Winging It

You could probably safely call me a control freak, with a side of OCD. It’s just who I am, how I’ve always been. I’m a neat freak. I like things in their places. I crave order. I love routine. Change is difficult – it throws me off my game. I’m a planner, down to the smallest details. I hate when plans are derailed. Know what challenges all of that? Having kids, and living life.

We had Little Man’s birthday party Saturday evening. Now,  he is kid #3. I’ve spent sixteen years going crazy over birthday parties – handmade invitations, sleepovers with 13 kids, tea parties, American Girl trips, Pinterested out decorations/cupcakes/games. When he said he wanted a sleepover, I shot it down. First, I’m tapped on the sleepover birthday parties, seriously., and it was the night before I was running a 15K race. No go, my friend. His second idea was a trampoline park. Oh yeah! 1) I love any party that’s not at my house; 2) I wouldn’t’ have to provide any entertainment; 3) Food and drinks were included; 4) Did I mention it wasn’t at my house?

And so let’s just say, I was purely focused on the detail of getting the kids there, bringing them home, and the cake we were allowed to bring in. Have I mentioned things have been a little crazy around our house lately, and that I had a nine-mile race to run the next morning? See where this might be headed?

First off, Little Man, while having good friends, does not have a ton of friends, so his party was small. Spouse was at a golf tournament, so I was the solo parent. The trampoline park set aside three tables for us in their party area – THREE! We all fit, with room to spare, at one table. I put the cake and gifts on another table just so we wouldn’t look so pathetic. We also didn’t have any decorations. He isn’t a little kid, so there wasn’t a theme involved, and honestly, decorations never even crossed my mind. While the kids jumped, I sat there, by myself, at a huge, empty table, no decorations, not a ton of gifts, no other adults. #loser

I also didn’t bring any extra snacks or drinks. I knew pizza and soda were coming, and we were only there for two hours. So imagine how amazing I felt when the kids came back to the party area looking for hydration? I gave them a few dollars to get waters out of the machine as our sodas weren’t coming for another half hour.

Then it hit me….I had cake, but I hadn’t brought enough candles. neither did I have anything with which to light the candles I did have. I didn’t have any cake plates, nor forks, nor napkins. Even more, I didn’t have a cake cutter. The kids figured out something was going on, and I was honest with them. They just started laughing. So did I. Stress broken. We joked about using one of the paper pizza plates to cut the cake. When we did sing, “Happy Birthday”, a few of the kids held their fingers over the cake as imaginary candles.

They all helped clean up when we were ready to go. I checked out while they headed out to load up the car. When I arrived at my car, the Princess asked if the cake cutter the park had loaned us was ours to take. They’d efficiently, in their cleaning and gathering, packed the cake cutter in the cake box. Hysterics ensued. P took the cake cutter back into the trampoline park, from which I’m fairly sure we’ve been blackballed. And oh man, did we all laugh on the way home. I apologized for being a loser, overwhelmed mom, and for messing it all up. One of the boys said, “This is the strangest, but most fun, birthday party I’ve ever been to,” and one of the girls said, “I wish my mom were more like you. This is fun.” Hah!

Not one of them cared. Not one of them felt the party was ruined by my phoning it in Everyone had a good time. Everyone had enough to eat. Everyone jumped and had a good time.  That’s all that matters right?

I’m learning you don’t always have to plan to the last detail, especially when it comes to kids.  Sometimes things turn out better when you just wing it, rather than stressing about every little thing. And often, when you admit you’ve messed up, and are able to laugh at yourself, everyone around you will have your back. I can’t control everything. I certainly can’t control everyone. I’ve learned that while my need for order, control, organization, and routine is okay, it isn’t the end of the world when things don’t go the way I planned. Sometimes,  you get a better result when you epicly “fail.”

