My Staycation

This has been one of the best weeks I have ever lived.

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Hiking up South Bubble in Acadia National Park.

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Hiking the Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park.

It wasn’t filled with theme parks or pools or even friends. There was no glamour or glitz or even much money spent. Instead it was filled with large chunks of quality time with my son, mingled with short visits with my family and bits of running and reading and cleaning, combined with one overnight stay in Bar Harbor that included two hikes, two library visits, and two ice cream shop stops (where we indulged in two scoops at each place).

In my opinion, this week has been heavenly. I’m sure my son does not have the same thoughts or memories of this week. He probably remembers that we went to the drive-in theater and got to stay up really late. (“I got to stay up until the NEXT DAY!” he proclaimed to anyone who would listen.) I have no doubt that he’ll remember that I played Halo with him–twice–and I was so frustrated that he ended up calling me “Swear Bear” due to the string of expletives cascading from my mouth when I couldn’t figure out how to walk and shoot at the same time.

My son may remember the hiking we did, but it definitely wasn’t his favorite thing. Yet when we reached the top of South Bubble then climbed down some rocks to “push” Bubble Rock, he was so proud of himself and I was so proud of us. There was no whining (except when we first got out of the car and he realized we were really going to do this hiking thing).  He never fell once going up and we went at his speed. I had a bag full of food and water and we could take our time. We moved to the side of the trail when others came and we just did our thing. Yet once we got into a rhythm, it took us no time at all. We talked about Star Wars all the way up. We played a long game of “Versus” in which we try to pair Star Wars characters against each other and argue about who would win the battle and why. For a few minutes, I convinced him to play “Wildlife Versus” where we paired animals against each other, but that turned into “Wildlife Vs Star Wars” and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty for those poor animals.

My boy trying to push Bubble Rock off the mountain.

My boy trying to push Bubble Rock off the mountain.

But once we got to the top, we sat down on a ledge to eat our lunch, and my boy got a lot more serious. He said that he felt overweight and maybe we could do more of these types of things so he wouldn’t feel that way anymore. I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and broke into a thousand little pieces. I quickly glued myself back together, gave my boy a squeeze, and told him we could do as many hikes as he likes and probably more than he wants to.

The rest of the hike was mostly pleasant, except for the boy falling twice and skinning his knee a bit, but all in all, it was truly extraordinary. I know that hiking with him won’t always be this good, especially if we add other people into the mix. But I intend to try, and maybe he’ll grow to have a love of hiking or the outdoors. Right now I know that getting hurt is frustrating him and why he hates taking walks or runs. He nearly always gets hurt (much like I did at his age) and we talked about how awkward it can be while you’re growing and sometimes you trip when nothing is there and your bones are growing and expanding and it’s all a good thing. It really is.

And this is what I have to remember. This is all a good thing. Somehow, some way, I have to incorporate what I did and how I felt this past week into my daily life, into my daily working life. I often say how much I love what I do and how fortunate I am to be a librarian. But as the days have gotten closer to going back to work, all I have felt is anxiety and sadness and loss. I broke down and cried yesterday, hoping to just “cry it out” and get it out of my system. I understand all of what I’m feeling. I do. I’m feeling anxious because I know I have a lot of work to catch up on this week and I’ll have more of a set schedule that I have to stick to. The sadness and loss is because I won’t be home with my son and his stress level will also increase because of having to go here and there and not just be with me. And you know, I realize how great we really have it. We do. I may not have summers off, but I get to do something I like and my kid gets to be nearby and spend a few hours at a library each day. A library he considers home. He’s safe. He’s ok.

There have been several tragedies in the area just this week, including the death of a 9-year-old boy in my town and the death of a 22-year-old man who was the son of one of my colleagues.  The families of these two have had a horrendous week. I, on the other hand, was given the gift of a beautiful week with my son. I did not squander it. I enjoyed it and grasped onto as many great moments as I could.

So now I need to stop whining and crying and pick myself up. I need to get my ass in gear and appreciate the job that I have and the work that I do. I need to show my son that life is not only worth living, but can be pretty damn awesome. Even when we have responsibilities to take care of, life can be fulfilling and fun.

Now I’m off to do laundry so I won’t have to go to work in my pajamas…and I might go buy a lottery ticket…just one.

I will not give up the dream!

 

 

A Big Fat “F”

My child knows right from wrong. He has to take responsibility for his actions and suffer the consequences. It’s been a difficult thing to teach him. It’s hard to see your child hurting, no matter what the reason is. But when he does something “bad” and doesn’t realize it because I haven’t taught him, then *I* must take responsibility for his actions. Unfortunately, though, he will still suffer the consequences.

