Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The inchworm

The word Keith would use for it is stubborn. He says it is because he is like me, and on one hand, I think that is the right way to look at it, but somehow it seems different to me as well.

Jack has always been his own person. You think you are going to have a child and imagine them into a certain way of being, but very often that is not how it happens. To some this can be a disappointment. I wouldn't say it has been, however, for me. It has taken some acceptance on my part and has led me to search for ways to parent the person Jack is instead of the person I might have thought he would be, so I guess in a way that is a very positive thing.

Since we moved here, we have been doing gymnastics. He has taken gymnastics since he was two in several locations, and he has always loved it. Really, it is just an energy burner, I am not expecting him to learn flips or leaps or anything of that sort. When he was two the class was pretty gender neutral, but the older he gets, the harder it gets, and then it seems, more and more geared toward little girls. He has always hated the bar at any gymnastics. When he was littler he would tell me it "hurt his tummy." Now he just refuses to do it at all. At his new class, they also do a lot of stuff on the beam. Since this was new to him, he sort of tried walking on it once. That was the end of that, and now he refuses to do it at all as well. So the last hour I spent at the gym watching him, he did about 10 minutes of stretching and warm-up, then about 5 minutes of jumping up and tumbling onto a block and running down a path. After that, the class spent about 20 minutes on the bars, which he just stubbornly shook his head a firm "no" any time they said it was his turn, and then 15 minutes on the beam, which he also refused to participate in at all.

I have always sort of had a hard time with where to go from here. I am tempted to step in and pressure him to try something that he might not want to do at first, lest he enjoy it once he tried. I know from experience that the harder you push with him, the harder he'll push back. So, I try to just not bother with it at all. I don't really care if he does it anyway, if I think about it like that. So I ask him, "Did you have fun at gymnastics?" He says, "Yes mommy." "Do you want to go back?" "Yes mommy." Well then, okay.

Yesterday was our first swimming lesson. It was interesting too, in the same way. He is very afraid of having his face in the water, and swimming is different from gymnastics to me in that it is important to me that he learn it. The teacher calls the kids over, and they get started without much fanfare. We had already done swimming in the summer and it had been a bit of a battle, and he had been in quite a battle of wills with his teacher then too. This time, the teacher tells him flat out, "Look, if you don't want to do something, you don't have to do it. Just say no and that will be the end of it." I raise my eyebrows, knowing my son, but sit back to watch. Two of the six kids can already full on swim underwater from the beginning. When it comes his turn to put his face in, he won't go for it. The teacher handles it well, asking him twice then moving on. Then the kids are supposed to push off from the wall underwater and swim about 5 feet. No dice. Next is the back float. He hates that too and I'm expecting another refusal. Timidly, he reaches for the man, and does a great attempt at a back float. I'm surprised but happy with this small concession.

This is the kind of progress that gets made with him, and the kind of slow going that has to be celebrated. You have to keep your eyes open wide, or you might miss it altogether. But, when it comes so rarely, the joy you feel about the littlest accomplishments can be amazing. It's only one back float, but it's a step.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras

Sam is obsessed with some Mardi Gras beads that he found in our neighbors' garage. He flips out if anyone else touches them and he wants to wear them ALL THE TIME:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Umm, yeah

I think we need to start having a regular "Umm, yeah" column here on Raising These Crazy Boys with all the weird stuff my kids do.

This morning, I told Jack he needed to take a shower. They have been preferring to take a bath in our bathroom lately in the big bathtub but I didn't feel like dealing with that so I told him to get in the hall shower, in his bathroom.

Some weeks after we moved here I started noticing that the hall bathroom that Jack uses smelled like pee. This isn't all that surprising since Jack is male and four, I figured he was just not aiming too well. I went through the usual suspects, cleaning the toilet, washing the bathmat. None of that helped, so one day last week I was going out for a while and I asked Keith to mop the floors and he mopped that bathroom. It is made of like real rocks but the mopping seemed to help and I forgot about it for about a day.

