Friday, July 6, 2012

Dear Spontaneity

Dear Spontaneity,

Seeing that you are not a strong point in my own character traits, should I be alarmed that my kiddo utterly falls apart when faced with your unexpected visit?

I am by no means a spontaneous person.  I like my ducks all lined up in a row.  I like to know things in advance so I can prepare for what to expect.  I order almost always the same exact dish at restaurants.  I operate most of the time with a calendar and to-do list.  Simply, I'm your basic OCD billboard model.  Perhaps once in a blue moon every now and then I try something spontaneous for fun just for the heck of it.  But it turns out that a little family member gets completely thrown off his track that we end up with a major train derailment.

We've had record-breaking heat, like much of the rest of the country this year.  We even skipped the 4th of July parade because we knew it was going to be triple digit temps and no one except Dear Husband likes heat we would have all melted even in the shade.  Dear Husband called off being spectators to the parade for our sake but assured us that we'd go see the fireworks at night when it's only 90 degrees instead

We spent most of Independence Day indoors in the comfort of air conditioning.  Mid afternoon, I went to the kitchen to cut up a watermelon.  I normally cut them into cubes, but that day I cut some up in wedges because Dear Son ate some that way at a party and like it.  So I planned to send them outside to eat them so that Mother Nature can take care of all the juicy-drippy clean up for me.  Then, a light bulb went ding in my head.  I had bought some water balloons for the kiddos a while back, and thought they might like to play with them outside and get wet in this scorching weather.  So I abandoned my watermelon to go fill up the balloons to surprise them.

It took me much longer than I anticipated to make a tub of water balloons.  Between ripping them, spontaneous bursting, and general inexperience on my part, I was wet from waist up by the time I finished.  To keep this a surprise, I asked DH to serve the kiddos watermelon outside, and they were excited about the wedges.  Then I brought the tub of water balloons to them with a I'm-a-Rock-Star-Mom smile on my face and waited for the kiddos to squeal with delight.  Well, Dear Daughter did.  DS looked at them like they were alien eggs about to hatch into monsters that will swallow him whole.  Um, okay.

I asked DH to design games to play with the water balloons so they're not all gone in less the time it took to fill them they'd last for a while.  He and DD decided to play water balloon toss.  A few popped and splashed, and DD giggled.  DS worried about getting wet.  I grabbed one and took a cheap shot at DH to get the fun started.  But I had such bad aim that I missed and it popped on the ground, splashing DD, and she laughed.  DS worried about getting wet.  Then DH held the fort while I went inside to finish cutting up the watermelon.

A few minutes later, DS came inside, wailing.  He had slipped and fell on a wet spot and scraped both his knees.  So I worked my Mommy Magic, fixed him up with bandages, and sent him out again.  But my poor DS was literally 'broken' by the boo-boos, and by this point, falling apart and still worried about getting wet.

Outside, I held his hand and reassured him that his boo-boos were going be okay, and that it was okay to play with the water balloons and get wet.  He continued to worry about getting wet.  The next thing I knew, I got hit by a water balloon right in the stomach by a retaliatory shot from DH.  But because I wasn't flexing my ab muscles anticipating the hit, the boing-y water balloon bounced off the fat on my belly and fell splat on the ground right next to DS and GOT HIM ALL WET.  That really kind of hurt, but I had worse things to manage at the time.

DS broke into another end-of-the-world wail.  Daddy got me all weeee-eeeeet!  Puddles of tears welled up in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.  The distress on his face was so darling yet recognizable at the same time to me.  More hugs and kisses, more Mommy Magic, and more 'it's okays' later, I got DS to calm down.  I, of course, had some urgent business to take care of.  I had to get DH back.

Suffice it to say that I came out the winner despite my very bad aim, because I got wet from one water balloon pop on my back, and DH was soaked from head to toe.  You see, seeing that DS was so bent out of shape from playing with water balloons, I told him that he can go play with the water hose--something he's used to playing--with which he gets wet all the time.  DH came home and said that DS went to town with that water hose on him to 'get him back'. 