This past winter, nearly every person I know in New England gained weight. It was a very cold, extra snowy season and it was difficult to go outside. Since I had a lot of back pain during that time, too, I only went outside to go to my car. That was it. And because of *that*, I watched my son slowly put on the pounds. When I realized how inactive he truly was (especially on the weekends when we were at home), I tried to actively play with him more like foam sword fighting and dancing in the kitchen. He used the treadmill occasionally, too, while I lifted weights. We have a PlayStation 3 so we also played gladiator and Frisbee golf games on that to move around more.

But it wasn’t enough. I didn’t do those things with him enough. Each time he undressed to take a shower, I completely freaked out inside because I could see how much he had gained. I got so desperate I started having him do jumping jacks before bedtime. I tried to make a game out of it so he wouldn’t realize how crazy and obsessed and upset I had become.

I started reading up on childhood obesity and how to prevent it and how to deal with it if it was already too late. I wasn’t sure how much my boy weighed but I guessed. From every children’s BMI chart I could find, he was in the overweight category. I took a few deep breaths, but tried to come up with a plan to turn things around. Screen time now had to be earned and not automatically given. Pizza night became pizza and salad night. Wednesday became Walking Wednesday (or basketball Wednesday, whichever he wanted to do). I began to feel a bit better. I was trying at least.

To really know what I was dealing with, though, I asked my son to weigh himself. I told him I just wanted to know how much he’d grown before we go see the doctor next month.  I held my breath as the scale went up and down.

The number was 10 pounds higher than I originally thought. But I didn’t react in front of him. I smiled and thanked my beautiful boy as he hopped off the scale and scampered to his room.

At that point all I wanted to do was pick up the scale and smash it against the wall, hearing the sound of the plastic cracking to bits. But I didn’t. I just slid it back under my bureau and went back to the BMI charts to get the verdict.

I waited until I got to work to check the charts. I looked at 3 different children’s BMI charts online. They all asked for my son’s age, height and weight. Some of the charts asked for my height and my husband’s height. But each and every result was the same….obese. Not overweight anymore, but obese.

I failed.

I didn’t just fail but I failed my son. I failed him completely and utterly with a big fat “F.”

When I drove home that night, I was feeling a bit weepy, overwhelmed, defeated really. And yet I had a smidge of hope. I still had some tricks left up my sleeve. Just that morning before I checked the charts, I bought a hula hoop. Something silly but fun that would get all of our bodies moving. When I got home, I told my boy I had a surprise and to meet me out in front of our house. When he came out, I was attempting to swing my hips and keep the hoop moving. (I am *really* bad at it!) It made him laugh and want to try it, too. So he tried it a few times, laughing, then said, “Hey, Mom! Want to play basketball?”  I replied with probably an overly enthusiastic “YES” because I was so surprised and happy and ultimately hopeful.

My son knows he should be more active. He knows this because both my husband and I have been encouraging him to do so. I am trying to be a good example of someone who eats well and is physically active, but I also know he needs to see that with other family members. Being a fit family is something I have longed for, but I don’t think it’s realistic. I cannot control other people’s actions, but I can do my damnedest to influence my son’s.

It’s my job to fix this.

I feel good about the little things I’ve put in place, like better snacks and integrating more physical activity at home. Thankfully summer is nearly here, which means a lot of swimming and Frisbee and basketball and maybe even hiking. I know this winter will be a challenge, but for now I need to focus on today.

I am also aware that I can’t obsess about this…too much. Any suggestion of physical activity will meet great resistance if I push this too far. For instance, today is a rainy day and my plans of shooting arrows and playing basketball have fallen by the wayside. Fortunately we still had lightsaber duels and dancing in the kitchen to Cello Wars. But my husband and son also wanted to play a video game together. That is something I will never say “no” to. It may not seem like quality time to some people, but for them it really is. I can hear them playing and they’re laughing and calling each other names (in fun) and having a great time. I had suggested earlier that the two of them take a walk in the rain (they both love this) and I hope they still do that, but for now I have to let it go and hope they make good decisions.

Even though I failed my son, this isn’t over. I can’t let him become a fat teenager, or even a fat middle-schooler. Those years are the most torturous *without* being a big kid. If my boy’s tics continue through that age, he’ll be ostracized just from that. He won’t need one more thing to make him feel like an outcast. In fact, being fat could make him feel invisible, not important, unworthy. And I will not let my child feel that way because *I* didn’t get his ass moving when he was 8 years old.

It’s now time to FIGHT.

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