Families. Oy! Am I right?

Easter is one of these holidays that has completely lost its main message. Or really, I guess it’s moved back to it’s original meaning: “YAY SPRING!” And that I can get behind. Matt and I were going to take credit for Jaden’s easter basket because, shoot, why should some giant bunny get credit with it’s really just a spring celebration? OK, that makes as much sense as Santa which we totally get behind. But it made sense Saturday night when we were putting Jaden’s basket together.


Jaden ruined our plan by seeing her basket and exclaiming in disbelief and wonder: “The easter bunny came!!”

We couldn’t take that magic away. As stupid as it is. So we just went with it. She opened all of her little plastic eggs to find the candy and little presents (giant purple gem ring that’s too big for her little finger, a giant bouncy purple die, some new socks) that were nestled in the shiny grass under her “larger” gifts of a Styrofoam sword and airplane, a “grow it yourself” sunflower than came with its own dirt seed and metal pail, little frisbee and Tinkerbell jump rope. We kept it simple this year. It’s friggen easter, for crying out loud.

Then Matt decided he wanted to eat one of the eggs he and Jaden colored the night before and discovered the dastardly bunny stole them! That tricksy rabbit hid them too!

“We’d better go downstairs and look for them, Jaden!” He exclaimed all urgently.

“No, daddy! That’s an outside game!” she scowled. I swear she knows the stupid bunny is bunk but she’s playing along for our sake. Really, who’s playing who here?

“Well, let’s check downstairs and if they’re not there, we’ll look outside.”

Wouldn’t ya know: all the eggs were downstairs.

After the egg hunt, I cleaned the kitchen and prepared 40 deviled eggs (and managed to nearly double the required amount of garlic powder and onion powder. They were still delicious.) while Matt took Jaden outside to try out her new toys. Girl needs to work on her jump rope technique. She swings it over her head and in front of her but then it just sits on the ground. “That’s ok, J, we’ll keep practicing with you.”


Easter dinner was scheduled for 1pm at Matt’s parents’ house but at that time we decided it was time to switch out Jonas’ car seats. Even with that whole craziness we were only 20 minutes late. We ate yumminess, people loved my deviled eggs and all the grandkids got spoiled with their easter baskets filled with small toys from Gramma and Grampa. Jonas finally has some shoes he can’t kick off and Jaden got another jump rope.


Then came the egg hunt. Oh man. That was hilarious. MIL has labeled all the eggs with the first initial of the kids’ names so everyone got an equal amount of eggs. There was lots of “Eleanor (or other child’s name)! This one’s yours!” followed by, “Let her (him) find it, sweetie, let’s keep hunting for your eggs.” It’s no fun hunting for eggs when other people are pointing them out to you.


After the hunt the kids played outside while the grownups chatted and played video games. It’s so nice catching up with Matt’s cousins. They’re all such nice people and we all have such fun with each other.


But we still had another stop to make so at 4:30 we packed up the kids and headed over to my aunt’s house, stopping at home to grab a diaper bag and the cake truffles Jessie and I made Saturday that I told my aunt I’d be bringing.

The ride to my aunt’s house is always full of tension because Matt and I are both dreading the potential—not potential, inevitable, break down after dinner when our kids are tired and Jonas starts crying because he wants to go to bed. We do everything possible to keep the kids happy so no one cries and my little cousin doesn’t get upset and freak out. And everything is fine and we get some nice pics of the kids with Gramma Barb and Grampa Dave and the cousins and Great Grampa but then the kids start getting tired and Matt warns that we’ve got maybe five minutes before one of them starts crying.

I should’ve listened. We all should’ve listened. We ALWAYS should listen but we ALWAYS think, “Oh, just five more minutes. It’ll be fine.”

It’s never fine.

One of the little kids always ends up crying from sheer tiredness.

This time it was Jaden who ended up in daddy’s lap crying quietly because she just wanted to go home and sleep. She told Matt that. She’s only said she’s wanted to go to bed three times in her life. She wanted a Wall-e toy of Matthew’s but he didn’t want to share so he yelled at her. I don’t know if he hit her then but she cried in Matt’s lap while Matt kept a watchful eye on Matthew.

Five minutes later we’d taken a quick family photo and Grampa Dave was holding Jonas while I got his jacket on him. He hit his head on Dave’s chin and started crying so I immediately took him protectively into my arms and tried desperately to calm him down while listening to the entire room try to calm Matthew down. Matt was holding Jaden in one arm and had his other hand on Matthew’s arm like a vice. Jonas stopped crying, Matt let go of Matthew to adjust his hold on Jaden and Matthew ran up and hit Jonas.


He hit Jonas on the arm.

The arm that was clinging to my arm. If he hadn’t been holding on to me I most likely would’ve grabbed Matthew and thrown him aside. My aunt tried to hold him down while everyone else told us to go.

Like we needed any persuading.

Matt grabbed Jonas’ bag and Jaden’s jacket and we all tried to leave as soon as possible but the front door is locked from the inside (to keep Matthew from running away) and we couldn’t find the key.

Picture your family trying to flee an easter dinner, desperately looking for a key while listening to an 8 year old shrieking from the other room: “The baby! The baby’s crying!” knowing that he’s trying to get away from their grip with every ounce of strength he’s got so he can come hit the baby. Your baby. How would you feel?

Panicked. That’s how I felt if you were wondering.

We got out (obviously) and had a very tense drive home. I was embarrassed and shocked and completely miserable for not listening to Matt about our time limit. All for a stupid family picture that didn’t turn out anyway.

Matt and I talked about how this can’t keep happening. How every family gathering is completely stressful because we’re always on guard, watching our kids like hawks, knowing at any second Matthew could snap. No, crying is not the only trigger. He’s hit my brother’s step daughter (who’s 5) two times now with no provocation. (I’m wondering now if he really had to work yesterday or if he just said that so he wouldn’t have to risk his daughter being hit a third time.) He’s hit other people and laughed and ran away while my aunt or cousin says, “No, Matthew, don’t do that. That’s naughty.”

They don’t discipline him. They just don’t. And I hate to make this comparison but it’s like having a dog around: you never know when that sweetheart is going to snap and bite your kid. It’s exactly like that only this kid is going to keep getting bigger and stronger.

I decided, once we were home and the kids were safely in bed and I was picking up the toys in the living room from that morning, that we’re not going to family functions if he’s there. We’ve tried, we’ve tried as best as we can but my aunt has to do her part. I know she’s got it hard, I understand that, I really really do. She’s almost 50 years old, she works full time and is a single parent. She has an older son, too, who’ll be 10 in August so she’s got a lot on her plate. But we can no longer put our children’s safety at risk, which is something we do every single time we see them.

I called my mom and told her and she completely understands. My aunt feels terrible about it. Par for the course: We come over for a family gathering, her son hits someone, we flee (there is no other word for it) and she feels bad.

We’re tapping out.

After I hung up with my mom, I put my head on the kitchen table and sobbed while my friend hugged my shoulders. I don’t want to have to cut out my family but who do I put first: them or my kids?



5 Responses

  1. Ugh. That’s rough. I hope when we’re the grandma’s things are less crazy.

  2. Just wanted to send some cyber hugs. (((hugs)))

  3. um, you conveniently forgot to mention HE’S AUTISTIC!

  4. Way to take a stand against the mentally handicapped.

    This is why I don’t blog.

  5. You’re right. I’m the type of person who would “conveniently forget to mention he is autistic” in order to make me look out to be even more the victim. I’m sorry I honestly forgot to mention he is autistic and so some leniency should be given. In my defense, three years of leniency has been given. When my EIGHT MONTH OLD gets hit, I’m out.

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