Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Portland To Do's and I hate yous

This is an article I just wrote for Ellie and Quinn's preschool newsletter, reprinted here for anyone looking for summer ideas, and reassurance that if your kids tell you they hate you, you're not alone, and if they haven't yet, they probably will.

Ah, Summer. So far, we’ve berry picked (mostly at Kruger’s on Sauvie Island), summer camped (Southwest Community Center - still camps available for the rest of the summer for all ages), had swim lessons at the outdoor Wilson Pool (perfect to stay for family swim after the last morning lesson), checked out the water feature at Director Park downtown in front of the Fox Tower (better in the early afternoon, we’ve found, after the sun has had a chance to clear the tower), and of course, Jamison Park in the Pearl, with a Hot Lips pizza picnic (located at the Ecotrust building). Just the other day, the kids rode ponies (courtesy of their Nana, who rides), at Once Upon a Horse out on Stafford Road between Lake Oswego and West Linn. They had a neat program for young children, if you’re not terrified of horses (which I can be - trying not to instill that in the kids). We’ve had playdates and picnics at Wallace Park, the Elephant Park (Washington Park) and the Rose Garden, and plan on checking out Magnolia Park in Hillsboro, just as something new to do; I’ve heard it has a fun play structure and water area with fountains, perfect for little people to cool off in this glorious weather we are having. We are also looking forward to a few more Ladybug Walks - (google Ladybug Walks Portland for a listing of upcoming nature walks in local parks), BugFest 2011 (August 27th,11am, at the Nature Park Interpretive Center in Beaverton), and hopping on the Big Pink Trolley we keep seeing around town (scored a couple 1/2 price tickets on groupon.com last week - and kids 5 and under ride free). Several other Youngset mamas have mentioned the Preschool Days at Oaks Park - Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 9:30-11:30, $6.50/child, so we’ll have to put that on the calendar, too.

Fun evening things have been a little more limited (ready for bed at 8:30) - but I have to include my feeling that Kruger Farms summer concerts are the best. I feel like they embody the reason I love raising my kids in the Northwest - or at least Northwest summers - warm sun, great music, relaxed atmosphere, grilled corn, picnic blankets, bare feet running up and down rows of fresh summer fruit, berry juice dripping from chins. We finally made it to one this past Thursday (the first really nice Thursday evening that we were able to coincide with our schedule), and it was heaven. If you haven’t been, put it on your summer to-do list. I also recently saw a listing for some great concerts out at McMenamin’s Edgefield - maybe a date night? We just missed Willie Nelson, which would have been super fun - but there are a bunch of other ones coming up, so check those out, too!

While we’ve certainly been having a fabulous summer, we’ve also been stricken with some less than fabulous behaviors among the four year old set at the Brown house. Somehow the early morning cuddles of three loving children (okay, so it didn’t happen EVERY day, but more often than not), has turned into a somewhat less charming, less than loving, “I hate you, Mommy!!”, usually uttered by about 7.15 or 7.30am, and then repeated three or four times a day. The reasons have varied - one day I wouldn’t make from scratch pancakes, since we had to be out the door by a certain time, or I gave the wrong juice cup, the incorrect spoon, didn’t get things done fast enough, brought ketchup instead of ranch, wouldn’t tell a third bedtime story, suggested they not cheat at a board game, put someone in a time out. You get the picture. The patient, adoring, loving mother in me sometimes has the sound mind to recognize it as a cry for attention, or “provocative communication” as Don Fleming writes in his aptly named book, Mom, I Hate You!, replying with something like, “I’m sorry you are mad at me right now, but I love you, even though I can’t make pancakes.” And then move on. The 8.5 month pregnant, uncomfortable, not sleeping, less than patient mother with a bladder the size of a walnut, and lungs being compressed by a seemingly 15 lb. baby, wants to yell right back at them (and cry for hours into my pillow!). Everything I read tells me it’s normal - both their instigation and exploration of expressing their emotions, and my reactions - compounded by my current state of pregnancy. And I know that - I really do. But it is so hard to hear those words! Ah, parenthood. I’ll just try to stick with the calm, reasonable mom attitude - even though I’m not always feeling it.

Quinn and Ellie have just started asking when school will start again - something I’m glad to hear. There is something so simple about summer - PJS until 10am, later nights, breezy summer afternoons. But there is also something so comforting about getting back into a routine, watching our children continue to develop at Youngset, learn what it means to be a friend and all the other fabulous and not so fabulous self discovery and learning they go through at these ages of 3, 4 and 5.

I had a minor heart attack last week on our first day of camp, one of the first mornings we had to be somewhere at a certain time in quite a while, and I wondered how I will do it all - four kids four and under dressed, shoed, fed, watered, played with and loved, the new one nursed - all by 9am, and although I still don’t really know how I will do it, I know what a welcoming and supportive group Youngset has offered so far. So when I roll in at 9:20 (9:30, who am I kidding?), with a deer in the headlights look, nursing bra exposed, shower taken no less than four days prior, another Youngset mom will be there to help me with a carseat or a cup of coffee. I thank you in advance.

Hopefully the only thing you get from my blurb is an idea or two for an outing - but if your kids are telling you they hate you, too, or you are feeling apprehensive about the change in routine, know you’re not alone. It all settles down when they turn five anyway, right, Teacher Lynn?