Today was the first in what I hope is a new routine: before swim class, I prepare the boys' lunches, then we go to swim class, then to the Y where I set them up in their respective Childwatch rooms, then I go swim. Yay! And I did that. I had to cut my swim short for an initiation meeting with a fitness instructor, but I'm still so glad I got in 20 minutes.
The boys had such a good time in the Y's Childwatch that I had a hard time getting them to leave. They seem to think of it as a fun new playground. One of the Childwatchers said she was teaching Julian to read, apparently delighted in how enthusiastically he responded to a book with photos of objects with the words. (He certainly isn't reading of course, but he likes to point to a word and ask you to read it. Other than a pretty wide vocabulary his age, I doubt he's all that unusual, but maybe this lady really wants to be a preschool teacher.)
Julian has been pushing the discipline envelope lately (Gabriel always does, but that's another story). A few days ago, he was being particularly disagreeable about going upstairs for a nap, fighting me every step of the way, resisting my grand efforts at making it fun and getting him to cooperate. I had to change his diaper, and he fussed and screamed about his pants coming off, tried to keep me from taking off his diaper, and generally was being very aggressive and difficult (with a pretty nasty diaper, I might add -- he needed to be still!). Then he took to trying to kick me, and I'd had it: I smacked his knee with my hand, and said sternly, "That's ENOUGH! No kicking!". He screamed in surprise and pain, kicked me again, and got smacked again. This time, he cried in pain and sadness, and immediately capitulated and asked for hugs, which he got, for a long time. After that, he was peaches and cream, sobbing just a little, but being very cooperative. By the time I took him into his room, the storm had passed and he was his delightful self again.
Now, I know the anti-spanking advocates would say that I should instead have firmly told him, "We don't kick!" but really. I get asked from time to time "Do you spank?" as though I would have some developed philosophy about spanking. I don't. Indeed, almost all my philosophies about parenting, if I have any at all, are entirely practical. I don't spank as a matter of policy, but I don't avoid it as a matter of policy either. And it's pretty hard to ignore the practical effects of cutting short a nasty, out-of-control behavior rampage. There's no question that an occasional well-placed smack curtails a long, drawn-out, painful episode with Julian, making it easier on all of us, even him. (Gabriel....forget it. See previous reference to "practical.")
Today Julian went down for a nap without much drama. I checked on Gabriel, told him I was going to take a nap, and went to lie down. I can't believe how tired I am in the afternoons, and how physically impaired I already am from my burgeoning tummy -- and that's at only 21 weeks along! After a pretty good snooze, I woke up and recognized the usual silence: Gabriel had gone to sleep.
I looked quickly around downstairs and didn't see him, and figured he'd gone upstairs to his room. So I had a snack and read the paper, did a few things in the kitchen...then noticed the oddest bulge under the slipcover on family room couch. I guess Gabriel had been stuffing things under there, I wonder what...so I lifted it up and found -- Gabriel! He'd curled up under the slipcover and gone to sleep! I'm glad I noticed that before checking his room and finding him absent -- I'd really have wondered where he'd gone! That kid naps anywhere.
Later, after dinner, Gabriel helped me make a pumpkin buttermilk pudding (yum!). I'm getting better and better at giving him baking tasks, and he can "help" me with just about every step: buttering the pan, pouring dry or wet ingredients in (I help him measure though), mixing -- he's even learning to crack eggs. He gets a huge kick out of this, and I like it too, it's a nice way to spend time together.
Meanwhile, I could hear Julian singing in the living room, and checked on him after we'd finished the pudding. Julian was engaging in a very Gabriel-like activity: lining pillows up on the floor! I think he was imitating the docks he'd seen when we went pedalboating. The boys had fun walking along the pillow-dock. I still haven't had the heart to put the pillows away, it's so cute.
A challenging day with them in many ways, but a full and rich one.