Monday, October 20, 2008

Surviving Weekends; Alienating Babysitters?

That was a really long short full weekend. (Kind of like this post. Sorry. Everybody needs an editor and I'm too tired to be mine.)

Friday is normally Aaron's day off; he had to go in to work, and I went to church for a while to get some things ready for our big congregational workshop Saturday. (Then we had a really nice evening with friends, but that is beside the point because I'm trying to garner sympathy here, okay?)

Saturday I went to church at 8:00 a.m. (I know!) for our 9:00-2:00 meeting. I had to give the first part of the presentation, trying to act all smartypants with my PowerPoint and my statistics and my worksheets and my making the people hold up their fingers so they would remember what number group they're in (a very sophisticated business technique). We had a great turnout and everyone seemed pleased with the discussions, so I guess all went well--but that's just draining when you're largely responsible for making sure it does.

Rescued the babysitter, put Anna down for her nap, entered catatonic why-aren't-I-napping-too? state. Got Anna up and bundled us up for the youth group bonfire on the beach. We had about 25 people enjoying hot dogs, s'mores, football, and (in Anna's case) getting sand all over themselves. It was chilly at first but the wind actually died down and it was really nice to be out there. (Photos to come.)

I brought Anna home for a bath, and by the time Aaron got home she was running around like a crazy, diaper-clad Tazmanian devil: spinning, dancing, falling down, crawling back and forth under the dog, and doing her favorite cheerleading moves (the Irish Rumble). She was so hilarious! We just sat around laughing at her and shaking our heads at her insane antics.

Sunday we had church (again! in the morning, again!), then watched football, if that's still what you call it. Anna was a wicked combination of overtired and stubborn and didn't fall asleep until 4:00. I don't know what was up but after about an hour she woke up screaming . . . and pretty much didn't stop for an hour.

Aaron had to leave just after she got up and she FREAKED. OUT. and wouldn't settle down. She was in almost constant meltdown, falling apart at any little thing or no apparent thing. She didn't want to eat, wouldn't really let me eat, had no patience and a hundred demands. I had worried that the weekend would be too busy for her (babysitters and going places and teenagers--all beloved but exhausting) but wouldn't you know it? I couldn't skip Frontline because we would be splitting up the guys and girls and I had to be on the "panel" for the guys' discussion.

Somebodyerother's Law: The only time your child will need you to stay home will be the one time you cannot skip out on being somewhere else. Or to put it another way, if there is a function you must attend, your child will choose one hour before that function to FREAK OUT.

Now mind you I'm not mad at Anna for this. She clearly was overtired and needed some quiet time at home. I'm not sure if/how attachment factors into the clingyness and anxiety that seems to show up at such times but if us going off and doing things makes her feel insecure/needy, well, that's not her fault either.

So at 5:30 I called the lady from church who was going to watch Anna during Frontline and said I didn't know exactly what I was doing but didn't think I should take Anna to her house (where she's never been before). I thought maybe I'd go late and leave early and have somebody amuse Anna at church for as little time as possibly necessary. Now mind you we'd already had a little confusion and changing of plans that morning as to the evening's arrangements. So I felt like a real schmoe telling this lady who obviously now was all ready and excited to have Anna over that I wasn't going to bring her. But I really felt like if I took her to this new place and then left, there would be total meltdown that I would be paying for much longer than the hour and a half.

Anna did settle down by about 6:00 and I called back and said if you could come to church and watch her during the discussion part, that'd be great, and if not because you've written me off as a weirdo indecisive paranoid advantage-taking freak who can't understand the concept that you wanted to be at your house because it's not easy for you to get out and about, that's okay, I'll ask someone else who is there or whatever since this is really all my fault and problem anyway.

Okay, I didn't exactly get all that out. I don't know what I said but I hope it sounded somewhat humble and intelligible, and mostly I hope that she doesn't think it was about her or her house at all and will be willing to try again another night. It really wasn't--truly Anna was not in a good state and I didn't want her to think I was punishing her for it. But how do I explain the attachment issue connection when I'm not even sure if there is one? Objectively I think she was just tired but in my gut I think if I'd pushed it there maybe could have been some attachment implications. Or whatever you call her velcroed to my leg crying for three days. I don't know, maybe not, but I didn't want to put her (or me) through it.

People with attachment/adoption experience, what do you think? Am I fully or only partially nutters? I need some parental affirmation here!

Of course Anna was a bouncy little angel the whole time in the nursery, thus ensuring it seemed like she would have been fine anytime anywhere. Oh well.

The good news is that even though we had to be gone again Monday night, she had a grand time with the friend who came over and was good today despite being up late again.

The further exhausting and scary yet exciting news is that we had at least FIFTY-THREE high schoolers at our first Young Life Club on Monday, practically busting out the walls of the little clubhouse. May I remind you that this was the first club and there are only 225 kids in our high school--a fifth were there. And I'm pretty sure it was the rowdy fifth! Oh, lordy . . . what the heck are we going to do with them all?!

Whew. For some reason I'm tired. Thus I'm publishing this in its ridiculously long and wordy state. If you made it this far, you are now probably as tired as I am!


Jenny said...

First, how awesome is it that you had to cram all those kids in for YL? Seriously awesome.

About the attachment - it would have been the first thing to come to my mind too. However, I know toddlers are all about routine to give them stability, and I tend to think kids who have been through what ours have need the routine even more so. I'm usually one to claim attachment issues, but I'm learning that I need to be careful and not label it that when it's not. I tend to think it was just the princess getting too out of her routine, especially if she's fine now.

Have a good day, friend!

WMW said...

Yeah, Jenny, we are pretty routine most of the time so that disruption plus tired is probably it. Does she react more strongly than another kid might? Who knows, and maybe beside the point since the important thing is knowing what she needs (routine and rest). Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just affirming your parenting! You're doin' fine! ALL children need rest and routine & have crazy meltdowns w/o it. Some crazy disfunctional kiddos are those we have in school who have lived their first 5 years w/o routine, discipline or stories and affection! so sad.... you're fine! love ya!

Anonymous said...

Coming from an adoptee and an adoptive mother, I find it interesting how when ever our kids get "Weird" we automatically think of attachment issues. Noodles went through a phase last year where she just wigged out for about a week straight.. I was CONVINCED it was attachment issues. Nope, was the start of a not-so-fun winter of illnesses.

I agree with what the other responses have said, you break a routine, your kids brain is toast.
On the other side, Even though I was only 2 weeks old when adopted AND domestic, I still had random mental attachment issues, even now at 33 things can still trigger *SOMETHING* which can bring me to tears. (No I am not depressed, just adopted! lol)

Best advice in these situations, ignore your mind and go with your gut. No one knows your child like you do and most of us don't know what was happening or memories our children hold before us.


(sorry for the ramble!)

Amy said...

I would have to agree with Beth - not everything is attachment. Attachment issues are longer-term and are consistently everywhere, different times of days and situations. Sounds like your darlin' was overstimulated and overtired. Shoot, *I* have a meltdown when I'm really busy and short on rest!

Lots of love, that's what she needs. And you're doing great at that!