that belong there are there, too, though the tealights have been knocked off the candle holder and not put back onto it.  The lower shelf contains a basket of dog toys, headphones, coffee table books, a tiny dog kennel, and two storage boxes for remotes and game system controllers (which are not in the boxes but in a pile next to them). 

The couch contains, strewn out across it (here, let me move it so you can sit down) a school folder, dirty socks, and another (God help me) fundraiser the Girl brought home from school today.  Also, I don’t have a desk.  Not one that I currently use.  I’m here on the couch, too, laptop stand and all.  The mess that usually clutters up my desk?  Yeah, it’s here next to me on the arm of the couch. 

There’s a wet bar in the living room.  We enjoy a drink every now and then.  We have quite the collection.  As the kids get older, we’re going to have to rethink the blasé display of booze.  For now, though — well, there might be a little dust on the bottles, is all I’m gonna say.

As you move past the bar, politely overlooking that fact that my printer currently lives on the wet bar, thankyouverymuch, you enter the true Danger Zone of the house.

I said that the 2 extra rooms at the front of the house were the worst?  I lied.  The kids’ rooms?  Holy shit.  These two heathens are terrible.  T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.  There is a constant trail of detritus leading from their rooms out into the hall and out back into the living room.    I’m constantly harping at them to pick up their stuff, to no avail.  In frustration, I kick it into their rooms and shut the doors.  Thus, the entryways of their rooms are generally choked with debris.  It gets kicked back out again when they go in and out, because THEY DON’T GIVE A DAMN. Inside their rooms, you'll find laundry not put away (sometimes as many as 3 baskets), dirty laundry in the floor, trash, toys, shoes, and did I mention laundry?  It's out of hand.

Their bathroom, meanwhile, is toxic.  The cat litter box lives in there, because the cats are the kids’ responsibility.  If they are subjected to the cat mess, they will be more motivated to clean it, right?  NO.  Cat litter in the floor?  No problem!  Tracking said cat litter all over house?  No big deal!  Cat food on the counter, in the sink, and on floor?  They’ll eat it eventually!  And did you know that ADHD and peeing standing up are a bad combination?  The Boy can't stand still long enough to take a piss, so you're likely to find a less than desirable situation in there at any given time.  Don't use their bathroom, m'kay? 

Of course, to get to my bathroom you must traipse through Laundry Central.  You'll usually find at least one heaping basket of laundry in the hall.  You'll also notice that my darling husband almost finished the hallway upgrade (bead board, new doorway moulding), but then he got bored with it and moved on before the sanding and painting happened.  

As you walk through my room, try to ignore the fact that we use our 4 poster as a clothes hanger, that we have painting supplies stacked up because we are—seriously—going to paint that wall one of these days, or that we have an actual massage table set up in our room.  It's great for massages, and I do get them fairly regularly, because my husband is kick ass in the massage department.  However...it's also great for piles of laundry.  Meh.  

Have you ever been backstage at a play?  You know, with the hair a make up stuff strewn upon every available surface in the dressing room, and costumes laying about carelessly?  Yes? Then my bathroom should be familiar to you, as well.  Go ahead and use the toilet, it's clean—please ignore the toilet paper holder that is partially unmoored from the wall, though, and the gaping hole in the sheetrock above your head.  Nothing will crawl out at you.  I think.  Oh, and you're welcome to use my shower, too, though it's maybe less clean.  Also, it's in need of total renovation, so please don't look too closely.  

The weather has turned nicer, we could go out back (you know, where the pool used to be).  Yes, the fence fell during Hurricane Ike, but the back neighbors have a chain link, so it's all good. Yes, it's a mess, too, with construction debris and other flotsam and jetsam that we shove outside.  The breeze is nice, though.  And the cell signal is better out there.  

So... There you go.  I got some writing done, and you learned not to drop by unannounced and expect... much of anything.  Wait, no... expect a glass of wine, a nice chat, a pair of less-than-amiable-to-each-other siblings that may or may not get sent to their rooms more than once while you are here, and a small pack of dogs that will be very happy to see you.  Just don't expect much to be very clean.  

Maybe one day.  But not today.  

I'm going to publish this post despite the fact that my husband might now die of mortification.  Honey, I'm sorry.  Look away.  Most of these people don't know us, anyway. Don't share me on your page, okay?  Love you!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A "What would you do?" parenting moment

He set a fresh, hot cup of coffee on the nightstand next to my head and said, "It's 7:06, sleepyhead."

Dammit.  Why didn't my alarm go off?  

