Had she lived another few months, Gammie Cole would have been 98 years old. The boys knew her as a woman confined to a wheelchair who watched their every move as they zoomed through their grandparents’ house. She smiled at them most of the time and occasionally growled in their general direction if they misbehaved. But they never had the pleasure of really knowing their great-grandmother and her wonderful love and graciousness to the world.
She passed away quietly about 18 months ago. In her typical sacrificial nature, she donated her body “to science” and her ashes were recently returned to the family. In a short ceremony on Friday, she was interred beside her husband of over 50 years in Arlington Cemetery. I was physically there …with 3 bouncy and grumpy boys…..but I was not mentally there….due to 3 bouncy and grumpy boys. I regret not being able to be mindful of the ceremony and the memory of my grandmother….due to 3 bouncy and grumpy boys.
It wasn’t really their fault. I mean, they had just spent 5 hours in a car and then were forced into “nice” shirts (hey, I caved and let them stay in shorts!) and then expected to…. Hey, get that Batman off the tombstone! Stop jumping over tombstones! Don’t throw “coconuts” (aka acorns) at the tombstones!
I was stressed. I fell into the trap of worrying what the twelve 70-some year-olds who were former Girl Scouts in my grandmother’s troop would think of these Out-Of-Control Boys….so I tried to control them. And when boys sense that you are about to swipe some of their “control” – they scowl, they run, they push one another onto the gravel, they throw rocks and other “natural” projectiles, they pull up grass….they become OOC Boys!
Now, let’s just say that the plan then is to take these OOC boys to a buffet for dinner? I mean, why not? It’s better than a sit-down served dinner….And if that’s not bad enough, and my inability to maintain my own sense of control is not glaringly obvious, then let’s head to the hotel and “go to bed”…..or jump on the beds, wrestle in the sheets, throw pillows at each other, turn lights on and off, open the door and scream down the hall….
So when it’s 8 pm and Mr. Ornery has been in “time-out” in the bathroom for over an hour (and has decided to cut his lower lip with my razor….for the second time – first time was at the beach vacation….”Mommy, I’m bleeding”), and the Little Guy is climbing in and out of the port-a-crib and egging on Super Tall Guy who is doing back-flips on the bed….I’m texting my sister in the room across the hall saying “I hate this,” “I want to go home.” But I rest for a few minutes until they bounce OOC into a peaceful sleep, while I dream of a cold beer, then grab my cousin to walk to the local pharmacy to pick up a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk….and we survive the night.
Needing a better plan, we decided to completely wipe them out the next day. We took the metro to the Mall and visited the Air & Space Museum. We stopped by the National Book Festival where Kathy and her boys actually did “literary” type things while my boys and I wound up and flew rubber-band birds over and over again in the grass. And then we walked them to the Washington Monument, up past the White House and back to the metro. While waiting for the hotel shuttle, we gloriously let them splash in the deluge of rain dripping from the metro station roof. Soaking wet and happy, they inhaled a delivered pizza for “picnic and movie night” and by 7:30 they were snoring! Love it. Now that’s how you handle OOC Boys!
Yet I replay the rough OOC day in my head over and over wondering if this “wild-ness” is just a function of their bouncy active nature …..or am I too lenient and need to do a better job at helping them “control” themselves more. Super Tall Guy has lately been very adamant that he is the boss of himself and not me, though I repetitively remind him that if he can’t handle himself, I have to step in (and that’s never a pretty sight when it’s 80 pounds to my 120!). It’s that parenting line that doesn’t have a clear answer. Am I respecting their needs and creativity and expression or am I raising misbehaving out-of-control children?
I sit here thinking about how I can “teach” them to handle themselves in certain situations, like how to behave at a restaurant. And my first thought was – gosh, that sounds like a miserable time! My second thought was – see, there’s some of that responsibility part of parenting that I posted about last week. …which, by the way, tends to coincide with the “exhausting” part of parenting. And since I have exhausted myself just by thinking about all of this tonight…I shall wrap this post up (I’m already a day late since our cable/internet/phone box blew last night and I couldn’t do anything but get to bed early – how sad).
Tomorrow is another day to figure out how to get OOC Boys into little “slaves” as Super Tall Guy complained tonight that he was….the poor dear.