Thursday, May 31, 2012

stream of consciousness from the cul de sac

on monday we went to the cul de sac a few blocks from our house.  just us girls.  dad and bryson took a bath while we got the bikes and helmets out after dinner.  they promised me that they were okay with only the half an hour we had to ride.  i carried addie's bike down our steep hill and lily pushed her own. when we got to the cul de sac they rode around.  addie hasn't ridden much after advancing from trike to training wheels, so she was getting used to pushing forward on the pedals to go and pushing backward on the pedals to stop.  every so often she would push backward on accident and lurch to an unexpected stop.  i sat in the sun on the curb marveling at them.  blessings.  they started riding laps around the circle and asking me to count.  addie's laps were much smaller as she attempted to catch up to lily's count.  lily slowed and let her.  they cheered around lap 25 when they were together.  they lapped together until 50.  they celebrated my undivided attention.  i had no where to be and nothing to do but count those laps.  addie kept going in her little circles until lap 70.  she'd smile with accomplishment as she passed me each time, working hard to make those little circles, looking at me with eyebrows raised and a smile, like 'mama, you got that one?'  

a girl from lily's kindergarten class appeared on the sidewalk with another girl, holding hands.  this girl rides the bus with lily and was her first friend last year when they started kindergarten.  she said hi to lily and lily said hi.  every lap lily made around with her little sister, i watched her linger watching the kids her age play.  i heard them talking about telling their dad on a boy who was running around with them.  lily looked on curiously.  i asked her if she wished she could play with them.  she said they didn't seem interested.  in playing with her, that is.  i winced.  the hint of rejection for my little girl.  she said they were telling on someone but she didn't know who.  then she kept riding and looking and lingering, but she asked me to stop counting her laps.  she gave addie some tips on getting going when the pedals aren't in the right place, when you want to start without putting your feet on the ground.  i smiled at her helpfulness toward her little sister.  her little sister grimaced and rode away with a sharp 'i know how, lily'.  even though she didn't.   

i gave the girls their 10 minute warning, and 10 minutes later i gave a 5 minute warning, and i knew we really needed to get home for much needed showers, so about 30 minutes after the first warning, i was reluctantly standing back up and we were circling to go.  we decided to ride home another longer way that wasn't so steep.  a way that they could ride their bikes most of the way, but it isn't totally flat.  lily circles the cul de sac over and over to get momentum up.  i pushed addie ahead and she pedaled hard.  lily caught up to us at the corner.  i told her to keep going, but to stop at the stop sign.  she was able to ride all the way to the stop sign, a few more blocks up a slight hill, she stopped as instructed, and when we caught up with her, she was mad that she had to stop.  that her momentum was gone.  i gave her a mini- lecture about safety and we crossed the intersections after several cars had passed.  lily rode hard until the bottom of our hill, about 2 blocks from our house and then got off her bike and laid next to it on the sidewalk and started to cry.  she was mad that i took all of her momentum away.  mad that i made her stop because addie was too slow.  mad that i don't think she can do it on her own.  and probably mad that she wasn't playing in the cul de sac with the girls her own age rather than riding home and waiting for her unappreciative sister.  i offered to carry her bike up the hill but she didn't want that.  that wasn't the point.  she wanted to ride up the hill and i had ruined everything, she repeatedly screamed from behind me.  you ruined it for me.  i kept walking and praised addie for working so hard and doing so well on her bike.  lily cried some more from behind.  i kept my patience, but she was really ruining it for me, what was just a lovely hour for the three of us.  all for an impossible to ride up hill, anyway.

or was that really it?

it got me to thinking.  of how the things we act mad about aren't usually the things we are really mad about.  of how we take out our frustrations on the the person right in front of us, the one we love the most, the one who loves us the most, the one with whom we can get away with it.  our safe place.  and sometimes we ruin things for our safe person, why do we do that?  she was really just mad because going home meant the end to a wonderful, long three day weekend.  a weekend of playing outside for every day-lit minute.  a weekend of ocean waves and kites and sand and mud and grass stains.  a weekend with little discipline and very relaxed parents.  it meant up too early for school tomorrow and mom and dad back to work.  that ride home meant the start of the dreaded week of rush rush rush.  she wasn't mad at me for stopping her at the stop sign.  she was sad that the end of the day and the end of the weekend had come.  

and so was i.  
but i was grateful to go to a place of understanding and sympathy for her little seven-year-old heart, rather than get angry at her tantrum.  later that night i had a little tantrum of my own.  one that didn't have anything to do with what i cried about.  

we aren't so different, lily and i. 


  1. Beautiful Jenny! I just love you you explain the 'moments'. You know, the moments where you receive clarity that THIS, is what it's all about.

    And each time we understand our children more and ourselves more make those moments even more precious.

    Love you friend.

  2. I don't know if you know how much you bless the rest of us with your insight. I need to remember that the temper tantrums may not have anything to do with me, but with the sadness of the situation. Thank you! Lynnette

  3. This made me cry a little... so true! I'm so glad that you were able to see what was really bothering her and not lash back, as it is so easy to do. Parenthood sure does grow you!

  4. Jenny, it's so true - what you say about the weekend ending and how we inadvertently take it out on the ones we love the most. About 10 years ago I was dating this guy who worked for a horrible man. HORRIBLE. The guy made the thought of going in to work just unimaginable for this nice man I dated. Every Sunday at about noon, this nice man would turn. All of a sudden you knew he was thinking about the crappy week ahead. You knew he was feeling the stress and Sunday wasn't even close to being over. I adjusted. I agreed to see him on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays for breakfast occasionally... but that was it. His mood made my Sunday crap... and as hard as I tried, I couldn't help him enjoy a few more hours of the weekend.

    That nice man left that stressful workplace and returned home to Wisconsin about 6 months later. Of course we weren't dating by that time. I was so happy to hear the news.

    Mondays are hard. But, that hardness should not be allowed to ruin all Sunday-Fundays! I love that you had some QT with the girls. Man. How lucky you all are to enjoy some moments like that!! It seems like Lily has been going through some growing pains lately. (Thinking back to your post about your brother and how Lily acted up). I don't remember what it was like to be that age, to struggle for freedom, to be... basically PMS-ing all the time. I wish you could give her a hug and make it all better. But, in the end... your parenting and the structure it provides will hopefully make all your little ones come around in the end. I know I wish I could throw a doozie of a temper tantrum some days. But, self control and dignity necessitates a different behavior. (darn.)