Tuesday, March 26, 2013

adjustment is hard

It is an understatement to say I have a hard time with change. Adjustment to just about anything is slow and painful. (Well, not anything. I do love to move the furniture around.) Especially when the changes come in multiples - not good.

This past weekend the new Swiss student arrived. Roxane is her name and she is very nice and pleasant to be around. This arrangement is ostensibly to lighten my load and provide me with company, but it is also change adjustment someone new in my house and in my family. AND the very same day she arrived... the snow melted. All at once. All of it.

For just about everyone I know here in Western NY, snowmelt is to be celebrated. It means spring is (sometime in the future, after we muck through the season of mud) on its way. We didn't have a ton of snow this year, and much more cold rain than I would have liked, but the snow was enough that the rain didn't wash it away; it just packed it down and turned it into a kind of snow cement, a white covering over all the ground.

Snow literally changes the structure of our yard. There are shoveled paths where there use to be open space. Garden beds are covered over and cease to exist. Small mountains spring up on either side of the bottom of the driveway, mountains that are good for sledding down and hiding behind and bouldering over. Snow forts and snow walls are built, then shrink and shift and are rebuilt.

Then the snow melts.

The snow melts and the old yard is revealed. Hello garden. Hello dog poop. (seriously a lot of dog poop hidden under the snow.)

There's not really a way for it to happen gradually. One day the snow is there, and the next it is gone. The piles at the end of the driveways stay for an extra day or two (and the gigantic mountains in the backs of the parking lots could possibly stay til July), but all the expanse of white, the crunch and spread of it, all that has been visually stable for the past several months - it all just vanishes.

It's too jarring for me. I was not ready to be done with the snow. I am never ready, turns out. Nonetheless, the snow is gone, and a new person is here, and adjustment is hard. I spent the last few days in a dramatic kind of space, weeping and lamenting the change, though I have faith it will be great for everyone eventually. It will come, the settling. And then you know what will happen?? She will leave, and it will be change adjustment someone gone from my house and family, and I will fall apart for a spell. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

conflict headaches harmony

I've been having near constant headaches for the past month (reason #1 for no recent blog posts) but they have let up a bit the last few days. Finally. Also, in the last few days my sanity has been less scarce. Interesting. Of course, it's much easier to be a sane parent when not in pain. No question there. But it seems to be more than just that.

I think it's the fighting. 

The kids, of late, have been fighting. A lot. Mostly, Frances wants desperately to love Clark, wants to kiss him and hug him and help him, and when she does any of these things he grumps and physically pushes her away. She gets mad and calls him a name, and he hits her. It goes on like this over and over, and whatever we do just doesn't seem to work. I've dived back into my shelf of child rearing books for some help, and Mitch and I have been talking about different strategies. Interestingly, the thing that (momentarily) turned things around was random. 

Frances fell down the stairs last week. Somersault kind of falling from the top, wooden stairs, terrible wails. She believed her leg was broken (which it isn't), and I'm sure it was terribly painful. The next day she had whiplash. I was in the garage getting something out of the car when it happened so I didn't hear the horrible sound of a body bumping down the stairs, but I could hear the wailing even before I got fully back inside. Clark was at the door with big eyes and said, "Mommy, Frances broke her leg!"

While Frances sat on my lap, then her dad's lap, then mine again (sometimes it would be best if a person could sit on two laps at once, that much comfort is needed), Clark stood around looking singularly uncomfortable. I asked him if he could bring a tissue for the tears and he quickly complied. He doesn't usually comply. In fact, he's incredibly difficult when asked to do just about anything. I'm hoping it's just a stage. 

The next day, when he was still being kind and helpful to her, it occurred to me that this may be the first time in the last, oh, two years or so, that he's seen Frances distraught when he was not the cause. He's always the cause.

A couple of days after the fall I mentioned to Frances how well they'd been getting along and I asked her what seemed different to her, why she thought it was. She said it was because when Clark says, "No I don't want to play that," she is no longer saying, "Fine. Then I won't play with you."

"What do you say instead?" I asked.

"I ask him: what else do you want to play?" she said.
Well. That would make a difference.

"Why did you decide to stop responding that you won't play with him?" I asked.

"Because it's more fun to play with him than alone," she said.

She is six and is amazing to me. I didn't teach her that. I think I was an adult before I learned it was more fun when I didn't hang onto much of my irritation. Some people never learn it.

In any case, in the past 5 or 6 days we have gone WHOLE DAYS with no bickering. Really. I mean, Holy Moly. It's like living in a different country. Oh that I knew which path we took to get here, and that we could find it again in the future! Because I know well this too will not last.

Change is the only constant, change is the only constant. I repeat it like a mantra.