There are times when I wish we could just say things to get them out and then have the world move on as though we hadn't said them because saying them wouldn't help a situation and would just make things worse. Know what I mean?
My dad visits on Fridays. He'd prefer that I drive the half hour each way and pick him up which, in inclimate weather, I do, although with a newborn, that will cease because it will be too much with a baby plus Bobby and Maya when he can get here on his own. I keep Fridays clear of playdates and plans; the kids start asking for him, usually, midweek, and by Friday morning are jumping up and down because PawPaw is coming!!! My dad and I are different in most ways and the visits tend to have me stressed by the end of the day, but they love Fridays sooooo much, and my dad is a great grandfather with them (usually). He paints with them and builds castles with them. He's only 61 (but has torticollis which is medicated with orals and injectibles), so he's fairly young, and they adore him and the way he gets on the floor with them.
Have I mentioned how much they look forward to his visits? How they go to the door and ask for him on non-Fridays? How all I hear about on Friday morning is "PawPaw... PawPaw... PawPaw..." ?
My dad has a habit of cancelings. He's sick. He doesn't feel well. His neck is bothering him. He's having bathroom issues.
These are all possible. I'm not saying he's lying. Except when I catch him later. Like the time he texted that he was sick and then, the following week, slipped up and admitted he was painting. When I called him on it, he was like "Oh, well I didnt feel great..." but I cut him off and told him that I'd just prefer he not lie and just tell the truth. And, for the love of all things holy, to give me notice so that I can tell the kids. Texting me at 8am on a Friday or 9am on a Friday telling me you aren't coming isn't helpful when the kids are rushing me through breakfast/dressing/potty so that they can race to the car.
So, this morning, 8am, a text comes in, canceling. At this point, when I see them, I dont even respond because I know I'll just be angry and it's not worth it. The kids are begging and I have to say those dreaded words: "PawPaw isn't coming."
Bobby doesn't usually cry. He'll go to the front door and try to open it, saying "PawPaw?" and I'll go and gently remove him and say the sentence again. He'll go to the picture window, climb up the couch, and press his face to the glass, looking outside before turning, "PawPaw?" And, again, the gentle decline. At this point, he'll go to a toy (or his chair in the kitchen) and throw it (or knock it over), a pained look on his face. Sometimes he'll run to the door to the garage and bang on it and whine.
Maya is a crier. Her bottom lip quivers, she murmurs "PawPaw's not coming?", and then fat tears start. And continue. And she sobs. I tried once explaining that he wasnt feeling well (what I was told) and she just cried harder because then she worried he was sick or hurt, so I no longer give excuses. The not coming is enough to make her upset enough to throw up.
Today, I waited a bit before telling them, trying to find an alternative, which thankfully presented. A neighborhood friend and her sons were free, so we all met up at the local McDonald's which has a huge indoor play area and played... for 3 hours! There were plenty of kids there and Bobby and Maya (and D and T) had a blast, so it was a great morning, considering. So, when I told the kids my dad wasn't coming, I immediately followed it with "but let's do socks, shoes, and coats, so that we can go and meet D and T for playing!" It took a while because they were confused, but the idea of playing must have eventually won out. I havent mentioned my dad to them; I kind of expect that they will ask me after nap, and I'm debating on what to do. My MIL texted me that she's free if we're up for company after nap, so I may suprise them with a visit from her (which they'll love).
But there's this unspeakable anger. Not unspeakable because I cant describe it but unspeakable because I just cant say it. Things slip out, dont get me wrong. I'm not known for being able to hold my tongue and more than should comes out when I'm ticked off. For example, last week my dad just wasnt playing with the kids. He wanted to sit on the couch and talk to me (he hadn't been here for a month due to not feeling well. He even missed Christmas. I talked to him on the phone and he sounded as sick as we were, so I dont doubt he had the flu too). He's a talker and he lives alone, so I get that. But the kids were C-R-A-Z-Y over him finally being here. They wanted to show him their toys, they wanted to drawn, they wanted to build, they just wanted him. They had begged for him for a month and finally, here he was!!!! And yet, every time they tried to get him to play, it was "In a minute" or "After a while", and they were getting frustrated. At one point, Maya looked over at me, and the look was crestfallen. So, because my filter doesn't always work, I said, "I'm not sure why you come over if you aren't going to play with them; they look forward to seeing you and playing with you all week."
