A few of you have asked whatever happened in the Xtina saga, and the inconvenient truth is that there just isn’t much to tell. I’d love to tell you that she and Chickadee have become the best of friends or that my daughter is somehow helping her out and making her life easier, but the reality is that Chickadee is pretty much avoiding her and Xtina continues to get into trouble on a regular basis. None of the kids like her very much, from what I hear, and although I do remind Chickie that I expect her to be kind (or at the very least, not mean), the avoidance routine is working out pretty well. Her teacher counsels her to steer clear, even, so what else can we do? As much as I’d love it for my daughter to be the one to make this little girl’s life better, my first priority is MY kid. That’s the sad and selfish truth.
It would make a better story some other way, but what I’m learning is that when it comes to my children, excessive storytelling is starting to get on my last nerve.
There’s a lot I don’t talk about, when it comes to my kids, either out of concern for their privacy or because I fear their father will read and take something the wrong way. The inconvenient truth of being the custodial parent is that there are moments, yes, treasured moments of wonderful that make it all worth it, but they are tucked in amongst a daily drudgery of being The Mean One.
Most of the time I weather this reality pretty well, but yesterday was an exceptional day. I do not mean that in a “wow, this is exceptional like unicorns and rainbows” manner.
Although I realize I often talk about Monkey as if he is nothing but sweetness and light, the inconvenient truth about my son is that IN ADDITION to being a big ball of love personified, his various issues result in some “quirks” that DRIVE ME UP A FREAKING WALL. One of these charming little facets of his personality is that he is given to adopting an exaggerated version of reality in many ways. Now, it’s the sensory issues that cause him to cry out “SHE PUNCHED ME” when Chickadee merely brushes past him; after years of thinking he was just a drama queen, we did learn that maybe it really does feel that way to him. Fine. I do not think it’s his sensory issues, however, that cause him to play the victim in so many other ways.
Allow me to set the stage: Yesterday, Monkey had six reading comprehension questions to answer for homework. In a perfect world, that assignment should have taken… SIX MINUTES. In a Monkey world, okay, let’s give him twenty minutes. Heck—let’s give him an entire half an hour. That should’ve been plenty of time.
The inconvenient truth is that it took him TWO ENTIRE HOURS to finish it, and that was amidst continual nagging from me and schlepping around to various places we needed to go. By the time the homework was completed I was THIS CLOSE to gnawing his face off. Some days, and on some things, he can focus flawlessly. Some days (like yesterday) he cannot seem to stay on task and everything is a struggle. I accept this as best I can.
But when Monkey got on the phone with his father last night, Otto and I were standing in the kitchen while he ran into the living room and JUMPED UP ON and WALKED ACROSS the couch. It had just been that kind of day when he cannot seem to rein in his mind or body. I get that. But with the urge to GNAW HIS FACE OFF so fresh in my mind, I bellowed from where I stood “GET! OFF! THE! COUCH!”
And that was bad enough, really, but then as clear as day I heard Monkey tell his father, “I don’t know WHY Mama is yelling at me! I was just STANDING THERE next to the couch!”
The inconvenient truth is that my ex is prone to complain bitterly if he feels I am “eavesdropping” on his calls with the kids, but sometimes I hear things because we happen to be in the same house. I try to give them privacy for their calls, but such is life. So I heard this, and I wanted to smash my head into the nearest wall, because it’s not bad enough that I spent the entire afternoon shuttling the kids around and riding herd on homework and TRYING to be a calm and good and understanding mother, but here was my son with his moral outrage at having been hollered at over “nothing.” And sharing that with his father, who I hope would know better than to believe him, but who knows.
The other inconvenient truth is that THEN my daughter—who had mouthed off to me in front of her Tae Kwon Do teacher less than an hour earlier in such a way that I was certain I had reached a new height of mortification—got on the phone with her father to complain about the injustice of me being angry with her. Of course, she may have left out a few key details. Like what she did.
I know, I know; it’s a thankless job, some days, and that’s how it goes and I should suck it up. That is true of being a parent, period. But the inconvenient truth is that when my kids so blatantly act like they have it SO ROUGH here with me and then are sweetness and light for their dad on the phone, I take it personally even though I know I shouldn’t. And I start to doubt myself, even though I know I don’t need to do that, either.
On the other hand, somehow I managed not to turn my alarm on last night and we all overslept, and as I was racing around and barking at the children this morning the inconvenient truth is that I felt that anger bubbling up again even though I’d vowed, last night, to start over fresh this morning. And while I was packing lunches Chickadee needed her homework signed, and when I said “just a minute,” Otto offered to check it and sign it for her. And without hesitation she handed it over and let him pen his name in the “parent signature” spot and then thanked him.
So maybe the inconvenient truth is that everything is actually fine.