I love how this photo looks like we’re holding hands, but really I’m pushing his hands away from the phone. He’s a bit grabby.
Charles has had a really tough time with me leaving lately. When I drop him off at school, he whines and hides behind me and clings and tells me, “I hate school! Don’t go, mommy! I want to go to work with YOU!” Or when I go to my Rotary meeting Wednesday mornings, if he’s awake, he begs me to stay: “Don’t go to your meeting, Mommy, I will miss you!” And when I pick him up from school he always says, “I’m happy to see you, Mommy! I missed you today.” It’s enough to break my heart.
(Thankfully, all reports indicate that within 30 seconds of me leaving the building, he is happy and excited and goes on to have a wonderful day. So. I don’t feel too badly about leaving him.)
In a sheer “duh” moment, Tony and I realized that in the past year, Charles has had to give up being number 1 in our lives. He has had to cede his place as the baby to the new baby, learn to share his toys, share his space, and share the affection of those around him. It’s been tough for him. Do I have to tell him, frequently, “Yeah, honey, I will happily read you a story, but I have to feed baby James/change Jamie/wash the baby, etc”? Yes, yes, I do. In addition to saying, “As soon as I finish brushing my teeth/putting away the dishes/feeding the dog/folding the laundry, etc.” So, we decided that we would spend some one-on-one fun time with each of the boys, every week. I call them Mommy Dates (though, by default, the other kid gets a Daddy Date at the same time. But Tony probably doesn’t call them that).
On Wednesdays, Jamie and I go to swim class. I don’t have a photo because, well, we’re in the pool, but it is fantastic. Jamie loves bouncing in the water, splashing around, chasing toys, and jumping (falling in a controlled manner) into the pool. It is a time reserved just for having fun, and not for having fun but also cooking dinner, or folding laundry, or writing an email, or cleaning house.
Does any one else do this? Spend time with your kids but not be 100% there because there is all this other work to do and someone has to make sure that dinner gets on the table and we are all clothed? I hate it, but I just can’t figure a way around it. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done. I have GOT to stop multitasking, though. These boys deserve better.
Anyhow, Jamie and I have a blast at swimming. And then we put on jammies and, for at least the next few weeks, we will join up with Tony and Charles at the All-Comers Track Meet afterward for a picnic dinner and to watch (help) Charles compete.
He wants to run races, too.
Charles, on the other hand, got to go buy some new jammies and have a smoothie with me on Saturday. And mood improvement? Oh, yes, we saw it immediately. Turns out that paying attention to just him for an hour-and-a-half makes him more confident and happier.
At Jamba Juice in Safeway.
So I think we’ll continue this in the weeks (years?) to come. One-on-one time with each kid. Make them feel special and like they’re the only one who matters for at least a little while. A break from the reality of a sibling and housework competing for mom’s or dad’s attention. A date.
On another note, do you want to see what happens when you feed an almost-one-year-old plain frozen yogurt (because that’s the kind I like, shut up.)? It was pretty dang funny.
Oh, good gawd, that’s sour.