Monday, October 4, 2010

And to my amazement, it works!

Saturday morning, Kittyboy went to put his foot on the table during breakfast, and I told him no. Then I leaned over to him and said very solemnly - That's one.
He looked at me a little askance, looked down at his foot, and started to lift it again slowly. I told him no - and that's two.
He looked at me. He knew three came next. But what was up with counting right off the bat? And gee, Mommy sounded really serious. Did he want to find out what three was?
Apparently not, because he didn't do it again! (And three was going to be moving his chair back from the table).
It's a "duh!!" but when the counting starts the first time, rather than when the kid makes it apparent he's not going to do it unless you DO count, you get his attention a lot faster.

Massive improvement over "No feet on the table." "No feet on the table!" "Get your foot off the table!...1...2..." and he pulls it off right after two.

Friday, October 1, 2010

On the plus side...

We're learning more about whatever Kittyboy's dairy issue might be. Thankfully, we have an appointment with a doctor Wednesday who might be able to sort this out.
Kittyboy was getting 1-2 (sometimes 3) servings a day of dairy, no more than that, and was doing fine. After a WEEK of that, however - backed up again. Soooo - still too much dairy? After a week. Very confusing. Everything I read and hear of actual "lactose intolerance" says the reaction should be immediate, within an hour or so. We had no clue, we just knew that for potty-training to stick, he absolutely had to be regular. Went back to no dairy, period. I went to County Market one late night, read labels on everything, and came home convinced our lives were over, because lactose is in sooooo many things. It's in the flavor packets in ramen, for crying out loud. RAMEN. To say nothing of bread and margarine. And soy cheese is SO expensive. I bought a package of slices figuring we'd try them out for grilled cheese, but to substitute in everything that formerly had cheese? At roughly 32 cents a slice? And he would LIVE on ramen if I let him. Chili Lime Shrimp is our favorite flavor. Has lactose. Chili - Lime - Shrimp. What about that sounds like it needed milk? But it's in there, read the package. I was not a happy camper that night.
In the reassuring light of day, however, the next morning, I remembered something very important. I didn't read labels when we did our experiment. All we did, ALL we did, was not give him milk or anything containing cheese. He had bread, he had ramen. And we got the wonderful result we did, without removing anything more than milk and cheese. Why would we read labels now? All we need is to get him regular.
So we went back to no dairy again, which is where we are now, and he's regular again and doing REALLY well with potty-training. We just don't understand what the problem actually IS. But at least we have it solved. And Wednesday, we can ask what the game plan is. What do we do first? I'm thinking dairy once a week. We won't even tell him, it'll just be real cheese instead of Tofutti (yes, goofy name, but hey, it melts and he likes it!) in his grilled cheese sandwich. Then twice a week, and so on, figure out what the threshold is. There has to be a threshold, it took a week building up before it was a problem again. Right now, we're doing NOTHING, because we don't want to try ANYTHING. We see the doc - we ask our questions - we make sure we know what we're doing. And in the meantime, we need a calcium supplement, because the soy milk is just not going down easily, and I question the importance of fighting over it if we don't actually have to. He's being such a good sport about the whole deal. When he became constipated again, we explained what was going on - gave a word to the reason why he was crying so much - and that we think it's milk and cheese that causes it, and so he's not going to have those. This morning, we offered him toast and jelly for a second course at breakfast (he has a heck of an appetite now!), and he asked for cream cheese instead. We exchanged the look of "Now it begins, poor thing", and said, "Honey, that's cheese, and it might make you constipated..." "Oh. Jelly." Just like that. Looking forward to straightening this out so he CAN have cheese again.

When you're ready to scream...

... it's time to change your discipline tactics.
Kittyboy has taken to arguing every word I say. Every. Single. Word. And not just, "Okay, it's time for a nap now" followed by (tearfully) "It NOT time for a nap now!!" I was on the phone with my mom today and said something, I don't remember what, I think it was, "I'm so tired," and he immediately piped up, "No, I think you are NOT so tired."
This is called back-talk. Lip. Sass. Insolence. This would never have crossed my mind as a child, because the roof would have caved. I was not a model child myself by any means - I had a passive/aggressive strength of will you would not believe, and was probably the only child in kindergarten to already know the meaning of the term "insubordination" - but outright SASSING my parents? My mom and I argued plenty, but there were limits.
He's lost privileges, had things taken away, it's not worked. There has to be something swift and immediate, a system less forgiving, flexible, and easily played, than counting to three.
How about two chances to IMMEDIATELY comply, followed by consequence? This is what I found on 1-2-3 Autism Free. In Kittyboy's case, I say once no arguing, that's once. I say it twice, we have a consequence. I say once get out of that dirt while we're on a walk, that's once. I say it twice, we have a consequence.
I just need to find a consequence that could be consistent and work. This week has been horrible.

Friday, September 17, 2010

'Vapowation

I have to say I'm already enjoying this homeschool thing. It's amazing how many things can be "school" if you make them so.
We walked to the store and back, and Kittyboy noticed his shadow. I pointed out that it's on the other side of him from where the sun is, and told him that's because a shadow is where something blocks the light. Then our shadows disappeared! And we talked about clouds and how they cast reeeeaaaaally big shadows that block the sun and then we don't have shadows because there's no sun. Then the clouds moved a little and we had fuzzy shadows and I told him that's from diffused light, when the light is coming through clouds. I don't break things down well much farther than that, so he'll be learning the meaning of the word "diffused" through context. He'll be learning a lot via context. He did learn that although you can't catch your shadow, it is fun to try! He kept trying to catch it and stomp on it!
Walking back from the bus another day, he asked where all the puddles were, "Mommy, where all da puddles goed?" because a few days earlier we had walked home from the bus after a rain and he stomped in all the puddles on the way home. I told him there were no puddles because it hadn't rained, and the puddles that were there before had dried up, the water had evaporated. He can say evaporated now. As in, "Mommy, da puddles aaaallll 'vapowated up!" Yup, they 'vapowated up. So then we were reading "Sun Up, Sun Down" for a bedtime story, and after the third time through, when the book was talking about the sun heating the oceans and lakes and rivers, the water turning into vapor, and then condensing into rain drops (it's a pretty in-depth bedtime story), I told him the process by which water turns into vapor is called evaporation, and he equated it with the puddles 'vapowating up, and I asked him if he'd like to see that happening, and he said yes. So after we finished the book, I put some water in a pan, showed him the water level we were starting with, and put it on the stove. Then we read a book about bees, and then checked the water. I told him steam is water vapor, that's the water vaporizing or evaporating (his new favorite word) and then I turned off the burner and showed him how there was less water in the pan. That was last night, first thing this morning, Husband opened his door and Kittyboy came running out, first words out of his mouth, "Daddy, Mommy showed me e-va-po-wa-tion!"
And he points out his shadow, my shadow, all shadows, all over the place. Shadows and evaporation.
Cleaning the church this morning for a wedding was symmetry and attention to detail - he helped me straighten up all the bookracks in the pews. We went to Hobby Lobby and he wanted yarn, and is crocheting himself a hat (HA! I hold the yarn!) about six stitches at a time, which is fine motor skills. I'm crocheting a whole bunch of stuff right now, and he found red, yellow, orange and white yarn that he held in his arms all the way through the store, and all the way home. It is HIS YARN. He was bouncing up and down next to me at the checkout, "I will have my yarn back now? I will have my yarn back now?" I know you can make a hat from a rectangle, just fold it in half and sew two sides, and it's a square goofy looking hat, so that's what we're doing.
Bus rides are map-reading, directions and schedules. The grocery store is math. Although, I asked him where the arrow was pointing on the produce scale, and he enthusiastically yelled, "WIGHT THERE!!!" Why yes indeed. It is pointing RIGHT THERE. I love it!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And suddenly, progress... potty training!!

