Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Roller Coasters

We are a serious roller coaster family.  A is a big time coaster aficionado.  Name a coaster in the U.S. and A will be able to tell you how many inversions it has, top speed and the name of the park.  The game Roller coaster tycoon is constantly being played by all the kids on our computer.  L loves to watch the big kids build their own parks.  One of A's happiest days was when he finally reached 54 inches so he could ride all the extreme thrill rides at Kings Dominion.  D is a little more timid when it comes to rides but he loves to watch them go and gets a secret thrill watching his big brother ride the scariest rides.  Riding a coaster with A is one of my favorite things to do.  The one-on-one time waiting in line, talking about the ride to come.  Watching the gleeful look on his face as we approach the first big hill and hearing his screams and laughs as we fly down the first hill and hit the first inversion.

Lately it seems like we're on a constant roller coaster.  I try to remember to relish in the good times.  Kids laughing together, playing games with L or watching him play with his rescue heroes, watching D play football with himself in the backyard, or watching A skate.  But just when I think the good times may last a little while and that we're all going to be fine, the next shoe drops and I start second guessing our decisions and the anxiety sets in.  This weekend was one of those times.  The afternoon and evening went well, kids' sports games were won and lost, we all went to church because of games the next morning and all the kids seemed realaxed and happy. 

Then E asked if she could talk to K and I after the little guys went to bed.  About 9:30 she came down in the basement where we were watching tv with a large index card with all the points she wanted to raise.  Her first point was something that she's brought up several times and is a point of contention with other members of our family (my sister S having the strongest feelings against our decision).  E wants to continue to swim for her summer neighborhood swim team.  In her old neighborhood.  She doesn't live there anymore.  It's about 20 minutes away.  The logistics would be impossible, and furthermore, it's not what's best for M who needs to meet new friends and learn to get used to our neighborhood.  Frankly, it's not what's best for E.  We want to be able to experience summer swim with the girls as a family and we can't do that outside of our neighborhood.  We explained it to her and she was crushed.  It's totally understandable.  It was awful to have to "take" another thing away from her but it's what is best for the entire family.  The talk went downhill from there.  She then proceeded to tell us she doesn't want to go on our annual trip to Hilton Head because being with us that long would be "unbearable."  She continued to explain to us that she isn't part of our family and she just lives with us.  It was like a punch in the stomach.  I know why she said these hurtful things. I know in my head that a lot of her behavior is simply her being a teenager, but it still hurts.  The rest of the talk was awful.  No yelling or anything, but painful.

The next day she posted on facebook that she "lost" her summer swim team.  Comments of sympathy and promises from her old neighborhood that she could just move in with them have followed.  The adults in her neighborhood had already told her they would drive her, etc.  Of course they told a 14 year old this without talking to us.  It's absolutely galling. My sister S took her out to lunch and a manicure and pedicure the next day.  Again, S gets to be the good guy and we are the bad guys.  We're the one's that actually wanted to take them, but we're always the bad guys.  The ones that get to do her laundry, drive her places, tell her about her dead dog and now take away summer swim.  It sucks.  I didn't sleep that night  (and then L came in a threw up all over us) and have had trouble eating since.

I called my friend Kathleen who has been friends with us for a long time and also friends with Jeanne and Mike.  Their oldest daughter is best friends with E.  She is great with giving me perspective and talking me off the ledge.  She gets me to laugh.  Kathleen completely agrees with our decision.  I felt much better after talking to her.  A came home from his game happy.  M had the game winning goal.  I watched a good show on HBO and remembered about the good in life.  In the lowest of the lows, I felt the coaster car beginning to rise back up the next hill.

Last year I was a chaperone on A's band trip to Hershey Park.  I was in a dark place in life.  We still hadn't decided what to do with the girls.  The sessions with Dr. L were taxing.  I was beginning to really feel grief as the initial shock was wearing off.  Riding the rides that day was awesome.  The adrenaline rush was exactly what I needed.  I screamed and yelled at each turn and drop.  I loved spending the day with A and his friends.  I remember texting my sister C from the park and telling her that a great remedy for grief was riding a coaster.  Riding with A took me away from all the worry and sadness if just for a moment.

I think I need to remember that feeling.  Try to capture it in my mind when times get rough around here.  I need to learn to get used to the ups and downs.  Try not to panic with the lows or get too overconfident during the highs.  I just wish the ride we were on was the merry-go-round or the log flume with a few thrills but not too much craziness.  We are a big time coaster family, but I'm not sure how much longer we can stay on this wild ride.  I'm exhausted.


  1. Beautifully written post.

    Poor you. Poor E. I remember being her age and how unfair everything feels, and I wasn't experiencing real trauma or actual concerns about fitting in with my family. I can't imagine how painful that is for her, and by extension all of you.

    It sounds like you are making your parenting decisions from a very loving and logical place. Trust yourself despite the roller coaster.

  2. You are making the best decisions you can for your ENTIRE family. From what you have previously written, it seems E was the golden child, the one everyone else's lives revolved around. Too bad that's not the way things roll in your house. You ARE her family, even if she doesn't see that. I have so often reminded my friends that their children will see they truly did their best by them when they are adults and have adult vision. The same holds true here.

    Hang in there. You'll be heading down that drop with your arms held high once more. :o)

    (P.S. Have you guys ridden The Griffin at BG? It is one HECK of a ride!!)

  3. Thanks for the encouragement. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels.

    Rach, we did BG last spring break to give the boys a break from all the drama. The Griffin is awesome and Apollo's chariot in the dark was the best. L just loved watching the water splash for the Griffin. We spent the next day at the skatepark by the rec center, then CW and lunch at the cheese shop. A great few days!

  4. Oh how I LOVE BG. AND CW. AND The Cheese Shop. :o) I'm glad that was a bright spot for your family. You should TOTALLY come back. It's WONDERFUL down here. :o)

  5. We try to get down a few times a year. It's gotten harder with all the sports schedules with the kids. The 'burg has always been a great place of respite for K and I. House dressing from the cheese shop doesn't hurt either1

  6. LOL! :o)

    Throw in some bread ends and life is goooooood.

    I taught the daughter of one of the owner's last year. She was the sweetest girl with the sweetest mama.

    I can't tell you how many times I wound up with a free lunch or dinner. Once, all I wanted was some bread ends and House, and there were no bread ends. The mama went in the back and had them slice an entire loaf of white bread for me--then, didn't charge me a penny. Ahhhh. Good times. :o)