As I was cleaning up after dinner, I looked out from my position at the sink to see all three of the men in my life on separate devices. Dad at the table on his iPad, Pea on the couch on my iPhone and Little Bear at the computer watching Blue’s Clues. I thought it was pretty cute. I kept washing dishes.
Occasionally, I think about how I’m mostly the worst mom ever. No, that’s not true…I think about how I would be labeled as the worst mom ever if anyone ever found out that I kinda don’t care about all the things. I don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules here, aside from the obvious. I’m all about everyone being GOOD PEOPLE…respectful, loving, kind. There are rules about hitting, foul language, being online without a parent (NO), respecting our elders, not using a Sharpie if you are under 35 – the basics. But I don’t have screen time rules or snack rules or play rules. I might just look up at 2:30 one afternoon and shout, “Let’s go outside!” if I feel like the screens have been going for too long. (But not now. It’s 4,876 degrees outside, for the love of all that is holy.) If it’s 4:30 and I’m waaaaay behind on dinner (like maybe always-ish), I’ll let them dig into the fruit snacks or Goldfish. If Pea wants to run a strip of masking tape down the middle of the entire staircase and place HUGE neon green traffic cones on the landing with signs directing which way is up and which way is down, I might let him. Or I did let him and I just tripped over a cone while putting up laundry. But I digress.
I have a feeling that this way of thinking stems from having my oldest child born with a serious anxiety disorder. Things in our house don’t look exactly like they might elsewhere. I can’t even be sure on that one, honestly. I’ve never known a different way! But I do know that things taken for granted by other folks are high stress moments in our house. When Pea was little bitty, he stopped being able to get a haircut at all. AT. ALL. The worst moments were when I would offer him a present in exchange for going inside a salon. He wanted a toy so badly, but he couldn’t turn off his anxiety in order to get one. I will never forget that day…he was four years old and crouched in the very back of the SUV, shaking and crying and begging me not to leave the parking lot because he was still trying to get out. We sat there for almost two hours while he tried. It never happened. (and you can bet your bottom dollar that I bought him a toy, anyway.) I bought all the tools to cut hair and watched YouTube videos on how to do it. Pea looked very strange for quite some time there. (Never ask me to cut your hair.) We worked so hard to get him back in a salon that by the time he did it, I think I bought him his own island. Or everything at Staples. SOMETHING GOOD. We kept it up – he gets little rewards every single time he makes it inside to get his hair cut. To this day. Usually just a new pack of pencils or a new lanyard (we can talk about Pea’s choice in toys later), but always a little something. It’s our thing. He had to drop out of an entire season of T-ball when he was 4 because he couldn’t get out of the car at the new field. We tried for 3 weeks in a row. The last straw was that last week when I was snack mom. I had to drop the snacks off to my friend and head home with Pea. He got sick in the car that day. He was beside himself. He wanted to do all of these things, but couldn’t. I have a hard rule that I don’t spend more than $150 on a new sport/event/thing because you never know if he’ll be able to actually do it and we often lose the money. But we think it’s VERY important that he TRY if he wants to. We always want him to try. So we got this awesome team of doctors and therapists and we started working on it and he fights like a warrior all the time. He started taking medicine that helped him finally get out of the car. He goes to therapy to learn and practice all the tricks to help him not get under his desk at school when a substitute walks in the door. The world looks very different through his eyes and it’s the minutiae that gets us. The decor in a restaurant, the resting face of a new therapist, the feeling of a pair of socks, the smell of the cafeteria, waking up late, switching to long sleeves, accidentally laying eyes on the little flyer with the impoverished child from the Feed the Children campaign, hearing a classmate get reprimanded, the sound of the gym at school, the loud music that floated through the walls when he tried to come to MY gym, riding in someone else’s car, the red lights and which lane I’m in and when I should turn…the list goes on and on and ON. I suppose that when you never know exactly what is going to go wrong – you stop worrying about things like official screen time limits and snacks before dinner. I don’t fault ANYONE for having these rules – don’t get me wrong! I sometimes wish we lived a “normal” life (as if there is a such thing) where I worried more about how many episodes of Stampy he was watching and less about how I’m going to convince him that it’s okay to walk upstairs without an adult.
But seriously…those fruit snacks are TOTALLY organic and I’m pretty sure they don’t have that red dye. It’s not like I’m a hooligan or something. 😉