Possibly TMI if you're not a parent who's gone through potty training a boy and envisioned cement overshoes for the next person who says "Oh don't worry, boys just take a long time," or the infamous "No one goes to kindergarten in diapers." To say nothing of "This too shall pass." Even my mother, God bless her, has finally learned not to say that to me. I tend to become, shall we say, unhinged.
Some children do go to kindergarten in pull-ups. Not to mention, you want your kid potty-trained long BEFORE the first day of kindergarten. That's what, age five? Long before.
I refuse to believe that all boys always have taken well beyond the age of three to train, since I seem to recall the norm being 2-3 years old, girls being more towards the 2 end and boys towards the 3.
So here's the saga. At not yet two - I believe it was two years ago this month or the next - Kittyboy, who was not talking especially, learned the sign for Toilet. I used it every time I changed his diaper, and he put together that sign with the bodily functions which require a diaper change. One morning, he began signing it every time he did anything. Every half hour to hour throughout the day. The next day - and half a package of diapers later - I thought, "This is it, he's ready, he needs to be trained! Holy cow, he's ready!" We got a potty chair and everything. The next day after THAT, he had most likely gotten tired of being interrupted every single time he signed Toilet, and quit. Not interested anymore. Nope, too much work, it distracted him from his primary life goals of eating books and breaking things. And he never signed Toilet again.
But identifying the function that requires a diaper change is one of the signs of readiness. So, in our minds at least, if not his, we've been potty-training two years now.
This spring - well, late winter sort of - he started preschool. He was at that point mostly trained for urine, had never in his life gone stool on the toilet and refused to try, but during the day, we were doing pretty well for urine. About three weeks into preschool, he became every bit as clingy as he had been back when I couldn't leave the room. He started screaming as if genuinely scared of something every time I put him down at night, until Daddy came home from work (which was roughly 2.5 hours after bedtime). A couple days later, started having diarrhea. Something was wrong, and the requests to go to the HOSPITAL made me think it was the fact that preschool was in the morning, and every day when I picked him up, we had the same conversation about Daddy being at work already and not being able to pick him up. When Kittyboy does something dramatic, Husband comes home from work to take us to the ER. And so Kittyboy was asking to go to the hospital, because then Husband would have to come home. We went to the doctor to find out if he was sick, and ask if stress can really do this to a child, and the doctor said absolutely, yes it can, and that Kittyboy actually didn't look or act sick - but maybe tired, stressed, and depressed. We kept him out of school for a week, and after a couple days of being home with Husband/Daddy in the morning like before school started, Kittyboy was sleeping at night again and back to his usual self. The diarrhea was over with by the weekend, and the following Monday, he started in the older class in the afternoon. And it never happened again.
However, during that unpleasant and stressful week, we had given up potty-training. We thought it was the sensible thing to do, one less thing for the over-stressed boy to worry about. But as a result, we lost EVERYTHING. All progress. He was no longer interested. He continued going on the toilet at school, of all places, because of the routine, but at home, no luck. I would ask him if he needed to go, he would say no, five minutes later I would be changing him. Or I would put him on the toilet against his will, he would sit and go, and five minutes later would go again. I'm not a patient person. And this has been the state of affairs until, oh, a week ago.
(I've read several articles about potty-training since, all of them saying that once you have started, you DO NOT STOP. EVER. It's the biggest, and probably most common, mistake that parents make, because they're moving from one town to another, or a family member dies, or the child is sick, something happens that makes potty-training just seem like the last thing anyone wants to worry about - and when the dust settles, more often than not, they are back to square one. It doesn't matter if a parent died AND you're moving across the country AND the child has stomach flu. Do. Not. Stop. Completely. Understanding that you probably won't have much success, you have to at least keep going through the motions, or you may lose everything. This would have been useful for us to know back in early March, and we didn't, which is why I now tell all first-time moms I know.)
We tried stickers. We tried M&Ms. We tried putting him in underwear and saying "What happens, happens, and he'll get it eventually." We required that he participate in cleanup, which didn't bother him in the slightest. Note, you can only do that for so long at a stretch. And he had to be in pull-ups to go anywhere, obviously. He couldn't just stay sequestered at home for the weeks that would have taken to work.
Meanwhile (did I mention I'm not a patient person?), our household saw frequent (sometimes daily) mommy-meltdowns, and I'm told again and again that patience and not making a big deal of it are critical to success, but just knowing that didn't magically increase my patience. It just made the whole process more upsetting. I can be patient and understanding if there's a physical or mental problem, but there didn't seem to BE an excuse - he is very bright, and had shown all signs of readiness for almost two years, it seemed that the problem was that he was perfectly happy with the status quo. He had the ability - for urine at least. We just hadn't found a motivation to keep him motivated. And there was the nagging fact that never, not once, had he gone stool on the toilet. He simply refused to.
Oh, and I attempted the scientific route - showing him diagrams of the kidney/bladder system, the intestines/colon system, and explaining how everything works when he "has to go". That only had the interesting and disturbing effect of greatly enlarging his vocabulary - "Oh yook (look)! Stool came out of me! Stool came out of my cowon! My cowon is empty now!" (as we cleaned up his bedroom floor). Conversations I never wish to have again. I do not recommend that approach.
I think it was about three weeks ago that I started wondering about the fact that Kittyboy's intestines were not what you would call "regular". All advice on training for bowel movements said to put the child on the toilet when he or she would normally go anyway. Kittyboy would not "go" for days, then for a day or two he would go 3-5 times a day. Then not for a few days again. There was nothing "regular" about it. And he seemed to always be on the edge of constipated. I remembered when he first started drinking milk, that constipation was a frequent problem at first, and if he got anything beyond three glasses a day, the next day he would be crying and constipated. I googled lactose intolerance - the symptoms are the opposite of constipation, along with reflux, digestive problems, gas, problems Kittyboy didn't have. I googled milk and constipation, and found one site that mentioned a rare form of lactose intolerance where the children affected were always constipated. But it was way more extreme than just "Gee, he's not anything like regular and is constipated at least twice a month." I threw up my hands and decided that we would just cut milk and cheese completely for a week and see what happened. It couldn't hurt. Then we would schedule a checkup to ask "Alright, just how normal do YOU think it is that he's coming up on four years old and still in pull-ups?" and we would also bring up the constipation, lack of anything like regularity (since stool was the big problem), and also "We pulled dairy for a week and here's what happened -" and see whether we should be testing for some sort of veeerrry mild food intolerance. I also asked Kittyboy one day, "Can you not FEEL when you have to go stool?" to which he answered no. Okay, so THAT'S a problem. Another thing to bring up to the doctor.
The week without milk happened to begin one random day when we ran out of milk and didn't buy any more. "Sorry, we don't have any milk - would you like water or juice?" He drinks water happily anyway. No macaroni, no grilled cheese, no cheese of any sort. The second or third day, I think I changed at least six or seven pull-ups. Same the next day. He just kept GOING. The next day after that, he went once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And the next day, and the next. First time he's been regular since starting on milk. Now he gets maybe two glasses a day and maybe one thing with cheese - two servings a day, maybe three, and some days none. No more four glasses of milk and grilled cheese for dinner, I can tell you that. (I was asked at a WIC appointment, when he was just turning three, how much milk he drank, and I said that I held him to three glasses a day, although he would gladly drink more, and the nurse said, "Oh, he can have four glasses, that's fine," and so that's what he had been getting, in addition to whatever cheese he got throughout the day). And we're going to ask the doctor what the best way is to supplement his calcium and vitamin D. Once he's so potty-trained that we don't even think about it, we can see how much milk he CAN have and still be regular.
So now he's been regular and predictable for about a week. Didn't mean he was willing to go on the toilet, but at least he was healthy and comfortable, and now we know.
Then yesterday, out of the blue, Kittyboy sat on the toilet and went stool. Of his own accord, with no one saying a thing. We FLIPPED OUT. We screamed, we hugged, we danced. He got a Sonic meal for lunch and Toy Story underwear to wear for the rest of the day (which we'd bought back in July for exactly this occasion, in the next size up from his regular underwear, thinking he might be into that size before he wore them). And then yesterday evening, he did it again, and again it was without being asked or told, of his own accord, just because he had to go. That just blew me away! Never before, then twice in a day!
So now, just shy if 3.75 years old, he is wearing underwear. Yesterday, and today. During the day at least, we're not even thinking about naps and overnights. We're just ecstatic to have some sort of handle on days. Clean and dry so far today too!!
There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our first day of school!


After seeing all his "goodies", Kittyboy wanted to do school RIGHT after breakfast, instead of waiting until after lunch!
He has Toy Story folders in which to keep papers, a Toy Story pencil case with brand new markers (and brand new markers are a lovely thing at ANY age!), real metal scissors all his own, a nice new bottle of glue, his workbooks from Rod and Staff, some linking blocks for counting, the Melissa and Doug "abacus", and a beautiful coloring book - a "Spero's Orthdoox Alphabet" coloring book. The coloring book and workbooks, we are making copies from, because they're so nice (and then he can do them again and again), and because I don't know where to get another of that coloring book.
Our first day was a learning experience for the both of us. He loooooves worksheets, and he would have blazed through the first book entirely if not for a little glitch. He is very good at tracing lines and finding the pictures that match up, to trace the line between them. BUT, Kittyboy had no idea what the word "different" meant. As in, "Mark which picture is different." And it took me a bit to realize that he honestly didn't know. Not a clue. I don't know if they didn't cover "different" and "same" in the four-year-old preschool class he was in, or if he just went along with everyone else and no one realized he had no clue? I imagine it was the second, because I would think the concepts of "same" and "different" would be pretty basic and fundamental. Well, now he knows. Different means "not-the-same" - look to see which of the pictures match and are the same, and then the one that doesn't is "different". But it took a little bit to get there. I tried pointing out differences on the worksheet, which ball was striped and which two others weren't, and that that made the striped one different. Tried a few different rows of pictures pointing out differences, with no comprehension taking place. I took some of his colored linking blocks, three white and one yellow, and asked which one was different. No clue. I tried a few color variations with no luck. Then I took two of the same and asked if they were the same, if they were a match, were they the SAME color, and he said yes. So I added one that was a different color, and asked if it was a match, the same, the same color, and he said no. I applauded! "Correct! It is NOT THE SAME. It is DIFFERENT." Then he started to catch on. After a few more tries with the blocks, I asked him about a row of pictures on the worksheet, and he said "this and this and this go together." So which one WAS different? "This one" (pointing to the right one). "YES!! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!" And he got the rest of the page right! I danced and clapped and squealed and hugged!! It was SUCH a triumph!!!!!!
These workbooks will be very handy for showing me what he doesn't know. Now I can remedy basics that may be lacking, like "different".
He loves school!!! He didn't want to stop!

And also in the picture, I had bought a little plastic "Woody" at Walmart a few weeks ago, that turned out to not be the bendable rubber-with-wire that I thought it was, but rigid plastic instead, and so it was demoted from St. Nicholas Day to "first day of school surprise" (having opened the package, I couldn't return it, although I didn't realize it wasn't what I wanted until I opened the package...). So far, Woody has gone outside, lost his hat, watched Kittyboy working, gone outside again, found his hat, played in a puddle, and took a long walk with us. And has not been broken yet, to my relief. So I'm torn now about whether to just give Kittyboy a little plastic Buzz and Jessie (to match the Woody) for Christmas, and run the risk they'll all be broken in a few months, or get him all three in the nicer forms we've found in the Disney Store, and he'll just have two Woodys. This one is nice enough to look at, but might be better suited to a shelf than actual play. I keep reminding him to be careful with the legs. But it can watch him do his "school-work, so it's okay for now.
I think I just talked myself into getting the better quality ones for Christmas!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Last Week Before School!!

