Somewhere between Thanksgiving, and the next day, something magical happens each year in our home. Our “Magic Elves” appear. Santa sends them along on a magical slipstream of wind and snowflakes, to join our family for another season of merriment and mischief.
This is the fifth year.
That means we’ve had to come up with more than 100 clever and unique “things” for the elves to do each night. This is challenging, made moreso by the fact that, unlike the “Elf on the Shelf” our elves are completely soft, so they don’t stay in a pose. You can’t bend their arms and have them stay there. They can’t stand on their own. They literally are, like a sock.
But despite these challenges, we persevere. I’ll try and post some of this year’s exploits here for your enjoyment.
Here’s last night’s. As you can see, the elves created cutouts of minions and stuck their faces and appendages in them. Overall, it was cute, but I’m not sure the kids quite got what was going on here. All they saw was the minion toys and everyone drinking syrup. But hey, cross another one off the list. Only 23 more ideas to come up with.
A bit more than eight years ago, CareerMom and I bought this crib. We went to Toys-R-Us, Babies-R-Us and every other R-Us derivative you can imagine. I think we ended up about 15 miles north of our house in some suburb of the suburbs, in a no-name strip mall containing a high-end baby store.
And thus the Bonavita “Carla” crib came into our home.
Two weeks ago, I dismantled it. Eight years and three kids later it’s finally done. And other than some dried, crusty milk between the vertical slats, it’s in pristine condition. None of my kids “teethed” on the rails. It’s bittersweet letting it go, but it was time Baby-Girl got her own big-girl bed.
Government safety laws prohibit the donation of cribs manufactured prior to 2010 due to some issue with drop-sides on pre-2010 cribs and even though ours doesn’t have a drop-side, we still can’t donate it. Which is a shame. You spend $1200 on a crib, you want to see it not end up in a dumpster somewhere. But I think we have a taker for it (for free). Hope it goes to another good home.
It started out as this noise back in the back of his throat–not unlike the sound made by the “Predator” (just like this guy does it). He would do it usually while concentrating on something else, so I’m not even sure he realized he was doing it. Background noise tends to really get on my nerves, so after a while, I’d start saying, “Aiden, please stop making that throat noise.” Career-Mom who is normally quite stoic around such things, even succumbed after a while.
It has progressed.
Today, it’s not uncommon to hear any number of things coming from him, pretty much anytime he’s awake:
- The Predator sound
- Throat clearing
- A combination of humming and gargling
This happens even when he’s eating. Imagine, if you will, a child with cereal in his mouth and humming at the same time.
Yesterday, I think I said, “Aiden, mouth noises!” at least 15 times and that was after ignoring it as long as I possibly could. I’m told that several of CareerMom’s nieces and nephews do the humming while eating thing, so I blame her naturally.
And at any rate, I only had facial ticks when I was a kid (like licking your lips so much that it created a half moon raw spot above and/or below your lips) rather than audible ticks.
Whatever the cause, clearly my fussing at him isn’t working. Here’s to hoping he outgrows it.
It seems that every generation gets a label these days. Kids in the early 20s now are called “Gen Y’ers” and they are the social media age. Apparently, they don’t have the same sense of entitlement that we Gen X’ers supposedly have, though I’m really not sure where that “entitlement” label came from. Gen Y’ers are also supposed to be more driven, crave positive feedback and generally don’t feel the need to slave 50 hours a week at a meaningless job (bully for them!). Interestingly, they also seem less familial-inclined, which is a stark departure from my generation.
But even though my world revolves around my family, I struggle with the line between parent and play-buddy. On the one hand, I look back on my own childhood–one where I was generally an only child and if there was playing to be done, it was usually done alone. My parents just weren’t involved. On the other hand, I don’t want the same for my own children, so I DO try to do things with them frequently and when you add in Career-Mom’s near-constant need to get out of the house and do something, it seems like we’re always on the go.
I struggle with this balance. For example today…we played outside with the kids for about an hour, then we took them down to the science museum. When we got home, they wanted me to ride bikes with them. Really? After everything we JUST did…?
So back to my quandry…I want to be with my kids and I don’t want them to look back on THEIR childhood–like I do mine–and feel like all their dad ever did was work around the house, but at the same time, I HAD my childhood already. Can I just enjoy my adulthood a bit? And can’t that mean that I don’t have to play with my kids and when I don’t, can I do it without guilt?
I’ll let you know how that works out. So far, I’m riddled with guilt.
There is a part of me that is both horrified, and gratified, by the knowledge that television is a big part of my kids’ lives. I honestly don’t know what my kids would do at the end of a long day without it…or what I would do without it.
There are days, that one or more of my children will come home from school or daycare, and pretty much watch TV from the moment we come in, through dinner, and until we put them to bed. Now granted, often that’s really only like, two hours, but still…right?
And as much as it makes me want to gag admitting this, there are many a day when I’m more than happy to relegate my parental obligations to our 46” family friend. He’s a good friend.
But I don’t know…Lord, I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid and I’m pretty OK. I get as much exercise as my schedule will allow. I don’t eschew my job, family or other responsibilities in favor of watching “my show.” So I don’t know…I guess as long as your kids aren’t lard-arses and when you do pull them away from the tube to interact with other people, they aren’t complete Asbergers, then it’s OK?
