Tuesday, May 30, 2006

5/30/06 Gabriel picks a strange place for a nap

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.


Monday, May 29, 2006

5/29/06 Gabriel and Julian pedal a boat

Today we went on a surprisingly rare family outing. Somehow on the weekends are always too busy around the house, or I take the boys somewhere without Dave on Sundays. But today on a holiday Monday, we went to Shoreline Park in Mountain View to take a "pedalboat" out onto the sailing lake.

I'd seen this in April when I took the boys to Shoreline just to check it out, and today was perfect to actually go out onto the lake. It was a slightly breezy day, sparing us from what could be a very hot time out there.

Except for the parking lots, that is. Packed! Shoreline is a popular place. Once we found a place to park, it was smooth sailing from there.

It was fun! For $16, we rented a boat and lifevests for an hour, and pedaled around Shoreline's manmade sailing lake. We saw lots of other boats, including windsurfers and a sailboat that a man and his young daughter had capsized.
Julian was afraid at first, but once he got to hold the steering wheel, he relaxed. Gabriel was excited from the beginning and also liked steering and trying to pedal (he couldn't reach very well). We watched some windsurfers zooming by, looked at a few birds, rescued a hat for another family, then pedaled back to the docks.

What a great way to spend a holiday afternoon.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

5/28/06 Gabriel and Julian go to a pool party

Today we went to a Memorial Weekend (since it wasn't actually Memorial Day) pool party at the house of one of Dave's coworkers. They have a beautiful house in Los Altos, with a pool and hot tub in the backyard, and kids welcome. Gabriel helped me make pumpkin bread to bring (he loves to help me bake), and we arrived around 12:30 for the party.

It was chilly and windy the day before, but today was pretty nice. We got the boys ready to get in the pool, but didn't let them in until I was ready too. It's times like this I'm so glad they've had swim classes, because they're comfortable and happy in the water, and I'm very in touch with their abilities and dangers. So, I hung out next to the pool watching them while they played at first, then later got in myself to play with them. Gabriel wasn't allowed onto a big floatable dinosaur until he demonstrated that he could swim across the short end of the pool, and he passed.

One time, before I was in the water with them, Julian stepped off into water too deep for him, and I saw right away that he wasn't going to get back on his own, but I also knew how much time he had. He took about 4 breaths while I got to him and pulled him out, he coughed once or twice, then went on as usual. I think a few onlookers were a little alarmed, perhaps mostly at my cavalier attitude about it! Well, not that cavalier: at the time, I wasn't worried at all, but later that night, the image of Julian paddling to keep his head above water haunted me. Drowning is a silent death, and a few more seconds of that and he'd have been in serious trouble. Will there ever be a time in which my head is turned just a few moments too long? Not this time.

While Dave and I sat by the pool and watched the boys, a little girl got in with an inflatable ring. Dave commented that her parents seemed nowhere to be found, but I said a parent could be anywhere nearby, we couldn't tell. The girl was about 6 years old, maybe she was a trustworthy swimmer too. Inflatable toys in pools make me especially nervous -- kids can easily drift in over their heads and get into trouble. We weren't allowed to play on those truck inntertubes (and what FUN those were!) until we passed a swimming test. But maybe by that girl's age you stop being ultra diligent?

Well, it turned out that her parents indeed were nowhere to be found -- they were inside the house getting a tour. And, it turned out she couldn't swim at all and seemed to depend on the toy inflatable ring to keep her up. I was really shocked. If swim lessons have given me nothing else, it's much better awareness/paranoia of water danger than most parents seem to have. If the parents had asked us to keep an eye on her, that'd have been fine -- but let a 6-year-old into a pool, unsupervised, using an inflatable ring, and who can't swim, is really...well, unaware, I'll say. They seemed like very nice parents otherwise, I'm sure they thought she was safe, especially since she had the ring. Meanwhile, anyone who witnessed Julian's step into the deep would probably think we were the ones being too loosey-goosey.

To my amazement, Gabriel got cold first and then got out first -- that never happens! I found a water frisbee that skips nicely, and played catch with Julian in the water. His lips were blue and he was shivering, but he was having such a good time that he put up a huge fuss when we finally pulled him out of the water -- at 2:30pm and he hadn't had lunch or nap yet. Mom once said that we Berry kids were like that too, shivering and freezing but still insisting on playing in the water. That's-a-my boy! They had a great time at the party, and so did we. Very nice people.

Dinner has really gotten to be annoying with the boys; they're constantly making obnoxious noises, bad behavior, timeouts...we barely squeaked through Sunday night's dinner with things intact enough to watch Thomas the Tank Engine. But I like watching it with them too, so I'm glad they finally shaped up.