THE CHAOS OF COMING BACK FROM HOLIDAY
My toddlers exacerbated my nervous system. Of course I could ‘handle’ them… I train regularly at the gym and I’m also considering specializing in martial arts as they grow larger and hormonal. The issue is that I lost my cool. My peace vibe. The nanny helps me out with them but that day I gave her the morning off since it was the MLK holiday. I mistakenly thought it would be charming to be alone in the company of my sweet cuddly boys.
While the older one was sneaking into the fridge and eating chocolates and dulce de leche (I figured that out from the paper wrappings and the smudges on his face), the younger one was clinging to the hand railing close to the top of the stairs whining in his Woody pajama, holding his milk cup and playing with my sacred iPad. I asked him in a loving tone to come down. He mumbled he couldn’t. I encouraged him again playfully, trying to motivate him to be independent like he typically is. I froze that image of the stubborn boy while I took Benjamin out to my car and buckled him up. I turned on the rear entertainment system (which had been dormant for several months) to make sure he would stay out of trouble. Back inside the house, Sebi hadn’t budged. I toughened my voice, only making him more determined to remain paralyzed. I had no option but to run upstairs appearing to be upset to get a good grip on Sebastian and take him downstairs. My three year old, with thick tears coming down his eyes, wouldn’t go to the bathroom even when I sat him on the toilet. He arched his body back like an olympian and I understood I could not insist any further. Ugh. Another pant soon to be pissed.
When we arrived at our destination, the four year old was too tired to carry his backpack full of snacks and water; since I had no problem in leaving it behind in the car he reluctantly accepted to take it. They were extremely helpful in setting up my step for the gym class and everyone congratulated me for my adorable children. I had to agree they were quite divine in those few minutes. Then Benja cried he didn’t want to go to the toddler room because it’s full of baby stuff. The girl on staff offered to take them to the jungle gym. My heart melted with appreciation. What a relief! Sebastian wanted me to stay and I could hear him yelling out to me “mommy” in a quivering voice as I walked away trying to block out his misery. After my workout, it took me twenty patient minutes to put their shoes on and drag them out of the toddler room to head back home.
As we pulled into our driveway, the idea to wash my filthy car invited itself. Sponges with detergent, one hose with gushing cold water, and four tiny eager hands added to unexpected excitement! I took Sebi’s shoes off and I asked Benja to takes his off by himself. While they scrubbed and hosed with determination I took pictures of them, convincing them that they would ruin my iphone if they got me wet. As water spurted everywhere the screams began. Frustration and delight, intermingled tears and giggles. Then revenge! Both were unsure what to do about their wet clothes and I told them to “keep on cleaning the car! We have to wash away all those bubbles! We’ll change clothes when we get back inside.” Then I saw Benja’s soaked sneakers still on his feet, it could take days for them to dry in the winter sun.
What a thrill! Slightly overwhelming for them and maybe for me too? I walked inside and asked Sebastian to stay by the door so I could bring him a towel; my suggestion was stabbed. He walked behind me like a penguin, leaving thick puddles of water all the way to the kitchen. I stripped his soggy clothes off and he disappeared inside the warm pool towel I wrapped around him. His crying turned into laughter as we repeated how exciting it was to cover the car in bubbles. I sat him on the entrance steps and followed the same procedure with Benjamin. Then I realized that water was still spurting out and I felt a pang of guilt from the squander. As I coiled up the slithery hose back to it’s resting position, Benja started walking naked in the front yard, delighted with his shamelessness. I didn’t intend to make him feel uncomfortable with his body but society still has its restrictions. Prancing naked in the rule free playroom, huge smiles and wet hair clinging to their foreheads, I asked them to behave for two minutes. I needed to get them dry clothes.
A spine chilling screech blew into Sebi’s bedroom as I was choosing his pants. I was on constant high alert and ready for anything. I simply blinked a few extra times. Then Benja yelled up to me that Sebi slipped on a puddle and hit his head on the floor. I walked calmly back downstairs with the fresh pile of clothes and could already see that there was no need for an ambulance. Sebi wanted to be held (for a few seconds) and I dressed both of them for the second time in the day. The nanny called to say she was late. One hour late! Is that ok?, she asked. I just said there wasn’t an alternative.
