Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dinner Time Vignette

It’s 5 pm, any day of the week, and Charles and I have recently returned from a lovely walk/trip to the park/playdate at the Children’s Museum.  It’s time to make dinner.  I’m hungry, Tony will be home at six, and Charles, despite eating snacks (apples, crackers, cheerios, Pirate’s Booty) since 4 pm, is ravenous.


I pull out whatever I have prepared for dinner.  I don’t know what you do for dinner in your house, but ‘round here, the process invariably calls for actually cooking something.  You know.  On the stove.  And thus the drama begins.


Charles is a bit of a monkey.  He is curious and a climber.  Perhaps we should have named him George?  I, for one, just want to keep him alive.


By five o’clock, Charles wants to be in my arms, helping with the cooking, stirring the hot stuff, or he wants me to play with him, in the backyard, on the floor, in his room.  I try to set him up with pots to bang around, herd him outside to play with the dog, set him on his tricycle to crash into furniture… but what he really wants to do is climb up the oven and touch the stove.  He waits until my back is turned, chopping something or getting something out of the fridge, and he hoists himself up by the oven door handle to stand on the handle of the under-oven drawer and peer over the edge of the stove.  If he’s quick, he reaches out to touch something on the backburner before I can physically pull him off of there. 


Wash, rinse, repeat, again and again, the punishment more severe every incident, starting out more severe every night.  Charles first gets his hand slapped or his cheek flicked, along with a resounding NO! and an explanation that the stove is DANGER! HOT!  I know I’ve done it well when he cries, looking at me with teary eyes as if I was the one in the wrong here.  At the next offense, he gets a harder smack and is physically pulled out of the kitchen to other toys, something more interesting to play with (at least, I would think so - were it not for the need to feed my family, I would play with blocks instead) for a few blissful seconds.  However, within moments, he is back, climbing up underneath me to touch the stove, usually when I am at the point of stirring, not easily able to fend him off. 


This is when it all starts going downhill, rapidly.  Charles cries because he was told “no.”  I remove him from what he wants, which he does not understand is dangerous.  He cries because he got smacked again.  And then he cries some more, shrieking, throwing a terrible tantrum, wailing and beating his head on the floor.  Not to be distracted by toys, the dog, or even food to tide him over (you know, because after all those snacks, he is clearly starving), he is removed to his locked room for a timeout so I can finish dinner with muffled wails of abandonment wafting down the stairs.


He perks up immediately after a hug and a nose-wipe (on my shoulder, of course).  We go play with the dog and wait for Tony to come home so we can eat.


Every night, the same old story.



It’s tax day, so life gets dramatically better starting now.  No longer alone each night and weekend, I imagine my overall stress level when it comes to my son will decrease dramatically.


It’s tough for me to relate my relationship with Charles.  He is a delight.  He is a treasure.  He is a devil, a djinn sent to make my life difficult.  He is a monkey, an animal, a lovebug.  He is curious, and vibrant, and active.  When he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad, he was horrible.  Charles chews everything, exploring the taste and touch of his world.  Dog hair, toilet seat, bathtub, chair, grass, stick, shoe, other shoe, someone else’s shoe.  He pinches, searching out the feel and resilience of all materials, human, animal, or otherwise.  Food is squished through his fingers, cheeks are pinched until his friends cry and parents notice to pull their child away from mine, their glares letting me know that I should figure out how to CONTROL MY CHILD better. 


I know most moms (really, everyone I know) would give anything to be able to stay home or stay home more with their children.  I am embarrassed to say that I have steadily ramped up Charles’ daycare hours to the point that he has been full-time since he turned one year old.  And I am relieved.  I love it.  I love him, but I cannot stand to spend that much time with him, to be on my toes every day of the week, every hour of the day, working to keep him entertained, out of trouble, alive.  Oh, sure, the cuddles are amazing.  But how does one deal with a child like this?  A child who at 17 months is defiant, seeming to deliberately pick fights with me.  He DOES NOT UNDERSTAND the meaning of the word “no” – rather, he thinks of it as an invitation to rebel, to push the boundaries, to do whatever it is he is not supposed to do and see where it gets him (a smack or a timeout, usually).  Then, he comes back and does it again five minutes later to see if the consequences have changed.  It takes all of my physical, emotional, and mental strength to battle his will and keep the upper hand each and every day. 


