Storing up for the evening assault...
We headed out to "Stuntman School" this morning, after a pretty noisy disagreement about whether or not to go. Jay wanted to stay at home and watch TV. I kept reminding him we were going to Tumbling School with Miss Candace. He would get excited, but then didn't want to actually get dressed and change a dirty diaper. After a long, steady period of enthusiastic coaxing, he began to relent. He lay down for the change, and I went straight into pants on, socks on, shoes on, jacket on.
When the mighty mo, momentum, is in your favor, keep pushing the ball forward.
It had been snowing some throughout the morning, but Laura had called from work a while back to tell me the roads weren't too bad. So, we packed ourselves, lunch, and a diaper bag into the van. I wasn't going to push it by staying around for the hopes of lunch at Friendly's. Rutland, Vermont is about 50 minutes away in the best of conditions, and I expected today's drive to be slower. The drive home, in another 3 hours or so, might be worse.
As I stood waiting for Jay to climb into his seat, I checked the clock on the dashboard. It was 9:30, and class would start in a half hour. We would miss half the class. Still, I felt like we needed the outing. Okay, maybe I needed the outing. One thing we didn't need was a day of cartoon reruns.
And, now Jay wouldn't get into his car seat.
Jay is really getting into identifying his letters. The back of the car seat has LOTS of letters. Letters like "W-A-R-N-I-N-G", "C-A-U-T-I-O-N, and the like. So now, especially when he would like to stall, he invokes his right to education and to assert that Dad is an asshole if he wants a certain little boy to "just PLEASE climb into your seat. We have to get going." Of course, the best way to slow a child down at anything is to let urgency creep into your voice. Animals, especially predators, sense fear. Toddlers sense grownups in a hurry at a level that would make hyenas guffaw with approval.
I'm sad to say that, after repeatedly offering him the chance to climb in by himself, I ran out of patience. We wrestled, and thankfully I won, but only physically. We were both emotionally defeated.
I know that lines have to be drawn. Things need to move forward. People need to learn that there are agendas other than their own. I know that he has to understand that he doesn't make all of the rules. Still, it's hard when these things break out. I don't want to break his spirit, but we do need to figure out how to make things happen in ways that allow some sort of grace and dignity. That's a lot to expect; he's not even two and a half. I'm Old-School, and at a bit of a loss for this whole 21st century discipline thing. He is fully aware of a number of manipulation schemes, and separating those from viable and reasonable choices on his part is such a huge challenge.
Once we were both strapped in, I put on the old, classic Sesame Street CD. Within a few minutes he was singing with Big Bird. Between songs he broke away from the album for an important message.
"I love you Daddy." It was a search for approval, a request for validation from me: Are we okay, Daddy?
"I love you too Jay. We're okay, right?"
"I got two eyes. one, two, and their both the same size, one two..."
But that car isn't. There was a gray sedan down a 15-foot embankment. It was upright, but there were no tracks from the car yet. There was nowhere to safely stop to help- the roads were very snowy, we were on a long curve, and visibility was dropping. We stopped at the church about a quarter of a mile down the road. There is no cell service in this area, so we needed to find a land line. Someone beat us to it; the accident was called in and help was on the way. Given the toddler in the back seat and the fracture boot on my right leg, walking back to check on the driver wasn't feasible. I let my First Responder training get squelched by my Dad-Spidey senses, and backed up to turn onto the highway.
By this time Jay had a great deal invested in reaching our destination. There was the long "letting go" process at home, the fight over the car seat, and the realization that oh yeah, Miss Candace rocks and Tumbling School is a blast. Enough with these delays.
"Tumbling School, Daddy. TUMBLING SCHOOL!"
Sigh. After all of this, it was clear that driving to Rutland was a bad idea. He needed an outlet, and I needed some sort of outing just as badly. There isn't much to do in our area. But, we needed just a few things before we became housebound by the snow, so we went to the one place we can count on to meet other toddlers in carts:
the grocery store.