It hit me this morning that if I'm going to schooling Kittyboy with a schedule (which would make record-keeping far easier - not that we need to, but it'd be a good idea), our starting date of September first is ONE WEEK away. I have a week to figure out our schedule, get copies made of the awesome workbooks I got from Rod and Staff, decide how we should do things, and I want to plan a "first day of preschool for real" photo session.
And by the way, if you have a three-year-old, check out those workbooks. Seriously. Your child will have some nearly K-level skills by the age of four - and yet they start with the most basic ideas and very slowly and subtly work up to actual critical thinking and such. It's a set of four workbooks. The first page of the first book is "Draw a line between the pictures that are the same" with two columns of pictures. Not only are the columns exactly the same (the first two match, second two match, etc), there's a dotted line to trace for each set. Then one of the last couple pages in the fourth book asks the child to draw lines between the dominoes that have the same number of dots! Nothing to trace, the dominoes aren't in any order, kind of demanding for a four-year-old, but if you've already mastered the other three books, it's not a stretch at all. And that's the precursor to their actual preschool curriculum, which I'm guessing is roughly equivalent to kindergarten, and their 1st grade curriculum is meant to start at age 6.
As far as daily scheduling, I think "school" starts after lunch, when Husband leaves for work. Mornings are Daddy/play/park time, and afternoon school is the schedule Kittyboy is used to anyway. Thanks to my friend Amy, he has a lovely school desk with storage in it, and boy will I be using that storage space.
I already did some supply shopping (sans Kittyboy), for new markers, real glue (gluesticks are about as adhesive as post-it notes, I learned this the hard way), folders for storing worksheets, a pencil case, and his first real pair of scissors. I had a lovely time going through every box of folders at the store to make sure Kittyboy would have one of each of the Toy Story folders. When I was in junior high and high school, there were folders with these beautiful paintings of fish and whales and coastal scenes by an artist named Christian Riese Lassen, and I would go through every box of folders on the shelf to make sure I had one of each painting. That way I had something to look at when I was bored. Scouring the shelves for Buzz and Woody brought back memories! The pencil case is also Toy Story (we have a theme, obviously, since he already has a Toy Story backpack). The folders would never fit in his little backpack, but that's fine, because he's not going anywhere that he would have to take them! Haha! Of course, all this has been stashed in our closet, to surprise him on his first day.
I already know that we are taking off from the week before Christmas to St. Anthony's Day in January (the 17th), and that's Christmas break. Then we'll take off Holy Week and Bright Week, and the month of August. I'll sprinkle off-weeks elsewhere in the year.
So I have this week to
1. make copies of the first workbook
2. print out and put up the fish anatomy diagrams I found online (more on our classroom pet, the bluegill, later)
3. get page protectors! That way I can put his worksheets in them and he can do them with dry erase marker and if he scribbles, I can wipe it off.
4. hunt up some "manipulatives" for counting. That's a fancy word for "little stuff to count". I'm thinking dried beans, buttons, those flat glass marbles... and a container in which to keep them.
5. find methods of organizing the (large, flat, shallow) storage space in the desk.
Not only all that, but it's great laundry weather right now - I should go do that.
Later!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Local Fish Store WIN

It's Tuesday night. Thursday morning, the Kittyboy and I head off to my parents so that Kittyboy can meet his auntie's college friend, AND so that I can pick up and take home a bluegill for my 65-gallon tank. I've been planning this "Illinois tank" for weeks, ever since the two big goldfish in that tank died, and it's been quite the project. New filters (because it turns out that relying on an under-gravel setup in such a big tank is probably why fish died periodically), new lights (to hopefully grow plants), and live plants. I was going to try and get duckweed or hornwort for plants, then found out those both float on the surface, and eventually would COVER the surface, blocking light to the grass I've already got. So I'm sticking with grass and whatever grows from those little dried bulbs they sell at Walmart.
Anyhow, lights are set up, grass has not died yet and in fact might be growing more, a bulb that I thought was a dud (been in there for months and done nothing) has now put out six inches of growth, filters are running, all's good. Getting the fish Thursday.
Need a battery-powered air pump to transport it with the absolute minimum of stress.
But those are such basic, necessary things, I didn't think to look around in advance. It's something you need if the power goes out, an emergency measure that you don't necessarily plan for, but usually when you need one, you NEED ONE. RIGHT THEN.
Petsmart had none. Petco had none. Oh, they had them online. If I had, you know, a couple weeks to wait. But if you run in crying, "Omygosh a tree just fell on our power-line and I need an air pump for my 500 gallon reef!!"? Sorry, not in stores.
I was fuming. And panicking, I need a pump in roughly 36 hours, but also fuming, because that's just so short-sighted. We had a tornado about four years ago that knocked out power to MUCH of Springfield for days or weeks, depending on where you lived. We get tornadoes every year - they don't do that much damage every year, but we get them. Not stocking back-up air pumps is like Wal-Mart not stocking hurricane lamps.
I called the only small, local fish store I could think of, The Fishman Pet Center - insert Star Wars clip, "Help me Fishman Kenobi! You're my only hope!" - and THEY have them. They have two, on the shelf, right now. They open at noon tomorrow.
And I flooded the lady on the phone with my gratitude and relief. I told her the whole long story and that neither of the major chains carry this basic, necessary piece of equipment in their stores. She also thought that was ridiculous - she knew people who lost THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS worth of fish after the tornado because they hadn't bought pumps and their store didn't have enough to go around. When you need one, you NEED ONE.
We've actually never gone to The Fishman before, because it's waaaay the other end of Springfield while the chains are only a couple miles away, but I think I will be patronizing them from now on. They know what fish-keepers need!
Sooooooo relieved... :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kittyboy, Angels, and Overcoming Fear

After signing up months ago (maybe a year ago?) at the Right To Life Center as a volunteer, I finally got the call to come help with something, putting address labels on a mailing. I was excited, and so was Kittyboy, because he knows that's where they have ''babies in the window''. We packed one of his little bookbags with toys, headed downtown, and discovered that the easiest 2-hr parking spaces, by far, were a block away. Just a little walk up a hill and across... train tracks.

Kittyboy is infamous for choosing inopportune times to be scared of random stuff. Just so happened he's never walked over train tracks before. We got to about level with the crossing gate, and he turned in front of me, almost tripping me. I told him we had to keep going, we had to cross, and he started whimpering and whining no, and kept pulling me in circles like a dog on a leash. He would not cross the tracks. I told him impatiently that this was ridiculous, there was no train, it was fine, and we had to go. The way the tracks are at 3rd and Monroe, there's one lane of 3rd St either side of the tracks, so we were basically in the road. So I pulled him toward the tracks again, and he jerked away hard, almost ran into traffic. Monroe's a busy four-lane. I couldn't carry him, my arms were full, so eventually I just pulled him after me over the tracks (guess I still AM stronger), and told him on the other side while he cried, that he MUST NEVER try to get away from me like that again. Of course, having taken all that trouble, the papers to be mailed hadn't come yet and we had to come back at 1:30. I'd already plugged the meter, so I thought we may as well go to the Marian Center across the street. Kittyboy loves that store. But I wasn't going to haul his stuff around while we shopped. Back over the train tracks.

Same scenario - the panic, circling around me, trying to jerk away. Dragged him back across again against his will, telling him stoically that everything was fine, there was no train, all was well. Not the ideal way to handle a terrified child, but neither could we just sit in the street and talk about it, and you have to get him calmed down before you even CAN talk about it. Which wasn't going to happen so long as he knew we WERE crossing the tracks regardless.

Back at the car, I unloaded, and asked him if he WANTED to go to the Marian Center. I pointed out we'd have to cross the tracks again. He did say he wanted to. Sigh.

Third crossing, he may have THOUGHT he was going to be fine, but no - I just scooped him up and went. Being carried didn't make things okay for him, it just made him easier to transport.

So the whole length of the block, he kept pulling in random directions, jerking away, that time he was acting panicky well after the crossing was over. He didn't relax until we were in the Marian Center.

Aaahhh, safety. Peace, quiet, church music playing, not to mention a pronounced lack of train tracks. We sat right on the floor and Talked About It. I asked him why he was afraid of the train tracks. No clear answer except something to do with a train (duh). I told him there was no train. I told him you never, ever, ever, ever run away from Mommy. I told him traffic is dangerous and You Will Get Hurt. He got all that, nodded, agreed. Except no one thinks rationally when they're freaking out, right?

The Marian Center carries an abundance of small, inexpensive pendants, pins, little rosaries, icon cards, lots of things that could have qualified as bribes/security-things. I started asking - ''Would a new cross necklace help you cross the tracks?'' ''No.'' ''Would a new little icon card help you cross the tracks?'' ''No.'' I offered, and he rejected, everything I could think of. He pulled a nice olive wood crucifix necklace off a rack and declared it was his - I looked at the price and asked, ''Could this help you cross the...'' ''No.'' And then he put it back! That cross he really wanted, he did not want enough to cross the tracks without a fight. That's serious!!

