Saturday, September 15, 2007

9/15/07 Busy boys

Today, Gabriel had a "Chicken Dance" to perform at the Cupertino Festival, which changed our whole Saturday. For the better!

First difference, one I approve of heartily, is that I got to sleep late while Dave gave all three kids breakfast. Then I took the boys to swim class, while Dave stayed at home with Katrina.

Next stop: festival, in time for Gabriel's Chicken Dance. Apparently every elementary school's kindergartners were performing every 20 minutes, so we got to see Stevens Creek Elementary first.

To my surprise, Gabriel was sort of into it!

Once again, I was struck by how many kids seem to know him. One kid in particular amused me greatly by coming up to me and informing me that Gabriel wouldn't let him play with something at their kindergarten playground. I'd never heard of the kid, but later I got out of Gabriel that Gabriel had been spinning some gears, and four or five other kids wanted him to stop and Gabriel refused. I'm not sure who was right or wrong here, but I completely believe that Gabriel stubbornly stood up to a group of bigger kids. Including the little tattler, Ian.

After Gabriel and Ian's chicken dance, a mutual friend of theirs, Brandon, a first-grader, got Ian and Gabriel psyched to go on a big slide (separately, since it seems Gabriel and Ian have some animosity toward each other). Somehow I ended up waiting on line with Brandon's mother, Brandon, Ian, Gabriel and Julian. After a long, long wait, just as we were about to go in, we discovered that a parent had to go with any kid younger than 7, which all 3 boys were. Brandon's mom wanted nothing to do with this, but I volunteered to take all 3 boys down. Meantime, she would watch Julian....Julian?

He'd disappeared! He was right behind me 2 seconds ago! Great.

It's one thing to bail on a long line to look for my wandering son at a crowded festival if it's just Gabriel, but now the other two boys were counting on me too. I knew Julian hadn't gone far; he was probably just off staring at something.

Fortunately, Brandon's mother found Julian, who uncharacteristically burst into tears when he saw me. I comforted him while I got the boys to take their shoes off, 'cause we were next! I handed Julian to Brandon's mother, and he clung her her for the next 15 minutes.

I made friends with Ian at the top of the slide, by pretending that he made me fall when he jumped, then by taking him and Gabriel down together twice. (It turned out, a high school kid took Brandon down.) It was fun! Almost worth the 20-minute wait, during which I was thinking, "Disneyland, NO F'ing WAY."

I met up with Ian's parents (who are neighbors with Brandon), and ended up sitting for some lunch with them. Which, thanks to more long lines and an untimely potty break, ended up being pretzels. We talked about their school, and Ian's dad was clearly not impressed. His first complaint was about the lack of cultural diversity, commenting that the kids are 75% Asian. This didn't phase his Chinese-raised wife! (I knew what he meant, and have wondered on and off about the same thing: will our kids feel left out of groups of kids whose parents were raised in other cultures? Gabriel's classmates are mostly Indian. My guess is no; ultimately the kids will stick together as they get older.)

They also told me that half of Ian's class was moved to a kindergarten/first-grade combination class (that I'd heard of for the first time yesterday), and the parents weren't told anything about it beforehand. Their complaints were a lot like mine, mostly surrounding poor communication and a put'em-off attitude.

When we got home, Katrina was just up from a long nap, and having lunch. I had lunch too, fighting an urge to lie down and nap. Because: Gabriel had been consistently asking to go to the BMX park, and it seemed that tomorrow was not acceptable! And if we were going to go at all, now was a good time since Katrina was awake, fed and happy. I'd take her in the jogging stroller and move around the park taking pictures of Gabriel, and also keep an eye on Julian. I wasn't quite sure how it'd all come together, but at the last minute, Dave joined us, and that made it much easier.

And so we all trucked the ten minutes to Calabazas BMX Park, in West San Jose. Dave mostly watched Katrina while Gabriel rode around the popular easy course, and I ran around after Julian on the sidewalk.

Ok, this might be proud parent talking, but really, Gabriel is riding really, really well, and better every time he goes to this park. I'm especially impressed with how confident he is, given his size and age relative to most of the other kids on this course, and how hard he works, going around again and again. Of course, that could be because the one hump he hasn't tried yet is "home base," where they're supposed to stop and start.

Uncle Ronan, take note!

Gabriel was really tired at home, and went right upstairs to his room and tucked himself in bed. I think it's safe to say he was the only kid out there at the BMX park today who went home and cuddled up with a teddy bear.

Meantime, Julian was so filthy from a benign tumble at the bike park that I took all his clothes off and washed him. I didn't want him bothering Gabriel to get more clothes from his room, so he marched around in Dave's shoes in his underpants, thinking he was oh-so-funny. And he was!

Katrina has learned a new trick that delights her to no end: putting something into your hand. She loves doing this, making all sorts of goofy noises and faces afterward. Today she was so insistent on it she even took my hand, opened it, and then put a small toy into it.

It wasn't easy with Julian trying to interfere, but I got a little video of Katrina's new game:

She had one solid nap today, and that was it. Just one! I watched her carefully this evening, but she stayed in pretty good shape as we entered the too-late zone for an afternoon nap.

She's in that stage of wanting to pull things off shelves and out of drawers -- even my challenging train cake pan.

I'd wanted to look for someone to help us today, but it turned out, we didn't need any help. It was a different day for me, because while I was on kid duty all day, I wasn't on baby duty all day. I got to spend a lot of truly fun time with the boys (swim class, festival, bmx park), doing little-kid things instead of baby things. To my surprise, little-boy things refreshed me for baby things again, and I relaxed and enjoyed hanging around on the floor with Katrina while she crawled over me and tried to put things in my hands. Maybe all we need to fix weekends is a better balance of boy/baby time for both me and Dave. It couldn't be that simple, could it? Well, it was today, and I'm glad for it.


p.s. Some BMX park photos:

Gabriel on the whoop-de-doos, Julian looks on.

On the right in this photo, an unusual sight: a girl. The only one we saw riding on the BMX course. She bumped into Gabriel when he was stopped waiting for a crash to clear and knocked him over!

Catching a little air.

Hot kid! Red and sweating, he worked hard.

The boys together on a paved path around the park.

Here you go, bro.

The wheeled Doudna clan. Will Katrina join her brothers on two wheels someday? I'm getting the feeling that BMX'ing isn't a girl thing!

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