Friday, July 25, 2008

7/25/08 Julian's turn

We've had a bad dynamic developing with Julian for some time, in which he throws himself into a draggy obnoxious resistance to do mostly routine things: getting ready to go out, coming to the table for dinner, bedtime steps, and my biggest bugaboo, setting the table for dinner. Yeah, I give him plenty of warning, offer him choices, the usual warm-fuzzy positive stuff, but all that does is drag it out.

Tonight, his usual groanings of "I don't WANNA set the table!" were too much for me. Usually I manage to coerce him to finish the job, with numerous proddings, countdowns, timeouts, threats -- and always lots of peppery talk to distract him, praise when he does it quickly (or at all), no grudges held. But it's a struggle every time.

I'm feeling a lot better today, Katrina was -- dare I say it -- darling tonight, no grueling tantrums, so I had energy to tackle Julian. I told him that if he didn't start setting the table within a count of 10 (time to execute), then he was going to bed right after dinner. As usual, he dragged it out to the last number.

Boy, did he throw a fit while Dave set the table instead. "I WANNA SET THE TABLE!!!" Nope, go pee and wash hands for dinner. He tried to resist that too, but I told him, and I meant it, that he would go to bed now if he didn't cooperate. His reaction was almost worthy of a Gabriel tantrum, but with stress instead of anger. Screaming, hollering, jumping up and down, crying -- I actually enjoyed this! It was sinking in!

During dinner, he continued to cry and carry on, but I sensed it was short-lived and ignored it, talking with Gabriel and Dave about enticing (to Julian) subjects. No boy can resist poison-oak stories! He settled down and participated, but still injected sadly, "Do I still have to go straight to bed?" or "Why can't I have any playtime?" If we answered him at all, it was only to say briefly, "we're not talking about that now."

I did his bath-bedtime routine alone, and it went surprisingly well. He read a book to me (one of his "First-time Reader" library books), and accepted it when I told him he had to stay in bed now, but could look at books as long as he wanted.

I learned a few things here. First, I think he likes the attention of the constant cajoling and prodding for table-setting. Second, a lot of what I accomplished with his "early" bedtime was that he was getting to bed on time for once. This late sunset has all kids going to bed too darned late!

The struggles with Julian prompted me to order a book that someone on the 2004 Las Madres mailing list saw referenced in an article, and she'd tried some of the method and found it miraculous. I am awash in skepticism about any book that claims to tame the defiant child, as I never found any of the standard advice to work on my exceptionally defiant firstborn. But the standard advice often does work on the more typical kids, and Julian is. Indeed, it's almost more effort with him because things do work, so we have to try! I don't know if I can deal with referring to a chart for every step in a day in which he practices putziness, but I could use a brush-up on being firm, consistent and calm. Even if it doesn't work.

And while I still have low expectations for him the next time he has to set the table, I have higher ones for me.

Another park morning!

Katrina was too grumpy this morning to keep at home, despite her throwing-up last night. But at the park, she was actually pretty hungry. She asked me again and again in her tiny halting language, "moh wah...FOO? moh wah...FOO?" (more waffle) I couldn't turn her down. She stuck close to me at the park, but was calm, while her brothers played with old and new friends.

After an apple snack for all three at the park, we made a mecca to TJ's, and cocooned happily at home together for the rest of the day.

Despite Katrina's awful tantruming and fussiness, I'm going to look back on this week with fondness. I loved all the time we spent together at parks, doing....well, not a whole lot. We all needed that sort of time. Gabriel remarked today without complaint that today was going really slowly for him.

Back at the ranch, Gabriel was very proud of a Lego train he built. It's based on a kit, but he made some of his own modifications. He worked hard on this, barely looking up from his work for an intense hour. I've lived with this kid for 6-1/2 years now, but his focus and resolve when he sets his mind to something still astound me.

I grilled dinner tonight! I'm officially food-cool! Gabriel took this photo, hence the low angle and cut-off head, but at least he's a willing photographer.

Grilling is a man's world. The tools are designed for men -- the handles are all too thick and the tools too heavy and long (mine's bigger than yours....)

Even bigger news, I actually ate dinner tonight, for the first time in days. Dave says he's hungry but feels nauseous at the same time, so I had to ask, "are you sure you're not pregnant?" You might all be shocked to hear that he can be a tad high-maintenance when it comes to eating anyway.

But the best news is that Katrina passed some turds -- the solid kind that roll out of a diaper (ew, sorry, ick, but that's big news around here). She was back to being her bright, cheerful, funny self tonight. While we had dinner, she was in the family room by herself, shouting "ME-OW! ME-OW!" to pictures of cats. Hall-e-LU-jah!

I can't think of a better way to cap off a week "off" than with a weekend!


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