They're difficult even when they come wrapped in lovely packages. Take yesterday, for example. Yesterday was a delightfully sunny Saturday - a rare treat in April in this part of the world. Bud and I set out early, visiting two libraries and the town dump before noon, as the temperatures climbed and the delightfully sunny day became unseasonably warm, with a jump of about 25 degrees over what we've been experiencing lately. It was a welcome change for me, but, I soon discovered, less welcome for Bud.
We stopped at home for a quick lunch before setting out on our next round of adventures, and I changed into shorts and a t-shirt. I brought clothes down for Bud to change into as well - and that's when the trouble began.
He wasn't changing, and that was that. He was sticking with the heavyweight jeans, t-shirt, and long-sleeve sweatshirt he'd put on that morning, and no amount of coercion from me was going to change his mind. It was all I could do to keep him from putting on his coat as well. I decided to choose my battles and packed a change of clothes for him, hoping that he'd want to change once he got uncomfortably warm.
I let it go until the temperature hit 89 degrees and the threat of heat stroke outweighed my fear of battle. I convinced Bud to change by telling him that if it was warm enough for him to wear shorts and a t-shirt, then it would be warm enough for us to stop by the lake so he could put his feet in the water. He donned his shorts and took off his sweatshirt, but he kept complaining at a low rolling boil until he'd had a successful foot-dipping excursion to the lake. Then the real battle began.
In retrospect, I see that Bud's perseveration about his clothing had taken over and that a portion of his preoccupation was really out of his control. In the moment, though, it felt like one of those wars Bud was waging simply because he wanted to call the shots. There's been a lot of that lately, as Bud has begun to assert himself in all his almost-ten-year-old glory - the "I can't possibly eat peanut butter if you say I'm having peanut butter" moments; the "what do you mean I'm taking a shower when what I really want is a bath" moments; the "we can't go to the pharmacy and then the grocery store - we should go to the grocery store and THEN the pharmacy" moments. And though, in retrospect, I see that perhaps I should have dropped it and let him wear whatever he wanted to wear, in the moment it simply annoyed me, and I ended up going toe-to-toe with him as the minutes became hours of "I need my long pants! I need to cover my arms! I'm going to get cold! My knees will get covered in bug bites! Can I have my pants on now? I need to have my pants on. I need a sweatshirt. Will you get me a sweatshirt? I can wear my coat. Where is my coat? I need to have my coat. I know! I can wear your coat. But I can't wear shorts. My knees are sticking out. Here, I'll just put these bags on my arms."
It was, to say the least, an unpleasant afternoon.
After dinner, in hopes of salvaging the rest of the day, we struck a deal. Though it was still in the 80's outside, I agreed that he could wear his winter-weight jeans if he agreed to wear a short-sleeved t-shirt with them, and then we headed out for a walk around the neighborhood as we made peace and enjoyed each other's company.
Today, we woke to another beautiful day and I resolved to do whatever it took to keep the day from escalating into another fight to the finish. If he wanted to wear winter clothing, I thought, then we'd just stay in the house, since it seems that our house was built on a glacier and it's typically ten to fifteen degrees cooler inside than it is outside. I decided that I wouldn't even bring up his choice of clothing - I'd just follow his lead.
In mid-morning, I told Bud it was time to get dressed, and he wandered off to find his clothes. He reappeared after a few minutes in his underwear, with a pair of lightweight pants in his hand. "Let's see," he said, ostensibly to the air, "What can I wear today? Shorts or pants?"
I didn't reply. Neither did the air.
"Now let me think," he repeated. "Should I wear pants... or should I wear shorts?"
"I'm wearing shorts," I answered. "You can wear anything you want."
"Okay, shorts," he said, and he left the room. He returned a few minutes later, still in his underwear, pants still in hand, and mused "Hmmm... now, what will I wear today...?"
"Wear your pants, Bud," I said.
"Pants?" he asked happily.
"Yes, wear your pants," I said.
"Okay!" he chirped. "I'll wear my shorts later, okay, Mom?"
He dashed out to dress, then came back in his pants and a t-shirt, with a sweatshirt in his hand. "And I'll wear this too?"
"You'll be too hot in that, Bud."
"I'll get a red face?"
"Yes, you'll get a red face."
"I don't want a red face," he said. "I'll wear it another time."
"Good idea," I said.
And then, though I had earlier resigned myself to staying in the house on this beautiful spring day, Bud asked "What are we doing today?"
"I don't know," I answered. "What would you like to do?"
"Let's go for a hike," he said.
So we did. We spent the whole afternoon on a long hike in the woods, the sun shining through the branches, the breeze blowing through our hair, and not a bug in sight. And though I wore shorts and Bud wore pants, we were both comfortable and we didn't spend another minute discussing wardrobe. Instead, we hiked and climbed, while Bud listened to Dierks Bentley on his iPod and I listened to Bud sing along. Then we played a game that Bud developed that I like to call "Every Style a Memory," in which Bud names a Dierks Bentley track and I have to guess whether Dierks originally sang it with long hair or short hair - which may sound tedious, but was actually a welcome relief given the conflict of the day before. We spent the final half mile or so of our hike playing "What's your favorite?," with me asking and Bud answering - What's your favorite Brad Paisley song? Celebrity; What's your favorite Sugarland song? It Happens; What's your favorite Lady Antebellum song? I Run To You. That one never gets old.
And so, despite the rocky transition, it's a joy to finally welcome spring to this frozen tundra we call home.
Which reminds me of one other somewhat-related update. Those of you who were around here last year at this time may recall the Ice Out 2008 competition, in which readers placed bets on the day when the last traces of snow would disappear from my yard. I couldn't get my blogging act together enough this spring to do a repeat (though there's always 2010), but I thought you might like to know the status anyway.
So, you recall that yesterday it was almost 90 degrees outside, right? This is what my yard looked like at the end of the day:
Yes, that's snow. But these days, I like to think of it as nature's cooler - a place to put your beverages to keep them cold while you're outside, enjoying the sun and wearing shorts.
But, really - is it any wonder that my poor linear thinker is confused by it all?