Be quiet! Stop fighting. Don’t push your brother. Lend him your toy! Behave or I’ll leave at midday and go work for a few hours. I want to enjoy being with you. Woof woof!! My older son calmly asked me if I was upset with someone. Awareness came back to me like lighting and with it came some clarity. His perception amazed me. I wasn’t visibly altered (or was I?), my energy had certainly changed and taken a dip. I explained I was upset that the nanny was late and that I wished they wouldn’t make it so complicated for me. I wanted some peace!
I intended to take them back into my bedroom and retard them into watching a movie on my bed while I showered. Sebi had other plans… he wanted to stay downstairs with his toys so I had no option but to carry him against his will. Screaming in my arms, I smothered him with monster kisses and I was reciprocated with a nasty scratch beside my right eye. Absolutely disappointed with his reaction, I put him down disapprovingly and told him that was unacceptable. My pain was apparent to Benja who ran over to me and started to caress my face with compassion; his dirty hands made my injured skin burn and I was conscious enough to keep that comment to myself. I turned the DVD player on and Benja chose Toy Story 2. Replay number ninty-seven.
Looking at the wound in the bathroom I self prescribed some anti-bacterial cream. Before stepping into the shower I decided to check up on my creepy crawlers. I walked in as Benja was skillfully swinging the remote control over Sebastian’s head; his face of surprise was flooded with guilt. As I went over to calm Sebi down, I saw a big puddle circling my little one’s but. Why did you pee on my bed!?!? I asked in exasperation. Smug and ignoring me, he forgot about his tears and kept his focus on the movie. I took an even deeper breath. Benja announced in a somber tone that my bed was ruined. A part of my agreed that there was no way to take the urine out of the mattress but instead I said that it wasn’t that bad. We just needed to change the sheets. No more drama please!
Then the nanny walked in with a happy tone, ready to help and start working. I welcomed her calmly and explained that I had given her four hours off and that I at least expected her to be on time. Not one hour late. She apologized and rushed off to be of service.
My hot shower was longer than usual… I was trying to melt away the built up tension and still cling on to the feeling that I simply wanted to leave them with the nanny for a few hours. I examined my thoughts and emotions to understand my unease with the kids lack of discipline. I’ve been feeling calmer and more peaceful in my life these past months… Shouldn’t I be more tolerant to turmoil? Or am I just more sensitive to lower vibrations? I realized this was how the universe was testing me that day.
In the afternoon we had the weekly session with a speech therapist where we all participate. My boys wouldn’t sit still, Sebi didn’t want to follow instructions, Benja interrupted repeatedly trying to be funny, they both fell off the chairs, and then it hit me! The unstructured three week holiday in Argentina affected them: over there they had no routine, no bedtime, they ran around the house with their cousins, their grandparents allowed things I didn’t. Adding to that, they had just come back home from spending the weekend with their dad. The lack of discipline and structure destabilized them and they were testing the limits. The speech therapist laughed with me at how difficult it was to get anything done today.
Magically a few lessons clicked into my head. Discipline is important in life; not only do I need to get them back in line, I need to be aware of how I veer off too. Again I was reminded that there is a delicate balance between opening up to life and training our behaviors. I have a feeling life will be teaching me more about that as I focus on that mist.
As long as I resist my kids being wild little things, they will swing like deranged monkeys creating havoc. I understand I must have an infinite source of patience since accepting what is, is a certain road to freedom. Since I gave up asking for peace and I decided to BE peace… this whole week I had a great time bonding with them.
Chaos can be fun with two energetic toddlers but it’s easier to have help, especially during slippery situations. Certainly having someone there with me would have eliminated half the trouble. What I do know is that avoiding life to remain ‘peaceful’ is not real, it won’t make me grow. So… now I’m inviting trouble? Maybe. I guess that’s one way to face life courageously and continue my march toward true Joy.