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From babytime to tantrums with not a moment to spare!

My kids and I just got back from the snow. We found an amazing place that is an easy drive from Santa Cruz. Really. No, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll tell your friends, and then, well, you know what will happen.

My experience with visiting the snow in California was completely confined to visiting my husband’s cousin in Truckee. The great thing about Truckee is that it’s the first stop on the top of the hill. After you’ve endured the grueling drive, which lasted one time 8 hours sitting on 80 far from any bathroom, Truckee seems close.

Fun in the snow

Fun in the snow

But it’s also amusing to a Midwesterner, this idea of driving to snow. I never did it when I didn’t have kids, but then it started to seem important. They Have To Know That Life Isn’t Always Easy.

We went with a friend who has two kids and a baby. We decided to rent a cabin in a place where we could shoo the kids outside while their mothers sat inside eating bonbons. We forgot the bonbons, but otherwise it was pretty true to the plan. We shooed the kids outside; one came in crying. We shooed her outside; another came in crying. Pretty standard fare, I guess.

We got to some of the many projects we’d planned, including my forcing my kids to make the Valentine craft I’d brought along. “This holiday is about Love, darn it! Get making those Valentines!”

My son protested that he didn’t need Valentines. I reminded him that he’d said, getting off the bus the day before we left, “I have to have Valentines when we go back to school!” He denied everything. Good thing I’m the parent.

The snow was fine, and I enjoyed the pine-scented air, but what was really great was baby-time. To think that I spent almost 35 years not getting baby-time! When I was pregnant, I thought, well, it won’t always be a baby, right? It’ll learn to read and play music and talk politics, and then I’ll get to enjoy it.

And then my son popped out with his curly dark hair and dark grey eyes, and that was the end of not getting baby-time. Babies are perfect beings. As my friend said, “I just can’t believe that in five years she’s going to be driving me crazy!”

In retrospect, our trip back was predictable, though I do find that my predictive abilities lie in hindsight. We stopped at a cave tour, which lasted nearly an hour, and then, of course, the bathrooms were at the back of — yeah, you already know that I’m going to fall for this, don’t you? — the gift shop! So daughter of mine wants to buy something, and though I had been saying, No No NO all the way through the tour, I said, “Oh, OK. You can get a rock.”

Son of mine takes me at my word, though he stretches the assigned budget by ten percent. He’s working on being a software engineer. Not sure what my daughter is working on. She just couldn’t decide. And I knew this was going to happen. And she hadn’t eaten anything for well over an hour, and I had further evidence that it was going to happen.

But I think that being a parent sends some sort of memory-erasing hormone through your blood so that each night you forget the horrors of the day that passed.

She can’t choose a rock. She’s mesmerized by the candy, all the colorful rows of it. Finally I have to drag her out, and she has not gotten her rock. All of a sudden she must have that rock. She NEEDS that rock.

“When I’m 13,” she says in a moment of lucidity amidst the storm. “Ask me if I remember this trip. I Won’t Remember This Trip! I will have Nothing to remember this trip by! You Must Let Me Buy A Rock.”

It occurs to me that those who know my daughter now don’t have much of a grasp of where we’ve been. She goes along these days with little eruptions: she is constantly tempted to pull long hair; she is obstinate and defiant; she says things she shouldn’t say. But people who have met her recently don’t know what we’ve come through. From about 18 months to 6 years, this sort of incident was routine. Some days we could take hours just to get out of the house because she had to throw unbelievably long tantrums. She had a husky voice then from all the screaming. She couldn’t go to school. She couldn’t find a way to calm herself.

Babytime

Babytime

It’s been a long road to here, when I had no warning signal that the tantrum was coming. I was walking blissfully along, offering my seven-year-old girl a rock. I should have known better.

But I do know better: these times are further and further from normal. She’s never ceased to be a difficult person, but she has ceased being that child that could never fit in. When she was four, I would never have considered asking a friend to share a cabin. Now, I didn’t think twice about it. Our lives march on.

And life isn’t always easy. But in raising children, it’s all worth it. First you get baby-time, and in kissing that fuzzy head you get to experience perfection. Then you get a person. And you watch them grow and marvel at their abilities and disabilities. It’s a bumpy ride, that’s for sure!

Posted in Parenting.


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