Talking About It
I was trying to think of a name for this post before I started writing it (sometimes a good idea, but just as often it's better to wait until I'm finished), and Fat Boy Slim's "Won't Talk About It" is playing on my iPod at the moment, so there you go. I was worried about signing up for NaBloPoMo this year, especially with my full plate and the still-trying-to-keep-myself-on-the-upward-spiral situation (I've been mostly successful in, if not exactly staying up, then at least in keeping myself from spiraling down), but now I'm more worried about blowing my wad all on day 1 and having nothing to say for the next few days.
Anyway, what I'm posting again to say is that I did talk to the Beaner about the school situation before I blogged about it, but that it was bugging me so much I went downstairs to talk to him again. I know this is tricky with toddlers, but man, I was sad. (See above re: trying not to spiral downward.)
Luckily he and Aura were sitting in the big chair watching Diego, so I just asked if I could have Aura's spot. She quickly gave it up and went upstairs to wash dishes (thanks for that, Aura!) while I snuggled the Beaner. I realized pretty quickly that his entire attention was consumed by Diego, so I just went with that. When the credits rolled, I mentioned that I was sad about school still. That I wanted him to do well, get along, and not interfere with other kids' work.
"I can do better tomorrow, Mommy," he said.
"Really?" I asked. "You will keep your hands behind your back when watching others work, and not push other kids? If someone else wants to work on the same thing you want to work on, you'll say, 'Can I have a turn when you're finished?'"
"Yes," he said. "I can do that."
I smiled at him weakly, and he smiled back, much more broadly. "Are you happy now, Mommy?"
"Yes, Boo. It makes Mommy happy to know that you are doing well at school, that you're getting along with others."
Incidentally, one of the things I was planning to post about this week but hadn't gotten around to was our playdate with Sarah and the Goon Squad. Sarah lives close to my in-laws in Northern Virginia, and we went down for a visit last weekend, so we arranged to meet at a small playground near a Little League field. This is related to the above discussion because right when Sarah asked how I'd managed to potty train the Beaner, he saved me from having to try to remember all the advances and setbacks along that route by shoving Claudia away from the steering wheel attached to the play structure and making her cry.
He was positioned above my head at that point, which made it difficult for me to grab and separate him from Claudia, but I gave him a stern "[NAME]! Claudia was using that! You have to wait your turn!"... at which point he burst into tears. I tried to grab him from the slide side [see photo below; the steering wheel is just to the right of Ian], which is when he made the grab for his crotch. Visions of him peeing in his pants from the stress flashed through my brain. "How could you do this to me???" I thought frantically. "Sarah was just asking about my brilliant potty training skillz, and now you're going to wet your pants!"
Instead I said, rather urgently, "do you need to pee?" He nodded while continuing to wail. I said, "just hold on, buddy, we'll find you a bathroom. Hold it, please." I asked Sarah if there was a bathroom nearby, and she indicated that the square building a few yards away was my best bet. Good news: It did indeed have bathrooms on the other side. Bad news: They were locked. I said to the Beaner, "OK, we don't usually do this; it's only for real emergencies, and this is one. We're going to pee outside. Here, step over to this area, and I'll help you avoid peeing in your pants."
"Look," he said. "I'm peeing through the fence." Yes, folks: Mad potty training skillz *and* great aim.
Anyway, after I'd gotten his clothing straightened, I picked him up and said, "it's not OK to push people. If Claudia is doing something you want to do, say 'can I have a turn when you're finished?' Whether she says yes or no, step back and let her have some space. She'll be done soon anyway. OK?" He nodded, and play resumed amicably.
After this incident at the playdate, it wasn't hard for me to imagine the scenario involved when his teacher mentioned on the phone that he was having trouble with pushing. I also knew that the "don't push, ask if you can have a turn" message would be somewhat familiar to him, and I reminded him of the steering wheel dispute with Claudia to jog his memory. It's why this time I believe him when he says he can do better tomorrow; I know he has a frame of reference for improvement. I assume he knows what his teacher expects of him; now he knows what I expect of him, too. Hopefully my message is very similar to hers (or rather, vice versa), and that he'll take it to heart.
Before I leave the subject of the playdate entirely, I want to say what a fun time I had. Sarah was really normal, and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. I've been trying to think of a way to explain it that the extroverts in the audience will also understand, and "normal" is the best I could come up with. To introverts I would say that I didn't have to work to be around her, and they'd get it immediately.** (See stars for side story that just occurred to me.) She's totally down to earth, smart, nice, and funny. Her kids were a riot, too. There was a small dispute between Claudia and the Beaner over the wagon in addition to the steering wheel incident, but it was funny (at least to me) rather than stress-pee-inducing.
I can't show you the rest of the photos from the playdate because all three kids ended up taking their shirts off, and posting pictures of shirtless kids on the Internet is asking for trouble. (The photos are available to close friends and family only on Flickr.) It all got a little crazy when the Beaner spotted the ball field and said, "look, a baseball field! I'm going to need my golf clubs." Hilarity (and surprisingly few injuries) ensued when I got his set of 3 clubs (convenient!) out of the trunk of the car, and Sarah and I spent the next 45 minutes or so trying to keep enough space between the kids that nobody got clubbed.
Oh wait, here's one of Ian with his shirt still on, inspecting his driver for defects:
So bottom line here:
- Sarah: very cool.
- Playdate: fun.
- School situation: will improve tomorrow. crosses fingers
- Lori: easily-saddened introvert, prone to giving small children blunt weapons with which to play.
** The story that occurred to me was about MAX, where I presented four sessions this time last month, to the dismay of my bowels. My colleague, Kin, said that it was interesting to see the behind-the-scenes stress and then how I "turned it on" as soon as the microphone went on. He said it was like seeing a split personality in action. This may help explain better what I mean by having to work at it; I think I'm a decent speaker (not a great one, but adequate), but it takes an enormous toll on me emotionally and physically to get into my "on" state. Being able to interact with people without having to switch "on" is an enormous relief.