Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ten Years of Expectations

Our firstborn son turned ten today.  Double digits.  I really can hardly believe it.  I’ve spent the last three months simultaneously dreading and anticipating this milestone.  Dreading it because I can’t possibly be old enough to have a child in double digits.  Dreading it because it truly feels like yesterday that we were too naïve’ to appreciate the fact that the entire nursing staff was calling our perfect little baby Super Preemie.  Where has the time gone?

Anticipating it because Grant has been such a blessing in our lives.  He introduced us to parenthood.  Today we celebrate ten years of nuzzling his full head of hair, snuggling, and calling him Sweet Boy. Ten years of smooching him, wrestling with him, and putting him to bed.  Ten years of praying with him, training and correcting him, tickling him, and laughing at his huge vocabulary.  How can it be we’ve had the privilege of being parents for ten years already?

I had today chalked up to be monumental and idyllic in my mind.  An epic day filled with beautiful memories, lots of loving each other, some sunshine and maybe even some movie-quality background music serenading us as we waltzed through our picture-perfect day.  I should have known better.  All I can hear playing in my mind is Ellen Griswold from the movie Christmas Vacation gently telling her husband,  “Oh Sparky you set standards that no family activity can live up to.”

The agenda for today was:
v Eat breakfast (Grant’s choice).
v Drop Paige off at pre-school where she’d stay for an extra two hours called “Play Date” then get picked up by our neighbor.
v Arrive at school early so I could go to the Volunteer Breakfast,  Grant had labored over a present for me that could only be presented at the breakfast.
v Chaperone a five-hour field trip to the National Historic Museum (or something like that) with Grant’s class.
v Pick Paige up from the neighbor’s house.
v Get the girls from the school bus, feed them a snack, and bring them to softball practice.
v Rush home from softball practice drop off to beat the water polo car pool and greet Grant.
v Go back to softball practice to pick up the girls.
v Go out to dinner (Grant’s choice).
v Drop the big kids off at youth group.
v Pick the big kids up from youth group and come home.
v Force all the big kids to do their homework for the day, starting some time at or after 8:30 p.m. when they’re normally in bed.
v Put kids to bed.
v Collapse in bed.

I’m not sure how I ever had expectations of dancing in the sunshine with a schedule like that, but I had my pie-in-the-sky family-love expectations.  
Here’s how the day played out in real life.
  • v Grant woke up at 3 a.m. because he was so excited that it was his birthday.  He fell back asleep until 5 a.m. and then drifted in and out of sleep until he heard Curt get up at 5:45 a.m.  Nothing like starting your birthday off exhausted.
  • v He had all his presents opened before 7:15 a.m.
  • v Grant’s breakfast of choice was donuts and all the kids consumed two of them and nothing else.  The sugar high wore off before we left for the 9:30 a.m. field trip leaving Grant ancy and hungry for the bus ride.
  • v Alli, who has been less than stellar in her behavior lately, had to stay in the car with me when we arrived at school to hash out yet another “problem.”  It took so long to get to the bottom of it that we rushed into school minutes before the bell rang.  This left me all of thirty seconds to dash into the library where the breakfast was being held, find my surprise, and grab a plate of grapes so I could truthfully tell the kids that I went to the breakfast.
  • v Grant begged me to chaperone this field trip and he even saved me a seat across the aisle from where he sat with his friend.  They ignored me the entire hour drive to Portland and the entire hour drive home, which I’ve come to expect.  All my kids do that on field trips.
  • v The museum, whatever it was called, was actually really cool and our “Docent” (aka Museum Guide) was really fun.  She gave us all kinds of interesting facts about Oregon’s history and Grant behaved appropriately since he loves history.  He soaked in all the displays and interesting factoids and I was so proud.
  • v I was less than proud when his teacher put him in timeout for pushing all the buttons on the electronic parking meter while we waited for the bus outside the museum.
  • v The bus was 15 minutes late and on the return trip Grant informed me that he forgot his water polo stuff at home.  Could I PUHLEEZE go home and get it for him and bring it back to school in the 45 minutes I’d have once the bus got back to school?  Normally I wouldn’t rescue him, but it is his 10th birthday and technically “anything you want day” so I showed some grace and told him I’d get his stuff to him.
  • v Rushed home and dug through the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded until I found some swim trunks and towel.  Stuffed it in G’s water polo bag and drove down to the neighbor’s house to collect Paige.  We dashed over to the home of my friend who is doing after-school car pool and met her in the driveway as she was leaving to go pick up the boys.
  • v Got the girls off the bus and to softball practice.  Paige played outside and I picked up dog poop while we waited for Grant to get home from water polo.  Got back to the softball fields to pick up the big girls from practice.  We did all this uneventfully and with a celebratory heart.  We even danced our way back to the car and acted silly.  That’s my favorite part of the entire day.
  • v We met Curt at Jem 100, a permanent fixture in Newberg.  I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been updated since it was opened sometime in the mid 1950’s, but fashion has swung full circle and the gaudy chandeliers are almost back in style.  They serve yummy ice cream and everything greasy or fried.  The onion rings are to-die-for.   We arrived at Jem 100 exhausted and starving.  All the food is cooked made-to-order so it actually took a while for the cooks to make burgers, corn dogs, onion rings and French fries for a family of six.  While we waited, our kids fell apart. 

