Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grit and bear it

We played too long today. It was my fault really. As most things are. I tried to fit in too much. My plans were evidently too ambitious. And I didn't realize they weren't working until they really weren't working — and I had to carry a kicking and screaming five year old out of a local family fun place.

The day started out happy enough (albeit a little too early, which is of course my fault, too). Josh met his best buddy at their Thursday morning ceramics class where they made the cutest jellyfish on the planet. Afterward, I thought a trip to a nearby kid's gym would help both kids burn off some energy.

And all was going well, until Josh crashed into Sami at the bottom of the bouncy slide and later somehow knocked her down "accidentally" and was warned that the next infraction would be his last. So when he demanded to trade fire hats with Sami a half-hour later, I should have known trouble was brewing. But Sami sweetly traded, and all was calm on the Western front...until Josh immediately changed his mind and demanded to trade back. That's when I intervened. And that's when Josh hurled the small train car I didn't know he'd been holding onto the train table, which sent it careening perilously close to a group of innocent toddlers playing nearby.

That's when our playdate abruptly ended. The only thing left to do was strong-arm a willful, screeching, plea-bargaining preschooler down an elevator, through the main lobby past what seemed like hundreds of other sane families, and across the parking lot — and avoid eye contact all the way.

I knew immediately that it was my fault. I tried to squeeze in too many things today. After I kept him up too late last night, which caused him to wake up too early this morning. After I kept him too busy with so many other activities all week so I could tackle too many freelance deadlines at home. All week, I built a precarious tower of tiny decisions, stacking one after another on top of each other, until they all came tumbling down — with Josh howling and gasping and wailing and yelling all the way home.

Or maybe it was just a tantrum. An unpredictable outburst of anger and frustration from a young child who wanted to stay and play and possibly annoy his BFF a little longer. Perhaps he was just having a bad day for no particular reason other than that he's five. I guess I'll never know.

Tonight as I think about it, I am thankful that I had already been through that several times before. I'm thankful that I know all those other families in the lobby have been, too. While overstimulation may breed meltdowns, experience breeds grit. And boy did I need all the grit I could get today.

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