Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Instruction manual.

So many times I wish my kids came with instruction manuals. Like almost every day. I want black and white answers in the middle of this very gray blurry world that is raising children. 

See that cute baby? The one so accurately labeled 'Instructions not included'. Yep. He isn't a baby anymore. And sure when he was a newborn and wanted to hang out with me every morning from 3-6 AM despite all my best I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing-first-time-mom-not-effective-trick tricks I really wanted an instruction manual. 

But now six years later I realize that was nothing. Child's play really. Now I really really want an instruction manual. Don't get me wrong. I firmly believe that we are all just doing our best in this child rearing business and there are many great ways to do things. But sometimes I just want to know what is the right (or best) way to handle situations without having to figure it out myself. Especially when figuring it out means dragging him through my learning process. And I am NOT a quick learner. 

The most recent situation that left me wishing for a quick answer from the instruction manual was this: Isaiah was invited to a birthday party. A party in the home of a soon-to-be first grade classmate of his. A boy he or I have never met. 

What to do? My initial response was "Nope. Not going."  But my husband thought he should attend to meet his classmates (school starts next week). Isaiah was indifferent. So I polled an online group of women (a very diverse group in age, beliefs, parenting experience and geographic locations). The overwhelming response was that I should definitely have him attend the party and that I should stay...since it is in a stranger's home! Ugh. Not the response I was expecting or really wanting. 

Soooo I reluctantly RSVPed "yes" for the party. Next step. The present. Let me be completely honest here. I really dislike buying birthday presents for other people's kids. Especially kids I don't know!  How in the world do I know what they want?!? Plus we live in a very affluent area. And we are...well...lets just say not affluent:) So the small modest gifts we give seem laughable at best. And the part that really kills me? We RARELY buy toys for our own children. Think one birthday gift and one Christmas gift. We spend $10-15 per child. That's it. So yeah spending more money in a year on toys for other people's kids is kind of painful for me!

Joe graciously offered to take the kids shopping for the present to ease the pain of it all for me. Which meant an hour alone for me! Yay! They came home with a small Lego set AND all of Isaiah's school supplies for this coming year! Yay!

I thought I had this gray area figured out. Isaiah was going to attend the party with Hannah and I in attendance. (A friend graciously opened her home to Charlotte so I didn't have to bring all sorts of chaos to the party!)  Then yesterday happened. Isaiah snuck the Lego set into his room, opened it and put it together. And then announced he did not want to attend the party! That is when I really really really wanted to open up my nonexistant parenting manual. Because what was I supposed to do next?!? 

I was just a tad frustrated. And of course this fell on a call day (ie no knowing when my back-up would be home) and only one day before the party! Great. Live and learn. After much thought, I decided Isaiah would have to buy the Lego set from me so I could use his money to buy a new gift. But I was NOT loading all the kids up and driving to Target. It is my nemesis after all;) Instead we loaded up our favorite stroller and walked to Walgreens. Which really was an all around WIN. Killed time from our never ending day. Plus we got exercise. And best of all there was an Optimus Prime Lego set for 50% off! So I got wild and threw in a big box of Nerds for the birthday boy!

We lived. We learned. And now we are off to the stranger's birthday party. 

Us. Six years later. On our walk home from Walgreens. 

Update: We survived the party. And I thought getting ready for the party was hard. Silly me! That was "fun":(

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