And then I remembered; the day before, I woke up early.  I was up at 5:35 am.  In a burst of pride for being up so early, I turned off my alarms (yes, alarms, plural, because I generally need more than one to wake up).  I'm an early riser, I don't need these alarms!

Then, apparently, I forgot to turn the back on.  

School bus #1 comes at 7:11.  Okay, so that wasn't going to happen.  Making my peace with that, I got up and began my morning routine of ironing clothes, making lunches, and harassing children to get ready.  Thankfully, the Hubs had been busy that morning while I "slept in," so breakfast was a done deal.  

When it was time to drive the Girl to school, it was also time for the Boy to catch his bus.  

Cole, come on!  I'll drive you to the bus stop! 


Cole, are you coming? 


Hello?!  Are you ready for school? 


Giving up on yelling, I went to his room, where I found him...  In his underwear.  In bed.  Asleep.  

Are you seriously going to miss the bus?!?!

He jumped up, frantic but half asleep.  

I can't believe you!  Why would you get up, eat breakfast, and then go BACK to sleep?  What's wrong with you?? 

I told him I wasn't taking him to school unless he was ready in 2 minutes and in the car.  The clock was ticking.  The Girl was becoming frantic that she was going to be tardy.  

The Boy made it into the car (admittedly, with some browbeating by his mother).  As we rounded the corner, we saw his bus about to pull away from the bus stop.  She saw us coming and sat there, waiting. 

Suddenly, I had a split-second parenting decision to make:  Did I put him on the bus, despite the fact that he did not have his shit together, nor did he even have shoes on yet?  Or did I drive him to school after I (attempted to) get his sister to school on time? 

What would you do?? 

Story to be continued...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dearest Children: Seriously, shut the hell up! Love, Mom

That's pretty much the gist of it.  If your interest is piqued, though, read on... 

Dearest Children, 

Your mother does not DO camping.  However, since you seem to love it, I put on my happy face and planned a camping trip.  

I made grocery lists, shopped, cooked food ahead of time to take with us, helped pack up all the food and gear, made arrangements for the campsite and for the dog to board the dog at the kennel, and did lots of other things you cannot even begin to imagine.  

Then, I sat in the car with you for 8 - EIGHT! - hours listening to the two of you fight with each other.  Incessantly.  

He's got more room than me!

She won't stop talking!

He's pushing things over on me!

She scratched me with her nails!

I listened with smug satisfaction as your father pulled off the highway and lost his cool with the two of you, threatening to do things that he would not actually do but doing so in a tone that made you squirm in your seat and wonder if he really meant it.  See?  It's not just me.  Dad yells, too. 

When we finally reached the campsite and it was dark outside, a fact for which you were partially to blame, you were not thrilled about making camp in the dark.  Well, guess what?  Neither was I.  But I again sucked it up and dug in so we could get it done.  

Thankfully, Mother Moon was full, simultaneously lighting the site for us and helping me to keep my patience.  

My favorite part of the evening, other than you, my darling son, doing your best to wake our camping neighbors, was when you, my dearest daughter, sat in a huff on a camp chair and said, I don't like this.  Is it going to be more fun tomorrow?

No.  No, it's not.  Welcome to camping.  

The next morning, after awaking to my hip digging into the ground as a result of a deflated air mattress, I took you to the dining hall to get a hot breakfast even though your dad said we could break our fast with the food in the cooler.  I bought you wristbands so that you could do unlimited ziplining and rock climbing.  

When your father said he was taking you mountain bike riding on the trails...

I settled in to my chair in the shade by the river to read a book and sip a cup of coffee.

When you, daughter, decided before your ride started that you didn't want to go, I sacrificed my serenity to your whim.  

When the boys got back from their ride, you children kayaked while I fixed your lunch, baking in the sun and harassing you about adequate sunscreen usage. 

When your father got back from his solo ride, I put on my water shoes, hopped into a canoe with the three of you, rode down to the kayak/conoe launch, and got mule kicked by you, dear son, as you sprang from the canoe into the water, pouting because you didn't get an oar.  I still have the lovely bruise on my knee from your kick.  

From there, I hiked the river trail to the waterfront with you...

...where I put on a lifejacket, preparing to  jump into freezing cold water while knowing full well I wasn't going to have a  shower or *shudder* a hair dryer available until the end of the day; you chose that moment, son, to scream at me in front of a lot of strangers because your life jacket was too loose and I wasn't helping you out of the water fast enough so that you could find a new one.  I had to put on my mean hat and make you sit out for speaking to me so rudely.  Believe it or not, I do not take joy in this.  It's really pretty sucky to be mean when you're trying to have fun.  

Your father decided the river was too cold and got out as soon as I got in.  