He ran over to their collection of small icons, and started pulling them out for me to name. Those were a little beyond my ''inexpensive bribery'' price range, but I was asking anyway whether another icon of Jesus would help him cross the tracks (no) or another of the Mother of God (no), and one he pulled out was the Archangel Gabriel. That WOULD be Alexis Gabriel's patron, so I asked Kittyboy if he thought we should get that ''for Alexis'', he agreed, and then I brought up how angels are God's messengers and ministers, and they watch over us. God watches over us, and angels do His bidding, right? And if God has His angels watching over us, then we've no reason to be afraid, do we? Kittyboy was holding the icon and nodding along. So did he think he could cross the tracks with Alexis' icon? Seeing as how it's an angel?

Would you believe the answer was still no?

And then he didn't want us to buy the icon, because then he'd have to cross the tracks without a fight, and he knew he couldn't do that, therefore he couldn't get the icon (so his reasoning went). And I couldn't convince him that we could get the icon regardless, and it became apparent that getting the icon was actually going to upset him further (again, see diagram of his logic above). So we put it back. But now I was pointing out every angel I saw, and telling him again and again how God watches over us (Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three!), and His angels watch over us, and of course the Mother of God (his favorite), and his patron St. Patrick, and so we don't have to be afraid, do we? He agreed wholeheartedly - but tracks were still not happening. Talked about how Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let anything hurt him, and God loves him even more than we do - he agreed, he was quite agreeable, but No Tracks. In the Children's Room, they had a copy of a picture I want - a little boy leaning over a cliff to pick flowers, TOTALLY oblivious, with an angel hovering nearby. As many times as Kittyboy has tempted serious injury...! And I pointed it out to him. He liked it. He didn't want it (and it was well out of my range or I'd have gotten it anyway). And it wasn't going to help him over the tracks.

I'd given up, we'd looked at everything, I would just have to carry him over while he freaked and then we'd put railroad crossings on the No list, and then he saw a little guardian angel pin on a spindle by the door. He said, ''That my guardien angel!'' I pointed out that it wasn't an actual angel, it was a picture of one... wait, would that angel help him cross the tracks without being scared and running? Jumping with his arms outstretched, trying to reach it - ''YES!''

And wearing his little pin, he walked across the tracks holding my hand. He didn't stop, jerk away, spin me in circles, or try to run. He whimpered pitifully from one side to the other, but he did it!

And when we went back at 1:30 to help with the mailing, we found a parking space right in front!

(I should add that we also discussed extensively that just because God takes care of us, does NOT mean we cross the tracks if a train IS coming!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Calendar for the Dormition Fast

Today being the first of August (for maybe an hour yet), we started the Dormition Fast, the fasting period for the two weeks prior to the feast-day of Mary the Theotokos falling asleep in the Lord (falling asleep, hence, Dormition)(Theotokos = Mother of God). Dormition is the 15th (and the 16th is our anniversary, which is why the Theotokos is our family patron saint!). I saw the COOLEST calendar craft by Amy at Crafty Contemplative, with a vine and felt flowers. The theme is "Flowers for the Theotokos", and the idea is to attach one flower every day, fifteen flowers for the first fifteen days of August. Now, Amy's idea is absolutely gorgeous and looks awesome. Seriously. Go look at it. She even has kits you can buy to make it yourself - all you need are glue and kids. But I read all this about the calendar Friday afternoon, July 30th, today was Sunday the 1st, we weren't able to catch the bus we needed to get to Walmart and get felt before the day buses stopped running, and the night buses have reaaaally long routes, I wanted to do something THAT NIGHT, and the dog ate my homework. So I came up with THIS instead. Because I am lacking in patience and felt, but blessed with a surplus of paper and markers.


This is a piece of paper with a vase or pot drawn on it, not sure which, and a plant of some sort, and our first flower attached. I taped it to the wall, under our large family icon of the Theotokos. I drew and cut out 15 large flower shapes, 15 small flower shapes, and 15 little circles. Kittyboy colored them in, then chose for me which colors should go together - each large flower shape has a smaller one in the center, then a little circle in the center of that. I believe we have one that is brown-orange-purple, hahaha. But I'm keeping my micromanaging little nose out of it, they're entirely his coloring and color choices. I put glue on the paper, he glued them together, and we're taping on one a day to the bush/vine/plant. I already foresee a space issue - we will NOT have room for 15 flowers on this plant. The flowers may extend onto the wall, I don't know. Anyhow, tonight before bed we put on our first flower, sang It Is Truly Meet, and he kissed her goodnight.


"It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure and the Mother of our God; more honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without stain did give birth to God the Word; true Theotokos, we magnify thee!"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Some (rather rambling) Thoughts on Mourning

Today was the Share Burial at Calvary Cemetery for Alexis Gabriel and other babies who had died in the same time frame. I had expected just a simple burial, not an event requiring a program, so that there was a program and "service" threw me for a loop.
I like cemeteries. I like funerals (as our church does them). I do not care for the composite of poetry, meditation, and contemporary music that is usually termed a "memorial service". I finally walked off during the last poetry reading because for reasons I couldn't articulate at the time, it was not helpful - more just vaguely upsetting.
I sorted out why on the way home. The service seemed focused on how losing someone is always sad, that we don't stop loving someone when they die, and the grieving of survivors rather than the comfort of the Resurrection. There WAS that, sort of, hinted at, but that wasn't the main message. Thinking back, that may be the result of trying to simplify the service - neutering it, actually - so as to "reach" everyone there, Catholic, Protestant, atheist, what have you. It was generically Christian, but with a kind of humanist feel to it. It felt like the focus was on the grieving process and not... I don't know.
And I want to know in what translation of the Bible the final verse of Psalm 23 is written "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for the rest of my life." That's WRONG. And it was jarring in its wrongness. I also dislike "the darkest valley" versus "the valley of the shadow of death". I wonder if someone picked that translation because they were reluctant to use the word Death; but it's a funeral. Death is why we were there. People die. We all will die. Call death what it is. It's an inevitable part of life.
So... not much on death not being the end, but not much on death itself either. I guess that means the focus was mainly on the grieving process and us. As much as I appreciate Victorian mourning rituals (hey, they had no problem acknowledging death), sentiment is not something with which I'm comfortable. To focus on grief alone (the acknowledgment of, expression of, the working through, etc) is not comforting, and that was basically what I got out of it. That, and that there is a translation of the Bible out there which is in need of correction.
We're going to cut our surprise lilies tomorrow and go back to the cemetery, and I think I will print out 1 Thessalonians 4 and take it with me.
I find myself using his name comfortably now - for a couple months at least, he was "the baby" when I talked to anyone outside our family, and I actually didn't talk about him much, because some people hadn't known I was pregnant, and others didn't know I'd miscarried, I didn't want to upset people by drawing attention to it, and of course no one knew the name, since we picked it after the miscarriage, so I didn't use it. Then Kittyboy and I passed by the Right To Life Center downtown and I showed him the one-month-size baby in the window and said, "That's how big Alexis Gabriel was when he died," and so Kittyboy's been talking about him since ("Ayexis Gabwiew was sooo yittle! And his body didn't work wight!"). So we talk about him now. Kittyboy's happy to be taking flowers "for Ayexis" tomorrow. Memory eternal!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Kawate!"



The weekend that Toy Story 3 came out, we went to see it - Kittyboy had been requesting it since he first saw the Toy Story logo with the number 3. I guess the new "Karate Kid" movie came out the same weekend, because Premier Martial Arts had a table set up at the theater, signing kids up for karate classes. They had a wheel to spin for a free week, free month, etc of classes. I was just looking at their literature and one of the older students at the table asked if I'd want to spin the wheel. I explained the boy in question isn't yet four (there's a place in town that starts at age 4), and he said, "Oh, we have a 3-4 class!" Spun and got him two free classes. The first Saturday, I was working, but this weekend I got to see it. I really, really tried not to jump up and tell him what to do, which is really hard when your kid is the only one not standing - only one not sitting - only one turning around slowly and looking spaced out... But they did eventually get him involved, it just took longer. A class of 22 students under the age of 5 is organized chaos, even with three senseis. It was so funny to watch - it was all PT and OT stuff - gross motor, coordination, balance, sensory integration! They had them going from standing to down on the mat and back up, snapping to attention when the sensei clapped, ducking under a moving padded bar, high-fiveing a moving paddle from the top of a stack of cushions (so you have to balance and aim at the same time), and walking on foam balance beams. Maybe half an hour long. And at the beginning and end, they bowed to their parents and then to the senseis, so that was cool. Kittyboy couldn't stay on the balance beams for anything, and so the sensei let him walk it holding his finger - SO CUTE. He did pretty well at the climb-the-cushions, smack-the-paddle thing, and the running-under-the-bar thing. I was kind of on the fence as to whether he was just not ready yet, because watching him move and the others move, he LOOKS way younger, but Brian said it'd be good for him, and he WILL catch up. And they're really cool and understanding that he's not quite up with the other kids just yet, and they just keep giving him extra instruction and more time to do things. Very positive, encouraging, "Well hey, let's try this again!" We signed him up for the next three months!
Belts in the 3-4 class advance by participation. Each week you get another red stripe of tape on your belt and when you have eight stripes, you move up to a belt with a colored stripe (yellow, orange, etc). There were four or five kids who advanced to the next belt at the end of the class today.
His gi, by the way, is size 000. The smallest size they make. Pant legs and sleeves cuffed. He's sooo cuuuute.....
We are practicing things at home - things like bowing, and monkey-see, monkey-do standing and sitting and whatnot, and the clapping they use to get all the students' attention.
Kittyboy's really excited, too! After the first class, he was talking about doing "kawate" and "I do kawate again? Okay!"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

P.S. (the funeral service)

I found, but forgot to include, a link to the text of the funeral service itself.

http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/funeral2

I was going to say that I particularly love the Evlogitaria, and the hymns by St. John of Damascus, and then I realized that's the bulk of the service - so if you've not seen it before, just read the whole thing.

