We had survived something together. It had bonded us as a group or so I thought. Turns out it was a temporary situation. Temporary for our youngest Little Hart.
When Raylan, me, Jax and Greta had travelled twice before Jax had handled the situation so well, it never crossed my mind that this might be a problem for Little Hart. I didn't factor in that she was four years younger and had never been with both parents for longer than an hour her whole life. Add to that the dynamic of Jax leaving, a relatively new relationship with her Mom and having her Mom all to herself without Greta's three younger kids. It was a perfect storm. A storm that I never saw coming nor did I realize the above factors as the reason for the storm until later.
It started out subtle, Little Hart responding with an edge and occasional biting comment directed mostly at Elle, occasionally me. As the comments grew in frequency everything in my body wanted to say to Little Hart STOP IT! Had it been just our family - I would have in a heartbeat. Yet with Greta there I felt restrained. Neither Raylan or Greta said a word. And I felt like my mouth was wired shut.
Later I expressed my concerns to Raylan. He downplayed it, attributed it to the girls "normal" dynamic - it would pass. Which made me feel even more restrained from saying something. We were all gathered there for Jax - I didn't want to be seen as the one ruining the trip for defending my daughter that no one else thought needed defending. So I kept it shut and felt like the worlds worst mother in doing so.
The night before Jax was scheduled to move-in to his dorm, we all went to dinner at a favorite restaurant the five of us had discovered over Spring Break in March. As luck would have it we had taken Greta there in May. It was now a "tradition" to eat there when visiting. When we sat down at the table Little Hart made a point to sit between Greta and Raylan.
Not long after we had been there Little Hart was holding both of their hands. At that moment, all of the dynamics came crushing down on me, why hadn't I seen it earlier. This wasn't Little Hart being a difficult teenager, it was a 14 year old trying to process to this situation emotionally. I'm not sure she understood what was happening. Little Hart had always seemed the most adjusted because she didn't know any differently - two families were her normal.
During dinner the tension seemed to disappear into laughter and conversation. Greta unexpectedly picked up the tab. It was a very generous, thoughtful gift on on her part. As we were leaving the restaurant, Greta and I were walking side by side. She looked at me and said words to the effect of - thank you for everything you have done for Jax. I have a strong feeling that he is very special to you and embraced me. It was a meaningful hug with tears flowing. Greta then turned to my Hubby and said something similar and gave him a hug.
All three kids were smiling ear to ear. It moved Elle so much that later that evening she said how much she liked seeing the interaction with Greta. Later we all hit the pool for a late night swim. For the rest of the evening the Little Hart seemed to let go of her feelings. She was happy and enjoying the evening, meaning we all enjoyed the evening tension free.
A strange man tried to pick up on Greta in the pool. Followed with Little Hart calling both of us Mom, Elle calling me Mom and Jax calling Greta Mom and everyone calling Raylan Dad or Your Dad - he left - finally. We all commented that he no doubt thought Utah - two wives.....
Bright and early the next morning the six of us arrived at the arena for Jax to check in and get his room assignment. Jax was very clear that he wanted to go in alone. We dropped him off at the door, as we pulled away to park and wait, we noticed a sign for parents. Greta offered to check and see if "the parents" were actually needed. When she asked the 19 year old coed manning the desk, she replied "NO, HE'S A BIG BOY NOW!" WEEELLLL ok then.
Check in for the Part 4 - The Goodbye on Wednesday.
Check in tomorrow for a Scene From An Airport.