We live in a wonderful community, just outside of San Diego. There are several community pools here, and if we time our swim sessions just right - which we almost do - we can have the whole pool to ourselves.
One of our favorite things to do is to spend a few hours at the pool in the morning, before the waves of people appear. Our favorite pool, especially in the summer, is a gradual entry pool that the children adore.
And we adore it, because there's nothing better than expelling your young children's vast energy stores by lunch time.
Warm days. Palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. A sand pit and playground at one end. Water the perfect temperature. Bright blue skies. Children happily splashing in the water.
And at the front of it all, a Wyland dolphin fountain.
I will always have wonderful memories of these blissful moments.
Other memories that I hope to not hold on to quite so tightly are those moments when I totally blow my gasket because my children are acting their age and splashing in a gradual entry pool hasn't expelled their energy stores quite enough to launch them in to an 18-hour sleep coma.
There's no doubt the children are sensing all of these changes in the air and their behavior is perfectly normal. So, I suspect that my behavior is perfectly normal, too. That behavior being the vision of wrapping them in painter's tape and sticking them in the closet until it's time to leave. Because I'm positively certain it would be easier to shovel snow with one hand then prepare to move cross-country with four little ones underfoot.
Interestingly enough, I went for a walk the other day and I heard a mother scolding her young child. The mother was livid, telling the child that they were acting naughty and forcing them to stand in a corner with their nose against the wall. "Oh, that poor little dear," I thought. Surely whatever they did didn't warrant that kind of reaction from their parent.
But then I thought of my own circumstances and how many times I've totally lost my mind over what a passerby might deem to be the most SIMPLE of things. All I saw was a mother in the grocery store swat her child on the rear when they had their hand in the meat cooler. I didn't see that the child was sticking their finger through the cellophane wrapper on packages of hamburger.
Nor did I see in to their home an hour earlier when that sweet child spilled an entire gallon of lemonade all over a newly mopped floor, seconds after their mother had specifically said, "Please don't you pour it, let me help you!" I didn't see it when they twirled a half licked lollipop through their hair in the car. Or when they took a pair of rounded-blade scissors to their parent's wedding album to snip out pictures of the pretty princess.
Not all of these things have happened to us, per se, but the point is: who really knows what last nerve that sweet child just severed?
It is sometimes so difficult to be a good parent. You are expected to act like an adult. You are supposed to *always* be a good role model, demonstrating kindness and graciousness and patience. You are supposed to have it all together and not lose your cool when your child acts like ... a child. Yet, these little people that we brought in to the world, the ones that we love more than we love our very own selves, possess the ability to induce instantaneous insanity.
Tonight, when I was tucking the children in to bed, I admitted the frustrations I had with myself for my lack of patience. I promised that tomorrow, I'd try (again) to do better. Gently, the children put their hands on my cheek and said, "It's alright mom. We forgive you."
Isn't that adorable? I'd really like to know how they cue unbelievable sweetness like that. And perhaps more importantly, where the heck was it an hour earlier?
Look at those dolphins, I'm convinced they're smiling at us.
I'll bet they've never once thought about the complexities of shoveling snow one handed. Nor have they ever had to mop up a gallon of lemonade from a floor. Yet, we are the more highly developed species? I'm really not so sure about that.
I'd maybe consider giving up my opposable thumbs for a pair of flippers.