Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Children

Over the past few weeks I've received quite a few comments and emails saying how brave Jay and I are for having the guts to follow our dream a bit and make the huge step of moving our family across the country, to a place where we have no known support system. (Thank you for the kind words, by the way!) While I do think there are times I've felt incredibly brave, I've also felt dozens of other emotions as well. One of them being selfishness.
Were Jay and I being selfish for uprooting our children? Ultimately, I don't think so, and I firmly believe that any stumbling blocks we may face right now, are outweighed by all of the future benefits.But I have noticed one major behavioural change over the past few weeks and I wanted to share it with you. There are times I've felt as if I've sugar coated our move, maybe glossed over the many imperfections and not-so-great parts.
So, in the essence of full disclosure, I must say that my previously mostly good natured children, have begun to argue about everything. They argue with each other, they argue with me and Jay. I've even caught them arguing with the TV-a mostly one sided argument. And the things they argue about are so ridiculous that it almost makes my head spin.Take for instance what happened the other night. We were enjoying a relatively peaceful dinner when the boy asked if he could have a bottle of water. I said, "No, the water bottles are for school lunches. Just pour a glass of water." (Keep in mind that I do not live in the White House, but a small apartment. The walk from the dinner table to the kitchen is literally less than ten steps.) The boy sighed, rolled his eyes, and proclaimed that he was "so sick of this." Wanting to get to the bottom of this and thinking there may be a bigger issue, I semi-calmly asked, "Sick of what?" His response? "Water bottles being only for lunches. That's so stupid."Honestly, the whole conversation was so inane that had I been looking down at it while it was happening, I would have thought that I was watching a bad sitcom, not my real life. And it's been like that with both kids, all day long.

Of course, some of this is probably just kids being kids. Kids argue, it's their thing. But I also think that with my particular kids, a lot of it stems from them feeling as if they have no control over their own lives and feeling a certain amount of insecurity over their surroundings. Don't get me wrong, they've otherwise adjusted beautifully and in most ways the transition has been seamless. But I think that right now, they need to have their voices heard. Even if their voices happen to be declaring something truly asinine.

The response Jay and I have had to all this is patience (although that's wearing thin), understanding, and an increase in family time. We've driven the kids all over Portland and the surrounding towns in an effort to get them more familiar with the area and more comfortable. When out at large places like the Portland Saturday Market, we've allowed the boy to go off on his own, hoping it will build his confidence and make him feel more sure of his own abilities.At times it's been tough. There are times the arguing has gotten so intense that all I want to do is yell and scream. And many times I've done just that. But then, it passes. We go back to playing games or exploring. And everything is fine again. And I know that in the long run, everything will work out well.In the meantime, have I mentioned that wine is way cheaper here than it was in Florida?

(All photos were taken at Tualatin Commons, a gorgeous public space in my town that includes a man made lake surrounded by restaurants, apartments, and offices. During the summer months it hosts things like art festivals, farmers markets, and paddle boat rides. And it's a great place to take some pictures of goofy children running through a fountain in 58 degree weather. We told them it was a bad idea and they'd be cold. But of course, they argued with us. Live and learn.)


Theresa said...

I think you are right about them needing their voices heard, that was really smart thinking there. Maybe now that they are a little more familiar with their surroundings you could ask their opinion on where they would like to go for an outing or two so they feel like their contributing. I know our girl is generally more behaved at say a dinner out if she gets to pick the resturaunt. The pics are gorgeous! I love that fountain!

Carla said...

Moving may have seemed somewhat self-serving but you were not happy in Florida, unhappy parents = unhappy kids. Once they adjust I sense that things will be much better than they ever were. It sounds like you are doing a great job with your kids in this situation. Change is always hard, not matter how good!

Jessie said...

Moving is difficult for everyone involved. When we moved our family into a new house our kids had to change schools and all that biz. My 7yo wet the bed the first night in the new house! She's never done that. It just showed me that the little ones feel it in a more silent (and sometimes argumentative) way.


Alisha said...

Thank you for your honesty. Yes, changes like that are hard. And I would imagine the children would feel it in a little different manner and are expressing their angst about it by being argumentative. But it will pass. As a child who moved WAY too many times, it just takes time. And some patience. And some wine :)

Dani said...

I feel your pain. We go through similar spells.