o   Alli got kicked out of our table and to isolation at the counter for invading Curt’s personal space. 
o   Alli and Katie both lost dessert with the chance to earn it back by ignoring instructions and then pretending not to hear. 
o   Paige fell solidly apart because Alli and Katie staked out the seats next to Curt.  She was wailing and crying and sat in time out at the back of the restaurant for at least five minutes before she pulled herself together.  She cried so hard her eyes turned red.  
o   Curt’s been fighting a horrible virus since he got back from Haiti and his dose of Advil wore off while we were waiting for our food.  He turned pale and visibly lost the little bit of energy he had when we arrived.
o   The food took so long that it made us late to youth group.  Grant fell apart when we told him there wasn’t time to get ice cream cones.  Ice cream was the promised birthday dessert, so we stood in line to order cones.
o   Grant wasn’t listening to Curt and broke his waffle cone, spilling ice cream and waffle cone all over, including on his new birthday shirt.  He dissolved into sobs and started blaming Curt.
o   While Grant was ramping up his hysteria, Katie knocked over a counter stool and it crashed so loudly that everyone stopped to stare.  Patrons without children were glaring at our family.  Patrons with children were giving us the sympathy, “Been there, done that, glad it’s not me tonight” look.
  • v While we were destroying Jem 100, time kept ticking away.  When we finally ushered our children to the van and out of the public eye, youth group had been in action for 25 minutes.   The kids overheard Curt and I discussing whether or not we should attempt youth group and all sorts of wailing ensued. 

o   Grant wanted to go to youth group because you get a personal cake on your birthday. 
o   Katie and Alli didn’t want to go to youth group because they both forgot shoes and were wearing cleats and sweat pants which apparently aren’t fashionable enough for youth group.  They both became instantly “exhausted” and couldn’t fathom going to youth group. 
o   In the end, I dropped all three of them off thirty minutes late.  On the van ride to youth group, they all wailed theatrically, “I’m so sorry Mom for ruining dinner.  Puhleeze forgive me.”  

Curt, Paige and Dusty (our dog) are on the way to pick up the Three Stooges right now.  I’m sure they’ll come home on a sugar-high, talking a mile a minute, and will have forgotten all about our disastrous dinner.  Grant will still have dried ice cream caked to his brand new shirt and most likely his face too.  Katie and Alli, who made me promise to bring their Bibles and then forgot them on the front seat of the van, will still be wearing cleats and muddy sweatpants.  Curt will still be fighting a virus and I will still be fighting to embrace a day that has not lived up to my pie-in-the-sky expectations.

Homework still needs to be completed, teeth need to be brushed, jammies donned, and bedtime prayers issued.  We have a good hour of parenting left of this crazy day, but we also still have each other.  After all, it’s kind of Grant’s fault for starting this whole three-ring circus ten years ago today.  He chose his own birthday and stormed into our lives, stealing our hearts in the process.  Happy birthday G-Man!  We sure do love you, even when life doesn’t live up to our expectations.

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