Sunday, 22 February 2009

Know Thy Son.

Any parent will tell you that, from the moment they're born children have a distinct personality. With some children that personality is very subtle, babies aren't able to express themselves very well or at all, but no mistaking it's there.

You see, it's right there.

Jack is a strong character. He's quite complicated for a 2 year old so I'm just going to cover some of the more prominent.

He's smart, holy moly is he smart. Anyone who spends any amount of time with him always comments on how bright he is. He's speaking better than a girl of his same age. He's not much of a thinker. He likes results, see it, do it and repeat as necessary. He thinks about things while, and often a good while after doing them.

He figures things out, and usually pretty quickly as well. He hasn't managed to work out how my rubbing the penny into my elbow transports it into my ear yet, but give him a break, the 2 year old intellect doesn't stand much of a chance against slight-of-hand. I'm a little ashamed to say that I was a good few years older before I ever worked it out, and even then I still had my doubts.

Apart from slight-of-hand he can't be tricked, at least not more than once. As with any child if Jack here's any utterance of the word snack, park, slide, play-group, or chocolate, we enter into the tantrum minefield. So like every parent does, Helen and I started using a code to talk about these subjects, spelling and whispering certain words etc... Now, the problem is not that Jack knows what we're referring to when we spell out S N A C K, its that he knows we're talking in code. He doesn't know what were talking about, only that because we're talking in code means it's something he's going to want. So despite the preventative measures we find ourselves in that same minefield.

He's stubborn, more so when tired or hungry. When his mind is set there's no changing it, ever, the only thing you can do is try to distract him until he forgets about it.

He likes to do things for himself, this is usually what he's stubborn over. He will not accept that someone else would need to do anything for him without having at least had a go. The only thing to do is let him attempt whatever it is until he gives up and then offer help.

He's goofy, he loves to be the comedian. He's always on the look out for something that he thinks will make everyone laugh. Alternatively just making himself laugh will usually suffice.
Lately he's taken to the phrase 'I'm very funny.' usually said after throwing or knocking something over.

He's also got a trait that I've only recently come to really notice. Here's the scene:
It's bed time, Jack doesn't want to go to bed. So, he yells, kicks, cries anything at all he can do to get out of going to bed. He will eventually calm down and just repeat over and over 'I don't wanna go to bed.' Normally I would respond with 'You've got to, it's bed time.' and this conversation would carry on for an hour or so with him going through varying levels of emotion and my going in an out of his room. But, if I take a different approach and just say something like, 'but it's bed time hun', it all plays out very differently. He's not happy, but he cooperates and will more often than not, stay in bed. I've since used this approach in other situations and got exactly the same result every time. To sum up, Jack doesn't like to be told what to do, he simply hates not having a choice.
This particular trait is actually a combination of what is arguably both his parents' strongest traits. Neither Helen or I like to be told what to do. But I'd go as far to say that I think Jack has taken this more from me than from his mother simply because, even if it's something that Jack likes or wants, the moment he's got to do it he'll resist you in every was possible.

When I was 16 I remember a conversation I had with my step-father Marc. I don't know if he remembers but this has stuck with me since that day.
This is turning in to a very long note so I'll just sum up what was said. 'Derek can't bemade to do anything.'
It's interesting for me to see this exact same trait in my 2 year old son. I'm not ashamed to say that while it didn't change my life at the time, it certainly didn't change a decision that I made only a couple of days later. It did change the way I looked at myself and now the way I'll look at my son. So thank you Marc.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Games He Plays

Jack has a variety of games that he likes to play. Some of which he's learned at nursery and seems to have adapted to his own taste, some he's learned from us or the play-group, and some he's just seems to have made up.

I just want to write some of them down because he's growing very quickly and these things are easy to forget. Jack's named each game himself and has made up all the rules.

His current favorite is Race, he's had me playing it with him all afternoon, and his poor Nanny all day long apparently. This game is an adaptation of a running game we play with the kids at the end of play group on Friday.
He yells, ARMS UP, then counts, or recites colors, then GO! And we run, and run, and run. We don't go any where in particular, usually just from the family room to the kitchen and back again. He used to giggle and laugh all the while and usually keeps in front of you but today he was a car, and we had to be cars as well. We got in trouble if we made the wrong car noises, stopped running or slowed too much. There's an adaptation to this game called Chase Me. It has a striking resemblance to Race only there's more monster noises involved. Chase Me is almost always followed up with Chase Daddy which he'll play all day.

Another favorite is Hide, this one is fairly new, he's been playing it for about a week now. Basically, we hide somewhere, anywhere, usually under the dining room table or under a blanket or towel. Mostly the game amounts to Jack and I crouching under the table for one to fifteen minutes while Jack plays with whatever toy he's taken or examines the underside of the chairs. Sometimes, he'll ask me or Helen to come find him, which is generally not very hard with all the giggling and 'I'm hiding' that comes from under the table or blanket. If you say something like 'Oh where's he gone?' he very obligingly will tell you or come out and show you where he's hiding.

Balloon, Jack loves balloons. We usually play this one in the hall. We hit the balloon into the air back and forth to each other. There's one balloon that he's had for over a month now, the yellow one, it's still just as... balloony as ever, it's usually the balloon that we use because it's soft and floats well.

Then there's Drivers, this is Mario Kart Wii. I give him the steering wheel and then play a few games while he pretends to drive. He usually gets bored of it quite quickly but he demands it pretty regularly.

There are lots of other games we play, most of which involve tickling or me swinging him around by his ankles for long periods of time. But none of these have names. It's exhausting but it keeps me in shape so I don't mind.