I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day and he brought up a point that I have often given thought to: for parents the real work begins on the weekend.
For parents who work full-time jobs, you probably know what is meant by this. Not that the Monday thru Friday grind is not work but there really is more of a routine to it. Get up, get the kids dressed and ready for school or wherever they need to go, and then get to work. I know . . . I’ve talked about routine enough, so I won’t dwell on it. I don’t know that I completely agree with the statement, but I definitely get the sentiment. Weekends bring a lot more unpredictability than weekdays do. Sometimes they turn out great and sometimes, well, they go the other way.
So, the plan for the weekend was that ‘A’s’ mom was going to have him over for his birthday and do something special for him (I should point out that this something special involved her “borrowing” money from us so she could afford to do something). This was to happen on Saturday. Meanwhile, Eli’s best friend would come over and spend the night Saturday night. This was going to work out great because ‘A’ and Eli’s friend (we’ll call him ‘B’) don’t get along. Or, more specifically, when it’s the three of them, ‘A’ tends to get left out or feel left out. Some of that is his own doing and some of that is because Eli is not exactly the best when it comes to trying to include everyone. Neither is ‘B’ for that matter. It’s complicated, as all three-way relationships are. In fact, it was so bad that ‘A’ gets very anxious and then shuts down almost completely when he hears that ‘B’ is coming over.
It seemed that we had the perfect plan.
Of course, we also knew that there was a flaw in the plan: The mom. So far she has been 98.5% predictable in that every promise she has made to her kids (and to us) has been a broken one. We have made it a point to make sure that we do not tell ‘A’ when she plans to come over, when she plans to have him over, when she plans to do anything. In fact, calling what she does a “plan” is a total misuse of the word. As it is, the few times that the information has gotten to him that she would be taking him to do something, something has come up every single time and he has been devastated.
So, Saturday Morning, Jessica wakes up to a text from her stating that Saturday was not going to work out, so maybe Sunday she would do something for him at around 2:00. The only problem with this is that he was invited to a birthday party on Sunday and this was a pretty special party for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it was the first party he had ever been invited to that didn’t involve his family, was someone from his school, and was a party that Eli was not invited to. Now, before anyone starts to feel sorry for Eli, don’t. It was a girl in ‘A’s’ class and Eli didn’t give it a second thought. However, for ‘A’ it was a big deal because he has felt like he’s been having to ride Eli’s coat tails for just about anything “good” that’s ever happened to him. In third grade, Eli was the only friend ‘A’ had ever had. I remember the 2nd or 3rd time I brought him over to play that ‘A’ was in tears because, as he said, he had never had any friends. He has anger issues and is quick to respond with hurtful statements. Eli was the first kid to see through that and stick by him. He was the first overnight that ‘A’ ever got to have that was not with a family member, and there have been several times that it has not been easy on Eli but he has chosen to do it anyway. The double-edge sword to that, however, is that ‘A’ has not gotten to stand on his own two feet.
Back to his mom and the cancellation of the party. Jessica explained that she did not think it was a good idea to do it on Sunday but it was up to her. Of course, we both knew that she’d cancel anyway. And sure enough, it wasn’t even an hour before she decided to cancel and “maybe do it next week and she could celebrate both ‘A’ and ‘N’s’ Birthday since ‘N’ has one coming up in two weeks.”
‘A’ was crushed. Now, not only had his mom cancelled on him again but he was going to feel like the third wheel.
“Why does ‘B’ have to come over still?”
“Because,” I explained, “just because plans for you changed does not mean that we do not stick with deals we’ve made with other people.”
I wanted to show him that there are people who stick to their deals, while, at the same time, avoid putting his mother down. He is old enough to draw his own conclusions about that. He understood. I then went on to explain that somehow or another Jessica and I would figure out a way to make the weekend fun for him. To be honest, I had no clue what we were going to do. We had plans to take the kids to the movies but other than that, we were not sure. I just knew we needed to do something. The kid has been let down way too much in his life.
Sometimes serendipity strikes. And thanks to our very good friends, this was one of those times. It turned out that the movie we wanted to see was one that ‘B’s’ family wanted to see as well. We have gotten to be good friends with the whole family and ‘B’ has an older brother. I’ll call him ‘D’. ‘D’ and ‘A’ really hit it off when we went to see the Dinosaurs a couple of weeks ago. So much so that they asked if one day they could have a sleep over. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
So, as it happened, Plan B turned out better than Plan A would have turned out. As two families, we went to see “Alexander and the Crappy Day” or whatever it was called. It was a funny movie which had a good message; one that ‘A’ needed because at the end of every day, I ask him what his day was like and up until the last few nights has always said, “bad.” It was great for him to see, from a totally outside source (albeit a silly movie) that we sometimes have bad days so we can appreciate the good ones even more. But, even more so, that when you have a family that has your back, things will be ok.
‘A’ then got to go and have a sleepover with ‘D’, went to the party on Sunday and came back tired but happy. Eli and ‘B’ had a great time. Brenna got to go to a play, “The Three Little Pigs” with Jessica, and her friend ‘S,’ and I got to just hang out at home and goof off with whichever kids were around at the time.
So much of our life is spent in ‘Plan B’ (or ‘Plan C’) and so many times it turns out better than ‘Plan A’ would have been anyway. This was one of them.
How was your weekend?