Parenting Rule #5 is the one where if you have reached a point in your parenting where you think you know what you are doing, first of all, you are wrong. Second of all, if you think you know what you are doing and can chill, you are either not noticing something massive and dangerous is happening or, something massive and dangerous is about to happen so, you know, at least sit up.
Officially it reads "Never let yourself relax and think you know what you are doing as a parent". What exactly is this rule #5 and who decided it? Well, uh, just me. What are the other 4 rules? I'm not sure yet. At least one of the rules has to do with keeping the kids clothed and educated. Then there is the rule about only taking as long to cook dinner as it will take to eat it (generally less than 20 minutes, including whining).
So over the kids winter break from school (also known as The Accidental Mommy Visits the 7th, 8th and 9th Circles), we had made plans for Teena to stay at my parents house for a few days. Without the rest of us. My Mom has been saying for years that she would love to spend time with my girls individually. That's code for: your children are heinous and no human should be left alone with them both unless the Vatican is involved. Since Teena is our independent little girl, we decided after Christmas she would stay and the rest of us would come home. I knew she would be excited and would not have a moment of doubt. The girls had been clashing almost constantly, and Genea had been on a tear having visits from the Wango Tango regularly. We all needed a break, but with our options limited we decided a "reverse respite" sort of thing would be at least beneficial for Teena.
I had the sense to be afraid, very afraid, of Genea's reaction. From not being the one to stay, to being separated from her sister. I knew she would blow and would have daily freak outs, probably for hours. My plan was to take advantage of the individual time with her to work on her explosive anger and disproportionate reactions. Get some things done, and try to reinforce our bond and attachment, which I was feeling had become precarious.
I blew it entirely. I anticipated all the wrong things. It's like they knew what I was thinking and planning for, and decided to do the opposite. I tell ya', there is no value in worrying. I pick the wrong things to worry about all the time. Also, I always pick the wrong house on House Hunters (TV show on HGTV) (although maybe it's the new homeowners picking the wrong house who knows).
When the time came to leave my parent's house I spent some extra time saying goodbye to Teena. Now, she is and independent kid, so I knew she would be fine and not miss us for a second. She never has. Frankly, she can not usually even be bothered to look up when we have left her before.
She was sitting on a bed just sort of staring off and I asked her if she was feeling a little sad that we were leaving, even though she knew she would be having a ton of fun. She flopped herself back on the bed and told me "no Mama, I am feeling all the way sad". What the heck? I laid with her for a few minutes and gave her the choice to come home instead. Despite the sad, she insisted on staying. She would be having a sleepover at her cousins house and by jingo, she was going no matter what. Okay. But she asked me to try to arrange it so she could come home early.
At home I was all prepared and ready for the bomb of anger to go off with Genea. So I waited. And I waited. And then there was a minor snit when she didn't get what she wanted immediately. Then it was done. What the heck?
I mean, What? The? Heck?
I enjoyed her. I sat back and enjoyed her. Do you have any idea how monumental that is? I did not have to "manage" her. I did not have to regulate with her. I did not need to stay a little on edge just in case. I did not have to answer her a dozen times an hour, I actually talked to her first. I did not have to keep her in my line of sight. I did not have to constantly gauge her level of frustration. None of the exhausting things that I always have to do. I could just be with her. She is a delightful, fun, cute and sweet little girl and I got to fully enjoy that side of her.
Teena stayed the full time at her grandmothers house, but for the first time ever she was ready to come home when the day came. Genea missed her like crazy.
What do I know.