I know that Charles will continue to be a challenge.  I know that the research on “strong-willed,” “spirited,” and “difficult” children states that they become amazing adults who are honest, hardworking, and dedicated.  I know that Tony and I have our work cut out for us keeping Charles in line and providing him with enough love that he understands that the boundaries are there for a reason.  I know that I love him and he lights up my life.  I wouldn’t trade him for the world, but I will happily pay someone else to teach him and mold him 8 hours a day so I can have some downtime. 


Plus, he truly adores daycare.  And all the kids know his name, it’s like Cheers.  And most of the teachers have degrees in Early Childhood Education.  And it’s safe there.  He’s love it there, too, just like at home, but with better toys and more kids.  And strict naptimes.


And I pick him up at the end of the day and he gives me a great, squeezy hug.  I put him down on the floor and he grabs my hand and drags me to the door, ready to go home.  Before bed, he grabs me around my neck and gives me a slobbery kiss, then beams up at me as if I am the most awesome human being on the planet.


When he is bad, he is very, very bad, but when he’s good, he’s amazing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Smooth

Charles’ Grandma Loris also sent him this super-smooth Easter outfit.  When he flirted with all the girls at the church nursery this morning, I’m sure they flirted back.  No one can resist a man in a suit.

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Just look at him; he knows he’s cute!


Happy Easter, everyone!



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Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Righteous Dude

Grandma Loris got this Sporto outfit for Charles – I almost wanted to find a baby basketball to put in his hands:


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Here he is after a particularly messy lunch:


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We visit the Children’s Museum pretty frequently – Charles loves it, and he spends most of his time in the sandbox or the Semi Truck Cab:


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But there’s also fishing, a crane, tunnels, and music, among other things:


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We’ll probably go again this weekend… it kills a goodly amount of time while waiting for Dad.  The only trouble is getting him to leave after we have spent an hour or two there!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sad Thoughts

Charles and I were going to leave a couple hours ago and head east for the weekend. 


But then Snoqualmie Pass was closed for awhile and though it is now open again, traction tires are recommended (the Honda has 4-wheel-drive, but the tires aren’t great – we were going to wait until next winter to replace them, since this winter was so mild.  UNTIL NOW.), and the wind is blowing at dangerous strengths.  Stevens is open, but with chains recommended, which means that traffic is likely going at 35 mph or slower. 


And, I’m just not comfortable going over the pass with marginal, good-enough-for-summer tires when conditions are crappy and my whole world is sitting in the back seat.


So maybe we’ll go in a couple of weeks and leave Tony at home to recuperate from tax season for a whole weekend (next weekend’s out, I have a commitment).  But that would be sad, too, wouldn’t it?  The first weekend we have together in months and Charles and I leave?  However, that might eliminate some of the clashes that will inevitably happen if we stay home; after all, it will be the first time I will have “backup” over a weekend in a few months, and I will probably get frustrated when Tony takes care of some long-overdue home projects and I end up entertaining Charles alone.  Again.  For the 12th weekend in a row.  It’s not that I don’t want him to help with the projects I can’t do or haven’t had time to do or need a stronger pair of hands to do, it’s just that I don’t want him to spend all day doing them while I struggle to fold the laundry or do the dishes or make dinner with a demanding child pulling at my pant legs.


What’s really awful about this whole situation is how tired Tony is.  Our leaving was going to be his chance to sleep through the night, to sleep in, to work through dinner without feeling guilty or drawn towards home.  Now, no such luck. 


I suppose we could leave tomorrow morning, but then the weekend is so short, and the drive so long, it almost doesn’t make sense.  And Charles would be awake the whole ride, rather than the ideal timing of right before nap that I had planned for today.


Gah, and I just found out that Charles is too young to participate in the local egg hunt, so there will be no egg hunt photos this year!  AND, all the stuff that I was going to take to Sarah’s will linger even longer in my garage, meaning that it is in my way and she won’t get to enjoy any of it soon.


And while I’m complaining… I have been eating salads, fruits, veggies, and lean protein for a month and I haven’t lost any weight!  I work out whenever I can, I limit sugar, carbs, and fats to a severe degree, and I am still fat!  Destined to be fat forever!  Never to be slender again!  I am so frustrated, angry, and sad.