For those who are connected to me via other social media outlets, you’ve already seen me mention the fact that my anniversary is coming up and CareerMom has recommended a more…strenuous…outing than I would have planned were it up to me alone.
As with all things, there’s a bit of backstory—there always is.
We’re coming up on our 12th anniversary. About a month ago, CareerMom and I started kicking around ideas for something to do and I came up with following:
- Reynold’s Plantation: A lovely place the eastern part of Georgia. Extremely quiet and secluded. The only real drawbacks were: A. the money and B. the lack of anything to do if you weren’t walking in the woods, riding a horse for an hour, golfing, or getting spa treatments, which pretty much all point back to point A. (the money). However, the pluses were that it’s very secluded and pretty darned romantic. It’s on the water; at night you can wrap up in a blanket and roast s’mores. And there’s wine…lots of wine.
- Barnsley Gardens: Everything I said about Reynold’s Plantation applies here, except for the lake and s’mores.
- Lake Lanier Resort: Don’t let the name fool you…it’s not quite up to the same levels of “resort” as the previous two options, but nice nonetheless. The benefits of this option are that it’s relatively close, inexpensive and there’s lots to do. For instance, I had recommended the sunset wine and hordy orvys boat ride, with….LIVE music!
So I sent these over to CareerMom via email one day and got the following back:
“What about this? Looks fun!”
If you don’t want to click on the link…let me save you the time and just tell you that it’s a tour of Lake Lanier Islands…via zip line.
Now see, this is where my mind kicks into over-analyze mode and I start trying to put meaning to something like this instead of just accepting it for what it “might” be. In my head, I’m putting the following pieces together
- 12 years of marriage
- Yeah, my “moves” are probably getting stale. So stale that not even a romantic boat ride and copious amounts of wine can make it seem new and exciting
- Between her working 12-14 hour days, and my getting up at 4:45 to go to the gym during the week, OH…and the kids…there’s not been much time for romance at home, which is never a good thing for a marriage. I’ve always had a healthy…um…appetite and I gotta admit that I go hungry a lot these days.
- And let’s not forget perhaps the most important one here–she knows I’m deathly scared of heights, yet…
Now, in her mind (and I recognize that I’m straying into dangerous territory here), likely she’s just thinking, “Hey, let’s do something fun and exciting for a change!” But in my mind it’s, “Enough with the romance already. Let’s have fun!” *snicker*
I’m 38 and there’s only so many more years that I can keep…this…looking halfway decent, which means there’s only a finite amount of time left to really enjoy the proverbial pleasures of the flesh and I kinda want to take advantage of these times.
Apparently, I’m alone in this.
But, I’m keeping an open mind here. I’ve booked the zip lines and I recognize that while she’s usually stuck watching Marissa in the afternoons, I get my exercise playing ball with the boys. So, I’m willing to suck it up and address my fears head on and go fling myself 50 feet above the ground on a magic-marker thin piece of rope AND THEN get out of my harness and walk across a thinly-planked sky bridge in the tree tops. I’ll do it for her, and I’ll try to (look like I’m) enyoy(ing) it.
And yes. My life insurance policy is paid up.
A month later, I get a phone call.
“Hi Chris. I was hoping a could get a couple minutes of your time and then I’ll let you go.”
“I wanted to say I’m sorry for what I said to you when I was there. I’ve never meant to hurt you now or in the past and I just want to ask your forgiveness and then, it’s up to you what you do with it. “
“Well, I appreciate your calling and saying that and I can forgive you for what you said, but I …I can’t forget it. It was very hurtful.”
“Well, I understand that. I just wanted to have the opportunity to say that and ask for your forgiveness.”
“OK, thank you.”
…and that was it. As I’m sure we all do with these things, I’ve run the tape through my head dozens of times looking for nuances or meaning that probably aren’t there. But regardless, even if I just take what she said, I’m left with a feeling of, “That’s it? You tell me I’m a horrible father and husband and all you ask for is my forgiveness?”
It’s as if she called and said what she did because she felt her spirituality required it of her; not because in her heart she knew she’d said some hateful and hurtful things and wanted to make it right.
And as my wife pointed out, now, if I never “fix” things, it’s on me. She can go off and tell everyone that she tried and I didn’t want to hear it and that I just don’t want anything to do with her. She’s assuaged her conscience and anything from here on out is on me.
So be it. I can live that. Outside of her and her husband, the only contact I ever have with her family is when we’re all physically in the same spot. I send them all Christmas cards, and never get them back. I respond to their posts on FB, and never get any in return. I wonder what the loss would really be.
Someone asked me, “What are you going to do?” and I really don’t know. Truthfully, there is a part of me that is relieved it’s over—which makes me look even further. Have I been keeping up this relationship because I want or need it, or just because I feel a responsibility to her and to my kids to keep her in my life. A little of both I hope, but more of the latter I think.
I’ve known other people who have gone through things like this and I’ve often wondered what happened that is so unforgivable. I mean, they’re family right? What could someone from your family ever do or say that’s so bad. Now I know. Doesn’t mean I understand it any better, but at least I have context.
I’m going to take this on my timeline. I’m going to let this rest through the holiday; not because I’m being mean or holding a grudge, but because I don’t want to deal with whatever happens. Even if all were forgiven tomorrow, the holidays would still be tense. Just not worth it.
Ultimately, maybe that’s the answer I’ve been looking for.