Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Seven and a Day January 14, 2015

Jays 7th birthday has come and gone.  I wish I could say the entire weekend went perfectly and that he was happy and/or content throughout but I’d be lying.  In fact, I failed him quite spectacularly the morning after his actual birthday …

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I wanted us to sing him happy birthday and for Jay to blow out his candles and open his presents and then I wanted us to go to Chuck E Cheese and play play play.  Jay (out of seemingly nowhere) got grumpy and began yelling and screaming.  He didn’t want us to sing the birthday song (which he usually does like) and he didn’t want to blow out any candles (which he usually LOVES) and he didn’t want to open any presents (which he recently has had a lot of fun doing) and he neither wanted to wear a birthday hat (which he has wanted to do in previous years) nor would he let anybody else touch his birthday hat.  I tried all kinds of tricks to get him through this part of the schedule (my schedule) but he was NOT having it.

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I was annoyed.

I had spent time carefully picking out a cake and getting him presents that I thought he’d love and going to multiple stores to get him his annual fancy birthday hat that I was sure he’d wear for the rest of the month; like he did last year and the year before that.

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At first I gave him stern Deenie.  I told him in my no nonsense voice to cut it out and that he wasn’t being nice and that we were all there to give him a happy day but he was ruining it.

It didn’t take me long to recognize his behavior as a cry for help.  This is how he gets when he’s hungry.  I knew that all I needed to do was feed him and then he could enjoy the cake and the presents.  But there was nothing in the house at that moment that he would eat.  Plus we were going to Chuck E Cheese soon and they have pizza.  Pizza that he would eat.  We just needed to get through THIS part.  It could have taken us 10 or 15 minutes but with the mood he was in, it dragged on for at least 30 minutes.  And with each passing minute, the situation deteriorated.  Thank God everyone else who was there stayed calm and were willing to do anything to make Jay happy; including telling his Mom to let it go and to just come back to this stuff later.

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I should have listened and left all the cake and presents stuff until the evening.  But at that point I was too frustrated and frazzled to think straight.

I forced my boy – in all his misery – to sit at the table and even though I agreed to not singing the birthday song, I made him blow out candles and I made him open presents.  It was NOT fun for anyone involved. I’m not proud of myself in this.  I forged ahead determined to have what I had imagined the day would look like.  I took pictures and tried to make the entire thing appear joyful even though it clearly had ceased being so.  When Jay got upset, I got upset with him for getting upset and then I got embarrassed at myself.

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After the presents were angrily ripped open and Jay threw them to the floor declaring that he didn’t want them without really looking to see what they were and after there was a mess of cake on the table and on the floor because Jay had butchered his piece and then another, and I was now hot and sweaty and annoyed and aggravated and ready to call off Chuck E Cheese and just go sit in a corner somewhere, and after I had people telling me to calm down and that we’d still have fun and that once he ate he’d be alright and that the day wasn’t ruined, we piled into the car and drove to a nearby bakery that sells beef patties.  Jay ate one and immediately he began to calm down.  It was like magic.  It made me feel like such a terrible person.

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All the yelling and the crying and the screaming and the throwing and the anger and frustration could have been avoided.

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When I look at the pictures I feel so mad at myself and so sorry for my son.  He was trying to hold it together and he told me over and over what he wanted and what he didn’t want.  It was hard for him and I made it harder.  I didn’t have the heart to show anyone the pictures from the cake cutting/presents opening fiasco.  Not even the ones that – if you didn’t know better – look like Jay was having a great time.  Looking at them highlight to me that even though I’ve learned this lesson before, I still have a ways to go and sometimes you have to be taught things more than once before they finally stick.

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People sometimes tell me how lucky my boys are to have me and how great I am with them and how patient I am  and how they don’t know how I do it etc etc etc.  I appreciate the comments and there are moments when I do feel like I’m doing some things right but those times definitely do not tell our entire story.  Sometimes I get it so completely wrong.  And it’s concretely apparent that it affects Jay because days later he will bring up my mis-steps and in those moments all I can do is hug him and apologize and tell him that I will try to be better.

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5 Responses to “Seven and a Day”

  1. Neil Says:

    We have all been there. Don’t beat yourself up too much. The important thing is you did recognize what he was trying to communicate. This stuff is hard. Hell, parenting in general is hard. You learn, and you work at it, and you get better. Your son is lucky to have a mom that can take such a deep reflective look at things and adjust. Better days are ahead.

  2. Awww, I’m sorry about that. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve all had days like this…especially around “special days” when expectations are high. I had a similar moment around Christmas with Ethan when I just wanted him to enjoy his new toys instead of ignoring everything and asking for screen time again and again. It’s hard, sometimes. You’re a good mom!

  3. […] the disaster that was cake cutting and presents opening, and then the relief that came from feeding the child, we did make it to Chuck E […]

  4. lauriedickan Says:

    I ALWAYS have ti remind myself it isnt about what i want or need. But sometimes I do what you did because I get so tired and want it the way i want it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. We’ve all been right there at one time or another. You’re human.


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