Heartbreak: When Your Kids Would Rather Spend Time with Friends
If you are still in the very-young-children stage, you may find this story a little hard to relate to. I was once in your shoes and it was hard to believe that this day would ever come. But it did. And it will for you, too.
It wasn't that long ago that I was complaining about never having any "me" time. I always had at least one kid in tow, turning the simplest of errands into a grueling test of patience. Diaper bags and car seats and strollers and Goldfish snacks were necessities just to make a "quick run" to the grocery store.
Fast forward (and I mean FAST) a few years. Both of my children go to school ALL day five days a week. I have about 6 1/2 hours a day to get errands and household chores done BY MYSELF. I drink coffee without narrowly escaping 2nd degree burns due to young children bouncing on the couch cushion beside me. I clean the kitchen after breakfast and it stays that way (well, at least until they get home). My living room is no longer decorated with building blocks, board books, and colorful plastic playthings. Sounds dreamy, right? Well, it is. Mostly.
Since I've got all this new-found alone time, sometimes I want company. And because my kids are of the age that they are often more pleasant than whiny (I said OFTEN, not ALWAYS), I frequently want that company to be theirs. The problem is, they don't always feel the same. My competition includes, but is not limited to, soccer and gymnastics and video games and computers and cell phones and...friends.
Don't get me wrong. I want my kids to have a social life. I want them to invite friends to our house and vice versa. I want them to be involved in activities and be invited to birthday parties and sleepovers. But sometimes I just want them to be home. With us. And it is becoming increasingly obvious that having weekend "family time" is getting harder and harder to come by. Charming and I are not adjusting well. At all.
Tink was invited to a sleepover last Friday night. We let her go because it had been almost two whole weeks (practically a lifetime for a pre-teen) since she'd seen her school friends. On Saturday morning I was getting ready to go pick her up for a day of shopping together. Then I get a phone call.
Tink: "Mom? They invited me to go ice skating. Can I go?"
Me: "Well, do you want to go? I thought we'd go shopping today. Just you and me."
See how I attempted to buy her affection there? Yeah. Didn't work.
Me: "Hello? Are you there?"
Tink: "Yes. I'm here. I do want to go, but I don't want to hurt your feelings."
Me: [slight hesitation and maybe a little bitty sigh] "It's okay. You can go. It's not going to hurt my feelings."
Then I can tell she's about to cry. Shit.
Me: "Are you crying? Why are you crying?"
Tink: "BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS OR FOR YOU TO BE MAD AT ME!"
And that was that. I promised her that she wasn't going to hurt my feelings and that I wasn't mad and that she should go have fun with her friends. Then I sat on the couch and pouted for an hour before Charming talked me into going by myself.
Then on Sunday we were sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing when one of Tink's friends from down the street knocked on the door. I told her she could go play for about an hour until dinner when I noticed Charming shooting eye daggers at me from across the room.
Charming: "I wanted her to stay home!"
Me: "Why? We weren't doing anything."
Charming: "So. I just wanted her to be here. It seems like she's always gone." Pout.
I think it is safe to assume that we can look forward to a whole lot of pouting over the next few years.