We moved to Minnesota when I was 10. It wasn't the easiest of transitions, but I grew to love my second home. I'm sure your kiddos will too.

That's the good thing about kids; they are resiliant.

Daphne said...

You guys are such great parents. I'm sure Outdoor School will help. :) But seriously, it's an adjustment for everyone and I'm sure things will settle down. If not, Trader Joe's has Charles Shaw wine for cheap (and it's darn good!)

kraftykash said...

My kids argue ALL THE TIME, with each other, me and their Dad. I threaten to make them hug and hang out NON stop with each other. I also yell, whine, and hide. :)
Im sure if this is a new thing, its b/cuz of the move. Time will tell. If its not, then make them work. Housework always makes my kids listen. :) Love all the fountain pictures. Rock on for cheaper wine!! WooHoo

Lia said...

I really cannot stand pointless arguing. It's not as of it doesn't happen around here, but when it starts to be a habit, we talk and talk about the affect it has on all of us. For now, this seems to hit home with our oldest and he can rein it in, but the little one only stops after yelling and time outs.

Sorry. That sucks. It's can be so hard to try to be patient about something that's driving you nuts, but I also think that sometimes kids can be quick to manipulate a situation. I hope that doesn't sound harsh. I don't mean that's what's going on with your kids, but it can be something to watch out for.

I hope it gets better soon. I'd pour you a glass of wine if I could.

Dysfunctional Mom said...

All I can say is, be happy it just started, and maybe it's temporary. My kids do it all the damned time, and it drives me crazy. Today they were arguing about whether or not the thumb was a finger. Swear to God. I finally said JUST.SHUT.UP. (It was one of my finer parenting moments.)
Love the pictures!

Visty said...

Weird, that is right up the road from me and I've never been to it. I didn't know there was a fountain there! I wouldn't even know where to park. Dang, I totally suck.

When we moved here, away from all known things with nobody waiting here for us, my kids argued, too. It was a sad time that lasted a few months. But it did pass. I also had to get my own SAD under control before it could get better.

As far as the Saturday Market, I guess my own personal instinct is that there are enough questionable characters (and obvious drug use) around that I wouldn't let my kids run around by themselves there, but I may be a bit more, hmm, pessimistic than some? And HOLY FREAKING HELL the dogs. The dogs. Everybody and his uncle has to bring his big giant dog everywhere he goes, who then wants to fight with every other big giant dog it sees. Especially the Young Homeless, those people who intentionally "ride the rails" but without the train or actually going anywhere. They have drugs and dogs, and are not afraid to wield either at the saturday market. But they'll do a mime for you, for a few bucks.

I like the SM, but it has it's Dark Side.

I know it's rough, and I am glad for you that you moved here on the verge of the dry season instead of, say, November. We moved here in a September, and it got ugly real quick, which exacerbated the down feelings.

I think on some nice day we should meet at a park and chat. Of course, maybe you don't want to after my hideously shaming description of Portland's treasure.

Tammie said...

visty: ha! its funny because the grey and rain was one of the reasons we picked this place, so i keep waiting for it. its been pretty sunny here lately. jay and i were starting to wonder if the grey skies that everyone talks about was a hoax. :) or maybe the sunshine followed us.

as for the saturday market, i totally hear ya. there were definitely some creepy critters there-human and otherwise. and as much as they suck, i want my son to feel comfortable around them, know how to avoid them, stand up to them, etc...AND, he had his cell phone with him. i probably would have not let him go off on his own without it.

also, my son is fairly level headed and pretty much immune to negative peer pressure. now my daughter on the other hand, appears to be a total follower, so when she gets older there is the distinct possibility that she will never see the saturday market without leaving my side.

and i would love to meet up at a park someday. and you can bitch about portland all you want. :)

michelle harmon said...

I have always thought you were a good mama, but reading this... I realize you are an AMAZING MAMA. Your ability to listen to your children, even when they are doing crazy-kid-anger talk is a skill so many parents don't consider or know is really important. You and your hubby are smart, loving, and wonderful parents. Your children are adjusting and so are their parents and you are right, it will all even out. I love how you are handling this move and if I ever find myself moving my family across the country {also a dream of mine}, I hope to remember this post and your inspiring insights. Seriously. I know that was a lot of compliments, but seriously. I mean 'em. ;)