It's not Christmas if there's not a meltdown, and yesterday's was mine. Nate woke up griping about going to church. We are not a religious family, but once Rob started drumming for St. John's Lutheran and Center Park Methodist, we went along with him as a show of support. The pastor at Center Park is a kindred spirit, despite her designation of "Christian," so I enjoy going to listen to her talk, to make conversation with other people, and to generally be a part of something that is not work.
Nate resists because he's not a morning person nor does he willingly do anything other than what he-alone loves (like watching Dragon BallZKai or playing his DSi or building a snowfort).So when he woke up too late, complaining, and apparently out of pants, I gave up going to stay home and put him to work. In the process, I had a fit--a bona fide, three year-old, out of control fit. I broke a plate. I threw shoes. I swore. It was ugly. Then I retreated to my room and began to come out of it, rather like a drunk who sobers up and realizes the damage she has done.
I called Nate into the room and repented: "This is completely the wrong way to act...this was a temper tantrum as any little kid would have...this is not how someone with my experience and training is supposed to act." It seemed to relieve him of his own resistance, and we spent the next hour working around the house non-stop. He did everything I asked, and he even offered to help me do my Sunday office cleaning job.
The lesson for this morning was that a family does a lot for one another, and it is a rare thing when that activity is what EVERYONE wants to do. The kids come to yoga class at the gym for my sake. Dad got involved in coaching soccer for Nate's sake. I took Madelyn to horseback riding--and led the horse around a sandy, mucky corral--for her sake. We go to church so that Dad isn't going alone. Etc.The lesson for me to was in being humbled by my own anger. I should have done a handstand rather than throwing shoes. I have a lot of practice ahead of me. Being an adult is not a guarantee against losing one's temper; nor, apparently, is being a yoga teacher.
Just when the afternoon settled down and all left for the day was an evening's Christmas program, the kids ran in screaming. This was panicked screaming, not fighting-screaming or play-screaming. Our most recent adopted cat, Big Orange, was lying dead on the far side of Lover's Lane. Nathan threw himself to the floor, screaming and sobbing; Madelyn stood and wept, shaking, eyes pinched shut.
Big Orange (or, "Big O" or "Bo Cat") had come around occasionally in the summer and fall. He was big...and orange. We speculated that he was May's kittens' father as he was definitely in the area a lot and an un-neutered male. He was wild, too, not letting us get near him. About a month ago, we began to see him almost daily, eating out of May's dish. One day, he emerged from May's plastic bin shelter--the "Hidey Hole." He was settling in. I rustled up two more bins from the basement and made another "hidey hole" for May. Big Orange moved into this new shelter and came out every morning, squeezing his winter fluff and belly fat girth from the narrow circle. After many days, he stopped running away when we opened the door. Then he began to stand nearer and nearer to the person feeding him. The day before he died, his cheek touched my hand as I scooped wet food into his dish. It was either a nudge or a rub, but it was significant. May was put-off at having to defer to this big male, but we enjoyed winning his trust. I had fantasies of being able to stroke his back by spring.
Then the kids ran in, screaming. Rob and I walked across the street scooped him up. Rob carried him with a snow shovel and remarked thrice how "heavy" Big Orange was. We walked past the patio as the kids looked out. I dug a hole in the former garden (unused now as it's in too much shade). Rob laid him in, but still the hole was too short! This was a big cat. I dug out the hole another six inches and covered him in coffee-ground colored soil. Our yard is becoming a pet cemetery.
Finally, the high. We performed in the Center Park Christmas play. Rob played drums and the kids and I all had speaking parts. We sang a lot of Christmas songs and had a light meal afterward, complete with three kinds of jello--requisite eating at most any church dinner. Many people commented on how well Nathan acted his part (he was the grumpy kid who hates Christmas). Madelyn sang out better than I could have as a seven year old or as a seventeen year old. I got to dress up in a flowing skirt, ballet slippers, and lots of make-up for my gypsy role. Considering that Halloween is my favorite holiday for approximately the same reason, it was the most fun I've had preparing for a Christmas event.
We came home to more knitting, one empty hidey-hole, and for our individual parts, a dose of humility or self-confidence.
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