What I Learned ...
It is unwise to load your children into the car the day after a stimulating Thanksgiving holiday and expect them to behave for 6 hours in the car (3 hours each way) in order to visit your grandmother at an assisted living facility, especially if she isn't feeling well and doesn't really feel up to interacting with them.
By the time we were in the car heading home I was alternating between deep anger and absolute despair. My grandma doesn't want to be there, I don't want her to be there, and right now I can't do anything about it. She needs far more care that we could give her at home; my dad even suggested that it was too soon for her to leave the skilled nursing facility where she has been since her stroke last August.
The anger ... I was embarrassed by J-Baby. He whined, he complained, he flopped his body around, he pouted, and pretty much did everything he could to show how unhappy he was with the situation. I am certain that in part he was picking up Grandma's unhappy energy and reflecting it back to all of us, but at that moment I was just angry that he would be so rude to someone that I know he loves.
It takes a very strong person to go against what everyone else expects, including yourself, in order to put the needs of your child first. At ages 9 and 10 I even expect my boys to at times submit their needs for the good of the family. On the right day this visit could have worked, but not on a day when J-Baby was so depleted. I remember the thrill of Thanksgiving and the gathering of family at our home; I worked myself to the point of vomiting each year before we ever sat down for the meal.
My goal for the next several months is to really work at making our home life and out-of-the home life match the developmental needs of the boys. As horrible as yesterday was it was a lesson that I needed to be taught; pushing children past their limits is unpleasant for everyone, children included.