The day started off early for a Saturday morning, 6:30am at a cabin by the lake (we had hoped the kids would sleep in since we kept them up 2 hours past their bedtime the night before…that just NEVER works!). I had packed donuts for the kids, coffee for me and we had a pool waiting for the kids to burn off the sugar. Excitement was in the air. We put on our swimsuits, sunscreen, packed up the huge beach bag with towels, floaties, more sunscreen, phones, cash, water, and juice. An hour and a half later we were ready, but the pool wasn’t open just yet.
The energy and noise inside the teeny-tiny one bedroom cabin was too much to wait, so we took the kids for a walk around the lake to see the geese, the water, play at the playground – just relax and enjoy the cool morning in an area where the noise doesn’t bounce off the walls and amplify the chaos.
I should say TRY and enjoy the cool morning, which was made difficult with LilMan saying about every five steps “I want to go to the pool, when are we going to the pool?” – “after we play on the play ground for bit.”
Em, who is dawdling behind all of us, throws in the “why?’” – “because the pool doesn’t open until 9 or 10.” – “why?” – “I don’t know.” (God I can’t wait to get past this why stage).
We made it to the pool around 8:45 and people were already there – whew! LilMan kicked off his flip flops, threw his shirt to the side and jumped in before we even made it through the gate. Em tentatively walked around the pool and sat down in the kiddie pool. And that was about the way it stayed.
Lilman fearlessly jumped into the pool because he can touch the ground and is getting much better at swimming. He showed us over and over again how he can swim under water and do a cannonball. But what he enjoyed the most was playing with Ben. He and Ben would throw a water football to each other. And when they grew tired of the football, LilMan became the football for Ben to toss. LilMan had a smile on his face the whole time.
Em on the other hand, put a death grip around our necks and arms and wouldn’t take ANY swimming instruction at all. She mostly hung out in the 1 foot kiddie pool with her princess beach ball and occasionally be the third man in a round of football tossing.
Around 10:30am the kids were done with the pool, we know this because they start whining “I’m dooonnnneee…I want to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house.”
When it comes to family outings, Ben and I pretty much go with the flow. So, we pack up all of the pool supplies and we all walk back to the cabin to change into dry clothes and head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house. We walked in 90 degree weather with two cranky, SLOW, kids who at every interesting rock would stop and say “hey, hey, Em, look at this rock” or “its hooooottttt, oh this is taking forevveerrr” with a dramatic slump of the shoulders while dragging his feet. And it did take forever, Ben and I would walk this short trail in 5 minutes, but with two dramatic and easily distracted kids, it took 20 minutes and that’s with me carrying Em because she was “tired of walking”.
Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house is always a great place to visit, but let me qualify a lake house. It’s a dwelling on a lake. Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house is a tin can on a lake – a very nice tin can, but it’s not a 3 story chalet on the lake that typically comes to mind when you hear the word ‘lake house’. It’s a covered RV on a concrete slab, nice patio area, fire-pit and a carport for the golf cart. It is perfect for a retired couple to get away together, or Grandpa to take off for a fishing weekend while Grandma paints and reads back home. It’s a place where we will make fond memories of sitting outside watching the plasma TV that hangs in the carport while eating hot dogs, fried fish and hushpuppies, riding the golf cart around the lake and visiting others (Santa even has a property out at the lake to vacation when he’s away from the North Pole). We love to visit Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house.
After the long, duration not distance, walk to Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house, the kids were greeted with bowls of cheesy puffs, soda, chocolate milk and that was just the appetizer!
We had a nice summer lunch of chips, ham and cheese sandwiches, cookies and beverage of choice. With bellies full and two irritable and spoiled kids with heavy lids, it was nap time. We piled onto Grandma and Grandpa’s canary yellow golf cart and rode back to our little cabin.
Putting a 3 and 5 year old down for a nap in futon , in the same room where mom and dad are is not an easy thing to do. So we tuck them in and tell them “It’s time to take a nap. After naps we get to go to the pool again, but we can’t go if you don’t take a nap.” The kids are laying next to each other in their individual nap sacks of Tinker Bell and Cars starting to whisper, which escalates talking. Where I say, “Be quiet, it’s time to take naps!”
It’s like they heard me and didn’t believe that it was time to take naps, or perhaps they heard that it was time to wrestle. Because wrestling ensued along with giggling and loud talking. We’ll that’s just not conducive to mom and dad getting naps either. And we KNEW that if they didn’t get a nap, by 3:00pm we’d be walking around with two mini Mount Vesuvius ready to erupt…and no one wants that. So we needed to take other measures.
Ben and I aren’t fans of spanking our kids, we’ve done it and will do it again, but we just aren’t fans of it for punishments. Spanking does a great job of getting their attention and achieving the desired result. But the downsides are: we feel bad about it, it leads to crying – not a good thing in a cabin with thin walls and plus the whole, ‘this will hurt me more than it will hurt you’, it’s not just something parents say because of the emotional bond that we have with our children. No. It is because it really makes your hand hurt! So, in this instance, instead of spanking we take away stuff and make promises of taking away other stuff if the behavior doesn’t change.
“If I hear one more word, I’ll take the money Grandma gave you to play in the game center and you won’t get to play a game. Do you understand?” – “yes”.
I swear it wasn’t 10 seconds later, just long enough for me to lay back down, before I hear Em say “hey, hey” and I didn’t hear what she said to Lilman because I was already saying “Em, you just lost your money. Talk again and you won’t get any candy from Grandma and Grandpa either.”
10 seconds later, Lilman started talking; to which I reacted “You just lost your money too! Do you want to lose candy too?” – “No mam.”
“Ok, Em you face me. Lilman, you face the wall. And not another word!”
I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of making them face away from each other before! I was beaming with pride that I came up with that idea and looked over at Ben who gave me a grin with an affirmative nod. Mental high five!
And we all took a nap.
I dreamed that we are all on a Dodge 80′s something-or-other mini van driving backwards down the highway. In the dream, the kids are occasionally yelling at each other, throwing things, pinching each other (the general stuff that happens on road trips). Ben and I are growing more and more frustrated because the usual threats are not working. “Stop that right now.” Ben and I pull the van over (mind you we are still driving backwards) to try and figure out how to handle the kids and turn the car around without majorly disrupting traffic.
I awoke from the dream in the cabin by the lake. The dream brought to me the crashing reality – we don’t have a clue what we are doing. We are driving a car backwards down an unknown highway and occasionally giving each other mental high-fives when we figure out how to handle the kids without laying a hand on them.
What I Learned Today: As parents, we don’t have a clue! We are driving backwards down a highway trying to figure out how to turn it all around, enjoy the ride and keep everyone safe, happy and healthy. Sometimes we don’t know how, but we are all in this together and it sure helps when you have a driver and navigator who support each other.
I have a wonderful and supportive husband/father/partner.