I opened the side door to the van. Apparently I'm forgiven.
"DADDY!!!!!!!!" Arms open wide, he hasn't seen me in six or eight seconds, we were re-united. I unbuckled him, and he jumped to the van floor.
"I caught one Daddy! I caught one!" He reached his hands out of the van door. "I caught another one!"
Snowflakes blew into the van, and no amount of gold or glitter could have had more value. I picked him up and carried him to a cart. "It's raining, Daddy! It's raining!"
It's snowing, honey.
"NO, Daddy, it's RAINING." We went back and forth, laughing and snorting, and getting soaking wet. Wet enough that it was hard to argue with him. Okay, Jay, it sure feels like rain. We caught a few more flakes and went inside.
Whichever direction I pointed the cart was the wrong way. Over there, Daddy. That way. THAT way. THAT WAY! NOOOOOOO.
Bananas, soy milk for daddy, sorry, no Thomas balloon or greeting card, yes ground beef, no donuts.
Sigh. We spied a mother and small child. Jay yelled, at the top of his little lungs,
The mother laughed, and said "Hey!" back. Jay waved to them, and said "Hi there." The conversation was cut short by the Yogurt Sighting.
Yes, yogurt. I SAID yes, we're getting yogurt. I know, honey, YES. We're getting yogurt. I'm putting it in the cart. We'll eat it when we get home. Because you need a spoon to eat it, and we don't have one. You can have a banana after we pay for them. Yogurt WHEN WE GET HOME!!!!! You know the answer to that. As soon as we get home. No, after all of this I think we'd better leave it in the cart. Boy, you have a long reach. Those are mommy's flowers. For mommy. I know; they're pretty! And free! Why free? Because we're waiting until we get home to eat our yogurt. And because we're paying for all of our bananas. That's how it works here. We pay for everything and we wave to the other children and say hi (as opposed to screeching at them like a zombie/ vampire), and sometimes we get free things like flowers for mommy. Pretty nice, huh?
"Pretty nice, Daddy."
We checked out without incident (not always a sure thing). I opened the side door and pulled him from the cart. We both tensed a bit when I put him on the floor of the van. He climbed halfway onto his seat, and began pointing out the letters on the seat back. I let him show off his knowledge while I put the groceries on the floor and the front seat. I pushed the cart aside, and stood next to him. "Ready to climb in by yourself?"
No, Daddy. It was a very quiet voice. I asked him to show me some letters. There was no hurry at this point. We were heading home, and the road might be blocked at the scene of the accident. He proudly pointed out the ones he knew. I offered to help him with some others, but he didn't want help. This was about pride, which meant my help would accentuate what he didn't know. He needed to show me what he knows. Point taken; carry on my son.
"Tumbling School, Daddy!"
Oh, he doesn't forget a thing. This is why we got into the car in the first place. I pointed out how bad the roads were, and said "I'm sorry Jay. It's not safe. Let's go home and eat some yogurt."
Sigh. "Okay, Daddy."
When got home, Jay ravaged a cup of yogurt, a large pile of cheerios, a big bowl of noodles, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. God help us. Laura had better keep climbing that USDA ladder, or Jay will need to go to work at say, seven years of age.
I had spent last night with him on the floor of his room because he woke up at 12:30 am, and I was too tired to get into two or three hours of hard-assed Ferberizing to get him to put himself back to sleep. So, I have been exhausted all day. He is napping now, and Laura just showed up, home from work an hour and a half early. I just found a tablet of construction paper which Jay deconstructed all over the floor before he fell asleep. We'll find something interesting to do with that after dinner.
And, we'll show mom the progress Jay has made in learning the choreography to the Fresh Beat Band's "Go Bananas". We studied it over and over this afternoon. I wish our DVR had a continuous loop mode (and that I remembered my earplugs). He has about half the song down.
I think I know how he can start paying for all of that food he's eating...