Having kids is a fun way to learn to NOT have expectations. It’s also funny that my husband always seems surprised and even perplexed when the little ones don’t cooperate with his plans for a fun afternoon together.
Take today, for example.
He had the afternoon off, and wanted to take the kids to the zoo. Perfect day for it, not too hot, still nice and sunny.
His expectation: A beautiful bonding experience, complete with shared laughter and warm feelings, as we all enjoyed our day and each others company.
The reality: Horrible traffic getting there. 4 year old falls asleep 2 minutes before parking and required vigorous waking up. Toddler won’t sit in the stroller, won’t hold hands to walk, wants to run in front of every zoo vehicle, screams like a howler monkey when we are forced to man handle her for her own safety. I carry her under my arm like a rolled up rug part of the time, sick of fighting with her to keep her alive and not flattened by a random tram. We can’t find the seals, where are the damn seals! We give up as the zoo closes. Get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home, as toddlers shoe falls off in the back seat. And she SCREAMS. On and off, for 40 minutes.
As I drove, in bumper to bumper traffic….. I kept peeking over at my husband. Just waiting for him to start stabbing himself in the eye with something. The screaming from the back was the kind you hear when your child is PISSED OFF….it goes on, and on….slowly tapering off. You start to think you’re safe, you made it through…as she sits quietly for a few minutes. But no…. she was just taking a break. And it starts again, and hubby’s eye starts twitching…. hand desperately clutching a pretzel rod.
Oh, don’t think she’d stop if we would just put on her shoe. Trust me, I WISH it was that easy. When she gets pissed lately, there is no quick fix. Replace the shoe, buy her new shoes, take off both shoes…..doesn’t matter. She will cry until she decides she’s done. Not usually sooner, but later.
Now, ALL of our outings do not suck this much. BUT, I never expect them NOT to suck. Because then I can be happy when we have fun, and not all surprised when we don’t.
But still, my husband just doesn’t seem to understand how the world works with children. I don’t know if I should call it hopeless optimism…. or just feel sorry for him and his lack of ability to deal with reality. Sometimes it’s endearing, and sometimes it’s just annoying.
Like when we get a chance to go out to dinner together, us and the little ones again.
His expectation: We will sit, speak to each other about important or interesting topics, and we will eat our meal.
The reality: we sit. Then I get up about 30 times to take Jenna potty, because she MUST visit the potty every 4 minutes every time we are in a public place. We talk, about why is he letting Sammy run around wearing Jenna’s blanket as a cape when I’m off in the bathroom? I talk a lot to the kids, things like “Stop that!”, “get out from under the table!”, “sit down!”, “please eat your food”, “don’t spill that!”, “leave your sister alone”, “leave ME alone!”….. and between this I steal bites of food.
Sometimes things go better. But you know if you have little ones….going out to eat is not like….easy or fun usually. You have to be ready for anything, which is tiring even if nothing actually happens. Because it COULD happen, and you must maintain order at all cost.
Sounds like a lot of work huh?
At this point, based on my experience, my own expectations are more realistic.
Expectations: I will not participate in any lengthy adult conversation or activity while my children are anywhere around me. I will eat mostly standing up, and my food will usually be cold. I will never pee alone. If walking up the stairs, I will be either carrying a toddler, or a laundry basket. Or, a toddler IN a laundry basket. I will never have time to do my hair. I will steal kisses a million times a day from anyone who has previously resided in my uterus.
The reality: see above. Honestly, not so bad. And one day, I will probably even sleep through an entire night again…..