Why I’m always afraid to say it

Little Man had a meds check-in with his psychiatrist last week. We haven’t seen her since August, right after school started and before the proverbial sh#@ hit the fan.  She asked, of course, how things have been going. We told her all the challenges during the first few months of school, and then I said the fateful words, “but  he seems to have settled in and found his groove.” I inwardly cringed. Do you ever experience this? Every time we get to a good place, and I actually verbally acknowledge we’re in a good place, things have settled down, he’s relatively calm and bouncing back quickly when he isn’t, the wheels WILL come off. We will go from sunshine to disaster within days of my  mentioning how well he’s doing.

So, yeah, his appointment was last Tuesday evening. I’m still waiting for the storm to hit. He did pretty well with his party, with only two little glitches. One, he had his own agenda, which was to open his gifts immediately. We, his parents, had a different agenda, particularly as the boys arrived at 6pm and were all hungry. Dinner first. He didn’t freak out, but every 30 seconds, he was moving towards his gifts. We finally gave him a set time. He settled down a little bit after that.

The second glitch came at 6:15 the next morning. There had been candy, punch, and little sleep. Little Man apparently had a sugar overload, along with a severe lack of sleep, which brought on puke-fest 2016.  It’s not fabulous to have pink puke all over your floor, a mere 2 feet from the bathroom, especially at 6:15 in the morning. He was totally fine as soon as he got it all out. The boys were not the least bit bothered by it.  Amen. I, however, took a bit longer to recover, and I looked at him like he’d lost my mind when he asked me to go get them donuts within minutes of throwing up. Um, no. I made them pancakes instead.

The time change can be another disaster in the works. He went to bed without a struggle last night, although hauling out of bed this morning, in the pitch dark, was a challenge.  They started state testing at school this week, and he apparently gave them some push-back. He detests routine changes, and testing is definitely a routine change. They’re being patient with him, giving him time and space, but also making it clear he doesn’t have a choice in actually doing the tests. It must be done.

I’m still sitting over here holding my breath, because I know it’s coming. Every. Single.Time I tell ya – it happens. Whenever I talk about how well things are going, a crash is imminent. The fact we’ve made it almost a week is miraculous.

Slumber Party

Little Man talked us into a slumber party for his birthday celebration. He’s never asked for one before.  Parties are hard for him – he gets super excited, and that super excitement typically leads to a lot of anxiety. And he frequently shuts down during his actual party, with so much going on. But asking for a slumber party…we couldn’t say no. This, too, is a milestone for my sweet boy.

In 10 hours, five 9-12 year old boys will invade our house. We’re being very casual about it..pizza, cookies (he doesn’t like cake), and video games. Gone are the days of hand-made invitations, planned crafts, goodie bags, Pinterest-inspired cupcakes and decorations. We are past that stage, and I didn’t have the time this week to go overboard even if I were so inclined. Maybe it’ll be easier on him this way…no excessive excitement in the build-up. I just need to order and pick up the pizzas, and run to the store after my  yoga class this morning.

All the boys coming are great boys. They  know Little Man well, and seem to see past his issues. They’ve seen him in full-meltdown glory, but it doesn’t seem to phase a single one of them. He has surrounded himself with some really good kids. I appreciate each one of them.

I’d sworn off slumber parties after Big Man’s 10th, when we had 13 boys show up. It was your worst sleepover nightmare….and they were up until almost 3am. It’s taken me almost this long to recover. One of Little Man’s friend’s asked if they could “pull an all-nighter.” Unfortunately, he asked this question in my presence. You can guess what my emphatic answer was…NO!!

It’ll be fun. I’m sure it will get a bit loud. But the fact he asked for this slumber party….it makes me smile.  I’m trying not to think about him turning 12 later this month. My baby is not a baby any longer.

Fifteen

It doesn’t seem like it should be a big milestone, but for some reason Big Man’s fifteenth birthday (in two days) seems kinda huge. Maybe I’m just extra emotional right now, but fifteen just feels like some kind of turning point. I have this inkling that life after Wednesday is going to be somewhat different. It probably will continue on the same, but it just feels like things are going to be different, he will be different.

