Act I: Tyler
We arrived at the park today, only to realize too late that he had thrown a shoe out the window of the van. Awesome. Now, Love & Logic tells me to apply a direct and natural consequence to the crime. Except I could only think of two consequences:
1) He could play barefoot at the park (which is not permissible by park rules), or 2) He could not play at all (which suddenly becomes a far greater consequence to ME, the one who desperately needs him to run, for the sake of all things peaceful on the homefront).
So we retraced our steps. Thankfully, his shoe was in the garage. (While I grabbed our picnic items, Tucker practiced balancing his shoe on the rim of the open window. Tyler, mimicking without such dexterity, simply chucked his out the open window.) It was an easy find, but it still required a trip home.
All the way home.
During naptime, when I thought he was sleeping, he was really quietly playing. With Vaselline. When I found him, he and the entire contents of his room were covered in a greasy veneer. AND he had not slept. At all. That's a great recipe, speaking of peace on the homefront.
Note to self: petroleum jelly is most certainly not water soluble. Nor is it penetrable with baby wipes. I'm not sure yet how we will completely recover from this mess. But I am 100% confident that I will find slimey things for a long time to come.
After I had cleaned him as well as I could, changed his clothes, changed his sheets, combed his slicked hair, scrubbed the rocking chair, wiped down the changing table, and threw away most of the contents of the top drawer (before we rushed to church so I could hand him over to nursery workers who would undoubtedly wonder about my parenting), he pointed to a huge glob on the dresser.
"Mommy. Mess. Big mess."
Yes, Tyler. You are absolutely, completely and totally right, kiddo.
Before we left the house, I fed Molly. This led me to discover too late in the day that Tyler had taken the cushy seat off the potty and positioned it directly - quite perfectly, really - on top of Molly's water dish. So she had to dig deep to find water, but she could rest her chin on the softest seat in the house.
(I choose to believe that nobody has been peeing in her water dish while it looked like a teeny tiny toilet. But this may be wishful thinking. Sorry, Molls.)
Stay with me folks. We're not done yet.
Act II: Tucker
Tuck has been experimenting recently with language, responses, and boundaries. He is trying new things, just to practice cause and effect, to test consequences, and to see how his most favorite people will respond.
Example #1: "Grandma, I don't love you."
"No? Well, I'm sorry to hear that, because I sure love you."
She's a total pro, folks. Doesn't miss a beat. She's not buying what he's selling; as she says, "Oh, it's fine. He can't even fake it. He can say whatever he wants to. I know the truth." (This made her a maddeningly brilliant mom, because she didn't easily step into the dance I wished to entice her. She simply nodded and said, "Oh, really? You think so?" And left me to alter my behavior accordingly, since she wasn't taking the bait. And so it continues. Believe me: it is hard to ruffle her feathers. Go ahead and try, Tuck.)
And try he does. "Well, I don't love you. I don't."
Example #2: "Poop." "Stupid." Insert these two words into any conversation, any play time activity, or babbling of any sort. He loves the feel of them on his tongue. I have henceforth declared them 'rude words.' Stupid is unwelcome, ever. And poop is a word we use only in the bathroom.
So what does he do? He declares that he needs to go to the bathroom. But only to use those words, since he has deposited himself in an acceptable environment.
(I can't make this stuff up.)
Example #3: (This brings us to tonight.) He grabbed the breasts of two women at church tonight. I wish I were joking. He came running down the hall from his class (where he had apparently been thinking about things other than five fish and two loaves), and he groped two of my friends as he arrived.
To one of them, he said, "I'm going to tickle your boobies." Oh, for heaven's sake. I am not ready for this. Boobies? Really? Boobie tickling is not exactly a bedtime routine of ours.
In my mind are all the mothers of sons who have gone before me; their voices echo: Don't overreact. He just needs to be taught. A huge reaction will lead him to do it again. Be firm, and be clear, but don't overreact.
It's hard not to, ladies. It's hard not to. I can't have my son doing things like this - at church, of all places?!
So, at bedtime, he and I had The Swimsuit Talk. If it is covered by a swimsuit, then you cannot touch it. Girls' swimsuits are different from boys' swimsuits, and that's because girls have parts that boys don't have. You may not touch them. We named the parts that can't be touched, just to be clear. Yes, they have names. No, you may not touch them.
Finally, pleased with my appropriate reaction (and not overly so), I said, "Let's pray and ask God to help you to be a good boy."
Here was his prayer:
"Dear God, please don't let anyone touch my penis. Amen. Boobie."
(And if you know how to keep from laughing at that, please write a book on parenting.)
This has been my day. (Did I mention: Robb has been in Montana for four days. So, you know, my resources are in fresh reserve.)
Sometimes, I wonder if my aspirations to write have led me to this life that offers much to write about. Everyday brings something. Somedays, more than my share.
Here's to tomorrow: may it be free of shoe chucking, Vaselline explorations, potty seats on the water dish, discussions of all things poopy and stupid, and the indiscriminate squeezing of breasts.
Please. Dear God, please.