I struggle with what to post on this blog. Daily, there are so many things that I could tell you, that I would really love to write about. My husband recently referred to it as “blog fodder.” I think that’s hilarious. But really, I struggle. The thing is, this is public. I want to share our stories, encourage and educate, but the reality of it is, I don’t want to embarrass my kids. One day they might read this, and I would hate for them to think that I was sharing things about them with the world that they would really rather I did not. It’s a tough one for me.
I want to be open, and they are the most important people in my world, so I need to be able to be open with them. At times I feel like I might be censoring some of our harder moments in an effort to protect them. I am okay with that.
However, it really is hard sometimes. I think this is something that is worth sharing, because when they grow up and have kids of their own, I want them to know that I get it. I love them and support them no matter what, and parenting is hard. There is so much to learn. I feel like I am self-reflecting a lot lately.
Recently I have tried to do things I thought were simple and fun, only to have Jake fall apart. My attempts to provide easy happy activities have turned disastrous. We planned to go to a nearby provincial park and have a fire, roast some hot dogs, and play outside for dinner. I wanted to be away— from people, from my house and our mess, and just relax and enjoy my kids. We have done this so many times, it felt like a guarantee. Just go out, relax, have some fun.
Well, we had not done it with three kids before. And we had not done it yet this spring. But I wasn’t worried. Not at all. Jake was tired, but we went to church. It went well. I had to pick up some groceries and my husband had marking to do, and so the boys went to their grandparents’ house for an hour while Penny napped. The plan was beautiful. I picked them up after shopping and we went home to load up and head out.
I don’t have any idea what went wrong first. Jake didn’t want to play in the sand. He didn’t want to play in the water. He was hungry. We toughed it out another fifteen minutes, no, ten, no, five, then headed up to make our fire. I forgot the boys’ water bottles. There was lemon water but that tasted funny. There were cans of carbonated water but that was weird. There was Penny’s water, and so Jake finally settled on that. After tears. Many tears. Then the fire was too smoky. Then the hot dogs weren’t right. Then he was tired and ready to go home. We toughed it out again, trying to regain some feeling of fun, of relaxation, when he was so wound and not fun. Argh! Miserable.
We finally left, and made it home for a pretty early bedtime. It wasn’t all bad. Penny loved it. Aiden loved the sand and the lake and was sulky after we left that part. I promised him I’d take him back. Being in the trees and the air was wonderful.
I just didn’t want to skip doing something that we all loved just because Jake was falling apart. Partially because this was something he loved so much last summer, I really missed that. But the whole day left me drained and emotional. I can see now that there was too much going on in one day. If I want to plan a beach picnic, that needs to be the only real event of the day.
Another night I wanted to plant the seedlings in the garden. The boys have been caring for these little plants and helped me plant the seeds. I wanted them to be a part of the next stage. However, Jake was not really up for it. Everything was bothering him. The sun, the dirt, the brother who was in his way.
Again, there were tears and whining.
Eventually he was yelling, “I am tired! You are not listening to me!”
And so we cut and ran. We went inside, and got ready and put the boys to bed. I felt like it was the only thing to do. I finished the planting myself and tried to not be disappointed. I want to listen to him. I want him to know that I am trying. It’s so hard, when I feel like saying, just have fun! But it isn’t fun. Not for him, and therefore, not for me. Of course, we were up later in the night with a fever and that totally explains it all. He wasn’t feeling well. I’m sad for him. I’m sad for all of us! This isn’t easy!
Last year, a mom of an autistic student of mine was describing her struggles when taking her son to Disney Land. She wanted him to go on rides with her, so that he wasn’t missing out on any of the fun. Some of those rides he adamantly refused, and she was reflecting on this with me. She said that it wasn’t right that she was trying to project her idea of fun onto her son, that he needed to enjoy what she enjoyed. It makes so much sense to me. Her son had more fun watching parades, shopping, and on some of the easier rides.
And yet, I just want to enjoy these things together. I don’t want to stress him out, I just need to figure out how to make sure that I am listening, prepping, and, I guess, doing more to make situations work for Jake.