Thursday, May 15, 2014

Out of Control Kids, or Ma, the Cause is the Same

One day not long ago I had those kids.

You know the ones.

You always want to have those kids. The adorable little angels with curls and blue eyes that make people stop what they are doing to smile.

We went to Costco and I swear, people working behind the windows in the meat department stopped to watch us go past. E3 was a happy baby delight, riding in the seat. Her older sisters skipped and chattered around me like squirrels wanting peanuts in a park. Strangers would stop me to compliment me on how pretty "my" children were. They were polite to the people handing out samples and E2 never failed to say "Thank you."

We had a grand excursion, up until the point they began to get tired and hungry. That was the time we decided to check out and I discovered that somewhere in the store when I had pulled my cell phone out to see if the number needed to be answered, I had also flipped my membership card out. That turned checkout into a more drawn out process.

It also meant I had to stop at the service desk and get a new card before leaving.

At that point, I had "THOSE KIDS."

You know those children as well.

They're all crying and whining about how they don't want to be where they are and even if you open a box of fruit treats and give them one, or stop at the drink machines for bottled water, nothing makes them happy. The baby is lying on her back in the main area of the cart kicking and screaming because she cannot have another fruit treat. The older siblings are in the seats, squabbling with one another and proclaiming quite loudly how unhappy they are to be where they are, how hungry and hot and anything but tired (because children are never tired if there is the possibility of a nap) they are and what a miserable person you are for creating the situation.

Once again, people turned to stare. People eating at the picnic tables stopped eating to look. The ladies working the service desk kept casting nervous glances our way. Some guy touting services watched as people hurried past -- no one would listen to him because that meant listening to us.

I realized this morning that sometimes the coin is flipped.

Sometimes the girls have that grandma, the one who smiles at their drama and adventures and manages to brush it off when they secretly fill an empty juice jug with water just to carry it through the house and dump it in the playroom floor. The one who makes a games out of cleaning up, and getting dressed, and getting the rats' nest out of the curls in the morning, and does gymnastics with them to make it fun.

Other times Ma teeters on the edge and catches herself looking at three little people with frightened faces and has to reel herself back in and try to laugh at herself and turn what was nearly "BAD MA" into something we can laugh at instead.

It all hinges on the same element, it seems. Being tired, or in my case exhausted. Hungry doesn't help. The times I have to rein myself in from not dealing well with their drama are also the times that I have to wrestle harder to cope with my grief. They're the times I need to avoid, but that circumstance often foists upon me. And while it takes longer for my scale to tip than theirs, recognizing the similarity means I need to work harder at cutting them more slack, not less.

I'm the adult, and more in control of when I eat, sleep, and engage in activities than they are on any given day. I should also be more in control of my emotions and recognize when their out of control behavior is actually a mirror of their other needs and sometimes a small reflection of my own as well.

With that in mind, when they are "THOSE KIDS," I'll do my best to be that grandma. Because more important than the opinion of strangers, or the amount of water spilled in the floor, more important than running in a store, or who's lying, is the absolute need to know they are OK and that, good or bad, I love them just the same.

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