We are standing next to the house of Josh and Tara. It is hot outside. Ridiculously, sticky, 100% humidity end of July in Kansas kind of hot. Matt is working. The car is running. Everyone, especially Bennett, is watching the scene intently, absorbing the drama as in unfolds.
Him: I don’t want to go. Don’t make me.
Me: You’ll be fine. 3 days. I’ll see you in 3 days.
Him: NO. NO. NO. NO.
Me: Get in the car, please.
Him: I’m not going to have any fun. It’s going to be boring. I don’t want to go. I want to go home.
Me: Grandma took off work to be with you. I’ll see you on Wednesday.
Him: Grandma said I didn’t have to go.
Me: I said you do. You’ll be fine.
Him: Why can’t you come? Can’t you just come with me?
Me: I have to go home and water. Remember how Sam and Jane are gone? I have to water the flowers.
Him: Daddy can do it. I want you to come.
Me: Daddy has to work. Get in your seat. Now.
Bennett: Can I have my candy now? Open it!
Me: Yes, let me open it while you buckle up, Bennett. I love you. Be good for Grandma, okay?
Him: I’M NOT GOING.
Me: Yes, you are. I already packed your bag.
Me: Get in your seat. Now.
Me: I love you.
Him: MORE TEARS.
Me: Drive, Grandpa.
Him: STREAMING TEARS.
When do you push? When do you pull back? Is he going to hate me for the rest of his life for FORCING him to spend time with his Grandparents? I am twenty-eight years old and I have no idea what I’m doing. After eight years of pretending like I do, eight years of practicing, I still don’t know. I’m not qualified to be his mother.
Half the time he doesn’t even like me, let alone want to be with me. He wants his Dad. He wants to drive me crazy. He wants to sleep in my bed. He’s worried about how long he’s been awake. He’s worried about going to sleep. I push him to go. I push him further than he is comfortable- into discomfort. I push him away.
What kind of mother am I?
I’m fully convinced that by the time his childhood is over, he will hate me. 10 more summers to make it better. Make it right. I’m just hoping that if he does hate me, it’s not because I sent him to spend a few days away being spoiled rotten, staying up late, going swimming, and getting 100% undivided attention.
The attention that he wants and craves. The attention that I don’t give him because I am too busy pushing.