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Having friends with a busy family

As luck would have it, the Navy brought an old friend back into our lives! I love that aspect on military life, the possibility of being stationed with friends again! Our neighbor from Hawaii just moved to South Carolina and now lives basically down the road from us. The last time I saw her, my oldest was about the age of her little 1-year old son. Now I have a 5-year old and 2-year old twins. She has a sweet, bubbly 1-year old who was content snacking on Plum Organic Puffs in a high chair while her and I caught up. As you can imagine, my boys were less than agreeable.

2 and a half is just a straight up hard to manage age. It is difficult to deal with when you have one child. It is even more difficult with two 2 and a half year olds. Even more difficult than that? When you also have an older sibling in the mix. The toddlers want everything their older brother touches. They take his toys, they try to climb in the chair he's sitting on. If he's playing on the floor, they want to climb on his back, wrestle with him. If he's outside, they want to go outside with him. And, of course, he can always get an argument going. They will be sitting at the table and he'll walk over and say, "No." Out of the blue. No context. Nothing to do with what they are doing. Just, "No." Immediately their panties get in a knot, "Yes!" they scream. He counters, "No." And so a heated debate ensues, "Yes!" "No." "Yes!" "No." "Yesyesyesyesyesyes!" "Nononononono!"

To quote the Grinch, "Oh, the NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE!"

I feel like the boys were so badly behaved during that whole playdate. I'm definitely not saying that normally they are extremely well behaved, but things that normally aren't such an issue were really difficult. Like, for some reason, our 5-year old started throwing his napkin in the air while sitting at the table eating lunch. He has literally never done that before. I was sitting with my girlfriend in the playroom, chatting, and we heard the loudest clanging coming from the family room. One of the toddlers had filled a bucket with blocks and dumped it upside down all over the floor. There were toys strewn everywhere. The toddlers screeched, "Noooo," when I told them to do something (honestly, so did our 5-year old). Our toddlers normally get tired and grouchy around 1 or 2, signaling naptime. They were behaving like they needed a nap at 12:30 pm! Omigosh, I think I apologized for interrupting our conversation to mediate arguing, screaming children like 10 times. When my husband came home that evening, I told him that it was just embarrassing.

My girlfriend, of course, was super sweet and didn't seem phased at all by our boys' behavior. It is times like that that I wish I had a video of how things "normally" are around here, just so I can say, "It really isn't normally like this." Yes, things are normally busy. We normally have some degree of brotherly disagreements. We normally have a couple accidents, someone fell or something broke. We normally end up slightly off schedule or slightly late. We normally eat dinner a smidgen later than I wanted to. The toddlers are normally unpredictable at meal times-- will they eat today? Our 5-year old is normally extremely curious-- which has led to experiments gone awry. But normally it is just the right amount of chaos to keep each day exciting, keep me on my toes, keep things fun. Normally I don't need a referee whistle.

As a mom, it can be hard when your kids don't behave. In this instance, I really wanted them to put their best foot forward. I think I feel most self conscious of their behavior when hanging out with a mom who has younger kids than ours, when they haven't "been there" yet. Now that our oldest is 5, some of the behaviors that I disagreed with in older children when he was an infant, I have found are just 5-year old behaviors. Some things I felt we would be strict on, we aren't. Some things I thought we would be relaxed about, we aren't. Some things I felt were signs of bad parenting, I don't anymore. Some things I felt were signs of good parenting, I don't anymore. It still can be hard when our kids aren't being the sweet boys I know they can be, when they don't show the charming sides of themselves that we see. When the only glimpse given to a new (or new to them) friend isn't the glimpse I would have chosen.

This is why I'm grateful for the friends in our life. Yeah, my girlfriend was probably a little overwhelmed yesterday. A 1-year old is seriously adorable, especially her sweet little boy. But she was understanding and actually wants to meet up with us again soon! :) I'm not just grateful for our non-judgmental mommy friends. I mean all our good friends, our married friends without kids who truly enjoy hanging out with us and who always are exceedingly sweet to our boys (seriously, who wouldn't love people that not only say they love our boys, but who also play with them while I clean up dinner? Yeah. Fabulous). Our adult friends-- single, dating, engaged-- that find our busy family fun. My girlfriends that chat with our kids on the phone, that have special treats for them when we come to visit, that are available when we come to town for a girls' night out (I love when my girlfriends love my kids and I love when my girlfriends take me out without my kids! Lol!). I love our friends who also have big families, like the friends I made in North Carolina with kids spaced like ours, twins and a singleton, or families with kids similar ages as ours, like a new friend made here in South Carolina. It is nice to be able to tell someone that the kids went nuts when company came over and they truly relate. Haha! :)
And, of course, friends like the gal I met up with yesterday who have littler kids than ours, who are accepting of our boys-- the good, the bad, and the downright toddler tantrums. I know from first hand experience how it feels to hold your sweet, well-behaved infant and watch a toddler have an epic meltdown over, say, a napkin. I know how it feels to think, "I will handle that much differently." I know how it feels to be absolutely surprised when my adorable toddler is face down and red-faced when company comes over or snatching toys at a playdate (or worse, snatching toys and then hitting his friends with those toys). I think that is part of the reason why I feel so self-conscious of the boys' behavior in those situations, because I was that gal with the little guy before and I know what I thought on many occasions.

It really has been a humbling experience for me being on the other side of this scenario, the one with more kids, older kids. I hope that I can be the friend to these gals that my friends with more and older kids were to me back then.

What do you do when your kids misbehave?


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