Friday, August 8, 2014

The terrible horrible no good very bad day*

We were bound to have one of these. And the timing is dead-on when I would have predicted it - D is back at work, but has not been for long enough for C to get into a predictable routine, or for me to have sorted out how to manage two kids instead of one.

Or I could just blame swimming lessons, seeing as this time last week I was announcing to the whole of Stalkbook that I wanted to move to Alaska.

Swimming lessons are at least partially to blame, even though this week I had wised up and enlisted Grandad's help as a second pair of hands. And I had called the pool and re-arranged the class time from 9:00 to 11:30 so that we would not have to combine all the getting ready for the day things with C needing her first sleep, with getting to swimming on time. I had also tried to be as organised as possible, packing the swimming bag in advance, ensuring E had eaten morning tea and starting the getting-out-the-door process way ahead of when we actually needed to leave. But E had been in a ridiculously hyper, not-listening-to-anything mood all morning, so my blood pressure was already up by the time we left. I made us leave at 10.45 to get to the pool (maybe a 10 minute drive away) with plenty of time to unload, get inside, go to the shop to buy a new pair of goggles to replace last week's broken pair, and for E to go to the toilet before class started. We managed it so well that we had about 25 minutes to spare, and and so sat in the cafe where E demanded an icy pole that I couldn't be bothered fighting about (it counts as good parenting that I only bought her a Frosty Fruit instead of the bag of chips she originally demanded, doesn't it?)

The class itself sucked. Despite having chosen the new goggles herself E wriggled and complained whilst we tried to get them to the right size, then yelled that they hurt and that she wasn't wearing them. The pool is of the huge, indoor, extremely chlorinated variety, so she then didn't want to put her face in the water without them. The usual teacher was sick and so we had a different teacher who didn't know E and hadn't figured out that they need to be extremely firm if they want her to actually do anything besides splash and talk (they wise up to this after a couple of weeks). Every two minutes I was dashing to the side of the pool bellowing "sit still! Are you listening to Henry? Do you want Henry to let you do dives at the end of the lesson?" Then having a shower and getting dressed was a complete production, as was getting in the car. None of this sounds so very bad now, and maybe objectively it wasn't even at the time, and part of me kept wondering whether I was over reacting and being a huge grouch when it wasn't necessary, but swimming has been a pretty challenging time of week, even when D was able to come with us, and we have had lots of conversations with E about how she behaves when we are there.

Throughout all this C was getting more and more tired, despite having slept for more than an hour at home before we left. I normally struggle to get her to sleep for more than 40 minutes at a stretch, and had to wake her to leave. She fell asleep on Grandad's shoulder not long before we left the pool but inevitably woke up as we got into the car.

If I had any brains at all I would have just taken us straight home at that point. But I had agreed a couple of days ago that we would visit one of E's friends after swimming. They live a 25 minute drive away at best, and more if it is trafficky. I know that C hates the car, and generally cries rather than sleeps whilst driving, and it had occurred to me that given she is still an unpredictable napper, that any time of day that involved a half hour drive there and back was likely to be awkward. I should have just said we couldn't go. My friend would completely have understood. But I didn't, and despite the grump I was in post-swimming, and despite knowing C was tired and probably hungry, I pushed on.

I pushed on as far as the freeway. By this point C's grizzles had turned into hysterical screaming. I made my first good decision of the morning and decided enough was enough. I told E we were going home, and was frank about why - that C was tired and upset and that I couldn't drive safely with her crying and that I already felt anxious and grumpy because she had not been a good listener. So she cried too, and I drove home - through roadworks - with two miserable children, feeling like a rotten parent who couldn't manage the needs of either child, and cursing myself for letting C get too tired when I swore only days ago that I would prioritise her day sleeps

But we didn't have an accident on the way home and now we are at home. And I will try to remember that we had bad days when E was a baby and I was still figuring stuff out. And that other people manage to go out in public with more than one child and probably (one day soon please!) I will too.

My next question is whether we persist with swimming. I am very tempted to give it up for now and try again next term when C is bigger and hopefully a more predictable sleeper, or at least when the pool can offer us a Saturday class.

* With apologies to Judith Viorst.


Beach style mum said...

Oh my dear - I know those days too well. You are not a bad parent at all! Managing sleep times and a toddler is the hardest thing ever! I'm sure you would have loved to see your friend (for your own sanity and some adult chat for 4 mins) but today was not the day. I had some VERY similar days when my boys were 3 months and 22 months old. The day had to be planned to perfection but then it would all go crazy and I couldn't predict it. Try to take each day as it comes and move on if things don't go to plan. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Hey - you popped up on my facebook, and reminded me that I have a blog - a blog I hadn't posted on since 2012. Oops...

Swimming is a challenge isn't it? Expecially when cold and wintery and from memory the pool over there is outdoor?

Sonia LifeLoveandHiccups said...

Oh man - those days suck. There is no other way to describe them right? It is so not you, it is life reminding us that we cannot control the nature, weather or kids lol. xx

Bron Maxabella said...

I had a day like this just yesterday. And you know what I do? At the end of a day like that I take the whole darn day and throw it in the bin. x

Megan said...

That sounds like a very unpleasant day. Hang in there, I am sure you are right that things will improve!

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