At dinner I make everyone say one thing they liked about their day and one thing they didn't like. (Why yes it IS a mini examen.) I have transcribed a bit of tonight's conversation. Some pertinent background information: today we went to Jack's well child exam, did some back to school shopping, and spent the afternoon playing iPad while Mommy did the semi-annual Hated Clothes Sort.
EMMA: My good thing is that I went sopping with Mommy! And my SAD thing is that DADDY went to WORK.
JACK: Welllll... I can't think of any good things right now...
JACK'S PARENTS: Okay, well start with your not so good thing and you can think about good things later.
JACK: Wellll... my bad thing is that today was just .... we didn't have any plans. So it was pretty .... boring.
JACK'S MOTHER: What are you talking about? We got new school shoes today. I let you pick out a new backpack! Those aren't good things?
JACK: Shoes just aren't very important to me.
JACK'S MOTHER: You sure acted like they were important when you didn't like the first fifteen pairs I picked out for you.
JACK: [heavy sigh/quasi eye roll that would do a thirteen-year-old girl proud]
JACK'S FATHER, WITH THINLY VEILED SARCASM: So Jack, tomorrow we don't have any plans either. How can we accommodate your needs?
JACK, NOT GETTING IT AT ALL: Welllll... I like to do things. Like maybe we can go to the Science Center. Or go to a friend's house.
JACK'S MOTHER, ENTHUSIASTICALLY: You can do laundry. You can do dishes. Oooh, I know! You can clean the toilet!
JACK: [cracks a smile because he thinks his mother is not serious] [his mother is totally serious]
MOLLY: MY good thing is that Mommy got me new shoes! And I got to pick out my own backpack! And I had a frozen GoGurt for a snack! I am happy about everything! All the time! My bad thing is... I don't have a bad thing! I LOVE YOU, WORLD!!!!!!1!!!
JACK'S FATHER: What about doing some of those Lego sets you have half built?
JACK, WITH UTMOST CONTEMPT: Most of those are broken. And the other ones you dumped out in the other bins and all the pieces are mixed up.
JACK'S FATHER: ... So. You look for them.
JACK, SIGHING BECAUSE HIS PARENTS JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND: I can't really... find them.
MOLLY: But the doctor said you had good vision!
JACK'S MOTHER: [falls off her chair laughing]
It's just... I mean, a whole summer FULL of this! And it's getting worse! And most of the time I react by staring speechless because HE IS EIGHT! He is not a teenage girl! I had YEARS to mentally prepare myself for this attitude problem, didn't I?
Last week I printed out calendars for August and September, wrote down all the big things (appointments, Molly's birthday, weekends away), and listed out the rules for when he can ask me if he can play Minecraft. The Minecraft thing has been better since then, and that's totally my bad for not doing it at the beginning of summer. Master Jackson has always done better with Clearly Defined Structure, being the sort of person who wants to know what we're doing tomorrow, and at what time, and what we'll be doing directly after that.
[I just heard him ask Molly if they can make their own schedule in the morning where they play chess because 1) I won't let him play the iPad on weekday mornings and 2) "otherwise I get bored".]
I feel like I could have done a little better maybe, figured out some Pinteresty projects for him to work on, gave him something to investigate over the summer and make a book or a report or something. He LIKES stuff like that. But no, instead I decided we would go to the library at least once a week and we would have at least a half hour of reading each afternoon and OH, this is not how he would like to spend his time.
If the little girl on our street is around, both big kids will spend the entire afternoon and evening riding bikes and hanging out with her. But she's on vacation until school starts. I FEAR FOR OUR LIVES, INTERNET.
I want him to quit being such a butthead about EVERYTHING. All the time. About our whole day. The sighing, the almost-stomping, the almost-eye-rolling - enough to make us think he's being a butthead, but not enough to warrant a shouting throwdown. (Although I did send him to his room at 7:08 this morning. I think I'd been awake all of two minutes.)
So yeah, I want to respond better too. Tonight I was sarcastic and snippy and laughing at him, which wasn't satisfying since he didn't realize I was laughing at him. But that's not... I don't know. The part of me that remembers being a kid doesn't want to totally disregard him like that.
And when we DO regard him... like right now my sainted husband is playing one of his giant silly board games with all the kids and Jack is ENGAGED. He is happy and into it and likes us again. When I spend an extra 10 minutes chatting with him before I turn out his light at bedtime, those are well spent 10 minutes. And when we DO have plans, it almost doesn't matter what the plans are, he's good. Yesterday his main companion was a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome and autism who says only a few words, and Jack was awesome with him! Included him and had fun with him. He is not the horrible, unfeeling, apathetic, super selfish BUTTHEAD he sometimes acts like.
BUT DUDE. I am not his cruise director! I am not his teacher! Or his grandma or his babysitter or any of the other people invested in making sure Jackson Cheung has a good time! Man, some days just making sure he eats three meals is the best I can do. There are nine million toys in this house, not to mention piles of paper and art supplies, a garage full of bikes and scooters and balls, a backyard with a FREAKING SLIDE. Make your own fun, eight-year-old boy! Quit talking to me like my main function is to make sure you are entertained all the livelong day!
Okay. It might be out of my system. For now. I'm going to hide in the bedroom while the rest of them are having this little family moment. I think everyone will be happiest that way.