I enjoyed swimming in the river, taking pictures with my water camera of you, daughter, frolicking on the water toys.  

Then you, son, disappeared to ride in a time trial race with your father.   

After swimming in the river, you, my girl, stated your desire to swim in the pool instead.  So, we made our way up the cliffside stairs and decided to hike back to our campsite to get money, more sunscreen, and towels before going to the pool.  

Hiking in my wet shorts caused quite the lovely chaffing issue that I had to deal with later on, in case you were wondering.  

Mother and daughter made the trek back and forth, and we ran in to father and son back from their time trial.  They won 3rd place, and I was there, snapping photos of you, son, with your father on the podium during the award ceremony.  Then, you wanted to go back to the river with your father.  We went to the coffee shop to discuss evening plans over smoothies.  

It was decided that your father would put the chili on the fire to heat while I took you children swimming in the pool, and then Dad would take you back to the river and I would go back to babysit the chili.  

After 20 minutes at the pool, you were a bored boy.  You asked me constantly if we could leave while simultaneously aggravating your sister.  I, in return, asked you, son, if anything ever truly satisfied you.  I'm still waiting on the answer for that, by the way.  

We made our way back to the campsite, where we ate chili and visited with camp neighbors.  Another trip to the river was not to be that evening, but you, son, went and socialized with kids while the rest of us availed ourselves of the bath house facilities (such as they were).  Boys are apparently exempt from showering while camping, from what I gathered over the weekend.  

We went to sleep that night after refilling the deflated air mattress, hoping it would last until morning.  We left you children on the newer, non-deflating mattresses so that you could sleep comfortably.  

We awoke the second morning to a 6am alarm so that you, son, could eat and get ready for your 8am race start.  Despite a progressing lower backache due to the aforementioned deflated mattress, I was there at the starting line, cheering for you and snapping photos as you took off.  

I met you at the finish, greeting you with cold water and words of praise, and I took you to the coffee shop for air conditioning and a snack.  

I was at the start line 2 hours later when your father took off, snapping photos and cheering for him.  I stood with the two of you at the Feed Zone for an hour while we waited for your father so that we could give him ice cold water rather than the warm water they were handing out.  

Then, as requested by both of you, I bought you each a souvenir festival shirt for you to tie dye.  I bought us all a kettle corn snack to share, and then I enjoyed the free beer they were handing out while you tie dyed your little hearts out.    

Your father finished his race, and we decided to make our way back to the campsite  for lunch.  I started walking, while the three of you were to bike back.  I made it back with only you, son, with me.  We ate lunch after waiting in vain for you, daughter, and your father to join us.  

The beer, the lunch, the hot afternoon sun, and the breeze blowing over me and my chair under the shade tree all meant one thing: nap time for Mom.  My lovely daughter and her father were still MIA, and you, my darling boy, were driving me crazy about swimming, but I napped while you kayaked.  I knew we were packing up soon, and, as much as I wanted a dip to cool off, I did not want to travel wearing the river in various unspeakable places.  

When you finally showed up with your father, daughter, after an unplanned and apparently unsuccessful father/daughter mountain bike ride, I was hot and still sleepy.  Still, I began the process of packing up the campsite.  The two of you went off to do more kayaking while your father and I decamped, organizing, reorganizing, loading, and reloading.  

We were hot and thirsty by the time we were done, but the two of you were insistent that we adjourn to the waterfront for more river swimming.  We assured you that you would swim.  We drove up to the main camp area, got rid of our trash, and decided that I would cool off in the coffee shop and read for a bit while Dad took you to the waterfront.  

You followed me to coffee shop instead, though, and started discussing dinner options.  We got drinks and I prepared to enjoy a last bit of quiet time while you went swimming.  At the last minute, you both decided against swimming and opted for a quick trip down the zipline once more.  After I spent a few minutes of quiet time in the coffee shop, you were back and ready to go.  

Later, we chatted about the trip over a lovely Mexican food dinner.  Dad and I both said how much fun we'd had over the weekend.  

When asked if you had fun, you, son, answered, Yeah, except, well… Mom isn't very fun.  She doesn't like to do anything.  For the sake of solidarity, I suppose, you, daughter, piped in, Yeah, it's true.  You weren't much fun.  You know, in the water.  You just swam around and floated and took pictures.  

In case it was unclear the first time, son, you continued,Yeah, you don't really, like, DO anything, ya know?  You just want to relax and read.  That's not fun.  You're not really very much fun, Mom.  

Kids, you know what?  Seriously, shut the hell up!  Either you're not going next time, or I'm not.  

See how much fun you have then.  

Lots of love,