I mentioned to Dave yesterday that I had to pull over on a fairly busy street in rush hour to switch the boys in the back of the car, since Katrina was screaming constantly from Julian bugging her. "Are you crazy?!" he said, "You let Julian ride next to Katrina?!"
Not today. Despite protests from Julian (as the middle seat is hotly contested), I insisted he ride on the side, and Gabriel climb over him to sit in the middle. Ahhh.. The contrast in peace reminds me of the zen state that motorcycle riders enter when hatches are battened down for a nice long ride -- earplugs in, sunglasses on, visor down, leathers all zipped up, full tank of gas, and it's just you and the sound of your engine and the wind to focus you on the scenery and the feel of the road, with your thoughts flowing and mind alive.
OK, OK, driving around with three children is still not exactly meditative, but the contrast was remarkable. What's that I hear? Oh! It's myself thinking!
Our little middleborn has been sort of a pain lately. Whiny, complaining, irritating. It's different than the family-freezing impasses that his siblings bring on; Julian isn't cut from the same cloth that Gabriel and Katrina are. In fact, I'll go on a small limb here and say that he's the most different one in the family -- a good thing, but it means that understanding him doesn't come as easily to us.
With Julian, when he's been acting out for a while, I do start to wonder if there's something in his life that's weighing on him. He says he doesn't like school, but he's never unhappy when I pick him up, he has lots of friends, doesn't get into trouble -- no low-hanging fruit there. It twangs my guilt strings ...maybe he needs more home time. Or more one-on-one Mom time.
I put off my endless evening tasks tonight when I found him playing with a marble game in his room, and sat with him and joined him. He wanted to build the marble ramps himself, but he was clearly glad I was there, so I just asked him questions and let him lead it. It was a nice time together, though I was aware it was on my terms and not his, and that's still not exactly what he needed. I wish we had more time together so that he can pick and choose our moments as he likes.
It strikes me again that in so many ways, they need me more now than they did as babies and toddlers. When they're all in school, I really hope I don't have to work. Babies need someone, but a 5-year-old really needs his mother. And father. Not so much his brother. And his sister definitely could do without him sometimes!