It's always the same after Ex departs. I try not to pre-empt the situation, but the correlation between Daddy leaving and the boys morphing into children that I barely recognise is beyond any form of reasonable doubt.
The week started with Captain Underpants breaking his glasses during playtime. The school called me. I had that heart-in-your-mouth moment, where I thought, "Oh God, please don't say that one of them is sick and needs to be picked up early?" No. Apparently there had been a playful kerfuffle and CU's glasses bore the brunt of it. I wasn't even slightly irritated, these things are to be expected with boys. Truth be told, I am surprised the glasses have lasted this long without being smashed to smithereens, given the amount of rough and tumble that goes on.
However, turns out it wasn't just larks that got a bit out of hand. The next day the teacher informed me, in the gravest of tones, that Captain Underpants, typically a cautious, less physical child, had initiated a fight with one of his friends. Lunged at him in anger. Snapped and retaliated violently when a boy teased him one too many times. I cannot begin to tell you just how unlike him this is. How out of character. His brother? Totally. But Captain Underpants? Instigating a fight? I was stunned into speechlessness, which, believe me, only happens on the rarest of occasions.
At the time I was on my way to pick the boys up from after school football club. I was a little pre-occupied, following my conversation with the teacher. The football coach, upon seeing me, pulled me to one side. Captain Underpants had been causing such a rukkus throughout class, apparently, that he won't be allowed to attend football club if that type of behaviour continues. Endless shouting. Constant loud fake burping into other children's faces. Repeatedly pulling his shirt up and his shorts down whenever a goal was scored. Totally blanking the Ref/football coach and carrying on regardless.
I was completely and utterly mortified. And my heart breaks for Captain Underpants, just a little.
Oh, this situation is so hard on him. On both of them.
When Daddy leaves both boys are bereft and sorrowful. All they want in life is for their mum and dad to be together. And if not together, then preferably on the same continent. Emotionally, they can't tell their arse from their elbow when they are seemingly wrenched from their Daddy. It's so hard to witness them acting out their emotional struggle with it - and harder still to know how to help them, apart from cutting them a bit more slack than usual and making sure they quickly get back into their regular routine.
I know that this belligerent, hyper, uncooperative behaviour will fade after a few days. We just have to weather the storm and soon enough things will be back on track. The over-excited, ADD traits will fade and my sweet, loving, generally sensible-ish boys will return.
But bloody hell, getting through those days is no fun at all. For any of us.
Thankfully, today was actually a turning point.
This morning I was to attend an Inspire Day! at school with Captain Underpants. Unfortunately, the only thing I felt possibly inspired about, upon waking, was another 8 hours of sleep. I seem to have given myself a fake variation of jet lag, by staying up until 2 or 3am while Ex was here and waking mid-morning.
My body has not adjusted well to this abnormal sleep pattern.
It expects me to be on the way to the land of nod by 10pm, or thereabouts - possibly 11pm if I am truly living life on the edge. Any variation to the norm is greeted with a distinct lack of humour I have discovered, much to my chagrin. I won't be repeating that again in a hurry, let me assure you. In my experience, jet lag is only mildly preferable to severe sea sickness, and that is hardly a condition described as a barrel of laughs, is it?
I turn up at school looking distinctly green around the gills and with all the enthusiasm of a teenager being cajoled into conversation about personal hygiene with a parent. We are tasked with being Inspired! to make a board game, revolving around the theme of Transport, with our children. Two hours later and all is back on the road to being well with the world, with Captain Underpants.
The activity reminds me - and not in a good way - that I rarely, if ever, spend 2 hours of quality one-on-one time with either of my children...and that doing so is so much fun. Captain Underpants and I are not the best of teammates, admittedly. I am slightly too rash and impatient, impetus for his liking. He is a little too considered and thoughtful, verging on a daydreamer, for mine. I would like to say that I allowed him to take the lead on, what is after all, his project. And I can say that. But it would be a giant big fib. Thankfully, Captain Underpants is, at the age of 7, still tolerant of his (slightly) overbearing mother, plus a tad lazy, which worked to our advantage today.
After school we hang out with a new set of friends. I have to be honest and say that the behaviour I witnessed, during that 2 hour time frame, resembled more your average moshe pit than a play date with 5 and 7 year olds. I find myself being catapulted into a parallel universe, inadvertently taking on a professional alter ego as a bullish referee for this unexpected vertically challenged cage fight.
It. Was. Madness.
You rarely witness such mayhem, this close at hand, involving just a trampoline, 3 laser guns and a light sabre. I am pretty confident this chaos would not have ensued had the 'players' involved been a group of girls labouring over a book of Barbie stickers. I have not seen this many tears, tantrums and hysterics since watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey (if you're a fan, you'll know exactly what I am talking about).
The only saving grace for this particular play date was that my sons, by and large, behaved immaculately. This time it was Captain Underpant's buddy's turn to be the out-of-control, truculent, abhorent little
I felt for his mum.
As I heaved a big sigh of relief.
Phew. Not just me and my boys then.
Looks like we are over the worst of it. Until next time.