When the kids arrived last Friday, it had been four weeks since they were last with us. It was evident, in many ways, how long it had been since they were home.
The first, and most obvious, was simply that they couldn’t get enough of their father. They crawled all over him, demanding attention, hungry for time with him, and competing with each other for his attention. The kids woke up early and didn’t want to go to bed, not wanting to waste a minute.
Second was something we deal with every other weekend: the re-establishment of the fact that rules actually do exist and apply equally to everyone. This is an ongoing issue because of the extreme favoritism granted to Dove at their other home, apparently because she has been permitted the least amount of time with her father. She is given free rein at the expense of the other children until she hits our doorstep. After a month of limited to no supervision or discipline, it took some time for all of the kids to adjust to the rules of our house and the fact that “anything goes” does not go at our home. It does the kids no good to have no boundaries and no responsibilities. Quite frankly, we have already seen the type of adult spoiled brat that spawns, and it ain’t pretty.
Third was a lack of routine personal care that is bad enough after two weeks, let alone four. Gary and I spent considerable time trimming fingernails and toenails that had grown into talons or had broken into jagged fragments, working knots out of unbrushed hair, etc.
Dove walked in with wild, brittle, unkempt hair resembling Albert Einstein on a particularly bad hair day, so we took her for a haircut Saturday afternoon. After the bizarre temper tantrum the BM threw the last time we took Dove for a haircut, you would think Crow (see Cast of Characters) would leap at the chance to take Dove for haircuts herself. Instead, her attitude seems to be, “Oh, I didn’t say I actually wanted to parent. I just said I didn’t want you to parent.”
Dove, for her part, loves getting her haircut. She watches the stylist raptly, trying to peek at herself in the mirror but otherwise sitting still, save for a few quick swivels of her head to make sure her daddy is still watching before she smiles and lets the stylist continue snipping.
It wasn’t a surprise when the kids weren’t ready to leave on Sunday, but Gary joked around and had them laughing again when we dropped them off, making up handshakes and tickling each other. I know it isn’t easy for him to say good-bye either — not at all– so I am proud of him when he smiles and laughs anyway to make it easier for the kids.