Roller-coaster parenting

My days with the kids tend to fall into one of two camps: giddy, picturesque adventures with much imagination and exercise, or prolonged battles and whines that leave all of us exhausted.  Sydney has been gone two days, and we’ve had one day of each kind.

Yesterday, the kids woke early and seemed a bit tired, but I chanced it and took them to a new playground on the edge of town.  I enjoyed the long walk, and both kids seemed energized by the vast expanse of park and the sight of so many other kids playing nearby.  We had a blast.  The weather was warm, I had snacks along for the walk home, and we made full use of the swings, the play equipment, the several slides, and the rolling hills farther out in the park, as well as lots and lots of lawn.  We played all day and kept the good mood even after coming home.  After naps, we took a short stroll through town and I was able to run a number of errands while taking the kids out to see and do fun things.  They got a bit whiny toward bedtime, but I managed to get them down without any major mishaps (the hour before bedtime is when they get most of their scrapes and bruises).  This is how good the day was: I was happy to bypass my favorite grocery store on the way home from the park because neither the kids nor I “needed” the comfort of food to make up for the gaps in our day.  That’s pretty good!

Today, however, my only goal was to take them to playgroup at 10.  We all woke early, but both kids seemed inclined to whine.  Hmm, maybe playgroup will fix it?  Ha, very funny.  Katherine had two or three short temper tantrums (which she has, to her credit, mostly outgrown, so I was surprised to see them return), and Nathaniel, beset by the heat, the impending thunderstorm, erupting molars, and his mother telling him “No, you may not chew on electrical wires,” threw a 30-minute screaming session that earned us a fair number of looks.  I’ve been taking the kids to playgroup since Nathaniel was born, but this was the first time I thought, “Oh, wow, I can never come back!”  Poor little guy screamed angrily at being crossed, and then screamed when the screaming made his teeth hurt.  It took him the full half-hour to return to his quiet, happy, stuffed-animal-hugging self.  When he stopped, Katherine started up again.  We return home either chastened or sullen–quiet, at any rate.  I hoped that sleep would help matters, but Katherine staged a sleep protest until almost 4–roughly when Nathaniel woke up, and he’s now using his one-on-one time with me to perform a recapitulation of this morning’s tantrum.  Thankfully, I baked a pumpkin rice pudding while they were napping, so I can at least hope to salve the wounds with comfort food!



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