Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Home--Minus One

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. . . .

No, I haven't been to market to buy a fat pig, but I am really glad to be home. I was happy to be able to stay on with my grandmother and help her after my grandfather's death, but there is nothing like waking up in my own bed, even if I wasn't quite sure where I was.

Kyle slept in today, as I knew he would after our long travel day, and Terry cleaned house before we came home, so it gave me a little time to do some blog reading. Amanda is at her other grandmother's house for the rest of the week in a previously scheduled visit.

This morning, I came across Katherine's Minus One Theory. You should read it if you haven't already. It is so true, and I can attest that the theory holds up in this family. My husband has long observed that Kyle is a different child without his sister around. He's calmer. Quieter. Did I say calmer? My husband is not a big fan of chaos, so he likes this calmer, gentler Kyle. But what I also have reminded him is that Amanda was different when she was an "only," too. We've been struggling with her lack of immediate obedience lately, and I'm just coming to realize that she's a little distracted by seeing her younger brother as a playmate now. She's having to learn how to have fun with him and entertain him (which she does well), but also when to turn off the switch.

So, because we are Amanda-less, I know that Kyle will probably squeal less, run less and even cry less. It's a good thing, but it's also a sad thing. He likes squealing and running and although he doesn't like to cry, he does like to play with her and takes the occasional injury or annoyance as a risk worth taking. I guess that this will be a trial run for next week, when she will be back to school full time, and it will be just the two of us, until she comes home late afternoon, and then Dad joins us for dinner. So, yes, Minus One is easier, but easier isn't always better.

The Minus One theory makes me think of the Plus One theory. This one you have to really work to make happen, unlike the Minus One theory, which can just happen, when a friend asks a child over to play for the afternoon, or older children are off at work or school, or husbands are traveling for work.

Me, Plus One husband equals a different me than Mom Me. Wife Me can be relaxed, funny, maybe even more self-centered. Our dates are not as often as they once were, due to a busier schedule all around, but we do try to get out alone together at least every few months. The thing that my husband has always been great at scheduling is the alone trip. We have managed to get away for several days at least once a year, if not twice. These extended retreats have done wonders for us as individuals--taking breaks from our jobs as parents and the other roles we fill--and also as a couple, to stay in touch with each other.

Me, Plus One daughter equals a child knowing that she is "Number One" for the hour or afternoon, anyway. Whether it's just a trip to the mall or even the supermarket on our own, that time with her gives me an insight into what she's really thinking. We also like discovering common interests that the men in the family don't share. Because I had a Saturday morning ministry meeting each week, I usually had to meet the family at Amanda's soccer games. When we ended up with two cars, Terry would take Kyle home, and Amanda and I would drive home, stopping at tag sales along the way. This time has to be seized. This summer, I often took Kyle's naptime as a chance for me to catch up on the things I wanted to do, but when I saw that she needed it, we used that as some good Mother Daughter time to play a game, read or watch a movie together or cook and chat.

Grandma, Plus One grandchild, lets Grandma lavish all that grandmotherly love on one child, and indulge her interests without being distracted by parents and other grandchildren. I had those weeks growing up, and I know that I loved them, and Amanda and her grandma have come to enjoy them as well.

So, the return home Minus One will afford me the extra time to do laundry, and catch up on email and blogs and bills, while Amanda enjoys being the Plus One down in Virginia and Kyle blossoms under Mom Plus One here at home.

8 comments:

Katherine@Raising Five said...

I'm so glad you got to be with your grandmother - your grandparents sound like such neat people. I know you will miss your grandfather.

I know what you mean about the husband bringing out a different side of me. I love evenings when the last one is in bed (which is WAY too late, now that they are preteens!) so we can talk and relate. Getting alone with each of the kids is a real challenge for me. We have to resort to "snippets of time" - an occasional ride in the car, a snack in the kitchen. I want it to be more and need to plan better to make it happen.

Heather said...

My 5 things meme is up and running!

Melissa said...

Sounds like our daughters have a lot in common. Celia is 7 (almost 8), getting ready to start 3rd grade. She's also going thru the lack of obedience, grousing stage. I hate it. If you figure out an effective way to handle it...let me know.

I would add to the Plus One Theory that me, Plus One Husband equals better parenting. He's often the buffer (and much needed comic relief) in our home.

Great, thought-provoking post! I hope everyone enjoys the week. BTW, Virginia is a GREAT place to be ;-)

Katrina said...

Loved this post. :) After several months of "baby adjustments," Chad and I are getting back into a routine of playing card games or board games in the evening, which has been great. We unwind, connect, and talk (something that doesn't always happen when the TV is on). And while I'll miss Camden when he heads off to school this year (and I think his baby brother will, too), it will be good to have the one-on-one time with Logan as well. I just have to remember to make time for "just Camden" sometimes, too.

Katrina said...

Loved this post. :) After several months of "baby adjustments," Chad and I are getting back into a routine of playing card games or board games in the evening, which has been great. We unwind, connect, and talk (something that doesn't always happen when the TV is on). And while I'll miss Camden when he heads off to school this year (and I think his baby brother will, too), it will be good to have the one-on-one time with Logan as well. I just have to remember to make time for "just Camden" sometimes, too.

Pass The Torch said...

Both theories - minus and plus - are absolutely right! The dynamics in our household are completely different, depending upon who's here and who's not. This weekend we had planned on a minus one, so added one, but then my husband said "Okay" to more family plusses and ohwhatamess.

If we could just get our ducks in a row!

Really great post.

Kelly
Home of Pass the Torch Tuesday

Kailani said...

What a great way to look at and understand things. As for me, I kind of like the Minus One thing. It makes me appreciate them so much more when they come home!

Mary said...

I hadn't thought about it that in way... good points! I am enjoying the minus one aspect a little, but I still feel like the whole is centered around her even though she is at school now. I am still doing everything I was doing before, and waiting anxiously for to arrive home :O)