Sunday, December 14, 2008

things that are really starting to get to me

Now, I know I haven't posted in a while and I have about a million (funny) things that I want to write about, but I really need to take a minute and whine. I am aware that life could be worse right now, a lot worse, but some (admittedly minor) things have really been stressing me out lately and I feel the need to vent, so please bear with me.

First, I have been trying to get everyone in the family on a schedule. (Normally, this would be difficult with a newborn, but all Happy Girl does is sleep, so that's not the issue.) Actually, I've been trying for months now, with little luck. We go through the whining and crying that goes with establishing a set bed time and routine, we're good for a few days and then... not so much. Why? Because Magic Boy really loves his big sister. (See? I told you it could be worse.) How is that a problem? He loves her so much that he wants to go on visitation with my husband every week (not to mention, for the ride to drop her off every other weekend). Still not seeing a problem, are you? Well, Big Sister lives 45 minutes away, and Hubby has been working (relatively) late, so by the time he gets out of work, picks up the boy, drives to Big Sister's and picks her up, it's already 5:00. Then they get dinner and hang out for awhile and the next thing you know, it's 7:30-8:00 and they're still 45 minutes from home. This means that Magic Boy will either fall asleep on the way home and stay asleep (which isn't too bad, although it's also not the most common outcome), or he'll fall asleep but wake up when he gets home, in which case he's just had a nice nap at 8:00 and is ready to play for another four hours OR he won't fall asleep at all and will be whiny and exhausted when he finally gets home, over an hour after his bedtime. (FYI- Whiny and exhausted means he'll fight us about going to bed. Loudly and for quite some time.)

Until recently this wasn't a problem; if Magic Boy went to bed late, he'd just sleep later in the morning (which I don't mind, as I am really a night owl). Lately, though, he has decided that he needs to be up when Daddy goes to work- at 5:45. Then, he's cranky all day and still doesn't want to go to bed at night. (Why should he? He was up late last night? Why can't he stay up late again?) (This is basically what happens on weekends we have Big Sister, too. They get really excited to see each other and stay up way past bedtime.)

The real problem, I think, is that I feel guilty denying them time together. He is heartbroken enough when she leaves; how can I not let them see each other as much as possible? I feel like a terrible person for even complaining about this, but the constant whining and sense of chaos that results when Magic Boy doesn't get enough sleep is really taking its toll on me- and him.

Second, Big Sister is having problems in school. She's not paying attention, talking when she's not supposed to and just generally not putting in the effort. Apparently third grade is when kids are expected to really start taking responsibility for their own schoolwork and she's not doing it. If she lived here, I would be meeting with the teacher and working with Big Sister as much as possible to fix this; as it is we've asked the teacher to keep us informed and let us know what we can do to help, but I feel like it's not enough. Actually, I know it's not enough. Hubby helps her with her homework during visitation and we do extra work on weekends, but she needs more. I just don't know how to give it. In addition to the fact that she lives so far away, there's also her mother. She and I (and, to their immense credit, my parents) get along fine. We're friendly when we need to be, at soccer games and holidays and such (and she has been nothing but nice to Magic Boy and Happy Girl), but a lot of our values are different. In the past I've gritted my teeth and put up with it, for everyone's sake, because I knew there was nothing I could do. It hasn't been easy, but I've been able to let it go. This, in addition to some other things that have happened with her lately, seems to be too much for me to keep my mouth shut. On the other hand, should I say something and risk the relationship we have? I honestly doubt anything I say will change her approach to this situation, and if I stir up trouble, won't that just make it worse for Big Sister? I really don't know what's the best thing to do here, and neither does Hubby (although, he's usually a proponent of the "Keep Quiet" response). It's really bothering me that Big Sister is missing so much education because she doesn't seem to care enough to pay attention... but I don't see how we can change that in four days a month. In the past, she had problems with reading and math (again, due to lack of effort) and we tried to emphasize those things when she was here, but it never really worked. Yes, she'd practice sight words or addition- and we'd give her plenty of interesting, challenging (but not overly so) books to read, but in the end she'd go home all the work we'd done would be forgotten. Plus, who wants to go to their Dad's house and do schoolwork all weekend, even if it's a game? I don't want her to think we're tyrants... I'm so frustrated!
(I just reread that part, and I don't mean to give the impression that we're not willing to work with her- we are, I just don't know the best way to go about it.)

Third, my house cannot stay clean. I know this problem is hardly unique to me, but it really makes me feel better to hear there are other people out there who can spend hours straightening up one room, only to have it destroyed ten minutes later. So, if you could, let me know you're out there, okay?

I think that's about it right now. The lack of schedule for Magic Boy, the lack of interest in school for Big Sister and the lack of cleanliness in my house. There was a brief foray into potty training, but that's actually kind of funny (at least, it's probably funny if you didn't live through it), so I'll make that a post in itself. Plus, I've already written quite a bit and it's getting late... and we all know the boy will be waking me up soon enough!

Thanks for listening.