Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Staycation Turmoil

How can I describe today?

30 minutes frolicking in a river; 54 times wanting to rip my eyeballs from my head; 3 times sternly confirming there will not be a third child; 20 times loving being a mum; 20 times wanting to run away to France and change my identity; 38 times swearing under my breath; 5 times swearing out loud. 1 time persuading my toddler I'd actually said a different word.

I'm on vacation, you see. Yes that's right, vacation.

No wait... I'm really on Staycation.

Seriously, who the hell invented the Staycation?

When you have two young kids, planning a vacation is not about deciding which glorious location you'll be visiting, or picturing the blissful days you'll be spending on the beach, or buying an entire new wardrobe of sexy summer clothes and bikinis.

It's about figuring out how you'll get your kids to sit still on a plane or in a car for a period of hours without wanting to strangle everyone with your bare hands or being strangled by your fellow passengers.

It's about working out the logistics of transporting enormous quantities of stuff: fifty thousand diapers and wipes, snacks, clothes x 5 in case they each need to be changed multiple times, a double stroller that weighs as much as an elephant carrying a rhinoceros, the play pen, the toys, the etc., etc., etc.

Therefore, in light of the nightmare disguised as a vacation away from home with two kids aged two and under, we decided to stay home.

What a marvelous idea!

The week started off well enough. We've so far enjoyed a pleasant combination of outings to the park, the splash park, the zoo and other touristy things around the city that we wouldn't otherwise do.

Sounds nice, yes?

Yes. Good. Lovely.

Just one small problem. Matthew has chosen THIS week to induct us, his parents, into a new phase of toddler insanity. I'm talking hell-on-wheels, head spinning, frothing at the mouth, fits of rage. Yes. Tantrums.

But we're not scared.

Undeterred, we packed up early this morning and ventured out to Sandy Beach - a beautiful park, and probably the closest thing Calgary has to a beach.

And as you can see from these pictures, all was grand for a while.

Matthew reveled in lobbing stones into the river.

I basked in the sun with Oliver gurgling happily in my arms.

Matthew found a little friend to play with along the pebbly bank. They shared a dump truck and a shovel, digging for stones and driving the truck up and down the bank.

And then, almighty horror of horrors, it was time to leave the scene and continue on with our walk through the park.

What ensued was a show of displeasure that included screaming, screeching, stomping, throwing, hitting, back-arching, jumping and general tantrum-throwing of proportions never before seen.

We left the park: two adults rushing away as onlookers stared, one toddler in a wagon screaming the kind of scream usually reserved for CSI Miami, one baby still happily gurgling, and one dog, completely bewildered as to why his walk had been abruptly cut short.

Back at home, when all the screaming and hissing had died down, me and J sat down and wondered - what now? What the hell do we do? Where's that damn instruction manual? Do we get strict? Do we use distractions? Do we never ever leave the house again?

HELP! I screamed. Okay I didn't scream but I was thinking about it. Unfortunately we live in the burbs and no one would have heard my screams.

So, we're learning. We're beginning the next phase of parenting: discipline. We're being tested in ways we never thought possible. Pulled and tugged in every way. Stretched and bruised.

And we're learning.

And like most parents, when we say goodnight to our little tantrum-throwers, we kiss them and remember all the wonderful things we love about them and the bad things magically disappear.

And because really how can you stay mad at a kid who's going to bed dressed as a pirate?

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..... Carmen said...

I don't know where to start :)

First, I think it's appropriate he is dressed as a pirate going to bed :)

Second, VERY impressed you only said three times you didn't want a third.

Third, hallelujah that J is home this week. I don't want to imagine you facing the pirate alone :|

Fourth (I tell myeslf this ALOT), this too shall pass.

Five - time outs and restraint do wonders.... sometimes. And rewarding with sweets for good behaviour. I'm not above bribery.

If it helps, I woke Grace up to go to Lil's on Tuesday so I could head to work. She threw back her covers and snarled at me "Leave me alone!". I hear that about five times a day. Lovely.

Mwa said...

Yay vacation!

Do watch out with the discipline. I tried that for tantrums, and it never worked for me. The only thing that did work was ignoring it COMPLETELY. (In combination with strapping forcibly in pushchair and walking off, and then praising good behaviour.) Negative attention is still attention and they love it.

Perfectly Happy Mum said...

I wish in a way I didn't know what you are talking about but I do... Did you think that your life would be made of so many lows followed by gigantic highs next? It is tiring and emotional and amazing... but why can't we expect a rest until after they start Uni? the joy of parenthood :)

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

That is, by far, the best set of pjs. EVER.
My husband doesn't understand why I often prefer to stay at home...a day off for him sounds, to me, like a great way to enjoy being at home, letting the kids play outside, and doing little else. He always wants to get out and gets frustrated with my apprehension. I think you get it!

Chandra said...

Oh the tantrums...I can only laugh at my children and walk away when it starts. I have learned that trying to reason with my 3 yr old and his tantrums is like trying to reason with...well a three year old, it doesn't work. I get stares and probably nasty comments but seriously after of screaming..he usually realizes that it's a done deal and just stops..

LOVE the pj's...where did you find those? My little dude would love those!

Sara said...

Ahhhh, I so hear you and yet we insist on going away. Why I ask, last time we went to the lake did we choose to stay at a friends in Edmonton when it was +30 and they had no AC and we had to try and get 2 kids to sleep in a house they had never been. Smart, real smart. Although I think they have seriously reconsidered trying to have children since our stay. sigh... At least someone can go our for dinner and a movie at the drop of a hat *too bad its not me.

Canadian Bald Guy said...

Knocking on wood, I've been very fortunate thus far with my Ankle Biter. He turns 3 in two weeks and he hasn't gone through a 'terrible' stage yet.



Crystall said...

I SO feel your pain. Been in your spot one....or a thousand times. I found what works best is to remember this is just a phase. Not, that repeating this mantra will work past...oh...about 30 seconds.
Good luck with your two little sweet boys. Boys really are so fun... in a poking your eyes out kind of way! :)

Metropolitan Mum said...

I listen and I learn. And I hope that we will just sail through without any of those tantrums. One can dream, right?

Loukia said...

I love the pictures! And yes, planning a vacation with two little ones is NOT easy. Although sometimes staying home for vacay is tough, too! ;) Tantrums are hard to deal with and they do not go away for a very, very, very long time. Sorry! But this is true. At least, for me it's true. It is hard to deal with children when they are in their tantrum moments, isn't it? I am clueless... It is very frustrating! And I suck with discipline...

Lady Mama said...

Carmen - do the "this too shall pass", often!

Mwa - "Negative attention is still attention and they love it." Great advice, thanks!

PHM - No I never imagined there would be so many highs and lows! Craziness!

LZ - I'm seriously loving days at home right now!

Chandra - they're from the Gap.

Sara - sometimes I feel like I put myself in these awful situations too and then wonder why! WHY?

CBG - Serious?

Crystall - "Boys really are so fun... in a poking your eyes out kind of way! :)" Haha!

Metropolitan Mum - I like to dream..

Loukia - Excuse me while I go and cry at the thought of this going on for a long time. Sob.