We’re returning to Georgia, Thomas and I, from our vacation with my folks. We had a real good time visiting with relatives, swimming, going to the county fair and visiting assorted local attractions in the area. We stayed busy and Thomas was happy, for the most part. Most of my relatives have gotten around to dealing with him on his own terms, and he made it very easy by being very good and well-behaved, meaning that he didn’t get into too much trouble.
But that was not always the case. When he was younger, he did have a penchant for getting into things. Christmas gatherings were always a chore, because he was forever getting into the tree, presents, decorations as well as all the other bric-a-brac that people have in their homes. We nearly gave up having a tree of our own. However, getting to the point we are at now involved a lot of work, firmness, diligence and consistency. And most of that was from Jane, although this is one area where I was involved in being more of a stone wall in standing firm and expecting good behavior.
But there are things that will never change, no matter how well Thomas does. He is a curious person and will always have to be supervised to some extent. And parents can simply not rely on anyone else to do it as well. We’re not just the first line, we’re most often the only line. Other relatives often allow their kids to run amok and get into everything and they expect everyone else to watch their kids. Not so with Jane and I. That’s not to say Thomas’ grandparents wouldn’t or couldn’t or didn’t watch him, because they are all competent. 1:1, Thomas is a very good child. But in a large gathering like a family reunion we have seen the wheels fall off, behaviorally. And this can often make large family gatherings very stressful.
My preference is to keep the events very small, simple, intimate and low stress. Outdoor venues seem to work well for us, especially if there is sufficient space for Thomas to withdraw from the crowd and excitement if he has the need. If all else fails, I’ll go ahead and take him out or somewhere to get away, even if it means just sitting in the car for a bit. The thing is that if he is experiencing stress, so am I. He likes being around people for the most part, but he does get overwhelmed sometimes. This is true of all of us at different times. Sometimes, as a parent I don’t often have a chance to talk to people for very long if I’m responsible for watching him because he will wander off and go his own way. I jus like to know where he’s going in case he decides he might want to take a hike on the street!
Thomas is always wary of meeting new people and don’t always do well with a lot of hugging that happens when family member greet each other. But by the end of the week, he was fairly happy to give his grandma a hug which did help make her day. He got used to other family members and we had a lot good experiences which will make for some good memories.
I’m rambling a bit here, just thinking about the past week and all the neat things we did together. It was only at the end that he started to get somewhat homesick for his mom and brother, and was ready to go back home. Overall, it was great to get away with just the two of us.