Clearly, this was rude. I know this. After I said it, I knew it (although I didn't apologize because it wouldn't have been real- It was how I felt. It was just rude.)
He wasn't happy with the comment (understandably), made a retort, and then got up and played with them. And they were over the moon. It was only for an hour because then I started lunch, they ate, and then they went to nap, but they were so happy. I heard about that one hour for days after.
They love him. They adore him. They want to play with him and be with him, so the idea of not having Friday set aside doesnt work, especially since, beginning in July, they will have half day school on Friday morning and then only see him in the afternoon anyway. I want to give them as much time as I can with him because memories with your grandparents are fleeting and, truth be told, they will remember the good times way more than they will remember the days he flaked on visiting them.
But I'll remember. And, like the Irish temper, I'm an Irish grudgeholder too. I try not to be. I know this is a problem of mine; I'm working on it. But it's a character flaw. So, I left, speaking but unspeaking. Wanting to blow off, but knowing it wont do any good (and that it wont set a good example).
He is who he is. Things like this arent going to change. (And I'm not suggesting he didnt feel well today; with his meds, etc, it is always a possibility.) He's never going to remember to give me notice if he's canceling and he's not sick. (For example, Feb 1st is a Friday. We aren't having a visit that day; it's Nicholas's birthday and we'll go to Mass at 8:30, breakfast after, and then do something with the kids. I've mentioned this already, but I will remind him again next week and then the Wed/Thurs of the week in question. Otherwise, he wont remember). He's never going to understand just how much his absence impacts the kids, regardless of the reason why. When he's asked why I'm upset with him, and I tell him that it has nothing to do with my schedule being impacted but that the kids are so very sad when he doesnt come, he doesnt seem to get it. They'll get over it.
I'm sure they will. But I can't tell you how much I'm dreading telling them that my MIL is having double knee surgery and that they wont be spending Wednesdays with she and my FIL for quite a few weeks. I know that's not going to go over well. Thank God for our church playgroup which I will take them to, because that will at least give them something to look forward to doing, but they know... The know Wednesdays are Grandpa and Uita days; they start looking forward to it from the moment they come home with us on Wednesdays and, from Monday on, I'm hearing about "On Wednesday, we're going to Uita and Grandpa's house..." And this is something I have time to prepare them with! We've already started dropping hints and, once February starts, I'll make it more official to them, but I know that first Wednesday is going to suck. (Peter will be home, actually, because I have an OB appt but the next week, he'll be in Holland, so man... it is REALLY going to suck!) So, will they get over their sadness and disappointment? Yes. Will they remember in the long term? Probably not.
Will it suck in the meantime. Hell yes.
I wish, I just wish, that there was an easy answer, but there's not. As warmer weather approaches, it will be easy to walk to a park and grab an ice cream on the way back, but now? In the cold and bitter wind? Options are limited and, without scheduling things in advance, I'm not sure if we could pull together friends for a playdate like we did today. Thankfully, there are indoor areas where the kids can make a quick pal, which is nice. But I still feel sad about the whole thing.
An update on Peter's business trip: He'll be gone the last week of February. I'll be 18-19 weeks when he's gone. I'm nervous, but thanks to Sarah agreeing to stay with me and having an awesome network of friends in the area, I know that, God forbid, something happen and I need to go to the hospital, the kids will be okay and taken care of until I can get back to them. And that makes me feel a bit more at peace with the whole thing. (Not that anything is going to happen... Things will be fine...)