Friday, August 27, 2010

dead fish and relatives

My mother has a saying that after three days, both dead fish and relatives go bad.

And while nothing went "bad" staying at my mother's house, she and Jim are in a two bedroom condominium and there were seven of us. Including one, small one, that goes by the name of Henry and who is higher maintenance than I ever recall with the triplets.

Then again, it's a well known fact that I tend to forget things. Rather quickly.

My mother told me that she has raised a lot of three-year-olds and none of them ever screamed like Henry. And when I say he screams, I mean he BLOODY SCREAMS. Then, he runs as fast as his little legs will take him, in the exact opposite direction, usually while carrying a stick or something equally pointy.

People will often comment to me, that the triplets are so well behaved and courteous and it's entirely true. My children are wonderful. They are fantastic sharers, they include children that they don't know in whatever games they are playing and they are polite. (Most of the time). They really are exceptional, if I may say so myself. But they haven't always been this way. It's taken a lot of work for both Charlie and I to get them to this point.

I'm confident Henry won't always be "this" way. But he is right now.

And sometimes, it's difficult.

He's not spoiled.

He's a newly turned three-year-old and three-year-olds are TOUGH.

While I don't want to make excuses, I do seek to try and understand why my children act the way they they do. And in Henry's case, he doesn't grasp what is going on in his world as much as his older siblings. As far as he is concerned, he is getting bounced from place to place to place to place and HEY! WHERE THE HECK IS MY BED? His schedule is totally thrown off, his diet is totally thrown off, and try as I might, he hasn't had a decent nap in weeks.

So, if you take one emotionally and physically exhausted three-year-old toddler that runs around SCREAMING, and one overly hypersensitive 39-year old mother. And you add three five-year-olds who won't stop talking and cannot remember to flush, a 77-year-old grandmother who just had a full knee replacement, and an 86-year-old step grandfather who is a lot like a little kid, himself. And then you stick them all in a 600-square foot space for almost 18 days, or approximately SIX TIMES the recommended allowance for direct familial exposure, what do you get?

You get me hyperventilating, "Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!"

On Wednesday evening, an hour before bedtime, I quickly packed everyone up and we left for a local hotel. In the midst of one of Henry's "moments" ... me, being the extraordinary drama queen that I am, was in such a rush to get out, I literally ran out the door wearing my wet bathing suit with three children in tow and one firmly tucked under my arm.

My mother was very disappointed to see us all go, but I feel like it's important that we keep our relationship in tact, and I was truly worried that it would demise before my eyes if we continued to stay and completely wear out our welcome. Besides I know what I need to do to handle Henry and part of that includes having an abdundance of patience (and space) while he outgrows this "challenging" stage.

I am so appreciative of everything my mother and Jim have done for us over the last month, but right now, I feel like having all of us there is too much for them, and too much for ME.

On the brightside, each one of the children (except Henry) are having some quality one-on-one time with their Noni and Jimbo. My plan between now and the time that we drive back to Virginia early next week, is to let each one of the triplets spend a night away, by themselves. Considering this is the first time that they've spent the night away from both Charlie and I, this is a very big deal.

Tonight it was Carolyn's turn to spend the night, and she's never looked so happy in her entire life. When I kissed her good bye and reminded her to say her prayers and brush her teeth before bed, she nodded excitedly. Then she walked me to the door and pushing me out said, "You need to go now, Mom. You can come back and get me in 10 years. Okay?"

Isn't that so sweet?

Yes, it really warms my heart to know she'll miss me so much.

I'm sure she's counting down the minutes.


  1. I love the idea of each child getting to spend the night alone with their Noni and Jimbo. What an exciting thing to look forward to. Hope that things are going better for Henry. I'm sure he is confused in his little boy world about what is going on right now. Good luck and look forward to your next installment. Even my husband asks about you from time to time if I haven't mentioned something about you recently. Karen in IL

  2. This made me laugh. Truly. I remember what having "that" three year old was like. They can't help it - life is hard at three! And then? A few years later. When those same relatives marvel at what a wonderfully behaved child you have and how far he's come - you can smirk because you knew you were doing a great job all along.