So this fun little afternoon water activity really made me think about how much DS is like me, and in ways that may not be the best thing for him.  I wondered: has my lack of spontaneity rubbed off on him so much already?  Is it my dislike for getting wet--on myself or my kiddos--the reason why he didn't want to play with water balloons?  Is his inability to accept new experiences a result of involuntarily acquiring my genes or my scrupulous parenting?  I'm sure I'm guilty on all accounts.

But, in his defense, he has never gotten wet with water balloons before--whereas he gets wet with a water hose more than I like all the time--and it may just take some getting used to.  (We shall find out, since I have another new bag of water balloons to fill and play with.)  And, in my defense, I did find a way for him to play with water on a hot day after all.  I just had to find an activity inside his comfort zone.  Plus, DD was fine the entire time getting wet and having fun, and probably hopefully did think that I was a Rock Star watermelon-wedge-and-water-balloon Mom. 

So, Spontaneity, you came to me us on a surprise visit and rocked my DS' world.  (Granted, those skinned knees may have had something to do with the meltdown, too.)  But you also acted as a reminder that as a parent, I need to help my kiddos manage and cope with surprises in better ways as they will continue to appear in life.  As much as I need to say this to myself, I need to show the kiddos how to be--at least a little bit, every now and then--less deliberate and just roll with it.

A bit.

Every now and then.


It will be hard for me, but I sure as hell will try.  After all, DS is eating watermelon in more ways than one, and um, I had something to do with that, right?



  1. When you first started out, I swore you were writing about me. I go to restaurants based on the one dish I order there, too. Once I find something I like, that's what I order. Also, when spontaneity knocks, I'm there bolting the door and 'shhh'ing the kids hoping it will go on it's merry way. Luckily (but to my distress) the kiddos handle the unexpected better than I do. Good luck on your quest to teach your son that spontaneity isn't always a bad guy :)

    1. Janna, for better or for worse, it gives me so much comfort to know that we are so alike in this aspect! I'm not alone! I'd like to think that we just KNOW what we like/want. DS has actually gotten better than before about new experiences, so I hope he keeps going in that direction. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm not good at being spontaneous either. I like all my ducks in a row and have advance warning when something is about to change. My kids are all pretty good at being spontaneous... much to this mommy's chagrin! Oh, and they would go crazy over a tub of water balloons!!! :)

    1. Maybe it gets worse with age? I remember liking water balloons when I was little. I still need to work on DS... But there is hope, as he asked to play water balloons today, yay! Thanks for sharing, Susi!

  3. This could've happened in my house. My 3 year old son never jumps on the bandwagon. He needs time to absorb new things and will sit on the sidelines until he's ready to join in. He would've cried if I cut the watermelon into a different shape than he's used to. But once he decides he's ready, he goes for it. Some kids need time to transition from one idea to the next. Great post!

    1. That was my DS exactly at age 3. He always needed more time. And I learned that if I let him take his time, it all works out in the end. Sometimes I learned that the hard way, though, but now I know. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Karen! It's nice to meet you through Trifecta! (I wrote about the Binky Fairy on my other blog.)

  4. I so feel your pain. It isn't easy having a child who is so rigid like that. And it isn't you making him that way - so much of it has to be genetic. But hey - we had to introduce change being ok by literally having use change places sometimes at the dinner table, and THAT was a struggle. But it gets better. And I love the water balloon fight.

    PS We DID go to the parade. And sat in the sun. And Mister Man marched with the Cub Scouts. And then my MOM brought water balloons and filled them up. It was a looooong Fourth ;)

    1. Thanks, Michelle. DS HAS gotten better than his earlier years, so I agree that it will continue to go in that direction. And I hear you about changing places at the table. It was 'cosmic disturbance' for DS--something that he just couldn't understand!

      Yeah, I couldn't go bake in that heat for the parade, unfortunately. But YAY for water balloon fun to cool down! I bet your kiddos enjoyed them. =)

  5. Your OCD will be gone by your 500th post, just watch! You are changing and growing as your kids do and pretty soon your ducks will be swimmin' all over the place.. hee hee

    1. No, I'm just saving that for when I'm a grandma and I'll have my ducks everywhere while I watch my DD and DS go OCD overdrive on me. =) I'm so mean.