Sometimes I forget that the person in my life the most adept at driving me crazy….is myself.
This is April vacation week for my kids. A whole week off from school. I remember these days fondly as a child, when the days were footloose and fancy-free…..when I could wake up ‘whenever’…wear ‘whatever’….and there were far fewer restrictions or obligations than there were when school was in session.
My family didn’t plan elaborate vacations or excursions. My parents liked to go camping, but December, February, and April camping were, growing up in Maine, about as enticing a thought as erecting a sweat lodge in Tampa in July. Therefore, I contented myself with exploring the woods behind my house, looking for pollywogs and other wildlife in the brook that trickled and meandered down behind the row of houses on my street, imagining I was fleeing hostile natives in the jungles of Peru, or running through the field across the street from where I grew up, singing ‘The hills are alive….with the sound of music’.
Yes, I really did that.
I looked, last week, for things I could do with the kids this week based upon some pretty easy to meet criteria:
-It had to be free (or in reality cost no more than the gas used to drive somewhere)
-It had to be relatively local
-It had to be somewhere ‘out of the ordinary’ so that every soccer mom and their brood was not standing in line for hours ahead of me waiting to get in.
I came up with a pretty decent list of destinations that would afford hiking easy trails, picnic lunches, and some historical sites of significance in the greater Boston area. I patted myself on the back for my ingenuity and cleverness at finding wide-open spaces and boring old monuments where soccer moms feared to tread. I eagerly awaited Monday morning’s arrival to awaken, dress my cherubs, pack up lunches, and begin our week-long itinerary. I had but one request for them…pick up your playroom and your bedroom before we go. It had morphed into something akin to a tornado-stricken town in the midwest or a war-torn third world village, and really needed some attention. This shouldn’t take, in my estimation, more than perhaps an hour for my cherubs to accomplish, and then the world, or at least that portion of it that lies within a ten mile radius of home, was their oyster!
And then reality came up to me and went toe-to-toe and slapped me straight in the kisser with an ‘OH NO I DON’T THINK SO!’
I suppose I forgot that sometimes asking my two to ‘work together’ is like putting a rabid skunk and a barking dog in a small cage and saying ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ I suppose I forgot that ‘cleaning up’ when you are seven and eight means ‘shove it under the bed or in a closet or just pile it up and say “I’m done!”‘ I suppose I forgot for a moment that an ‘hour long’ task, when you have an impaired attention span, or are prone to meltdowns over even slight provocations, then becomes a day and a half long chore instead.
I suppose I forgot, for a day, my own words in my last non-literary themed post about raising the children you have rather than the ones you want them to be.
Day one of vacation, despite my carefully and thoughtfully mapped out itinerary was a complete bust. I formulated a new plan to either remove toys from the house and start over with a blank slate, or leave the mess there, and bid a fond farewell to the upstairs in my house, pretending it didn’t exist any longer….that it was just a rumored, fabled Shangri-La never to be seen by my eyes.
I didn’t actually do either of these things. Instead, I gassed up, hopped behind the wheel, turned the key in the ignition, and proceeded to drive myself crazy, and most likely my attention challenged children in the process.
I really need to work on being able to simply walk away from non essential things and realize that not everything happens in my time frame. I really need to work on being able to change direction more abruptly rather than entering into a downward spiral of frustration that ends with my face being screwed up into a replica of a cat’s butt, certain that there is steam pouring out of my ears and my face is redder than the ink in a bankrupt company’s accounting ledger.
Mea culpa. I am a dad who keeps having to learn from my kids as much as I try to teach them.
Day two of vacation began essentially the same as day one. Multiple trips up and down the stairs to tattle on one another, or inquire about why squirrels like to run along fences, or ask the time (despite the digital clock upstairs), and very little cleaning. The dark stratus cloud of ADHD distraction hovered ever closer to my second story and threatened to drop a ‘metric f*ck ton’ (as my brother in law would say) of rain upon us all.
And then, lo and behold, a speck of light shone through, and something took hold of the children’s minds and whispered into their cerebral cortex and said, ‘Hey, this upstairs, the one your dad is pretending is no longer there, is kind of boring compared to the outside. This mess on the floor? You can kick its butt in no time. There are two rooms that need cleaning. There are two kids. Maybe if we split up and do our own thing, we can actually get this done, and then have the rest of the day to have some fun! Seems like Dad was talking about having fun this week…..what’s the holdup? LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!’
I have, for the moment, stopped denying that my house has a second floor. I have proof that it exists now because I went up there and can actually SEE the floor. My two kids have a sense of accomplishment that I have gushed over their efforts in achieving. It’s not spotless….it likely won’t last…..but you know what? They did it. Before noon on day two.
So now….while they spend a little time playing baseball in the back yard so Daddy can blog a bit and then pack up a quick picnic lunch and take them to the Bunker Hill monument with North Point Park playground as a backup plan in case the monument is just not cool enough for them….the itinerary begins….at least for today.
The boys have earned some fun.
And Daddy has learned to take his itinerary and shove it….in the trash can. He needs to raise the kids he has, not the ones he wants them to be….or tries to plan out activities for. I can’t say there can be no structure, but sometimes you just have to make up the structure on the fly.
The best laid plans of mice and fathers of children with ADHD….are sometimes the ones you just allow to happen.