We had his party yesterday. We were supposed to see the new Maze Runner movie, but the power went out through a big chunk of town about 45 minutes before the movie was supposed to start. We still went to the theater to meet the boys, which closed as we arrived due to the outage. I didn’t have a Plan B, but I came up with one quickly. We gathered up the boys, and headed back to our house, where they spent four hours playing XBox, soccer, 4-square, holding a putting contest, and eating candy, chips, pizza, cake, and ice cream. His words, “It was probably more fun than if we had seen the movie. We laughed, a lot.” I have a good kid. He has great friends.

I listened to them talking about classes, teachers, running, soccer, classmates from elementary and middle who go to other high schools. They’re not little kids anymore. Just a few years ago, the conversation circled around Super Mario characters, and which new Lego set they all wanted.

Our time with him home is limited. High school goes by so quickly. We’ve started talking college tours, and he’s counting down the days until he can get his driver’s license.

The Princess said it last week…there’s something about being fifteen. She called this a big birthday. She will turn fourteen in a few weeks, and in her words, it’s kind of a nothing birthday, as in, there’s nothing big about turning fourteen. You’re not a new teenager, and you’re not close to getting your license. Fifteen though…that, according to her, is a big birthday.

I remember being fifteen. It doesn’t feel like yesterday, but neither does it feel like forever ago either. I was going into my sophomore year of high school. I was ridiculously shy, and even more insecure. I didn’t think I knew it all. I was terrified of the world. I had good friends. I fought with my sister. I missed my brother who was “grown up” with a job, and not living at home. I don’t even remember what I thought my life was going to be like, what plans I had, what dreams I dreamed.

Be patient with this momma this week. I’m kind of an emotional basket-case, and I’m extremely proud of my little miracle baby becoming a handsome, charming, sweet young man.

Two Birthdays and some Hot Chocolate Running

Little Man will be ten on Tuesday. A couple months ago, he had said he wanted to have his party at the bowling alley. Then, as per norm, he changed his mind a few weeks ago. He wanted a Minecraft party at home. Awesome. Thank you, Pinterest, for making the Minecraft theme a breeze to pull off. Well, I guess I wouldn’t exactly say it was a breeze. The ideas were easy to obtain. Then came the work of making the ideas a reality. I spent three days running to Michael’s and the grocery store, then ordered a few things from Etsy and Amazon. We made a Creeper cake, Creeper t-shirts, Creeper cups, and Creeper goody bags. We had carrots, cookies, “diamonds” (rock candy), lava (red jello), water (blue jello), Creeper juice (Sprite in the green bottles with the labels taken off and Creeper faces colored on), TNT (red vines), sticks (pretzel sticks), fish (Swedish fish), and coal (black M & M’s). We played Creeper toss and had a golden egg hunt in the backyard. It was work, but not difficult work, to put together. If you’ve  never heard of Minecraft, it’s a building program/game on the computer, and everything is square. Just before the party yesterday, Little Man said, “This is going to be the best birthday party ever!” I hope it was. It ended up being pretty mellow….just six kids from the neighborhood who all know him well, and then my three beasties. He had a couple of moments…his bestie was late (tournament he was in ran long), and Little Man was standing by the front window watching for him, tears rolling silently down his face. Then two classmates told him they were coming, but then didn’t show up, although their parents had never RSVP’d. So we had some tears. And once the games were done and all the other kids were just playing in the backyard, he chose to stay inside by himself. He said he loved the party and that it definitely was the best birthday party ever. I think it turned out well. Was it like a party my other two would have? Probably not. It was much quieter, and with his own little quirks involved. But he loved it. I can’t ask more than that.

His party followed a night of me and Spouse being downtown in the Gaslamp for a friend’s 40th birthday. A couple of times a year, we get a night to go downtown and hang out with our friends. So yes, there were adult beverages involved. There were clubs involved. There was dancing in heels I don’t wear often anymore. We were out four hours past our usual 9:30 bedtime. And there may have been some midnight pizza scarfing involved as well. But…It. Was. Awesome. We had such a good time. We insist on having time where we are not “Mom and Dad” and can just be a couple. It was a bit ugly when Spouse’s cell phone rang at 7:30 yesterday morning. I may have said a bad word or two. I was rewarded with a yummy breakfast out, and then we came home to prep for the Minecraft party.

