Thursday, August 30, 2012


If you're one of my Facebook friends you may have seen my post today -- "It's been the kind of afternoon that I'm pretending there's vodka in my orange juice. I figure that's better than the alternative -- pretending there's orange juice in my vodka."  Let me explain.

First of all, I am not much of a drinker.  There's a bottle of wine in our fridge that we bought before I was pregnant with Eli.  It should be chilled by now.  However, I was frustrated today and actually, kind of wanted some vodka in my oj.  Because it was 4 in the afternoon, I was home alone with the boys, and we had Zachary's Meet the Teacher Night at Preschool later, I chose to post that on Facebook and drink my plain orange juice.  What had me frustrated?  Thanks for asking.

It was supposed to be a simple reward for Zachary.  All summer we've let him fall asleep on the couch and then one of us (usually Bryan) will carry his sleeping, lead-filled body to his bed.  Since school starts for him next week, we've been working on getting him to fall asleep in his bed (again).  We'd prefer if he did that alone, without one of us staying until he falls asleep.  We always read two or three stories and then after the lights are out and the nightlight is on we'll say bedtime prayers.  To get back on track we re-instated the reward system that worked before.  It's pretty simple:  A chart on the wall titled "Zachary's Reward Chart."  Each night that he goes to bed without grouching or crying, and stays in his bed all night barring any bathroom issues, he gets a sticker on the chart.  After the first two nights he gets to rent a movie of his choice.  After three more nights he earns another movie.  Then it's a movie every 5 nights. 

Well, he did great Monday and Tuesday nights.  Stickers for both nights and Wednesday afternoon he and I went out by ourselves (thanks for staying with Eli, Mom!).  We dropped off the recycling (he enjoys helping unload the different plastics and throwing them into the proper receptacles), went for a spin through the car wash (always one of his favorites), then to Family Video so he could choose his movie. 

Zachary has always had some very strong opinions about many things, but choosing a movie takes. A. Long. Time.  He's so excited, he just can't decide.  After about twenty minutes of roaming the Kids Free Movie racks he settles on a Diego movie.  They have three choices, but only one is in stock.  He says he really wanted to watch Diego's Ultimate Rescue League, but since they didn't have it he'd take Diego's Panda Adventure.  I didn't bother to remind him that he's already seen both of them.  When we took the DVD box from behind the empty advertising box, I noticed it wasn't Deigo's Panda Adventure but the much longed for Diego's Ultimate Rescue League!  Oh joy of joys, I got to surprise him and make him happy :)  He was so excited as we went to the register that he was almost skipping. 

We check out with our free movie and he sings in his car seat the whole way home as he holds the precious DVD box with two hands so he doesn't drop & scratch it.  Sweetheart that he is, the first thing he says as we pull into the garage is, "I hope Eli's up from his nap so he can watch with me."  My already happy heart was about to burst because my darling child was happy with his reward and still thinking of his brother.  We go inside and Eli was awake.  Zachary eagerly rushes him and Mamaw Betty into the living room so we can watch his prized movie.  We put the DVD in and .... nothing.  I try pushing buttons (not randomly, I just won't go through the button sequence here).  We take the DVD out and power down.  I put it back in and start over.  This time an error screen appeared.  It told me to power down the system and try again, if the problem continued to consult the owner's manual.  First of all, I had just powered down.  Secondly, our tv with the built in DVD player was purchased over ten years ago, I have no idea if the owner's manual even made the move to Washington with us.  I obediently power down and try the whole thing again.  Same error screen.  Zachary's starting to get frustrated with me.  I try another DVD.  It worked.  I tried another (his suggestion).  It worked too.  I tried the rental for the fourth (or fifth?) time.  Error.  Blah, blah, blah. 

I told Zachary we'd have to take it back and get another movie.  He looked at me and a single tear went down his cheek.  That tear quickly turned into a full blown melt down that lasted about twenty minutes.  He was sobbing so hard that I really thought he was going to throw up.  Poor kid tried to calm down several times, but he couldn't help himself.  He understood that we could get another movie, but he wanted Diego's Ultimate Rescue League.  I wanted that one for him.  

