Wednesday, April 30, 2008

4/30/08 Too safe?

I remember fire drills at school when I was a kid. Pretty exciting, actually, and a great way to get out of classes and hang out with friends.

How things have changed. An excerpt from a notice we got today from Gabriel's teacher preparing us for a drill his school will be conducting:

Here is what I need to tell them: We are just practicing, in case there was ever a bad person on our campus that wanted to hurt us. Once the drill begins, it will last 15 minutes. We will lock the door, block the door from the inside with desks etc., as well as build a barricade that we will hide behind. We will then sit very quietly and pretend that we are hiding.

The teacher is naturally very concerned that some of the kids will be scared, and asks us to talk to them and prepare them.

This is over the top. Conducting drills so they're prepared for emergencies, know how to line up, where to meet, how to respond if there's a fire or earthquake or some emergency, sure. But barricading themselves inside a room and hiding? I've never bought the cliche "you can never be too safe," and this is why. This is "too safe."

Katrina...oh my goodness. Schizo-baby! Melissa reported two massive tantrums today, and we had one more tonight as well. These tantrums take on a life of their own....triggered by some ordinary event (having to leave a favorite play area, a diaper change), then persisting through more events and new reasons to throw new fits. Not even Gabriel had tantrums to this extent at just 18 months old....with him they started around 19 months (though his hitting problem was well-established by now).

Then when it's over, she's the happiest, cheeriest, funniest most playful little thing imaginable, giggling and bursting with joyful energy and being absolutely adorable.

Imagine if Julian had been my first, and I thought that's how all toddlers acted -- I'd be in serious shock right now! Another mom friend recently commented that her 2-1/4-year-old boy had "just started" with tantrums, throwing himself on the floor, for instance. JUST STARTED!!

This brings me right back to when I was in the exact same life as other toddler-moms, yet still in a completely different world, exchanging experiences with the same words, but speaking a different language. I know, because I've been in two toddler-worlds now. One is called Julian-Toddler-World and one is called Gabriel-Katrina-Toddler-World. A "tantrum" in each world is the difference between a gentle breeze and a tornado.

Speaking of Gabriel tantrums...I was upstairs resting this evening (I'm on day 3 of a "functional migraine") when I heard Gabriel screaming and crying, apparently having been physically removed from his new chess obsession by Dave, who'd run out of patience and gentle ways to wrest him up for bathtime.

I intervened, without looking like I was, by taking over Gabriel and talking to him while he furiously described his father's crimes. He wanted to make just one more move because the pawn....ah-hah, I had an opening. I asked how many squares a pawn can move. "Well, of COURSE, just one!" I drummed up what little memory I had of chess pieces, and asked him how a knight moves and which can move diagonally and how you queen a pawn and how many bishops you have. His enthusiasm and excitement were infectious, and I kept it going until he'd gotten over his fury. Then as I persuaded him to get undressed, we talked about word games and how we'd play Boggle together (sucker).

After about 15 minutes of genuinely delightful conversation with my bright-eyed little boy, he cheerfully went to join Julian in the bath, storm having passed. And for me, a huge reward: I overheard him tell Dave, "I was just having the BEST talk with Mom about games!" Then he added, "...and we also talked about YOU!"

It was a good reminder that as they get older, reasoning ability helps manage the vice-like persistence. Gabriel is living proof of my tantrumy little toddler's future, just as she re-lives his past.


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