A weekend of solo parenting, and rescuing the narrative

My husband took our two older boys to College Station, Texas this weekend to see the A&M game (and meet up with various relatives who were also in town for that). So I had the 7-year-old and 3-year-old on my own from Friday to late Sunday.

Most of the weekend went well. I had planned ahead of time to minimize those long slogs when we’re at home and crabby. I planned fun kid events, plus when I would fit in my fun.

On Saturday morning, the 3-year-old was up early, but I let him watch cartoons while I worked on my NaNoWriMo novel. I managed to get more than 2000 words written before we had to get moving for the day. We took the 7-year-old to karate. The 3-year-old sat on my lap and played pleasantly. We came home, ate lunch, and I ran 2 miles on the treadmill.

Then we packed up our bags and went to the YMCA to go swimming. The 7-year-old had a blast going down the water slide. She’s been a “green band” for a while (deep water swimming tested) but the Y requires children 6 and under, regardless of swimming ability, to stay with a parent at all times. She is now free of that restriction, so I could play in the baby pool with the 3-year-old and cheer as she showed off her water slide moves.

We came home, played for a bit (including outside — briefly, because it was freezing) and then went to Uno Pizzeria and Grill for dinner. This was not exactly relaxing but at least I got a real meal without having to cook it. Home and it was time to read the 3-year-old stories and put him in bed. He was exhausted, so he went down easy, and I could relax in the tub with a glass of wine and People magazine (while the 7-year-old entertained herself).

Sunday we all got ready and went to church. The 3-year-old went to the nursery and then to Sunday school. The 7-year-old came to choir practice with me, and we hung out until Sunday school started for her. After church, we relaxed for a bit (I ran my 2.3 miles on the treadmill) then went to a small zoo about 20 minutes from our house.

This started out great. We fed the giraffes. We played in the prairie dog area, and got funnel cake. Then the kids played in the playground.

This is where things went south. There is this circle of concrete stones, and another mother tried to organize the kids to go leaping in the same direction around it, so they wouldn’t keep bumping into each other. My son was having none of it (I think he figured bumping into other kids was half the fun). After various fusses about this, my kids wound up sitting on this concrete bear statue in the middle of the circle, the 3-year-old behind the 7-year-old.

She was near the edge. For some reason, I still don’t know what, he elected to push her off.

She went flying and smacked her head on the edge of one of the concrete stones. In addition to plenty of screaming, this resulted in a large raised bruise on her forehead (a real “egg” as it were). So we were racing off to the zoo first aid and sat near the front gate for a while with a make-shift ice pack (fashioned out of one of my gloves) on her welt.

Fortunately, after observing her for a while, I was pretty sure she didn’t have any bigger injuries (no confusion, dizziness, nothing else hurt in the fall). Still, let’s just say I was not very happy with the 3-year-old. He was contrite; he made her a “get well soon” card with lots of shiny stickers when we got home. She liked the sparkly stickers enough that she kept the card next to her as she sat in her bed with the ice pack.

So, that’s where we were when my husband came home. My first thought, thinking back on the weekend, was geez, what a disaster. Endings turn out to have an outsized influence on our narratives. Somebody who’s a saint for 80 years and turns cranky in year 81 before death gets remembered differently than someone who sucked for most of his 80 years but had some Ebenezer Scrooge-like conversion at the end. Even though this makes no sense; in the grand scheme of things, one person had 80 good years and one bad one, and the other had the opposite.

With that in mind, I am telling myself that we had a really good weekend with one bad event at the end. And even that wasn’t so bad. At least we did not wind up at the ER again.

7 thoughts on “A weekend of solo parenting, and rescuing the narrative

  1. I really liked the Ebeneezer Scrooge example regarding endings. Interesting insight and reminder to look at the entire picture. (Not to say we shouldn’t also encourage Ebeneezer Scrooge epiphanies-and it’s never too late! Just don’t forget the good memories too.)

    And honestly–that was really sweet of the 3 yo’s get well soon card. I find my 4yo actually gets more upset and defensive when he hurts someone (even if completely by accident). As in he bursts into tears and runs away when it is the other kid who is hurt! It’s so hard to get him to apologize. Accidents happen and are awful, but at least are learning experiences for how to react appropriately to them. Take the get well card as an overall win. And I do hope your daughter feels better too!

    1. @EB – thanks- the bump has gone down considerably! It is interesting how much we care about the order in which things happen. Someone who holds out a certain belief, and then acts differently, is called a hypocrite. Someone who acts badly, and then changes his belief, is viewed more positively. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter — the order, that is — but it also is true that both have had periods of errancy and good.

  2. You had a good weekend. Who doesn’t love feeding giraffes! Thanks for the #nanowrimo mention a few weeks ago. I’m at 12,000 words and pecking away.

  3. That really resonates with me, especially as I recently come back from a holiday week with the kids (not solo but even the two of us – parents – do not seem to manage the two of them – kids!). Shifting perspective (thus changing the narrative) is one of the hardest thing for me. Perhaps because I am a natural pessimist, so bad things tend to stick way more in my memory than good ones. And I tend to have high expectations so I also have to learn to tune that down to avoid disappointment. Not easy but I keep a list of good things happening (even tiny things like an good book I read) and I look back at it when I feel it is all dark and gloomy. And then yes, life is not always great, but it is also not that bad.

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