Then a few days ago I realized it still smelled bad in there and it was really strong. I didn't know what else to do but was thinking maybe it was because of the rocks, like they were holding the pee in or something. I was baffled but weighing my options.

Back to this morning, I go to put Jack in the shower in there. I pull back the curtain and look in the bathtub. Obvious dried pee is in the tub and in more than one place.

Me: "Jack WHAT THE HELL, MAN?" Ok, ok, I didn't really say that but I wanted to.

Me: "Jack did you pee in this bathtub."

Jack: "Yes, mommy, I really did, that is the truth."

Me: "WHY??????????????"

Jack: "I don't know mommy, I just did pee in this bathtub."

Me: "But the toilet is RIGHT THERE!"

Jack: "Umm, huh."

Me: "Please, Jack, Don't Do This Anymore. This is very gross."

Jack: "Ok, mom!"

I don't know what planet these guys come from except for planet male.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Junk Food

As you all know, we are on a program to get Jack to eat healthier and also eat a larger variety of food.

When I picked him up from school today he happily said, "Mommy I have chocolate AND a lollipop!" and Mrs. Flatt, his teacher, said "Yep, they are really treated out today!"

The whole way to lunch he begs me to eat these things. I say no, we are about to eat lunch.

I took him to the Pizza Inn buffet before gymnastics. So, first I got him some stuff from the salad bar that he eats (cheese, pineapple, honeydew). He tasted each on his own and then did his classic move where he brings his shirt up to cover his mouth and said that each one was "yucky."

On my second trip to the buffet, I got him some plain noodles, which he will usually eat, and a breadstick. He ate most of both of those but said he didn't want more and was still hungry. Though we were at a pizza buffet, he doesn't like pizza at all and I decided not to press it.

On my third trip to the buffet, I got him some club crackers and some saltines. He loved these and asked for more.

While I am finishing my pizza he asks to taste this piece of chocolate chip pizza, and I reluctantly agree even though I have already told him we could walk to Checkers and get a chocolate shake to waste the rest of the time.

He tastes the chocolate chip pizza but doesn't like it.

We walk over and get the milkshakes, which I know he loves. As we are walking back to the car he says to me, "Gosh mommy, you are just ALWAYS trying to give me all this junk food, and it is just not healthy for me."

Sure I am, Little monster :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brother Factor

At Chick-Fil-A

Jack (frantically looking around the table): Mommy, where is SAM?

Me: In the playground [this is about five feet away but through a glass wall]


Me: Yes.

Jack (Looking at his food longingly, then back at me): Well can I please go keep him safe for a little bit?

Me: Sure buddy.

Lucky little guy, that Sam Mike.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The case of the pillow case

What do you think happened to this pillow case?
a. I washed it so much it started to unravel on the sides
b. It got tangled on the washing machine agitator and thus frayed
c. Jack cut it with his "snissors" and I just didn't notice til after I washed it and put it back on his pillow?
After school, I presented him with the evidence.

"Jack, did you cut this pillow case with scissors?"

"No mommy."

"Jack, I am not angry. Tell me the truth."

"The truth is no, mommy." Door closed.

-two minutes elapses-

Door opens.

"Mommy, I like the pillow this way."

"So, JJ, did you do that to the pillow?"

"DON'T BE ANGRY!!!!!!!!! I like it like this?"

"I'm not angry (totally even voice, don't care at all). I just want you to tell me."

"I cut that with snissors, mommy."

Wow, so surprised.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Feeding Time

Jack doesn't eat too well. It is another one of those typical complaints about toddlers. With Jack, we have never been through one stage that people talk about being problematic and then just got of easy there. Like, it isn't like potty training him wasn't that bad, or like he was always calm, or he slept well as a baby, or wasn't an aggressive two year old. Every stage with him is a battle, and that is just his personality. So, the eating thing has been long standing around here. He won't eat any meat of any kind or any vegetables. He has a specific set of things he eats in rotation and eats most of the same things day in and day out. While this isn't necessarily unheard of for his age, it drives us nuts and we keep saying we are going to do something about it.

