Last week we had a great evening with Bret and Cilla and meeting (finally, after e-mailing for what seems like forever) Dawn and her family. We had a great time, just hanging out and eating wonderful Mexican food (by Cilla & Bret) and some delicious apple goodness by Dawn. We all enjoyed spending time getting to know each other better and Dawn presented me with a fabulous (FABULOUS!) training book. I just can't get over how much work she put into it. It's huge and has a training schedule for me to train for a 10K in eight weeks, as well as tons of information on running and training. Her excitement, enthusiasm, and encouragement just makes me want to go run right now. Anyway... Dawn was everything I expected... wonderfully sweet and easy to talk to. I felt like we had hung out 100 different times (I guess we have through e-mail!) and could easily see us hanging out together plenty in the future (if she will just not move!). Brad and Brandon and Bret all seemed to have a good time, too. I was really happy about that... because it isn't always easy to find a whole family or even a couple that meshes with your whole family or you as a couple. Not with Dawn, Brandon, Bret and Cilla, and us. It was just easy. Well... almost easy. :) The kids could have made it easier.
They had a great time, too. Probably too much fun. :) They were extremely wild, bouncing off of everything, running in circles, and shrieking almost all night long. I'm quite sure that Jackson (Dawn's oldest child) wasn't really sure what to think about all of this, but was happy to join in on the ruckus without his parents telling him to stop. :) My kids are the terrible influences that I always knew they'd be. Go Ootens. :) Carson, Dawn's youngest one, was absolutely adorable and the center of much attention from Bailey and Jake (who you would think had never seen a baby before, what with all of the cheek-squeezing they were resisting and all of the giggling they did when he did anything). All of that was fine and good. All of it. I could even deal with the occasional shriek (as bad as I hate it) and the rough housing with Bret (which is just something I'm giving up on... it's inevitable to happen every time now).
The thing I hate the most about parenting is discipline. No matter what I do, I feel like I'm either not doing enough or I'm doing too much. I can't figure out that right balance. It just seems like it is a constant struggle... especially with Bailey.
She's tough. She's spirited. She's full of life. I love all of this about her. She's the kind of little girl that talks too much, forgets that she's not an adult most of the time, and expects to be able to do what she wants all the time. She's spoiled. We know that. She's also typically a good little girl.Her biggest flaw is that she gets way too excited and forgets that there are rules. Most of the time, we can remind her and go on and life is fine. Sometimes we have to repeatedly tell her, but even then, she's usually easy to distract and we can entertain her with something to calm her down. Well, that night was the perfect example of her poor behavior and our problem in disciplining her. She was wild at Bret and Cilla's, which is not that atypical. She and Jake love to go wild there, especially if they have new friends to play with or if Bret decides to wrestle with them. But, that night was especially bad. Not only did Bailey act up a little more than usual (or a lot more), she refused to listen to us. Flat out ignored us. Like, no threat was going to work because she wasn't even going to hear what we had to say kind of ignoring us. I felt exasperated with her. Brad was really ready to kill her. We both felt helpless... useless.
So, the past week has been interesting. I've been so frustrated with her. I sat her down the following morning and talked to her about it, thinking that maybe if I discussed this with her in a mature conversation, she'd be more likely to listen. I thought that maybe it would help since she was really tired and probably didn't really care if we were upset with her after we left Bret & Cilla's. I told her about how disappointed I was in how she acted. She cried and apologized. I talked to her about how we don't ignore people, including Cilla who had tried to get Bailey to leave her "photo" room only to have Bailey shove her and try to get into the room. That has never happened before. I made sure to explain to her that we loved to have fun with our friends and that we wanted her to have a good time, but that from now on, we will not be going to friends' homes and ignoring everyone, regardless of what's going on. So, in the future, I predict, we will be leaving someone's home early to prove a point to Bailey. It sucks. We are not that strict. We are pretty flexible and understanding and really don't ask our kids to be little soldiers. We just have certain expectations... like don't be freaking rude to people, listen to us when we talk to you, and don't intentionally disobey us. Apparently, we need more specific rules for Bailey. Ahhh.... it's so frustrating. I don't want to give her so many rules and so much "structure" that she can't be her lively, spirited self. But, I also don't want to have "that" kid when we go some place. I mean, seriously... she was bad.
Oh well... there are always struggles with parenting, right? I guess I should just take this one and realize that it's only one of many struggles that we're going to have over the next 13 years (if not more).
I wrote nearly all of this the day after our get together last week. And, then, for some reason, I was playing around on one of my friends' blogs, looking at some things that she had posted before. I stumbled across this blog... and this was the post that I read. In tears. I read this post. And, I realized that my daughter would have been the little girl that would have done everything in the world to make her daughter feel a part of the group. She would have been the little girl in the group that would realize there was a difference, but would have done everything in the world to find a connection with her without any prompting from an adult. I am so blessed.... even when she's bad... Bailey has the kind of heart that I always dreamed she would.