Sometimes, even after all these years, I still forget how tied difficult child 2's moods are to mine. If I'm having a stressful day, sure as shootin', he's going to have a bad day too. You'd think by now, I'd remember that little bit...that he feeds off of my moods. Christmas was wonderfully laid back and calm, once my parents and Rae got here. But an hour before, I was stressed to the hilt. It was the first time my father would see the house, and as you veterans well know...I'm always remodeling something. This house is still in the beginning stages, so to say it's rough around the edges is an understatement. We still have large areas of the house with no walls, new wiring hanging out of ceilings, old vestages still show here and there how nasty the house was when we started, etc. There's no central heat & air yet. We still have rooms with no electricity in them (because someone broke in and cut the copper wire out shortly after we got the house.) My father's the type to say "why don't you just hire a contractor and get all this done in a few weeks?" He doesn't get that the boys and I enjoy doing this stuff ourselves. He doesn't get that I'll spend a third as much, and incur no debt, doing things my way...which means I can spring for nicer kitchen cabinets, higher quality appliances, and all those cool little finishing touch design elements I wouldn't be able to afford if I hired a contractor. He doesn't get it. Heck, he has a handyman come out to put in new ceiling fans or replace the washers on his kitchen sink - something he could do himself in 10 minutes for under $5. He also thinks I'm crazy for moving out to the boonies to start a farm in the middle of nowhere. My low carbon beef ranch and green living plans, in his mind, are bordering on a hippy lifestyle. lol. Needless to say, knowing the looks and the sideways glances, knowing the loving-but-still-annoying ribbing I'd get about the house, and the chops-busting I was in for, the last hour or two of getting things ready for them to come had me stressed to the hilt. Add in that we were running an hour or more behind picking up Rae, which meant my parents waiting at the hotel until we got back, and yeah, I was stressing more than I should. Even realizing that I was doing that whole worrying needlessly about parental approval thing, I still stressed. And sure enough, difficult child 2 picked up on it. Before you know it, we're in the midst of a screaming match as I walked out the door to go get Rae. He had himself a tizzie when I told him no, he couldn't dive into the food yet, we needed to wait until I got back and Grandma and Grandpa got here. I told him he could make a sandwich to tide him over. Nope, not good enough. He wanted to eat and eat NOW. Looking back, I know it wasn't that he was that hungry, he just needed to vent and got himself "stuck" on eating as his topic to vent over. I also realize that my stressing and getting snippy with everyone all morning is part of why he was stressing and thus needed to snipe back and get nasty. Luckily, by the time difficult child 3 and I got back with Rae and my folks got here, everyone was calm and level headed. There were no more issues the rest of the night or today. We had a lovely time with my parents and Rae. difficult child 2 even carried her around at breakfast for a little while this morning. (He never picks her up or touches her very often...he's always afraid he'll somehow hurt her or that "Fluffy" will stir up while she's around him, even though he hasn't had a meltdown like that in over two years now.) I'm kickin' myself in the butt in retrospect, for not keeping myself a little calmer Christmas morning, at least around difficult child 2. Not terribly kicking myself, but a little. I know we all have our bad days or bad moments...it's only human. But still, I wish I had handled it a little better, regardless. You'd think after all these years of dealing with difficult child 2, I'd remember that my stress triggers his stress - every single time. One of these days, maybe I'll find a way to break that connection so he doesn't feed off my mood so much. I don't have a clue how to accomplish that, short of him moving out and learning to regulate himself on his own...but I still wonder if there's not some way to start severing that connection now somehow...even if just a little. Oh well. At least it started and ended in that last fifteen minutes before I left to pick up Rae. It never got farther than "Geez, M. When are you going to grow up a little and realize that sometimes you have to wait your doggone turn for things? When are you going to stop with the what-I-want-now-now-now like you're still 6?" and him screaming "Why do YOU always get to decide when I do things!?" There was a time when an ugly verbal exchange like that would have resulted in an entire day of revolving meltdowns and violent outbursts. So I'm grateful for the progress we've made in the last few years. Just wish I could have a bad day now and then, without worrying over what difficult child 2's reaction to it is going to be. Sometimes, you need to just have a day where you can drop a good piece of china, have it shatter all over the floor, and be able to stomp your feet and curse about it for a minute...without having to worry about it setting off a difficult child and kicking yourself in the butt for it later. Ya know? But even with that, we still managed to have a lovely day, so for that I am extremely grateful.