Kittyboy's first funeral

I chanted a funeral today, my second ever and it had been several years since the last, which necessitated a call to my dad last night to make sure I would have the gender right for Meta Ton Aghion and Eonia Imnimi. And Husband had to work, so he dropped us off with the car seat and Kittyboy was, by default, with me in the front pew chanting. Let me just say, the Kittyboy was spectacular for being three years old, bored, tired, hot, sleepy, hungry and thirsty. Especially the three years old part.
The funeral started at 11, for one of our church's yiayias, Irene Gagaoudaki, may her memory be eternal. I didn't know her well - I remember when her sister passed away in Greece, she brought candles for everyone in church for memorial prayers. Her health had kept her from attending for some time. I'm sure Kittyboy didn't remember her, if he'd ever seen her, but I told him she donated the icon of the Annunciation that he likes so much (one of many facts I didn't know until this last Sunday). Kittyboy sat fairly still and quietly until about the Gospel, and then he started bouncing on the pew and then started tugging at the book, so I showed him word by word what Father was reading, and that worked for a while. Boy also sang along very loudly with every thrice-repeated Lord have mercy, which I tried very subtly to discourage because I didn't know what the family, RIGHT behind us, would think, but of course Kittyboy knew better. Then the service was over, and after everyone else had gone through the line to say their goodbyes, I picked up the Kittyboy so he could see her and explained that her body didn't work anymore, and so she had died, and we were saying goodbye. And he said bye-bye. So we stood outside with Presbytera, who was to be our ride to the cemetery, and waited for the casket to be brought out, and a man came up to talk to Kittyboy. He said that Irene worked with kids (another thing I didn't know), and that she would have been so happy to hear a little boy singing at her funeral, because she loved children.
So it was a good thing that Kittyboy was singing after all!
Naturally, he was fascinated by the casket and hearse and all, and how funeral processions (strangely enough) do not go whee. And we go through red lights! We had a conversation that lasted from church to the cemetery, which at 20-25 mph was a good trip, about bodies and souls and dying and burial (of the body that doesn't work anymore) and that I have a soul and he has a soul and Daddy has a soul, and all human beings are created with souls, and those don't die but bodies do, they wear out and quit working, and all that, and he is going to sound like one morbid preschooler for a while, because he was fascinated and talking about guppies and goldfish as well (which we bury in my crown-of-thorns's pot), which don't have souls but do die and get buried, and my heavens, the phrases with which he may be randomly greeting checkout people. Three-and-a-half is SUCH an age. But I think it's all explained well enough now.
At the cemetery, the man who had talked to Kittyboy at church asked if he wanted to sit on his shoulders, to which Kittyboy of course jumped up and down on his tip-toes with his arms up. For the burial service, I couldn't see them, but I could hear the giggles wandering back and forth behind me from about six feet off the ground.
I promised him we would come back to look at headstones and read them and all. "And this says? And this says? And this is? And that says! And this says?" He liked the cemetery. We have to go back. Perhaps I have a future mortician, or cemetery caretaker or some-such.
When we reached the restaurant for a fellowship meal afterward, it was about 1:30. He'd been roughly three hours without food, drink or BATHROOM. Amazingly, he was still clean and dry, woohoo, perhaps potty-training is making an impact? And he was very patient about wanting a drink. He had very patiently asked, from the cemetery to the restaurant, "I want a drink? I have a drink pease? I will have a drink now." He got orange juice, and had almost drained it by the time the waitress was done passing out waters, so she got him more. He had fried calamari for the first time ever, LOVED it, snitched from mine after he ate his, and was just very, very good. And any time his mouth was unoccupied, he was singing something over and over and over and over, which I finally identified as the "Lord have mercy" I sang during the funeral.
Got home about quarter til four. Watched Toy Story 2. Boy did he earn it, that was a LOOOOONG DAY, with lots of having to sit still and be quiet and a long stretch of no food or water, and a meal in a restaurant RIGHT at nap time, all of which he handled exceedingly well. Our first in-depth discussions of mortality at the three-year-old comprehension level also went well - allowing for the fact that death may now be the new interesting subject...
And we have to go back to visit the cemetery where you bury the bodies that don't work anymore (as opposed to the ones that still work, and therefore are alive, and therefore not buried, which is why HE is not being buried, had to clear up that point because he thought burial would be cool) and where we then put really awesome stones that say things over the burial places, so that we can read what all the stones say and talk about the people buried under them.

I am very tired. So is the Chanting Funeral-Director Boy. He is in bed.

I love all the hymns from the funeral service, but I think my favorite part is the Epistle reading, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. I want to memorize it - "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."
All of the service is beautiful, but the Epistle is what sticks in my mind, and I remember when Grandma Sandy was in the hospital after her stroke last year - the awful, surreal weekend we spent in the hospital in Missouri saying goodbye - these words played in my head in a continuous loop, "We do not mourn as those who have no hope."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making Time to Breathe

Well, it took three weeks, lots of frustration, and the combined assistance of my mom and little sister, but I can now open my front door to someone without feeling the need to step out and close it behind me. This project went way beyond cleaning - we took apart rooms completely, then put them back together as if moving in again for the first time, asking, ''Now that we know what DOESN'T work, what kind of storage/arrangement will work BETTER?'' It does no good to put things away when they have no place to really go. Massive quantities of STUFF have departed our little house, and many lidded plastic boxes have arrived, for the purpose of giving every category of thing a Place To Be. A place for everything, and everything in its place. At long, long last. Just in time, too, as I discovered a leak in the kitchen just last Thursday, and was able to simply mention it to the landlord and get it fixed, instead of trying to fix it myself because of not wanting anyone to enter The House Of Doom.
And now I am starting from lovely Square One, with a binder designed to keep the whole place this clean. I have a sheet for each day of the week, we sat down and listed everything we could think of, ranked them as daily, weekly, or monthly chores, and now each day of the week lists the daily things (it's a short list, to my surprise) and whatever weekly job has been assigned to that day. The sheets are in page protectors, so I can use dry erase markers to mark things off as they're done, and for the first time since Kittyboy was born, I can sit and read a book without feeling like I'm wasting time. Because that's exactly what I have now - time.
Speaking of the Kittyboy - his room is next.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kittyboy and Easter

I assigned Husband the difficult task of capturing the elusive Singing Kittyboy on film. Kittyboy has been singing the Resurrection hymn in both Greek and English (often both at once), sometimes nonstop, for a few weeks now. I'm going to hazard a guess that Easter will be his favorite holiday, as it is mine. He went to every single service during Holy Week, got over his candle-phobia completely just in time for Good Friday, and was a very small alterboy with his daddy for the Midnight Liturgy. Yes, three years old, WIDE awake at 11 p.m. that night, holding his daddy's hand and walking all around with him. He ran over to me as everyone went outside at midnight, and asked if we would "go around and around and around?" as we had Friday night. I said no, we were going outside to hear Father read the Gospel about Christ rising from the dead. Kittyboy said with great excitement, "OH! We go outside, tell the Resurrection!" Well of course, this wonderful thing has happened, we should go outside and tell people about it! - and he was eager to do just that. He was NOT happy when the choir (the two of us included) stopped behind Father, still in the church. "We go outside? We go outside to tell the Resurrection?" He kept asking, very quietly but plaintively, and his head drooped SO sadly when I kept saying that we were staying inside behind Father. Finally, between languages, I slid him out around Father to go to Husband outside, and he was happy. Heavens, you don't want to discourage the three-year-old missionary.
So since sometime during Bright Week, I think it was, Kittyboy has randomly burst into song, and it generally takes us a bit to realize he's singing Christos Anesti! We've been trying to capture it on video, but usually once he realizes you're taping, he stops singing. But Husband followed him around outside this morning and got him to sing it (sorta, mostly), in BOTH languages even.
(Okay, if you're reading this on Facebook, just go to the video posted on my wall, because I have no idea how this is going to go from Blogger to Facebook notes, I don't know if that will work or not.)
Enjoy! Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
video

Spring Stationary Giveaway!

