Ugh. I've been dreading writing this post for a week now. Did you notice that I got caught up through September and then quit? It's because I knew that if I wanted to write them in order, this one was next and it's exhausting just thinking about it.
There was a craft lesson I used to teach my students in writing called, "Explode a Moment." I'm not really interested in properly citing the source on here, just read Barry Lane's book, After the End, if you're curious. The basic idea of the lesson is that a writer can choose to focus on a really short period of time when something really significant happened. Sometimes an entire book can take place in a matter of hours. I'll let the pictures do the talking for the first hour or so of our park visit. Because the final 15 minutes would be one of those moments that needs to be exploded with a little more detail for the readers.
In the picture above this, you can see the train that was blowing its horn and making Fletch cover his ears and make this face:
As usual, hauling the biggest sticks we can find and throwing things in the river beats any other activity a park has to offer!
Don't worry, I promise I had everyone thoroughly sanitize after I let them play in the Big Sioux-er. While exploring down here along the river, Leah came across an interesting piece of glass that was smooth and round and streaked with color. I told her she could hang on to her treasure because it wasn't jagged or dangerous-looking.
After exploring down by the river for quite some time, Leah broke her piece of glass on the bike trail. Now that it was in several sharp pieces, I told her she could no longer bring it in the car. I asked her in an even tone to please put it in a trash can we were walking past. This upset her greatly and uncharacteristically, she flat-out refused to do as she was asked. Well, unfortunately for her, it was no longer a request and I explained to her that I understood how pretty she thought that glass was, but it absolutely was not coming in the car and it would be dangerous to leave it on the ground in a park where children play, so she would be putting it in the trash can. "How would you feel if I said you had to throw your stuff away?" she asked me. I calmly replied that if something of mine was broken into dangerous pieces, I wouldn't need to be told to throw it away and that I didn't need to worry about her telling me what to do because that's not how things work in this mother/daughter relationship.
She tried pleading, refusing, and pouting- all to no avail. The glass went in the trash can, but Miss Leah made it quite clear that she was not happy about it. I'm fine with that. I understood that she was quite attached to her treasure and it wasn't easy to part with. The part I was not so fine with was the, "I don't like you anymore, Mom," that I heard. However, a crowded public park with a still seriously emotional 7 year old did not seem like the place to address that outburst, so I gathered the other three children and headed for the sign to take a picture. Can you believe it? Leah wasn't interested in being in the picture.
She parked herself on a bench and refused to budge when I told her we were leaving. The park was crowded, the driveway to the park is near a very busy intersection that makes it difficult to get in and out of, and it was 5pm on a Friday, otherwise, I might have tried leaving her and driving around the block or something. I explained to her that she was going to come with us. "No I'm not," she retorted and crossed her arms for emphasis. Who was this devil child? What was she 3 now? Geez louise! Trying to stay calm, I glanced to my right to make sure the others were still with my mom, then to the left where I saw a nice looking older couple returning from a pleasant autumn walk along the path.
"Uh...You are coming with me. You can either choose to walk to the car or we can look completely foolish as I carry you to the car," I told her. Nothing. "I guess that means you want to be carried," I shrugged and I picked her up. Have you seen my daughter lately? She's no lightweight. She's the size of your average third or fourth grader- which is what I'm sure that nice looking older couple thought when they saw me pick her up. Can you see why I was completely dreading this post? Even my mother was embarrassed and told Leah so when I got her to the van.
And here's the best part, amidst Leah's little tantrum, because believe me, she did not go willingly, Bo and my mom had decided that he would go in her car and eat supper at Grandpa and Grandma's house. When Leah heard this, I'm still shaking my head as I write this, get this! That child had the gall to tell me- TELL ME- she was going with my mom too! I'm not joking when I tell you that I maintained my composure throughout this entire episode, my mom will vouch for me. A miracle, to be sure. But my patience was running out. "You, Dear Daughter, are most certainly not going to Grandma's house. If this is how you behave when I am around, I shudder to think what you would do if I let you go. Get. In. The. Car."
"Humph. I really don't like you, Mom. You're a mean mom!" This is when the real miracle happened and I'm not being sarcastic. I truly believe that nothing but the Holy Spirit could have been feeding me my next line. Because if it had been up to me, I'm pretty sure she would have been popped in the face. Instead, she heard these words (again my mother will vouch for me), "I'm sad to hear that, Daughter, because I love you very much. God gave you as a gift to me and He's expecting me to teach you how to obey your parents and be a kind person. Buckle up."
I'd like to say that this was the end of the blathering about that stupid piece of glass, but it continued into the evening. When we got home, she was instructed to head to her room. She was welcome to get her pajamas on, if she wanted, because she wouldn't be joining us for supper. I explained that I was too exhausted after her little episode at the park to think about preparing a meal, so I was just going to feed the little ones odds and ends. Good night.
It was not even 6pm, but I didn't care. We could start over fresh in the morning, I told her.
Wouldn't that be a marvelous ending? She stayed in her room and came out a new girl in the morning? Wrong! She came out several times to argue for her release. I was in no mood for negotiations and told her so. "Need I remind you, you were sent to your room for arguing and not listening? If this is your way of showing me that you learned your lesson, you're terrible at it. Good night." Finally, mercifully, darkness fell and it was time for her to sleep. Her attitude did improve greatly with a good night's sleep and I'm happy to say that our next day's park-hopping was much more pleasant. There. Finished. The End.
P.S. Here's the Norlin Greenway. After all of that construction they did this summer, it's really more of a dirtway right now. Although since this picture was taken, I noticed that they did put seed down. The park is called Rotary-Norlin, but technically, it's two parks on the list. There's no sign on the greenway for now.