I knew going in this weekend was going to be somewhat brutal. A couple months ago, I registered for the Hot Chocolate 15K, which was this morning. Then we planned Little Man’s party for yesterday. I had though to myself it wouldn’t be bad. I could spend the week getting ready for his party, and then crash afterwards. Then late last week, we got the invite for the downtown gig, which we were not going to miss. So, yes, I jammed my weekend. I’m sure I over-tapped myself. There were a few times yesterday I contemplated bailing on the run this morning.

Have you ever run a Hot Chocolate run? First of all, you don’t get a tech shirt. You get a pullover hoodie, and a cool drawstring bag rather than a throwaway. Second, you don’t get (another) medal when you finish the race, you get a finisher’s mug complete with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and dippables. So, yeah, after Friday and yesterday, I hauled myself out of bed at 4:30 this morning, left the house at 5:30, and ran a 15K (give or take….my running app said it was actually 9.49 miles). It was one of the more highly organized and well-managed races I’ve ever been in. The starts were right on time. The corralling was the best I’ve seen. There were more than enough port-a-potties (always an issue at races). There was plenty of course support. And who can be mad at chocolate at the end? I had a good run, staying at or below my planned race-pace for my upcoming half, even given the fact the course today was essentially all hills. Seriously…I think there was maybe one flat mile of the 9.49. It was all up and down. I felt good. And I was entertained by the people around me. As an aside…why do some people think they don’t need to wear deodorant when running a race? Good golly…there were some seriously stinky people right out of the gate.

I came home – after consuming my hot chocolate – to a kitchen that still required post-party cleanup. Then the Princess had a private lesson. I treated her to some frozen yogurt afterwards. Okay, so I treated myself and she just happened to be collateral damage. Came home from the studio to Little Man bawling his eyes out in his room while Spouse steamed in the garage. He told me, “Before you go inside, Little Man is done. He’s in his room, and he’s staying there.” Awesome. Spouse told me what had instigated the room-sending. I went upstairs to calm him, but also reinforce what dad had said. Later, I went back up to get something from my room and heard Little Man, still crying and talking to himself about how he was worthless, a horrible person, nothing better than paper to be put in a shredder. Cue my heart breaking. I went back in to have another conversation with him. He cannot let go when he’s made bad choices and gotten in trouble. He can have a fabulous day, but if one thing goes wrong or he makes one bad choice, all of the sudden his entire day has been “the worst day ever.” He said he was a bad person because of all the bad things he’s ever done. Sigh. I asked if he thought his brother and sister are perfect. He said no. I asked if that then made them “horrible people.” He said no. We need to remind him the difference between how we feel about his behavior and how we feel about him. I pointed out all the things I do wrong or fail at, and asked if that made me a horrible person. I actually got a smile out of him.

It terrifies me to hear him talk to himself sometimes, not because he’s talking to himself – don’t we all? – but because of what he says. It freaks me out where his mind goes sometimes. It is so dark, and I am reminded of those days last November. We are entering pre-puberty. Hormones are starting to change. He’s already not managing well. What will the next few years bring? I asked him to talk to the school psych when he sees her this week. He said he needs help, but we aren’t giving it to him nor are we getting it for him. I told him I can’t read his mind. He has to tell me what/how he needs help. He will talk to the psych – he promised. He’s seeing her now every week rather than the school social worker intern so we can give him more consistency (the social worker intern changes every year because, hello, internships). He’s doing better now, thankfully. I know we’ve been off-schedule all weekend. He’s tired. He’s been over-excited, over-stimulated. That all adds to his norm and blows things up a thousand percent. He’s still very excited for his birthday Tuesday. I still can’t believe he’s turning 10.