  3. We are going through the EXACT SAME THING right now. Well- minus two 5 years olds. We are living with y in laws while my house is finished and my three year old is VERY high maintenance. I am uber-sensitive to being a guest and it is stressful to be under someone elses roof and not be in total control of the surroundings.

    I feel your pain! Good luck!

  4. I learned something fascinating today at a conference for child care workers at my church. Did you know (according to the info. I heard from the speaker today) that at age three, a person's brain activity is at its peak--at no other time in a person's life will they have as much brain activity as they do at age three. It explains why three-year-olds are so active (and challenging, LOL). No wonder they're SO BUSY! And no wonder I can't keep up. :) Hang in there--you're a great mom!

  5. Our boys love their sleep-overs at Grandma's, too. In fact, D is at Grandma S's right now, snoring away. Did he bother to call me to say good night? Of course not. He didn't even wave as they drove away this afternoon.

    Moms can't take things too personally, can we?

  6. The reason 1 - 4 year olds are so small is so, in times of VERY BAD BEHAVIOUR you can pick them up, throw them over your shoulder /under your arm etc, somewhere that will keep them restrained and remove them from the situation so they can be dealt with when you have calmed a bit.

    Can totally understand your need to leave and poor litle Henry needing some space and his things.

    I recently spent 17 days/nights (spread out over a month) at the in laws house with my 3 kids and although the grandparents were brilliant and didn't complain once, I still was super extra stressed that the kids were too loud, too rough, too everything ....... (and they actually rent the house from us and have it for free for the month we are in Aus)) - but I still felt like we were walking on tiptoes the whole time so that we wouldn't be a pain - because you are very aware that you are intruding on their space.

    Think you are handling the situation perfectly. New house in less than 2 weeks....... breath.

  7. Isn't it wonderful to have grandparents? Good on you for beating a wise retreat, and now with the one-on-one sleepovers, both the kids and the grandparents will remember it as a happy time!

  8. You are doing a GREAT job! Just do what you can with your situation - like you are and punt - so glad you said yes to the pierced ears -- when they really want it - they are ready -- she needed something special! so glad you're still blogging -- your family is still in my prayers!

  9. "You need to go now, Mom. You can come back and get me in 10 years. Okay?"

    Adorable and she'll be 15 when you pick her up in 10 years - always a fun time in a teenagers life : )

  10. That's why Greg's mom won't let us stay with her in her condo. We stayed last year and Austin fell out of a window, swung on the ceiling fan, and they tore the towel bar off the bathroom wall. She told us she would love to have us this year ----- across town in a nice rental.

  11. Way to go, Carolyn!

    I have to say, in our family, the threes have been MUCH harder than the two's ever were. Our two-year-olds were still quite eager to please. In my experience, their tantrums came more from not being able to communicate than from anything else. My 3YOs on the other hand, had much bigger attitudes and wanted to do things their own way. They haven't seemed to much care what I think of it! The more difficult reason for me is that people seem to expect so much more out of a 3YO. They expect 2YOs to throw tantrums and whine and melt down, but for some reason they think the kids should grow out of all of that by the time they turn 3. Not something I've ever understood, but there you go.

    Hang in there, Jen! Just keep chanting "This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass!"

  12. My mother-in-law has that saying cross-stitched and framed, hanging in her guest bathroom. When I first read it, I was taken aback. But it is so true! Still I don't think I frame it and hang it in a guest bathroom!

    I think it was smart to know when to leave your mother's and do just that. Also, it was a great idea to let each child have their "special alone" time. My girls love it when they get to have a sleepover all by themselves at my aunt and uncle's home. They love to get undivided attention. It's good for everyone.

    Three yr olds can be tough. They can speak so we tend to expect a lot more out of them than we should. They still don't have a lot of patience or tolerance when things are not the exact way they want them. And, unfortunately, unlike the five yr olds, you can't reason with them or explain things in a way that makes them see beyond what they want. Only you and Charlie know the best way to handle your children. From what I've read, you're doing an awesome job considering all that is going on. Keep up the good work and keep listening to your intuition.

  13. 3 year olds can definitely be a handful!!