Went to the National Zoo yesterday, to meet up with some Moxie moms.
We got there later than hoped, and landed after most of the others had already left - 2 PM, right smack in meltdown-nap time. We forget sometimes that we're a bit on the older end of the kids for probably the bulk of Moxie's fans. Not the top, certainly, but past the mid-way point. Anything after 1 PM gets iffy.
So, regrets that we didn't meet more than two others. Wave in passing, we were in the same place, just not the same time.
All things considered, it balanced out to a good day. But there were definitely things to discuss coming out of it.
First off, I must say that the day started brilliantly, with B not only getting the usually pretty lazy one-eyed Snickers back into a trot repeatedly, but spending his entire lesson working really hard. Even though he was tired, he was grumpy because we (both) forgot his riding gloves, and he was kinda hoping for a horse other than the ever-foot-dragging ancient (but patient) Snickers. (he's 28 - the mom watching the lesson before us remembered learning to ride on him.) Anyway, I remembered my thinking about the smart/talent thing, and praised the effort, willingness, trying again. More, I remembered to be proud of his striving, not just his inborn affinity for horses. And I was proud. Proud to see him handle his horse back down from an unexpected canter, proud to see him learn - really get - about five different things that were interfering with his forward progress (like he was cuing the horse to slow down on turns, which is why he tends to end up at a walk on turns - hey, presto, the instructor figured it out, but he's getting it!). Anyway, great start, going from grumpy resentful embarrassment (he so hates being improperly outfitted for the task), to success and success again.
After that, though, we were winging it. Packing up (had enjoyed a slower pace the night before, so not packed or set up and the car had to be cleaned out for the trip, and... thankfully, ep stayed behind and worked while I watched the lesson). And then leaving, and then turning around and going back for the things we forgot (just a few blocks away, but still). And then going again.
During the long drive, we did our usual goal-setting. What are the goals for today? We've learned the hard way that if we don't state them, we tend to run on conflicting goals, and then someone ends up grumpy (or everyone). Lesson 1 for today: State goals for the event AND for the rest of the day. Ep had a goal of getting back home in time for a reasonable date night, and that wasn't stated. It could have been worked in, but we were working the 'hedra meet and connect with caramama and others' and 'kids enjoy themselves' and 'everyone is fed and rested appropriately' goals. We'd stated the goals for the 'trip' part, but not the coming home part. We could have done takeout instead of a restaurant, it would have worked well enough, coming home. We arrived home (including dropping the kids off) after 9:30 PM, and tired. Too late for the movie. And due to the miss, too grumpy for much of anything but dealing with the grumpies.
Lesson 2: Problem solving works even when we're grumpy (and we should probably start sooner when we're grumpy). The grumpy never quite got to the really miserable state we can (fortunately briefly) touch down in. At least on my side it didn't. We do tend to turn the lumpy bits over and over, trying to find a comfortable place to start, and that can be a bit uncomfortable. But... well, even tired and grumpy, we worked out the big lumps before heading off to bed.
Lesson 3: Consider carefully the duration of the 'fun part' compared to the duration of the transit part (and Lesson 3a: figure out in advance how to balance their sensory systems BEFORE the fun part). We left shortly after 11, arrived at 2 PM... with kids really wound up from the car ride, and then wired from the metro ride (sensory deprivation, sensory overstimulation... whee). M and R were relatively okay (ish) though R was signaling her sensory deprivation by climbing on me. M at least mainly needs to run and run and run and run and run, so sitting on the hill was good - she got to run. So she was fine. B and G... well, their main sensory re-set is through large muscle exercise, plus compression. Which means leaping on people and wrestling. Which just bugs the peep out of me, especially as I know that while they're down-grading their sensory response, they tend to get less and less safe with it before they get to fully settled. Ugh. I wasn't cuing well to their needs on that, and was really trying to set the pace to avoid the unsafe/disrespectful versions that tend to cycle in... but wasn't getting how to re-set their systems. Oy. that was a lesson learned in retrospect (and one I usually learn in retrospect, and then don't apply well in the process again - my own sensory processing issues differ, so their urgency to be jumpy and jumped upon does not compute). Sigh. Will need to work on that one still. But hey, at least I let M race around and crash a few times without flinching. I'm getting better at the not flinching with her (she over-reads my reactions, and ends up magnifying my response in herself - if I leap up, she definitely thinks something horrible has happened).
Lesson... um, 4: I need to figure out my own Beauty issues, still. When I saw caramama, I thought, 'she's lovely!,' and then wondered what she thought of ... not me, but of how I looked. GAH. My baseline feel was already 'nice person, smart, interesting, good instincts, good mom' and no matter what she looked like, I'd have felt the same on that. But the moment I noticed she was pretty, I wondered if I was pretty, too. Sheesh. (data points, 2, extrapolation: "the women who read Ask Moxie are all beautiful and their spouses are intelligent and interesting" - though I think I nodded to Colleen's DH a couple of times, and had only a few words more with caramama's DH. Regardless, they seem the kinds I'd expect to find interesting, and probably funny, at a party. If we ever saw them at a party where we weren't all chasing kids.) (EDIT: Note I already know the women are intelligent and interesting, hence only noting their beauty in the remarks above - it sounds like 'girl = pretty counts, boy = smart counts' but that's not what I was doing. I think if I already knew the guys a bit more, I'd probably go with the looks thing as the next item I noticed. If I'm allowed to notice their looks. ;) ).
Lesson 5: Reminder (this one I already know): It is impossible to actually get to know someone while you're both wrangling children. Observe them, a bit, maybe. Get a sense of them a bit. Get to know? Nope. It's all fragments of conversations, and the more complete conversations are usually with the kids, not with the adults.
Lesson 6: (maybe more of an interesting note than a lesson) Body memories from childhood can still pop up, even watching someone else's kids. I was watching caramama's charming (and intent) daughter trying out her hill-walking skills on the grass, and could feel in myself the startlement of the earth being higher on one side than the other. I could remember the crazy tilting feeling of trying to walk down hill in grass, feel the grass, feel the shape of the hill, feel the sense that someone kind of tilted the world with each step - it was FLAT and EVEN except here, each step the world tilted away from me. I could feel the crazy dragging downward of the slope, pulling me sideways as I tried to walk straight across the incline. I could feel the thrill of fear and courage below the urgency to master this tricky bit. On the drive home, I called my mom, and sure enough, I'd spent many a day on that very same hill, mastering the up and down and across. Only, in my flash-back recollection, the hill went on forever, endless up and endless down. Funny how much smaller the world is when you get big.
Anyway, lessons learned. Good lessons, for a good day. Glad we did it. As always, wish I'd done it better, but also not beating myself up - next time we do something like this, I'll have a better handle on it, and the time after that, a better handle again. By the time I'm doing this with my grandkids (if), I might have a good clue. Only they'll be different kids, and I'll be learning all over again. But that's okay, too.