Ringing In the New Year With Bumpers For All

Time Log:  Year:  2017/ Day:  1/   Mantra Learned:  Bumpers For ALL!

As a family we rang in 2017 in our new home, in a new city, in the new state that we now reside.  Spirits were high although exhausted from the move.  Kids appeared to be acclimating well and we were anxious to explore our new town.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

On New Years Day we decided to go bowling.  It seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about the locals, get a taste of the downtown area, meander past the shops… and most of all have FUN.

 

So, there we are fitting-on our funny shoes, testing ball size and weights, entering names into the computer to keep score.  At first things were going well.  We were laughing as we threw gutter ball after gutter ball, fist- bumping the person who actually knocked down a few pins and in awe of the occasional spare or strike.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Then it happened.  The break-down of my oldest son.  From all accounts, it appeared as though he was frustrated with his bad bowling ability, declaring that “he didn’t want to do this anymore”, ripping the clown shoes off of his feet and stomping away in anger.  Hesitantly we gave him a moment to cool down, assuming he would return eager and ready to play again.

This did not happen, and, in fact when we forced him to return from the arcade and “be a part of the family, damn it!”, he broke down crying.  We ensured that the bumpers would go up when it was his turn, but that only caused more anger.  In the middle of the alley with other happy, jovial families surrounding our bad parenting moment, he cried harder… making it impossible to mask our mistake.

As the mother, I glanced around wondering what type of impression I was making on my “soon to be” new neighbors.  As my husband glanced around, he gauged the cost of the activity and the “money wasted” if Jack did not continue to play.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

We soon came to find out that as Jack glanced around minutes earlier, it was not his score or the amount of gutter balls that gave him pause,  but rather the companionship of friends that he missed.  It had hit him all at once, watching other peoples friends engage in nachos, pizza and laughter.  He had just moved away from everyone he knew… every connection that had defined his life… every friend he had made thus far.

When we had the bumpers “go up” on his turn it only solidified in his mind how different he was from everyone else in that bowling alley that day. Not in ability or strength, but in loneliness, separation and fear.

Later we processed through his feelings together and, although it was sad and overwhelming him with anxiety, he worked through it.  He told us that the bumpers should have been up for everyone.  He continued by saying that he had not expected his emotions of “the move” to get the better of him that day.  His intention was to have fun, just as we had set out to do… but things pop up… things trigger us… and it cannot be controlled.  Perhaps if the bumpers had been up for everyone, it may have cushioned the blow a little bit.

Fast forward a week later, as we sat down to a long and grueling game of RISK.  The participants ranged from an avid player, a 10 year old and a mother with very little interest  (yes, that was me).  As Jack and my husband discussed how detailed the rules should be (which would have clearly been way over the head of our 10 year old, as well as mine), I looked across the table and said “Bumpers for all, right?”

They both looked at me quizzically at first and then they smiled.  “Bumpers for all!”  they exclaimed as they adjusted the rules.   This made the game easier for the youngest player, more palatable to me and helped us all achieve our initial intention… to have FUN.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

As we unpack each box and recreate a new life, we are doing it together. We are all we have for each other right now.  Eventually new friends will be made and the concept of “transition” will be in the past.  There will be moments that trigger each individual in the realization of what they have lost in “the move”.  These moments will take us by surprise and cannot be controlled, yet as parents we must prepare for the eventual breakdowns and ensure that the bumpers are up for us all!  After all, we are not alone in this experience and no one needs reminders as to how different and unfamiliar they may feel.

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