Friday, April 21, 2006

Gabriel and Julian hunt worms

This morning, in an effort to fight fatigue and a relentless "blah" sick icky feeling in my stomach, and motivated by the Title 9 catalog non-models, I dug up my rollerblade skates.

Rollerblades?! Does anyone even know I have them? I bought them years ago, and attempted a few times to skate, but never learned how. I haven't used them since we moved here, but today, I put them on, put Julian in the jogging stroller (remind me next time to reverse the order of that!), and went for a tentative skate around our neighborhood. Ah, how good it felt to get out, wear a T-shirt on a sunny cool day! Skating is a lot easier with a stroller to hold onto. I still can't skate, but I was happy to find that I could skate backward, just as I'd learned in Gabriel's ice-skating class. Julian seemed to appreciate the faster pace in the jogging stroller, too.

When we picked Gabriel up from preschool today, a substitute teacher, Miss Rose, interrupted a phone call and her lunch break just to talk to me, to tell me what a good boy Gabriel was. She said not only was he very well-behaved, but he participated in class, volunteered for stuff, had good "listening ears," answered questions, and got a lot of stickers today. She seemed genuinely impressed and said he was one of the best ones in the class (almost sheepishly, as though she knew she really shouldn't say that, but could since I was the only parent there). That was nice to hear! In fairness, he's among the oldest kids in his class of 3's and 4's.

Teachers at Gabriel's school are routinely surprised to see my relief at his good behavior. They just have no idea how extraordinarily difficult he can be. Even nice teacher Rose said that with her 3-year-old son, who she finds difficult, said that taking away stickers pretty much reins him in. I'm used to this by now though; most people haven't experienced a truly defiant child, and good for them. Then again, teacher Rose's comments today may be the first in a trend: teachers may not often run across kids with Gabriel's attention span, either.

Gabriel is really thriving in his new preschool now, talking about his friends and mentioning things he does there or learns there. It's been great for him getting into more of a regular school environment, even though my hope that it would improve relations between him and Julian have been dashed.

One more comment on tantrums: Stacey mentioned at Coffee that Cassie, who's now 2, had a full half-hour tantrum the other day, and the other moms there were impressed. Not me, of course, and I commented that if a half-hour tantrum was noteworthy, then she really did have an easy kid! Stacey added, "Well, she is just 2." Another mom commented that ignoring tantrums worked best for her. Oh, if only! Gabriel was in full swing by 19 months, and there was no ignoring his 45-50 minute mega-tantrums several times a day. Even Julian has fits as long as half an hour, though happily it's not a regular thing.

Gabriel and Julian enjoyed some backyard time this afternoon, digging and finding "snakes." They were both very excited by their squirmy discoveries, and kept pointing out each new worm to each other, one of which was in some dirt in the back of the dump truck. Poor worms, exposed to sun and prodding...the ultimate sacrifice in the name of a childhood rite!

Spurred by yesterday's nap nightmare, I was very stern and direct with Julian today for naptime. I told him we were reading one book once, and he could have water before we went in his room, but that was it (asking for water just as I'm about to leave is one of his top procrastination strategies). He seemed with the program, but then pushed it at the end, requiring a countdown to get him onto his bed. Testing the limits, he left his feet off the bed. I failed that test, as he got another countdown (I should have stuck to the first one), he still didn't get fully on the bed, so I gave him a quick kiss and said "Good nap!" and left. I heard him crying about his feet still being off the bed, and completely expected I'd have to go back up to calm him so he'd take a nap, but after wailing strongly for about 5 minutes, he suddenly stopped. Then he took one of his glorious 3-1/2 hour naps!

I had some nice alone time with Gabriel during Julian's nap, building a wall out of MegaBlocks, pretending we were cranes, then taking a nap together. And then while Gabriel was still asleep, I snuck in a grownup snack of brie, crackers and apple, reading newspaper articles in full. Luxury!

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