This is not a tale about prom and spinners or Starbucks and slime. This is a true story about reconciliation.
On Friday, my daughter went to prom. When one kid gets to do something special where the other is not able to partake—be it prom, a sleepover, a birthday party, etc.—I do something with the other. Liam, however, did not want to go out to dinner or anything like that, but wanted to be alone in the basement to work on a project. I let him do that even though I was a bit worried because he asked for a hot glue gun, glitter, asked where my tools were and took one of his skateboards into the basement saying that I was not to open the basement door. While I was curious, I saw that this was important to him and gave him space. Although if I heard any power tools starting up the game was over!
No power tools heard and while he didn’t take me up on the offer to go out to eat, I made him something for dinner I know he likes and Ann doesn’t, which means it doesn’t get made that often.
(I’m still not sure why he asked for glitter and am also not sure where said glitter ended up.)
Long story short, Liam was trying to make a “fidget spinner” out of parts pilfered from skateboard wheels. I think he would have been successful if he just let thing set for a day. I was a bit conflicted on stepping in as he did a lot of creative things to get it working. However, when he finally told me what he was trying to do my mind went to problem-solving mode. I did pretty much the same thing as him, but added patience in that I insisted it had to sit overnight. It worked the next day and I told him what I did. While later he broke it by dropping it one too many times, he was able to fix it again and “gave it time” to set. Once again the spinner was working, but he also asked me to get one on Amazon and he’d pay me back.
All of this started because one of the things we did when Ann was at prom was bike down to 7/11 for a Slurpee. They had some of the spinner things for $9.99. Now I know that Liam has $30 in his wallet because he told me. But he wasn’t asking me to pay for it. Instead he brushed it aside as too much and we went to the video store to rent a free movie that he thought looked neat (Disney Earth) and another that he knew his sister wanted (Shrek the Musical). I picked up another movie just because it didn’t feel right to just get things from the free section, but never got around to watching it.
So, a good news story, right? Yes, but not without some difficulties.
Liam did not get the spinner working that first night, got frustrated and moved onto slime. The latter did not also cooperate. Again, I was banished and Liam was not happy with the result. This put me in a difficult situation. I know from experience that failure leads to learning and growth which I think is a good thing, but how do you share your failures and growth and experience as well without being overbearing? Answers can’t be given on a silver platter if you want your kids to be independent problem solvers. Plus if you give answers they are based on your own background and can shut down independent thinking.
Collaboration finally won out Saturday when Liam and I started working together. I didn’t agree internally with all his choices and he didn’t agree with all of my suggestions. We made some great slime that day while Ann was off at practice for a musical.
Before that he insisted on getting a haircut at some place in Plymouth. I asked Ann if she wanted to go with us and she refused saying that she needed to do some homework, (which I can say for sure that she did not do because as I found out later the book she was supposed to read was in the trunk of the car). After the haircut Liam and I decided to take a walk, wandered in and out of various shops including a stop at Starbucks.
When we got back and were recounting things Ann was not happy that we had gone to Starbucks without her. (Never mind that I have taken Ann to Starbucks when Liam was out on some occasion to which she was not a party. Siblings it seems know how to push buttons.)
Things got nasty between them and I was watching this battle trying to figure out how to make peace with no idea. Ann locked herself in the car in the garage while Liam shouted that he hated us both, stormed upstairs and slammed his door a few times for emphasis.
Liam finally came downstairs and said that he was going on a bike ride alone and didn’t want to speak with me. I told him OK, but please be back by 9. He agreed and left.
At 8:45, I heard a horn from our garage honking. I went in and found Ann and Liam both locked in the car laughing. I told them to knock it off and as I went back into the house there was another honk with Liam laughing in the driver’s seat saying that this was it. Ann was also laughing. I was trying to be stern as there are families with toddlers within earshot of the horn, but it was hard to not crack a smile seeing them getting along again.
After they came in I found out that what Liam did is ride his bike down to Starbucks and buy Ann a Frappichino with some Starbucks card he had. Peace had been made, Liam was back before dark, and while I was a wreck after the slamming doors and cold departure of Liam, this was such an amazing conclusion. They will undoubtedly fight again and know how to push each others buttons, but this ending is so much more, I don’t know, satisfying? When I’m gone these kids are going to be OK. Fighting perhaps, but no doubt in my mind of a close bond regardless. On Sunday Liam told me that the past couple of days were great days. I agreed, but also remembered the day where he said he hated me. Teenager stuff; I get it. I’m not going to hold him against that. Strong kids and strong ties are really cool.