April 23rd, 2009

Exact Change Only

Transition. I hate it. This is a character flaw.

Not that I don’t have my reasons. Wednesdays are often challenging because the kids go from one house to the other. Syd, in particular, rails about how annoying it is to have to figure out what essentials need to go back and forth. Things get left behind and calculations have to be made about whether or not another trip back and forth is worth it.

They have to go from one state of mind to the other, too. Rick and I agree, in broad outline, about parenting principles, but we are different people. I am the hard-ass. I post lists of to-dos and give bed times and enforce flute practice. Fortunately, I am also the one who takes T. swimming and Syd to the gym; otherwise, I’d be seriously unpopular.

The kids deal with the change by picking at each other. For extra bonus points, they get a long car ride cooped up together to do it in. I often arrive home from Wednesday pick up thinking that maybe my next stop should be the looney bin, or at least somewhere quiet where I can be all by myself. And this is in spite of my best efforts to breathe deeply and prepare myself. I try to think of calming conversation topics in advance, to keep things light, to put on music that everyone likes.

The thing is, Wednesdays are just an extreme example. I’m always in transition. It’s not just about whether or not the kids are with me. It’s about the transition from being a parent of an elementary school kid to one with a middle-schooler. From brown-haired to gray. From overweight and flabby to overweight and less flabby. From asleep to awake and back again. Stuff just keeps changing.

I am in transition between not coping and coping. Please be patient with me.