My blogging friend, Presbytera Kathy at "Elona Creations", is hosting a giveaway of some of her beautiful handmade cards. Go here to enter! I just love her cards. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kittyboy the Lumberjack

I've been cutting out all the trees around and behind the garage, and Kittyboy has been hauling them to various burning piles. He's quite the pack mule. One tree was over an inch in diameter at the base, maybe 10' tall. He was a little frustrated that he couldn't hoist it over his head as he had the smaller ones (by smaller, I mean 9' and under). He dragged it very easily behind him, though, and hefted it hand-over-hand-over-hand onto the burning pile, which by that time was quite large.
So all afternoon (yesterday) he was asking to help saw. I have a little folding saw, you can fold the blade into the handle, kind of like a serrated flick knife. Now, our gardening lesson last week did not go well. I ended up banishing him from the garden after he (accidentally) whacked me in the head with his shovel. His "child-sized but still wood and metal and real" shovel. And the garden isn't a project I can let him mess up and say, "We'll try again," because I'm not buying plants all over again, it's something that has to be done carefully and correctly. It couldn't be a "learning process", if he could learn from it, great, but if not, he had to be out of the way. He needed to follow directions precisely, LOOK at what he was doing, LOOK at where things were as he was using his tools (to avoid problems like, oh, swinging your shovel carelessly over your shoulder and hitting someone in the head), and none of that was happening. It was a disaster, and frustrating for both of us, because he WANTED to help, but it just didn't work. Then yesterday, he wanted to "help Mommy saw".
I thought it over. The saw blade is not an exacto knife, it's not that sharp. You can grab it and it won't cut you (I did that, experimentally). I would have my hands over his, and if he ever started to give any hint of inattentiveness, the lesson would be over. I expected it to be a VERY short lesson, because, well, this is Kittyboy. But I've been thinking that five isn't necessarily safer than three as an age to start teaching the dangerous things, like how to safely handle a knife. The brain is better developed, but not necessarily impulse control. So I figured we'd give it a try, teach safe habits now rather than later. I know, it sounds insane to me too. But at the same time, it makes sense, to me at least.
I got far enough into the jungle that I had room next to me, and called him over. I said, "Here are the rules. This is a dangerous tool. This is not a toy. You never touch the blade. You never handle this without Mommy. And you do EXACTLY as I say. Got it?" and he said yes.
So we tried it! He's either ambidextrous or starting to show left-handed dominance, he put his left hand on the handle and insisted that's what he wanted to use, and me being right-handed, that made things tricky. But he was VERY attentive and obedient and DID EXACTLY WHAT I SAID. The saw slipped once, and he grabbed for it and I said NO, and he actually froze immediately, which I can't hardly ever get him to do. Instant obedience, that may have been a first. I reiterated that it was sharp and you never grab the blade, and he didn't do that again. He helped me cut THREE trees, then I saw poison ivy and cutting was over for the night. So then I closed the saw, handed it to him, told him DO NOT try to open it, carry it carefully to the front door while Mommy gets the laundry and then come back, and he did! EXACTLY as he was told!
And today again, I was cutting the trees down further to make the pile more compact, and one of the logs I let him cut with me, and he was amazingly responsible and careful, which is REALLY the opposite of his stereotype. Today, I let him take two strokes on his own with my hand just steadying the handle, so he could see that it doesn't cut by you pushing down on it, but by pushing and pulling it back and forth, and we talked about how this particular saw cuts on the pull stroke, etc. And every time he helps saw, we talk about paying attention to EVERYTHING, knowing where the blade is and is going to be at all times, knowing everything that's going on, observation skills and coordination and sensory processing abilities that he has GOT to learn. Now me, I'm clumsy like him - I walk into stuff with alarming frequency, I have hit myself in the face with a car door, tried to close a car door on my leg (both of those incidents, I was standing OUTSIDE of the car) - but I feel really, really safe doing some really dangerous stuff, because when I'm balancing on the edges of the tub taking down the shower curtain, or cutting at some precarious angles to avoid poison ivy and get exactly the branch I want at exactly the angle I want, something else kicks in. I know exactly where that blade is, what it's doing, what it's going to do. When I'm on a ladder with my back against a wall leaning over to paint something, I know exactly how my body is, where the ladder is, where the wall is, everything, I can feel everything exactly and I feel totally safe doing that. I'm better at those kind of things than walking through my own house some days. Hopefully we can maybe combat the clumsiness or lack of attention, however you look at it, by teaching him that kind of hyper-processing while he's REALLY young. Maybe then, as an adult, he won't try to slam a car door on his jaw. And while I was talking about knowing where the blade was and where it was going, I could see his eyes following it back and forth, so that was GREAT. Getting ready to make birdhouses or something with Daddy!
My little man is growing up!

Have I really not blogged since Palm Sunday? Wow......

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

After his nap this afternoon, Kittyboy was running around the living room, waving his laurel branches and yelling "Hosanna in da highest!!!!!" It was adorable! He wanted to take them back to church this evening, which we discouraged, and then I found two branches in the basement (obviously in need of a child to wave them) and I said he could hold those, and he ran upstairs and ran straight to the icon of Jesus riding the donkey, and waved the branches AT it with such enthusiasm we were afraid he would knock it off the shelf! Apparently he was listening this morning when I pointed out Jesus and the donkey and the people waving branches, so he thought he would too! He pointed at it and yelled "Hosanna in da highest!!!" Yup, he had been paying attention!
This morning, he was just begging for a gag and straitjacket, this evening he was actually good as gold. He sang along with me and with Stathi, and he paid absolute attention to the Nymphios procession (Daddy AND Father AND an icon AND candles AND a censor, it had everything you could want!). When Father was chanting, Kittyboy loudly and proudly proclaimed, "I NOT singing with Father! I NOT singing with Father!" because I always have to remind him that we don't sing when Father does, and he wanted to point out that this time, he wasn't! Otherwise I might have missed what a very good boy he was being. Everyone in church knew that Kittyboy was NOT singing with Father.
And halfway through the Gospel, which is a pretty decent length, he requested, "Daddy and Father and the icon go do-o-o-w-w-n and a-a-a-a-round?" EVERYTHING is improved on by a procession. Particularly Gospels that are too long. So then I told him he could walk veeerrry quietly to Daddy and help hold the candle, which he did, and then he went back with Daddy and was helpful the rest of the service.
I love how not knowing Greek is NO barrier to singing along. He can make it sound Greek! Lots of vowels, and things ending in -os and -on and -as and -in. Greek can be totally faked if you have enough enthusiasm and don't care in the slightest how you sound. It's a very joyful noise! For that matter, he doesn't know the English for Holy Week stuff either, but can fake it if enough hymns are in the same tone back to back.
I make sure to tell him often that God loves his enthusiasm and energy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Hi!"

"Hi!" is Kittyboy's favorite greeting. We celebrated early dismissal (spring break for Holy Week! Woohoo!) by going straight to the playground at Washington Park. As usual, Kittyboy said HI with enthusiasm to everyone he passed, including crouching down to politely greet a little baby girl barely walking (OH TO HAVE HAD MY CAMERA OUT). Then he encountered three boys, I'm guessing second grade, who when he said, "HI!!" said, "Uh, hi?" back. Oh my gosh, what fun! New friends (as with many new friends, "they just didn't know it yet")!! He seemed to then make a game of trapping them - say, at the top of ladders - to say "Hi!" again, they would respond "Hi" again, he would laugh and allow them to pass. Hahaha, what fun, we are friends! They come up a ladder, there is Kittyboy! "Hi!" They go down a slide, there is Kittyboy! "Hi!" They were patient, if somewhat befuddled, and took pains to not trip over this STRANGE little boy with a one-word vocabulary. All three went climbing up the tornado slide - two made it, the third went scrambling down again backwards barely ahead of Kittyboy, who was sliding down after him and laughing his fluffy little head off!
Did you know older kids make great TOYS?

Monday, March 22, 2010

And on the lighter side...

Kittyboy is officially too big for shopping carts. Okay, he's not "too big" for normal-sized ones, but he IS too heavy for me to haul in and out over the handle - I'm five foot tall, he's thirty-four pounds. I just can't heft him up to shoulder height anymore. But he loves to ride. Well, some stores have smaller ones and normal ones, and I grabbed a smaller one by mistake some time last week or the week before. His legs couldn't get in! The seat was just maybe an inch too small in some dimension. Of course, I knew my mistake, but he didn't - I seized opportunity and said, "Well, I guess you just don't fit in carts anymore! Time to be a big boy and walk!" Kind of like hiding the pacifier and saying, "Well, it's lost, guess you'll have to do without!" And since then, I'd not gotten a cart, rather than get one and have the argument over whether he would ride.
Saturday, I had a shopping list, and really needed a cart. Of course he asked to ride, and I reminded him that the last cart Mommy tried to put him in, he hadn't fit, and he just couldn't ride anymore. But he could push! He used to push all the time, he was pushing a full cart at a year and a half. I told him he had a new job because he's SUCH a big boy, he could push the cart and put things in for Mommy. I grabbed some gingersnaps when we first started in, put them in the seat area where he could see them, and said we'd buy them IF and only IF he was a veeeerrrrry good big helper the whole time.
At first, the cart went rocketing willy-nilly down aisles, at a three-year-old's dead run, with me in pursuit, and people ahead of him getting out of the way! After a few aisles, he figured out how to walk with it instead of run. And he was GOOD. He put things in the cart, he only picked up a few things that we weren't getting, and those he put back without complaint. He even put back a huge chocolate bunny he'd grabbed off the shelf (right at his eye level, hahaha, such perfect placement) with a minimum of coaxing. Who knows, maybe he will find that same bunny in his Easter basket, since he was such a good boy!
When we got to the checkout, I handed him things from the cart and he put them on the conveyor belt (had to look funny, considering we were both on the same side of the cart, but it kept him busy and useful) and then he even pushed the cart to the end of the checkout and stood with it!!
I must have caught him at the perfect age where new responsibilities are a wonderful new game, another way to be a Big Boy, so that he never stopped to think - "Wait, I don't get to ride anymore - AND I have to push the cart? How did I get hosed into this?" I told Husband, to be sure we're consistent and that Kittyboy doesn't figure out that he COULD still fit in a cart, that his new job is pushing, period. No more hauling him up to shoulder-level in and out of carts, I just can't do it, pregnant or not.
And what a sweet little helper I have! I can't believe it! That went SO much more smoothly than I expected!

Normalcy.

