Well, it’s official. Life is Back To Normal. My manicure fought the good fight, but was chipped in three places by tonight. The polish has been removed, and I consider the whole Friday to Tuesday thing a personal best. Now I can get back to things like obsessing over selling my house!
Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a house in showing-ready condition when you have children? It is VERY VERY HARD. For the past couple of months I have struggled with this through rain and cold and let me tell you, I have used up a lot of duct tape on some very whiny children.
But now, everything is different. It’s warm out. That lovely band of marauding landscapers finally came and did my yard clean-up, revealing plenty of room to romp and play. Why, I haven’t had to let the kids into the house in WEEKS!
I joke, of course. I always let them sleep in the house. I mean, unless they’ve been bad.
On the whole, though, they get up and get ready for school, go to school, come home, drop their backpacks, and go back outside to play until it’s time to eat and shower and go to bed.
I like this arrangement very much. The house stays (relatively) clean, though of course one can track the progress of both the seriousness of play outside and the number of trips inside by following the smeared muddy handprints along the walls, or what appears to be the implosion of clods of dirt in the bathrooms. The children are getting fresh air and exercise. And perhaps most importantly, no one bothers me unless they are bleeding or on fire.
[Note: No children were actually torched in the making of this post.]
For the most part my children are excellent playmates for one another. They’re less than two years apart, and their temperaments are compatible. (Chickadee is bossy, Monkey is agreeable.) That’s not to say that they never fight; they do, and when they do, tempers flare HIGH. But in general they can amuse themselves for hours with amiable tolerance.
Sure, they often dig up random sections of lawn or collect every bug within a mile or come inside looking as though they’d been busy rolling in mud, but they play nicely.
It has recently come to my attention that I may be just a wee bit overprotective. (Shut up.) You see, I let the kids play on our property without overseeing them every second, and that’s fine. But I’ve not let them go wandering around the neighborhood. I kind of like knowing I could just step outside and yell at them if the need arose.
But Chickadee is 9 now, and her friend from around the corner is only 8 and is allowed to ride her bike around the loop on her own. She rode over to our house and asked if Chickadee could join her. I have no trouble delivering the “I’m not HER mom, I’m YOUR mom, and these are OUR rules” speech when I need to, but… I had to stop and think about this. Honestly, was I going to tell her she couldn’t leave the driveway without me? Was it maybe time to let go a little?
I considered it, and then let her go. I did make her take one of our 2-way radios with her, reasoning that if she needed me she could let me know, or that I could check on her location if I needed. In reality, all it accomplished was that SHE beeped me every couple of minutes with exciting updates like “We’ve ridden around the loop twice” and “I think a bug just bit me” and “How many channels does this thing have, anyway?”
The problem was not Chickadee, or her friend that she’d gone off riding with. The problem was that when she left, Monkey had a complete meltdown. His playmate had gone off without him, and worse, I had allowed it. No amount of consolation would soothe him.
It’s wonderful to have two kids so close in age who play so well together, but I do think it’s important that they have their own friends and interests, too. I usually try to either make sure they each have a friend over on playdates or that the child without a pal is sufficiently occupied so as to leave the other one alone. Sometimes I do ask that one of the kids basically “share” a friend, but it depends on the situation and who the other child is.
Unfortunately, what I thought was a tailor-made excuse to allow Chickadee to go off without Monkey turned out to be a huge miscalculation on my part.
You see, Monkey can’t ride his bike yet. Back last year, before he was diagnosed with sensory problems, I bought him a new bike. He was outgrowing his little one and I thought he might warm up to riding a bit more with a bike more his size. Where he’d barely ridden the smaller bike, he now complained bitterly any time I suggested he ride the new one, saying it was uncomfortable and he couldn’t do it. After a while, I took the training wheels off, thinking that maybe he just needed some extra motivation to be “one of the big kids.”
All of which is to say, I’m an idiot.
Now he won’t ride his bike at all, most days, because his balance is lousy and he’s lacking in most of the motor skills necessary to safely navigate a two-wheeler. I considered putting his training wheels back on, but he’s a little old for that, too, and instead of figuring out a solution I’ve just sort of let it go for now. He rides either his Buzz Lightyear bike (which is one of these) or his plasma car up and down the driveway and is happy, most days.
But when the girls rode off, the other day, he cried and cried and would not be consoled. And he told me that his bike was stupid and the training wheels were stupid and I shouldn’t have let Chickadee go without him. (Meanwhile, over the radio came Chickadee: “We just passed some acorns. Over!”)
I finally got him calmed down and we played a game for a while until Chickadee came back, but now I’m wondering if this is going to be a crippling social handicap for him, not being able to zip off on his bike. I’m sure he’ll learn to ride it eventually. And hopefully before the other kids start noticing that he can’t.
Today when the kids got home from school and headed outside to play, I heard Monkey tell his sister “And don’t LEAVE me today!” I did see her friend ride past, a bit later, but when I peeked outside Chickadee was busy setting up an obstacle course in the driveway for Monkey. She then got out her scooter and helped him put on his helmet and scoot around the course.
It would probably be wrong to offer her money to teach him to ride his bike. And likely wouldn’t even work. But I considered it.