Monday, October 08, 2007

Zen and the Art of Parenting

I always forget.

We arrived in the country late, after detouring to meet K and J and have dinner with N who had decided not to go with us.

Everything was fine the next morning. E went off with some of her favorite people, M hung with her peeps, and I planted an entire bed of garlic with a bunch of moms and thought about Kelly.

Then things started to fall apart. After lunch, I wanted to sit on the porch and read, but E was on me, over me, around me, determined not to embrace any of my suggestions for alternative activities (play with a friend? climb? read her own book?). When it was time to decide on an afternoon project, we entered total collapse. I knew what I wanted to do, and it was not what M and E wanted to do. I tried to find something they wanted to do, knowing I would have to do it too, and resenting the fact mightily, but that effort was singularly unsuccessful. Finally, unilaterally, I decreed that the afternoon project would be a nap.

M acquiesced, realizing, with the maturity of eleven, that the problem was exhaustion, but E, oh E. E was positively operatic in her resistance. The wails resounded through the valley. Everyone else got to do something fun! She never got to do anything fun! She was NOT TIRED!

Which of course meant that she was tired, though I must admit that the prolongedness of her resistance made me doubt my eleven years of parental experience. Finally I told her that if she could stay quiet for ten minutes and was still awake, we'd go do something fun. The sobs eventually stopped, and three minutes later she was asleep. She slept for an hour.

I was supposed to go running with K, but I didn't. I took the girls swimming instead. And took a walk with them to the barn, because that's what they wanted to do. And they both were delightfully cheerful and charming, and we had a very nice time.

And I remembered, yet again, that sometimes you just have to go with what they need and want, regardless of your own desires, and when you do, everyone ends up happier.


Jenny Davidson said...

Swimming is always good, and I am glad everyone was charming in the end at least...

Libby said...

what I want to know is, at what point in parenting will I just know this and not need to relearn it painfully every time?

Glad the swim and the walk ended up ok anyway.

Kelly said...

surrender always takes so much extra mental work...but is mostly worth it. I say mostly, because dang, it'd be nice to have the others give up their wants once in a while...

and thanks for the reminder, I've got to get my garlic planted this week!