Tuesday, July 19, 2011

wear and tear

Our summer travel is rather cumbersome. So far we've been gone 27 days, driven 2236 miles, and slept in 7 cities. (That doesn't include the transcontinental flight Mitch and I took, and that's because we did that without kids. It falls only into the joyandrelief column, not the trialforkidsandparents column, which is what this post is about.) We've left the kids twice with family while we went away for 3 or more days, and we're getting ready to leave the kids with Mitch's parents for two full weeks while we saunter across the world to India. For some reason I didn't think clearly before we began about the effect all this was going to have on the kids. I hope this next trip isn't terribly trying for them.

Clark (age 3) is having a hard time. Either that, or he's moved into some fabulous new stage that I do not relish the thought of enduring. Someone told me recently that boys age 2-6 have 10 testosterone spikes an hour on average, and I believe that. I am further reminded of it when he's been away from his own routine and universe for weeks at a time. And weeks to kids feel like decades; I remember. Poor guy. It's all coming out in uncharacteristic aggression. He's defiant, he's resistant. Bedtime is a power struggle of wholly new dimensions. He's taken to yelling "NO! I WON'T!' about many things. He bit his cousin at the beach, and he's never bitten anyone before in his life.

That said, he and Frances are in love with each other. They spent the last hour of the last car trip in complete hysterics, cracking each other up over and over. It was charming to watch in the rearview. They hold hands between their car seats; they soothe each other when upset; they hug and kiss and offer to let the other play with cherished possessions. Maybe it's a defense mechanism to help each other cope while under stress, but it also assures me that having two was good for our family, rather than the solo one I sometimes wish I had.

On a separate note: we drove day before yesterday up from North Carolina to Michigan, where it's lovely and really hot. At 12 hours it was our longest drive so far, but that included stops for gas and bathrooms and searching under the seats for a particular toy. On the way to the bathrooms at a food / diaper change / bathroom rest stop Frances said to me, "Why do you call it a damn tv?" "What do you mean?" I asked. "Why do you call it a damn tv?" she said again. I had no idea what she was talking about. "When did I say that?" I asked. "Whenever," she said. "Like you do." "Can you give me an example?" I asked. "You know," she said, "like when you say 'Fine. Just turn on the damn tv.'" Which I haven't said in at least a month, so you know. 

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