Yesterday was Sophie’s last day of Junior Kindergarten. Her initial happiness about being finished and excitement about the push-pop she would get to enjoy after school faded into hesitation when it was time to leave, and then melted into overwhelming sadness at the dinner table directed towards her lasagna.
“… Sophie? Are you feeling sad and overwhelmed because it was your last day of school?”
“YES! [cries harder] And I’m going to MISS all my FRIENDS!”
I pulled her on my lap for a snuggle and we talked about the plans we had to have play-dates with her friends and how we were going to do lots of fun crafts and adventures and how it was going to be a wonderful time. Then I suggested that perhaps after dinner, we could plan a craft for the next morning. I reminded her of the Pinterest board we had made together of DIY Kites. Her sadness disappeared and she suggested, “Mum! We could get started on a kite RIGHT NOW!”
“This is great!” I thought to myself. “This is a craft I can get excited about, Sophie clearly loves the idea, and we get to have a quintessentially summery family activity afterwards – flying kites in the park!” I felt pretty proud of myself this morning as I gathered all the supplies we would need to build a pyramid kite.
At first Sophie was excited and interested and helpful, but after 15 minutes, as we were still working on the first half of the frame of Kite #1, she got bored and started messing around with the pile of straws instead.
Asher wandered in and started crying because, “I want a kite TOO!”
“Yes! Asher! I’m making two: one for you and one for Sophie. This one is going to be for YOU buddy!”
“[stops crying]…oh. I want ALL the colours [referring to the straws]”
“Sounds great Asher.”
“I want ALL THE COLOURS”
“No problem buddy, we’ll use all the colours.”
“[Jumping up and down and wailing] I WANT ALL THE COLOURS!!”
“Asher! I said yes! YES! We will use all the colours! No problem! I’ll do it! Please stop yelling at me!”
“AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I WANT ALL THE COLOURS I WANT ALL THE COLOURS!” I managed to stop his attempted dump of all the straws from the table onto the floor.
“Asher, this is not ok. I don’t like when you yell at me. Use an inside voice or you will have to be in your room until you stop yelling.”
“I WANT ALL THE COLOURS! AHHHHHHHHHH!!”
I scooped him up and deposited him in his room. “You may come join us again when you finish yelling.”
By this point, Sophie had lost interest in the craft and left the table. I was determined to finish what I had started and so spent the better part of the next hour tying, cutting, and stapling. Asher’s screams waned for a while but returned, rising to a crescendo. I abandoned my task and whisked Asher into the bath. Peace was momentarily restored.
Fast forward 30 minutes… Asher and Sophie were having an argument in the kitchen.
“HEY GUYS!” (the arguing stops) “Want to get ready to go to the park to test out our kites?”
“YAY!” Let’s go right NOW!”
“You’re KILLING this parenting thing this morning.” I congratulated myself. “Way to go, Woman! You were up at 5:30, managed to stay calm and wait out the storm of the persistent tantruming toddler, made not one, but TWO pyramid kites, and bathed one of the kids. Not bad, not bad!”
My ‘Superstar Mama’ moment was short lived.
The first hint things were not going to go as planned was the pitter-patter of rain on the leaves outside my window. The second was the thick, still humid air. The third should have been the memory of yesterday’s torrential rain…
Shortly thereafter we were in the car on the way to the park, with two very excited kids each clutching a new pyramid kite. Playdoh rolling pins acted as make-shift handles with generous lengths of red and pink yarn wrapped around them.
At first glance, the fields by the empty park were a beautiful, vibrant green. One step on the ground revealed it to be an absolutely sopping giant sponge. Grass growing in dips and hollows in the ground waved like seaweed under pools of rainwater. Asher was upset immediately about his shoes being damp. Sophie, determined to fly her kite, ran down into the muddy-puddled ditch and back up the other side towards the playground. Giggling, Sophie began to run through the squelchy grass, dragging her kite on the ground behind her.
“Sophie! Let me try!”
Cue Asher’s tears, “But MUMMY! I wanted YOU to help ME!”
“Asher, Daddy can help you. He can run really fast. Here Sophie! Hold the handle in one hand, the string in the other, and RUN!” Sophie, still giggling, ran behind me, both of us sending a spray of rain water up the back of our legs, our flip-flops flinging brown mud with each step as the kite trailed behind.
I handed the kite to Sophie and turned around to see if the boys were having better luck. Kyle was running with all his might holding the kite behind him, running away from the play structure. Asher, not understanding that his Daddy was trying to help him to get his kite to lift off, started crying again, suddenly wondering if his Daddy was running away from him WITH his new kite! I ran over to Asher to console him and explain that Kyle was going to come right back when I heard a ‘SPLOOSH!’ and then a wail followed by, “I’m all covered in MUD! I FELL!”
Wonderful. Two kids are crying now.
Sure enough, Sophie had slipped in a particularly sopping patch of grass, her shorts, previously turquoise had been dyed to a mud-puddle brown. Her arms were dripping and splattered with pieces of muddy grass. A joke about Peppa Pig came to mind, but I thought better of it and told her she could wipe herself off on my shorts. Seeing that I wasn’t t sad about the mud, Sophie pulled herself together and started giggling again, lying down in the grass on her stomach and called, “Maybe I can clean myself off THIS way!” She started doing the Breast Stroke in the grass.
At this moment, Asher’s sadness was renewed because a fly had landed on his head, Kyle had retreated to the car to escape the mosquitoes and Sophie, sopping wet from her involuntary slip in the mud puddle and her intentional swim in the grass decided to embrace the whole muddy/muggy park thing and ran to the swings, giggling and calling for a push.
“Sophie! We’re going to go home and eat lunch. We’ll try a different adventure this afternoon.”
Her sobbing lasted the whole way home.
My Pinterest Fantasy was officially dashed.
Later that afternoon we spent an hour or so at the library, happily squished together on the beanbag chairs reading the library’s ENTIRE collection of Clifford books. This was followed by an ‘adventure’ to the basement of the library to use the water fountain (Sophie for drinking water, Asher for washing his hands and splashing when I was momentarily distracted), and then a mini dance party on the library’s elevator.
When we returned home, Sophie and Asher spent a happy half-hour on the deck giving their lego people baths in bowls of water. When that got old, the two of them excitedly searched the garden in bare feet to look for the cat that Asher had befriended a few days ago. When asked to change out of her wet clothes, Sophie appeared downstairs giggling to herself wearing her super-fuzzy flannel pyjamas made by her Grandma. (It was 25 degrees C. in the house and the middle of the afternoon.)
So… lesson learned. Surprize!: Real moments of joy can’t be manufactured, certainly not by using Pinterest, haha. I’m going to try to shed my idea of what a ‘Superstar Mama’ looks like this summer, ease up on Pinterest a little and try to leave lots of room for unplanned moments of quiet or messy fun. Being susprized by joy seems like a lot more fun anyway.