Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family Vacation, Part I

So. Big sigh. We just got back from a little family vacation to Wyoming. I was so excited about it and excited for the kids to love it and to eat out, make smore's, laugh, get away and just party. I guess vacations are like labor in that you forget how horrible it can be and you get anxious to do it again soon after. Now, for starters, is it just the men that I know or do all men get angry getting ready for the road and the following oh, thirty minutes into the drive? We were actually right on time for our departure (which in itself is truly astounding) so I'm not totally sure what happened here.

I know there must be a clinical term for this syndrome. "Loading-Zone Self-Imposed Isolationist Anger" syndrome where they want help loading the car but then when you try to help you aren't doing it right and they get angry that they then have to do it themselves. Go figure. Or perhaps the "Late Departure Depression" syndrome; this is when you set a completely unrealistic goal for when you want to depart and it is not surprisingly ever met leading to an adult tantrum right as you get in the car to leave on your fun-filled, happy-go-lucky trip. This one never fails; never in my travel experiences have we ever left when we wanted to.

There is also the "Pre-Drive Testosterone Car Check" syndrome. This is when the man, being the real man that he is, piles upon himself the added obligation to at the last minute change the oil (on his own), air filters, rotate the tires, wash and wax and vacuum the car all the night before you head out. This issue is always compounded by the female version of this which is "The-House-Must-Be-The-Cleanest-It-Has-Ever-Been Disorder" (which similarly must be done the night before). Either way, this is where the real-life version of 'Clash of the Titans' happens in the home because Mr. Testosterone is secretly mad that the wife didn't just take the damn car to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed, drive through the car wash and vacuum out the car herself - because honestly, she is the one home all day. On the other hand, Mrs. Estrogen has flames shooting out of her eye balls because the kids are running around the house like a scene out of 'Raising Arizona' and the man should be inside helping her clean and getting the kids packed (because why couldn't the man have dealt with the car stuff earlier this week?).

Or is it just "Trip-Induced Psychosis" which is simply that any time you get ready for a trip, the man goes nuts regardless of the circumstances. At any rate, this is always how the trip starts out and I don't know why I expect anything less. I'd add fun pictures to accompany this little diatribe but flaming eyeballs always prevent me from capturing these most thrilling of moments. More to come - that's just getting out the door.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Agree With Thine Adversary Quickly

There seems to be a theme in my life at the moment and it is this: Be the bigger person or in other words, agree with thine adversary quickly. It’s popping up in my marriage, with ex-spouses, and even friends asking for advice in their relationships. It’s a tough road to take because there are definitely moments when I’m in the right (it's okay - it does happen that sometimes you ARE right and sometimes you ARE wrong) and justified in my frustration. I have to stop and consider two things:

1)      Is it worth the contention

2)      By engaging in this conversation is the outcome going to be in my favor

Usually, it isn’t worth the contention and the outcome won’t be in my favor because of two other things:

1)      You can’t talk logically with an irrational person (anger and frustration – aside from crazy – render a person irrational)

2)      People need their point to be the one that sticks

The issue often morphs into being about who will win the argument or about who ultimately is right. In the end I’ve found that most people really don’t want to give up their stance because in some small way it might mean that they aren’t totally right (pride) OR that there could be another way to look at the scenario. The human psyche is a great and fascinating and terrifying beast all at once. In the end, I have to tell myself that I have no control over other people and all I can do is continue to be a good and honest person myself. And then finally, once I make the decision to agree quickly with mine adversary, I have to also make the decision to let the issue go. I find the 'letting it go' part to be the toughest but most important element (and the one that will allow you to be ulcer-free). I'm learning that even with adults, life is smoother when you pick and choose your battles and learn to be flexible. Yes - sometimes taking the high road makes me so damn mad, but I'm a work in progress. :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Welcome to the Terrible Two's - For Real

Look at that angelic face. Oh so deceiving! I feel like I might spontaneously turn into a gelatinous mass and ooze through the wicker weave of my chair as I sit here. It's scorching hot outside, moods are scorching hot inside and I'm contemplating why I am exhausted. But then I hear the sound of a plastic car falling to the floor, immediate crying and then the sound of more cars being flung in anger and hitting other household items. The terrible two's have finally struck my home with a vengeance. I have a third little Chernobyl reactor in this home and I suppose I'm wondering if I'll survive the fallout. People do - somehow. How do people with multiple kids under the age of five do it? My head might explode if I sincerely try to figure that one out.

My parents came by last night for a fourth of July hamburger and chips and dip dinner (and please notice this gorgeous lemon meringue pie I made from scratch) and it was the first time they had been around my little guy since becoming a tantruming two-year-old. My mom mentioned that she read that the name "terrible two's" came from the fact that at this age, their little brains are growing and changing so fast that they struggle to process everything coming their way so they simple freak out. Ironically, this is similarly what happens in 'explosive kids' (The Explosive Child. Read it). Although their issue stems more from underdeveloped lobes and mis-fires in the brain (which can be worked through over time). So, I've got an emotional teenager, explosive child, and tantruming two-yeard-old. Regardless of all the facts about brains, the unregulated and passionate emotional flare-ups happening around here might transform me into something slightly resembling Chet from Weird Science after Kelly LeBrock finishes with him.

This isn't why I have been MIA however. Summer overall has taken a toll with all my reactors running around the house and preparing for a trip to Texas. I took Curly (as we often refer to the two-year-old when he gets angry and does a dance similar to Curly from the Three Stooges) on a flight to Texas (on my own) and that is when the diaper really hit the fan. Aside from quick reactions, he is also very strong-willed and independent (people nicely refer to him as 'active' but that is such a tiny piece to this whole equation); he prefers to not be by my side and to make this happen as quickly as possibly. This is why I now have him on a leash everywhere I go (including the airport). He was laying on the floor in the security line and threw himself into a heap on the ground when he didn't get to board the airplane first, meanwhile my luggage is falling all over the place obscuring walkways and I'm dropping boarding passes and sweating profusely. Totally awesome.

Once we got to Texas his schedule was shot to hell. We spent most of our time outside in sweltering humid heat, he continued to meltdown all over the place and for the majority of the time, over nothing - my husband and I couldn't figure out what the devil he was so upset about (he totally lost it for a good twenty minutes just as we walked in the gates of SeaWorld). It was helpful that we didn't have an agenda and we just sat down with him and let him scream while people either smiled sympathetically at us or gave us a dirty look. Either way, whatever. I know we aren't the first people to deal with this and we won't be the last. My goal is to develop a sense of humor about it. My other goal is to continue to employ my mantra of maintaining control of myself when I feel about ready myself to meltdown. Speaking of which, I had to laugh when I took this picture because Curly at first was at the edge of the couch just watching Preston, like a tiger in the grass and then got down onto all fours, sneaking along and waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

Sigh. The trickiest part amidst all these reactors is keeping my own reactor cool. While perusing the web I came across a gal who blogged about her year-long temper sabbatical (something about an orange rhino). She noted that the biggest change was not in her but in her kids and the changes she saw in her own children's behavior and reactions to life's situations; it was inspiring. While taking this challenge on for myself would obviously not be original, it could prove to be an adventure of its own and I'm always up for a challenge. Just look at that cute little bugger. That picture was taken right before he spilled my water all over the table. Go figure. :)