I have to say, depression with just cause for such is a new experience. And there does seem to be something freeing about saying, "You know what, there's a perfectly good reason why I don't want to get up in the morning, don't want to do anything when I do get up, and don't want to eat. It's called being in mourning. IT'S NORMAL."
After having rescheduled and adapted the summer and fall around pregnancy, realizing that different arrangements are now unnecessary is depressing. I was looking forward to actually wearing maternity clothes this time around - I'm already back into a skirt I had stopped wearing because it'd gotten a bit too tight. Kittyboy was disappointed when we told him, but not upset - then we went to see a friend's one-week-old and on the way home he suddenly started whining, "Mommy having a babyyyy?" and we had to have That Conversation all over again. It must have sunk in just then, that THAT'S what Mommy was going to have, and now isn't.
We'd also thought that the timing of this pregnancy was just perfect. PERFECT. Our insurance, as sucky as it is, had an out-of-pocket maximum that would have been met in the first couple of appointments and scans and whatnot - the rest of my pregnancy, INCLUDING hospital stay for however long it took, the caeserian, NICU stay if necessary, would have been covered (I called and asked them this when we were first pregnant, just in case we would need to save our tax return for medical bills). We know we'll have this insurance until the end of the year - we don't know if next year Husband's company will have decided it's cheaper to pay fines than cover insurance, and we'll be on lovely wonderful Medicaid, oh I mean socialized healthcare, and who knows what THEY'LL cover, not that I'm bitter about yesterday or anything.
Given the fact that, well, nothing's "leaving" yet, and my getting back into this skirt, I wonder if I'm reabsorbing instead of having a normal miscarriage. It's unlikely, but theoretically possible, and the only reason I can think of why my waist is maybe as much as an inch smaller without ANY bleeding whatsoever.
That's something else depressing - going back into the same clothes as before, like everything's just back to normal, when it's not and it shouldn't be and I'm supposed to be having a baby and I'm not.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sad news.

The word "news" has been in all my latest blog posts, hasn't it? It's all about things changing, for good or otherwise.
We had our first sonogram today. It was our first appointment, I was all excited to get "baby pictures". The exam and all went smoothly, we liked the doctor (whom we were meeting for the first time) and he ordered three pages worth of labs gearing up for this somewhat exciting pregnancy. Then he sent us for the sonogram. The tech found my uterus, then said hesitantly that she could see the yolk sac but the baby wasn't eight weeks. "Okay, so we figured the due date wrong." That happens, it's cool, right? She kept looking and looking. She called in another doctor. Turned out that what she was looking for and not finding was - a heartbeat. I think she and the doctor must have said it four or five times, different ways, that this baby had no heartbeat. Heart should have been beating. Wasn't. No heartbeat. There should be one. There isn't. Baby measures 7 weeks. At 7 weeks there should be a heartbeat. We can't find one. I was just staring at the monitor thinking this was impossible. I was pregnant! There was a baby! I was throwing up in the morning as recently as Sunday!
The tech, perhaps at a loss for what else to do, got our new OB. Looking back, I feel really sorry for him. He looked about as young as the med student who was shadowing him, and it can't be news that he often has to discuss. When he came in, he looked as blank and shocked as we were (as the DOCTOR in the room, that can't be a good feeling). He said it was a "missed miscarriage", that this happens spontaneously and without known cause in about 1 in 4 pregnancies in the first trimester, that there was nothing anyone "did wrong" to cause it, that it should have no bearing on future fertility, etc. He ran out of things to say.
He added that sometimes the very early ones (there's no way to know, but sometimes...) are because of very serious chromosomal problems, and that it would be better for it to happen now than later, when it would be harder. I started breathing deeply and resisting the temptation to do or say something I would regret (Husband said afterward that in fact I had looked homicidal). Doctor looked rather anxious - my guess is he realized that perhaps between inexperience with miscarriages and the fact that his first language was demonstrably not English, he had gravely misspoken - and restated. He was not saying, "The baby might have had problems anyway, better to not carry it," which is what I had essentially heard. He explained that there can be problems SO grave that the baby would not have lived long even IN the womb, and that miscarrying at 7 weeks is relatively easier - on the mother's body, at least - than at 15 or 20 weeks when there is a body of more significant size to be dealt with. And the early-early miscarriages that are never explained include those, though there's no way to know how frequently.
Okay, so he meant well, he probably doesn't often get called into a patient's first sono to explain a lack of heartbeat, and he has not been at this long. There's not much you CAN say. Husband found something online, anecdotal, about not finding a heartbeat at seven weeks and finding one later, but I didn't have a shred of morning sickness yesterday or this morning, and felt ill this afternoon. Pretty sure the doctor is right.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good preschool news!

Starting Monday, Kittyboy can have his cake and eat it too! (though I made the mistake of using those exact words in his presence, and he was confused and disappointed that CAKE was not actually happening).
Several e-mails were exchanged over the course of the week - Kittyboy's not BEEN to school since Monday because he either didn't sleep or had tummy troubles - and he will be starting next Monday in the afternoon class. He gets all morning with Daddy - gets to take Daddy to work - and THEN gets to go to school! It'll be with slightly older kids, but as his teacher said, "He does show us every day that he's got some awesome skills," so he'll fit right in. She got right on the question of whether he could move to afternoon, bringing it up with the special ed director, possibly because I said "If he can't move or the move doesn't solve the problem, I can always homeschool." Of course he's fine AT school. School is fun. He likes it, every morning he's happy to go. It's when he gets out and finds that once again, he's missed out on the whole morning and Daddy's already gone, that we have a problem. Seemed like every day was a new day, and every day he was let down all over again, and it just accumulated, and built-up stress can make you sick. Tuesday we kept him home because he slept so little the night before, and Thursday night, he was asleep just fine with no problem and slept through the night. Happier, too. And when he went to the doctor Wednesday and we explained EVERYTHING, the doctor said he didn't look or act sick - but that when doctor came in the room, Kittyboy (curled up on Daddy's lap) just kinda looked depressed. Interesting off-the-cuff observation. And he said absolutely, stressful changes can wreak havoc in little kids, and it all sounded like psychosomatic symptoms from stress. "Is he clingy at home? Fussy, hard to please?" Hoooo yeah. And then Thursday and Friday, he was SO HAPPY. I told him today that starting Monday, he could go back to school, but he would have all morning with Daddy and take Daddy to work and THEN go to school, and he was just thrilled to little boyish bits.
As far as nap-time - nap? What nap? He barely does anymore anyway. And he'll be home before 4, he'll have time for one before dinner.
Ahhh - thank God!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I hate preschool.

Okay, the whole speech-improving thing has happened. Kittyboy is now his own narrator. Not necessarily a coherent one, but it helps to know his books and viewing habits, and it's so funny that he just talks ALL THE TIME. He talks to his toys, his toys talk to him, his toys talk to each other, sometimes everything and everyone is apparently talking at once, and he talked for a non-verbal friend at the playground. He said "Hi!", boy said nothing. Mom said boy doesn't really talk yet. So Kittyboy helped out. "Hi!" Silence. "Hewwo, what you doing? I cimbing! See you yator!" And I laugh in the face of the "but he won't be socialized!" argument against homeschooling. I have watched him at the playground, and he appears to be the friendliest and most outgoing child there. I love watching him run up to older kids (kids who've probably been in daycare, gone to preschool, etc), say "Hi!" and get NO RESPONSE. I tell him that they've just not learned social skills yet. :)
But we're what, four weeks in? And every afternoon, without fail, we have the same conversation. "Daddy?" "Daddy's at work." "Daddy not be at work?" "Daddy has to be at work. Daddy is at work every day when you get out of school." "Daddy be at Mommy-Daddy House?" Every single day at noon, since school started. "School", if you can call it that, takes place from 9:30-12. Husband works at 12, until 9 at night. Kittyboy goes to bed between 7 and 8. So basically, he doesn't GET Daddy during the week, but for maaaybe two hours first thing in the morning. And he's not "getting over it" or adjusting, he's increasing the requests. It's not getting better. It's getting sadder.
Last week, it got a LOT worse - he started having problems going to sleep. He would cry again and again to be rewrapped, wrapped tighter, his legs weren't wrapped tightly enough, he wanted the light on, bedtime took forever and was a mess. Friday night after Akathist, friend Peyton was over and I was going to put him down for bed and then go to get Husband. I ended up taking him along to get Husband, because bed was not happening. This was not an over-tired, whiny, I-want-to-get-up cry that you could let go. He would eventually be coughing and gasping for breath. And he kept asking to go to the hospital.
Only, ONLY way the hospital request makes any sense is when you consider the following - last time he went to the hospital, the Benadryl incident, Husband was at work with the car. And had to come home in order to take us. He wanted Daddy. He also started wanting me to be in the same room with him, just for the sake of being in the same room, and Saturday required me to sit on his bed until he fell asleep for a nap. It's been over half his lifetime since he's NEEDED someone in his room to fall asleep.
When Kittyboy was not quite a year old and decided overnight that I couldn't put him down, his wise, wise therapists Rhonda and Janna basically said, "Then, don't put him down." For reasons we didn't know, he needed extra security, and should be given whatever he needed for as long as he needed it. And I stubbornly followed that advice until one day, presto, he decided he could be with someone else and was fine with that. So obviously, if he needs extra again because he doesn't have Daddy, we'll give him that extra. Husband fixed up a small table and repaired the switch on a Noah's Ark nightlight we hadn't used since Kittyboy was very small, and Kittyboy was quite thrilled when he got home from school today. I gushed to him that DADDY had made him a little green table! (his favorite color is green, he told us yesterday) And put a light on it! And the light has animals on it! And DADDY did this just for HIM, so he can have a light on if he wants to go to sleep with a light on! DADDY is just so wonderful! So I told him he could even eat his lunch sitting at his little green table with his Ark light, and he thought that was wonderful! And then he asked "Eat with Daddy??" Sigh. So we had "that" conversation Yet Again. I am very, very ready to be done with it.
But he IS asleep tonight. Without a hitch, and he decided he didn't need a light after all. So we can just do WHATEVER he needs until June, and if it does eventually come to me sitting on his bed until he falls asleep, I'm cool with that. But come June 1, June 8 at the latest if they need ALL their snow days (they haven't used one yet to my knowledge), we're done. Between the fact that he doesn't get Daddy during the week, and the fact that one of the words in his "vocab list" the week before last was "wheel"... and discussing the fact that wheels are circles (call the NY Times!!), this is just not working for us. I did have fun quizzing him on the way home that day, though - "Honey, do you know what a WHEEL is?" "Yup!" (I love when he says "yup"). "Well then! And do you know what a BUS is?" He pointed out the car window - "City bus!" (he's a veteran of those). On another block - "Schoo' bus!" Academically, it's not like he's missing anything (I giggle as I type that). I pulled up the academic standards for kindergarten - he's well on track, especially in the area of language, WOW. He knew which direction books went in probably a year ago. He wasn't two yet when you could hand him any book with print on the front and back, and he would turn it right side up. This applied to manga (Japanese comic books, they go right to left) as well, because what he was doing was orienting it so that the front cover was face up and right side up, regardless of how the book opened. We were fascinated, and so a few months later, we handed him a manga again, and got quite a kick out of his puzzlement. He'd figured out since the first time, that books should open on the right side, and so he oriented the manga correctly and then it didn't open where he thought it should. Very confusing when you're two. Silly non-Western languages that go backwards.
I'll print them (the kindergarten standards) out and use them as a rough guideline. When he meets them, print out first grade, and so on. No more preschool. He needs Daddy, and he doesn't need to be told what a wheel is.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Now THAT'S a nightmare.