We have tried before. A few weeks after Keith came home from Afghanistan, so like last year about this time, we decided he'd eat with us or he wouldn't eat. For three nights in Okinawa we made him eat what we ate. All three nights he threw up. We made all the mistakes then that I don't plan on making now, like almost physically forcing things into his mouth. By that point he was so worked up that puking was almost inevitable.

Lately, Jack has chilled out a little. It was bound to happen eventually, we only had to wait 53 short months for it. When we moved to Charleston we decided that we had to also nip in the bud the whole sleeping outside our door thing. We spent about a week making him sleep in his room and now it is pretty much solved (OK FINE he does still come sleep on our floor almost nightly but not til almost 4 am, and who cares at that hour anyway??). We put him to sleep, he goes to sleep, we can do what we need to do in the evening. Light years better than tiptoeing around him. We had already said that we wanted to get him to try to eat a little more normally too, so we decided it was about that time.

This morning we made up a chart with stickers and a rule chart for dinner and went over all of it with him. Right before dinner we went over it again. You aren't getting separate food from us. We are all eating the same thing for dinner. You can't call anything yucky. You don't have to like any of it but you have to taste it all. The sticker system is that he gets one for not whining or having a fit and another one if he tastes everything. He is REALLY into the sticker thing right now from school anyhow so I knew he'd like that. Rewards have always been motivating for that little tyke.

Alright, Dinner. I was almost sweating. We cooked some Korean rice dish, so we didn't even start of with something cheating like sandwiches or chicken nuggets. He eats rice, so I thought that was at least a small provision. We gave him rice, a tiny bit of the pork and onion in sauce mixture, and a piece of blueberry banana bread. Even sitting down he is in a remarkably good mood even though he seems to understand he has to eat this food that would have elicited a fit any other time I can think of.

He eats the bread and loves it (easy peasy). He eats the rice and makes a mess (no shock). He asks for regular chocolate (chocolate milk). We give it too him holding our breaths and determined not to pressure him about it. I say nothing. Keith cuts him a piece of onion and encourages him to eat it. He frowns and puts it in his mouth and swallows it, drinks the milk. Umm, WHAT?

Next, the pork. He thinks it is chicken, we don't correct him. He isn't happy about eating it at all, is hemming and hawing. I ask to be excused as incentive and leave for a minute then come back. We try to just hang out without making it obvious what we are waiting for as we know that will make it worse. He still isn't really complaining more than a general "I'm not hungry anymore. Really mommy. I don't want dessert."

We stick to our guns. Taste everything.

Maybe 5 minutes pass. Possibly 10.

He eats a (small) piece of pork. He doesn't gag. He drinks the milk.

"We are so proud of you buddy."

"Can I have my stickers please?"

Alright. Who is this kid and where is ours? Maybe I just love four.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Keep Out

Our Jack has always been fairly tolerant of his brother's shenanigans, especially for being four. Sam pretty much worships him, and he not only deals well with it, he actually enjoys his brother a lot too. They play a lot just the two of them, and Jack will beg me to wake Sam up from a nap sometimes, or if he is eating say "Mom, I really think Sam is done now and wants to play with me." They fight over "stuff" a lot, you know, the usual. This is my toy, that was mine, I was sitting there, but I want to hold that. Really though, I still feel blessed to be on this side of sibling rivalry for now. The other day, though, Jack must have had enough, because while Sam was asleep he wrote a lot of signs and then posted them up around the house. He said that the one on the wall of the playroom said "Stop" and when Sam saw it he couldn't come in. He said the one on his kitchen said "Stay Away." I told him gently that Sam wasn't going to understand, but I still thought they were novel attempts at getting some peace around here from the human tornado.

My rain guys

Gonna go out there dude?

I love Sam looking up to the sky here like "What IIIIIS it?"