So though technically I didn't have kids tonight, I gladly suggested I take Julian alone tonight when dad suggested some one-on-one time.
Lots can be attributed to beginner's luck, but Julian was all over it today, since he really likes feeling like he's getting special attention.
We talked a lot about his being the middle child, that he feels like Katrina gets a pass for being the youngest, and Gabriel gets extra privileges for being the oldest. Both of which are true, but I didn't get into why or how; I just listened and talked to him how he felt about those things, and how he could feel like he had his own "advantages."
Julian said he felt his anger was "funneled" into his misbehaving, or not concentrating, in class. I'm not sure I believe that exactly, but I totally took it seriously and talked to him a lot about his feelings, without once explaining or justifying grownups' point of view. It was tempting to say "well, when you don't listen, grownups do xyz" -- but I didn't. That wasn't the point at the moment. I listened to how he said he felt, asked him how he could feel better, and how he could remember his good feelings from tonight and apply them to classtime. He said many times how much he liked not having siblings around.
Julian himself came up with a strategy of practicing concentration on a flickering candle -- so I found a candle for him to practice on.
The first thing we did, however, was work on his next school report: a "how-to" report. He'd already chosen a project out of a science book he has, so we set up that experiment (how to make stalactites).
Then, believe it or not, I took him to the YMCA with me. He's been wanting to do this ever since he turned 9, which is the minimum age to enter the adult fitness center. He was all over it!
He even got some special time from a personal trainer, who happened to be a 3rd-grade teacher at another nearby school in our district. Perfect! I was amazed at how relaxed and happy he seemed afterward, gushing about how good he felt -- tired but alive. Exactly how I feel from exercise.
Cap that off with an extra-special yummy Pho dinner from a nearby uber-authentic Vietnamese restaurant (a new favorite of mine but only Julian appreciates it too), and it was a terrific evening.
Who knows if alone-time will help Julian's behavior troubles at school, but as he and I talked a lot tonight, it's a little like building muscle from working out: results are not immediate, but cumulative. So let's hope some more "Special Sundays" "Just Julian" time (from anyone) will help!
Gosh, how I do adore my son. Sometimes there needs to be a better word than just "love."