Husband's alarm went off, like it always does. I rolled over and saw him shut it off, then heard some kids running through the house yelling, "Fire!" Half-awake dreams involving kids are nothing new, three years working for SCOPE seems to have scarred me for life. But the yells of "fire" sparked a nagging fear, pun intended, and I tried to get Husband and say, "Please humor me and just make sure nothing's burning." He often humors my half-awake whims, mainly because I need him to - I don't give him peace until he does. But when I opened my mouth, nothing came out.
Still not alarmed (apart from the irrationally strong urge to make sure nothing was on fire), because I've been having sinus problems and was bound to wake up voiceless one of these mornings.
But then there was suddenly a man standing by Husband's side of the bed. Door to the room is on my side - he didn't come through it. He also didn't come through a window. He was just THERE. But he couldn't be. And while I was moving my mouth silently, trying to get Husband's attention and ask "Is there really a man there???" and failing because I couldn't talk or move, the man answered the question - he shook his head slowly. And smiled.
Hallucinations are a particular horror of mine. In grade-school I was prescribed a medication that has hallucinations as a side effect if you're allergic - which I apparently was. Saw very menacing furry little men and a lobster that varied between spaniel-size and pony-size. Saw them A LOT. "It can't really be there" is not a comforting thought, it's my worst nightmare.
I turned my head, and on my side of the room, there was a silent young woman in a long white nightgown. Okay, I've seen horror movies, I've seen most of "The Ring", and women in long white gowns better be real, talking, and not appearing in my bedroom. She laid down on the floor. And swam under my side of the bed.
I turned again to Husband, out of my head now, and he wasn't there. Someone else was. Or he was someone else, somehow. I looked back at the side of the bed - and the woman's very pale, very thin hands were clawing at the mattress by my feet.

I had a LOT of nightmares when I was younger, and I worked on conscious ways to make myself wake up. Even if your dream body has mobility, your real body doesn't, and forcing real movement will wake you up eventually if you can manage it, so I would try with all my might to blink my REAL eyes, really hard, again and again, or move my real lips, something. It feels profoundly strange, because once you get something moving, you feel like you have two bodies, the one in the dream and the one horizontal, trying its darndest to blink, and whatever you're really moving has practically no muscle behind it. And without even thinking about it, I was trying with everything I had, to move my hand. I realized I what I was doing when my fist started just barely tapping Husband's back. Just barely. My arm felt so dead that the effort actually hurt. Thankfully he felt it, and rolled over to ask, "Honey, are you okay?" which woke me up enough to gasp "NO I'M NOT!!!!"

That is THE most terrified I have been in a LONG time.

A "Treat" Day

Friday, Kittyboy just happened to be clean and dry ALL DAY. FIRST TIME EVER. We had already planned on going to Kids Fest downtown, but hadn't told him yet, so we told him Saturday morning that we were going somewhere special, BECAUSE he was such a big boy and had been clean and dry all the day before.
I forgot what awful lighting and acoustics Prairie Capital Convention Center has - but he didn't get upset by the crowds or noise or anything, he warmed up at his own pace and then had fun. Kids Fest is way cooler than we had realized. The businesses that had booths there had little free things for the kids, or games to play. He got to sit in a go-cart, look in a monster truck, and touch a race car. There were three bounce house things - one just a bounce thing, one an inflatable obstacle course, and one an inflatable climbing wall with a slide on the other side. The lines for all of those were RIGHT next to the speakers and stage, and he was cool with that. He petted a VERY large and fluffy dog at the APL booth and let it sniff him. And Kittyboy, unlike many three-year-olds, is TOTALLY cool with mascots in huge costumes!! He liked those, he ran up and gave them hugs! When we first came in, they had an ambulance and police car with the lights on, and he didn't want anything to do with that (they might have been going to start the sirens, for all he knew!), but after doing the inflatable climbing-and-sliding thing, he ran right over and climbed in the ambulance and stared in adorable boyish awe at the cruiser and everything. We heard an announcement about "DePriest Puppets" and didn't give it much thought - we assumed they were just regular hand-puppets, and he was having fun with other stuff - but we stumbled onto the puppet show while looking for a bathroom. They were real marionettes! Whole people and animals with limbs, dancing on nearly invisible strings. Kittyboy eyed the puppeteer cautiously at first, since his prior experience with puppets consists of Stromboli in "Pinocchio". "Excuse me sir, are you a villain? Just checking, you know, puppets and all..." One of the puppets was a trapeze artist - yes, with a trapeze, swinging from it, hanging by her toes from it and all. It was AWESOME. The last puppet was Smiley the Clown, who came out to wave at the children, sit on their laps, and give them hugs. Kittyboy is conclusively NOT scared of clowns, and gave Smiley a big enthusiastic hug with a big grin. And with ALL this craziness going on, he was dry when we finally found a bathroom!! And he WENT in the strange public bathroom he'd never been in before!!
So then we were leaving and it was almost 1, and Husband had the idea of going to The Pizza Machine - which we didn't know is like a Chuck E Cheese. Loudness and kids running and flashy lights and music and games and things going on all over the place. And he was cool with THAT. And went in the bathroom there, and was STILL dry.
He just had the Special Day to end all special days. I found Monsters Inc on VHS in a thrift store, and we watched that after dinner. A MOVIE, while finishing his leftover pizza. How much more
decadent can you get!
Wonder how many pullups will fall apart from abuse before I actually feel confident putting him in underwear... Those disposable pullups do not last a day's worth of pulling up and pushing down.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Boy, you best start getting happy...

My Grandpa Speed, who sadly died when I was six, is famous in our family for phrases such as "that's not a reason, that's an excuse", and "you have ten seconds to get happy." Get Happy has always been my favorite.
This afternoon, Kittyboy was two things - tired and needing a nap, and very aggravated with his train set not doing what he wanted it to. Three o'clock is the witching hour, when he needs a nap, doesn't want a nap, and in fact is likely to gain a second wind by four o'clock, so unless you're really, REALLY sure of success, you'll only spend an hour fighting if you try to make him TAKE a nap, and then he won't have taken one, and you'll both be out of sorts. So at the time of this incident, it was 3 p.m., and so he was fussy to begin with.
AND, he was mad at his train. He was trying to make the engine and both cars AND ambulance AND fire truck (which have the same wheel base, so they can be driven on the tracks, but of course they don't hook up with the train) all be a big train and go up the ramp together, and it wasn't working. He started whining and crying and scattering the train parts around. I kept telling him it wasn't GOING to work, which (like all great innovators), he didn't find helpful. I asked him (because sometimes this works!) "Are you tired? Would you like a nap?"
"*sniff sniff* No take a nap? No go to sleep??"
"But you seem so tired and unhappy. I think you need a nap."
"You no need a nap???" (he's using "you" again when he's tired)
Sigh. And out of my mouth comes, very sweetly, "Well, here are your choices. You can take a nap, or you can get happy."
"*sniff sniff* You get happy *sniff* okay."
AND HE DID. He sniffed a few times and went back to lining up his "train plus two" for, oh, the tenth time or so. Once again, the whole line jackknifed halfway up the ramp. Cue tears and scattering of cars.
"Do you need a nap?"
"NO NEED A NAP!!!"
"Okay then, get happy."
"*sniff* get happy *sniff* okay."
I think it was probably the twelfth or thirteenth try that he figured out in what order he could line up the train and emergency vehicles so that they ACTUALLY DID MAKE IT UP THE RAMP. They fell all apart on the other side, but success was his. They had made it up the ramp. He's probably the next Edison.
And of course, he'll never again believe me when I tell him "it won't work".
I just love that "get happy" actually works. You could write a whole book on parenting philosophy entitled "You've Got Ten Seconds to Get Happy".
Turned out I actually should have pushed the issue with the nap - at ten til four, there was no second wind in sight, and so now he's going to wake up for dinner only an hour before bedtime and that won't be good. But you never can tell how it's going to go at 3 p.m. That's why I call it the witching hour.