The only other time I remember him breaking down like that was his first visit with us at the hospital after Eli's first surgery.  He was tired, had been suddenly separated from his parents and baby brother for a week, and didn't understand what was going on.  Remember he was barely three years old at this time.  He was obviously happy to see us, but was very confused about why we all weren't together at home.  After an hour of frustrating behavior from him he started crying and couldn't stop.  It seemed like it lasted forever and he finally cried himself to sleep on my lap.  Today's tear-filled episode was just a notch below that one. 

Finally he agreed to go back to the movie store.  As he handed the box back to the girl who'd just checked us out half an hour before he said "This doesn't work.  I really wanted to watch it, but we can't because it doesn't work."  The disappointment in his voice was enough, but coupled with the slightly runny nose and puffy, bloodshot eyes it was heartbreaking.  For me anyway.  I explained to her that we tried other DVDs to make sure it wasn't our system, but the movie still didn't work.  She apologized but there really wasn't much she could do.  It was a free rental and they had even cleaned it before we left the store.

We circled the racks, again.  He started perking up as he browsed the selection, again.  Another twenty minutes later he finally decided on a Bob the Builder movie that featured a dinosaur dig.  As I picked up the movie behind the display box my heart fell.  It wasn't the right movie behind the box.  I searched all the surrounding movies but it wasn't there.  I told him and he said, "Oh, man!" and started looking for another one.  We left with a Little Einsteins Christmas movie.  He was cautiously excited.  It worked, although it had a couple skips in it.  We really don't expect a lot from the free rentals, but those are the titles that capture his interest right now...and they're free!

You may be thinking, "Why is she so distraught over a kids movie?"  It may seem like Zachary was acting like a spoiled brat with his melt down, but honestly, he doesn't act that way often.  Why did it bother me so much?  He is the most generous, caring, sweetest boy I could imagine and he had earned his reward.  He enthusiastically did what we asked him to do and he earned his stickers and a movie.  He constantly checks on his brother, plays with him, changes his play so that it's something Eli can participate in, shares his food (whether we ask him to or not), etc, etc, etc.  I could go on and on about how great he is at this big brother thing.  This was something for him and he still wanted to share it with his family.

On top of that, he's been shuffled among various caring family and friends since Eli's diagnosis, accompanied us to countless extremely-boring-to-a-four-year-old doctor's appointments, participated in numerous therapy appointments, been Eli's biggest cheerleader and protector and yet has NEVER treated him with any type of jealousy or meanness.  He's often ignored when people see Eli and they start talking about Eli's cheeks or his health, but Zachary never complains.  Most people who really know us don't do that, but it does happen to him and much more often than I'm comfortable with.  No one believes that he's four years old, soon to be five (too soon for me!).  They often treat him as if he's seven or eight years old.  I understand that's just part of being a physically big boy who looks and usually acts much older, but I get so upset when I find myself doing it too!  On a daily basis I have to remind myself that he's FOUR.  The kid puts up with a lot.  Our daily life, our daily struggles are things he deals with just fine most of the time.  He does great with most things, but today, a small thing like the movie of his choice not working, put him over the edge for a little while and  it broke my heart to have a visual reminder of the stresses he's under as well.

I understand that life isn't always fair and he has to learn that too, but hasn't he had enough these past few months?  When we go to a store, he rarely asks for anything.  If he does, we can usually persuade him to remember to put it on his birthday or Christmas wish list.  He knows he can't have everything that he wants.  The difference is today he earned the movie of his choice and I couldn't provide it. I was frustrated that he was so frustrated. 

Zachary was pretty much over it by this evening.  We had a great time at his Meet the Teacher Night and he's excited about going to school next week.  It's always said that in life, it's the little things that matter.  Unfortunately, right now for me, the little thing is my son's temporary disappointment over a silly movie and I couldn't let it go.  That's a big reason why I blog, it's a release for me.  Thanks again for reading and caring about our ups and downs.

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