Hooray! We've officially graduated from three different pickups until the kids are in 5th, 7th and 9th grades! Oh yeah, and Julian finished preschool too.
I've really been looking forward to this; Julian's been preparing for weeks, but he wasn't nervous or anxious or anything, he took it all in stride. His wonderful preschool did a typically very well-done little ceremony.
First the procession.
Then the songs.
And the very proud happy parents!
(A friend took photos of me and Dave and Julian together, but I don't have them yet. Julian was VERY happy to have both of us there.)
Then a class trip to Pump It Up, an inflatable play-place. We've been there many times before, but this time, the big attraction was air hockey. Julian loved it! He couldn't quit jumping up and down.
I realized well into it that some parents had paid to activate the air, and that Julian was dominating and not letting the kids whose parents had paid have a turn! In fact, while he taking over and ignoring requests to give other kids turns, his mother was just filming video and smiling at him, the nerve!
Later, I paid for a round, played a bit with Julian, then insisted he give other kids a turn. There's air hockey in our future, I couldn't believe how happy he was playing this. I think it's a blast too.
But despite all that, I think Julian's favorite part of the day was getting to play quietly at home in the afternoon with his new Lego Racers kit, and a new Transformers toy (hey I'm allowed to spoil him!) all by himself, no siblings bugging him, no parents demanding he clean up or do anything. In fact, Mom went down for an afternoon nap. It's always such a peaceful relief at naptime.
Other exciting events of the day: after talking with a friend who had a similar problem with her daughter refusing to use toilets away from home, I decided to try what she did, with success after some time: take Katrina to a foreign toilet every time we're near one, and insist she sit on it, even holding her down if I have to. The idea is that eventually, she'll desensitize or just get tired of the whole thing. I have to do something, I'm really frustrated by her holding us hostage with her refusal.
The campaign started today when I picked up Gabriel from the CDC, a place Katrina knows well. I warned her ahead of time we were going to sit on the potty there, to which she of course said "NOOOO!" She claimed to be scared, then went back to refusing when I was sympathetic but didn't buy the scared claim. I pulled down her pants, sat her down, let her go so she had to support herself with her hands, she started to pitch a fit....but suddenly stopped. She looked down, surprised -- whaddya know...pee!
I made a HUGE deal of it, and she was actually very proud of herself, telling the boys again and again, "I went pee on the big potty at CDC and I wasn't scared!" I'm going to continue firmly-but-kindly insisting she sit on every toilet we come across. Hopefully soon our #1 problem will then be #2.
Gabriel's turn. A repetitive rude sound from Gabriel got him removed from the dinner table tonight...that is, removed from the island to the dining room table alone. Whenever a rude removal happens, my rule is they have to sit and be well-behaved for 5 minutes before they can be excused. Gabriel was outraged and escalated, getting much much ruder ("NO YOU SHUT UP **NOW** MOM!!") and then started throwing food by the handful. I was furious and smacked him hard, which only made him madder, and it got worse from there. Dave suggested taking away his bicycle for tomorrow's Wheel Day, something he deserved but I didn't want to do (selfishly), but that threat worked well as the basis for a good-cop-bad-cop routine. I got Gabriel ready for bed quickly, no bath, telling him one peep out of him and he'd lose the bicycle tomorrow. This is no guarantee with him, indeed it's risky because once he's lost the bicycle we have nowhere to go from there. But he backed down, thank goodness.
Before I left to go out for coffee, cheesecake and chatter with my mom friends, I was shaking from our blowout. No one can rattle me like he can. As usual, 99% of me is furious with him, but 1% of me can't help but to admire his toughness. He is one formidable character, stitched together with iron.
But instead of going into a dark closet to cry it off, I faced him again. I went into his room, where he was sitting on the floor, stewing. I told him that he makes me very angry sometimes, and his extreme rudeness is never acceptable, but I always always love him. He spit back something about where he'd chop me up and put me, and I told him I understood how he felt, but I still love him. More insults, a little weaker this time, then I told him I had to go, and gave him a hug and told him again that no matter how mad he makes me, I always love him. I needed to say it more than he needed to hear it, I think. To my surprise, he hugged me back, gave me a kiss and told me, genuinely, that he loved me too. That kid...he's amazing.
Such ups and downs today. It reminds me how very very much easier it is to go to work. But easier is definitely not better.