The Toilet Bowl Theory of Raising Kids without Fathers

This weekend I "forced" my kids to go to our house on Vashon. I knew it would be one of the last nice weekends and given Olivia's impending ACL surgery next Tuesday, I figured it would be a good way for her to enjoy some freedom before her confinement.

The reality was an insane drive across town, complete with a very long detour around an "AIDS" walk in order to pick her up from a sleepover. As I was swearing as a couple of red-t-shirt clad walkers in my path (nope, no road rage there), she called on my cell phone. "Mama, some of my friends are going downtown, I was just wondering, do I have to go to Vashon?"

I think I managed not to swear at her, but it was clear I was none too happy. "You are coming to Vashon, and we are going to be a family!" I think was my final two-year old temper tantrum remark. Of course she sulked the entire weekend. And fought with her brother. And of course I questioned my sanity. Should I have let her be with her friends? Should I have risked a bunch of 14 year old girls hanging out at our house unsupervised? "Will I ever be allowed to stay alone overnight?" she asked me at one point. "No!" was my immediate response. Certainly that must be illegal, right? I actually have no idea what the legal age is for leaving a kid alone overnight. Hopefully its 32.

On Sunday I spent almost all day digging out a 25' garden (Only with the help of Tylenol am I now able to write this). Since the house once belonged to a famous author, I felt like I was digging out famous weeds. The were certainly OLD weeds. And tough! As I broke my back with a shovel in the lovely late fall sunshine, both my kids were sequestered inside watching movies on their individual computers, probably for about the 60th time.

If Arron were here, I thought, I wouldn't have such lazy kids. He would have them clearing paths, or hauling rocks or going to Home Depot. He wouldn't allow computers at the cabin at all. There would be no arguments if we were headed to the cabin for the weekend (ok, there probably would, but the disputes would not last all weekend). And then that thought that I sometimes have popped into my head again. I wonder what the kids would be like if their father hadn't died. I know its a useless thought, but it helps me to remember his values in raising our kids. He was a man who couldn't stand still, had very high standards, and laughed a lot. All things that I sometimes worry are missing in my kids lives. But I only have so much energy to be the bad guy. Was it worth Olivia's sulkiness to be a family? Not sure. But I do know that when we went to the hardware store to buy a rake so I could flatten the now lumpy garden, she asked if she could by rubber gloves, a sponge and toilet cleaner. When I asked why she wanted them, she said, "So I can clean the toilet and we can leave sooner."

Maybe there is a tiny piece of Arron in them despite me...