Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What Ice Cream?

To set the scene.

We just finished our dinner and Jack and I are eating ice cream when Helen, not a big ice cream fan, comes in with a jam covered bun.
Jack of course takes immediate interest and conversation goes like this.

Jack: What you got?
Mommy: I've got a bun.
Jack: Can I have a bite?
Mommy: No you've got ice cream.
Jack: What ice cream?
Mommy: You and Daddy have ice cream, I have a bun.
Jack: There's no ice cream. (during this Jack is continuously eating his ice cream)
Mommy: It's right there.
Jack: I don't see any ice cream.
Mommy: You're eating it right now.
Jack: I can't see it anywhere.
Mommy: It's right there, it's on your spoon.
Jack: (holding up a spoonful) You mean this?
Mommy: Yes.
Jack: This not ice cream.

I can't quite recall how it ended, I was too busy laughing.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

I Want Daddy...

Most Friday mornings we spend at Playgroup. This is a charity function that takes place two or three times a week at one of the local community centers. The best way to describe a morning there would be: Chaos – Snack Time – Chaos, it’s truly incredible. It’s just a big room stocked full of toys of all types, for ages 1 – 6, on average around 30 kids turn up and they wreck the place. At snack time the kids all sit down at the little tables in the corner while the parents bring them food, mostly toast, cookies and squash. For twenty minutes there’s calm, order and quiet until gradually as the kids finish their plates we descend back into chaos.

Some Saturdays we go to Play Booth. It’s essentially the same thing but instead of toys the kids have two big constructs, each with a gigantic slide. There's a bouncy castle too, also with a slide. Snack Time is replaced by a kitchen that offers adult snacks as well as kid snacks. Since we’ve been going there Jack has had me for his playmate. Together we run, climb and crawl through the constructs until we get to the slides, at the slide we race or slide down backward or whatever we feel like at the time. Then we do it again, and again, and again. For Jack, it’s the best thing ever, he loves the slides and especially loves the bouncy castle. For me, the play booth means three hours of extreme workout, because Jack prefers the over 5s’ construct to the under 5s’, he’s not tall enough to climb through it by himself, I have to lift and carry him, as well as myself, around up and down the obstacles. Usually by lunch time I’m pretty beat.

Jack loves both, I don’t think he could choose between the two.

A few weeks ago we went to the Play Booth. As usual Jack had opened the child-proof gate and left his shoes and a coat on the floor next to me before I’d even finished paying. He's like a character in a cartoon show, he zips off screen leaving only a twirling pair of shoes behind. Helen and I off-loaded our coats and bags on the sofas then I removed my shoes ready for my three hours of pain. I walked round to the entrance of the over 5s’ construct where Jack is normally waiting for me, very loudly, but Jack wasn’t there. Instead I found him lying on the ground about 5 feet away giggling. Normally this wouldn’t have been anything except where he was lying was at the bottom of the slide. He’d managed to get all the way up to the slide, by himself. When he finished giggling he got up, pushed me out of the way and went up and ‘round again and again.

At that moment I was filled with a mixture of emotions. Pride that my son was both big enough and strong enough to climb all the way up to the slide alone. Relief that I wasn’t going to have to find the energy to keep up with him for the next three hours and sadness, my son didn’t need my help any more.

I took these emotions with me back to the sofa and my puzzled wife. I sat down, relaxed and… watched, just like most of the other parents. I didn’t care for it much. I sat with Helen sipping hot chocolate and joking about feeling unwanted in an attempt to hide my hurt feelings, I fear I may have given myself away by practically jumping out of my seat when I heard Jack calling me from the ball pit. The session passed slowly by, much slower than usual, occasionally Jack called me over to play with him, but eventually he’d lose interest and go off on his own. As he got tired the calls increased, but it was clear it was more out of necessity than anything else.

Recently we were at the Play Booth again, this time with all his little buddies from the Playgroup. Jack spent most of the time running around with them, almost all of which are also now tall enough to get all the way to the over 5s’ slide, just two weeks earlier none of them could do it on their own. I was still needed for some things, but mostly I just sat on the sofa, watching.

As Jack has grown older he’s stopped needing me for a great many things but this was something to which I hadn’t really given much thought. I’ve always been his favourite playmate, and he mine.

I’m getting past it all now. Jack still needs me to toss him around the ball pit and things, and some of the other kids like me to play with them as well, but it’s not going to last much longer. Over time our relationship will change. He’ll grow up and away and as he becomes more and more independent, I’ll find myself sitting on the sofa more and more. I guess I’m just going to have to accept it sooner or later but I don’t have to like it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Potty Training.

Jack has always been a little strange when it comes to behavioral development and learning new things.

For example: When jack was about 9 months we'd started to see the other children in his group become more mobile. Many were crawling, one was walking, but Jack was still a little lump of giggles and smiles. Then suddenly, whether due to peer pressure or his own antics, he started making attempts to crawl. We got one whole day of Jack dragging himself along the carpet before he resumed his life as speed bump. It wasn't due to lack of encouragement on our part, we cheered and laughed and hung a carrot an inch or so out of reach but got nothing, he was a lump again and that was that. The a week later he changed his mind. No longer was he a pile of pudge but a four legged race car. Not only could he crawl, but at incredible speeds. There was no practice, no trial and error, just the decision.

Another Example: 13 months old and he was perfectly content racing around on all fours. Aside from the occasional cruising along the furniture (mostly to try reach whatever was on the sofa that he's been told he couldn't have) there wasn't any real attempt and walking on his own. One Sunday afternoon, Helen and I were sat on the sofa watching TV while Jack quietly vandalized one of the chairs when suddenly, he stood up strolled slowly out into the middle of the room. He turned and smiled at his wide-eyed parents then sat down. Try as we might we couldn't get him back on his feet for three weeks. He'd done all the walking he was going to do for the rest of his life, in fact he even stopped cruising the furniture. Then one day I went into the kitchen to get Jack his morning snack only to find him right on my tail. He could walk, jump, skip (as nanny discovered) and run, none of this one step/two steps stuff. His balance was a little off and we had our share of bruises for a week or so, but he could walk.

Jack has taken this approach to most things in his little life. We've put it down mostly to laziness, he just can't be bothered, everything is the way he likes it. But eventually something must catch his eye about it, everyone else seems to enjoy it so there's got to be something to is. So he'll give it an attempt just to see what's it's all about, then spend an undetermined amount of time weighing out the benefits before giving it a place in his world.

Potty training has so far been the exception to the rule, or so it would appear. We're 4 weeks in and progress is slow. We've tried many different tactics in trying to encourage him but he's, resistant, to say the least.

A typical day in training goes like this.
Jack do you want to go on the potty for a wee-wee?
Are you sure? Use the potty like a big boy.
No, I not a big boy. (under any other circumstance Jack considers himself a big boy.)

His nanny had a rather ingenious idea right at the beginning which was right after lunch, take off his nappy and let him run around naked from the waist down. This worked beautifully, after just a couple of minutes she found him sitting on his potty doing his think. Helen and I immediately stole this idea but got a little bit different result. Tantrum. 15 minutes of a half naked boy laying on the ground demanding to have his nappy put back on. In the end we resorted to bribing and other things to get his to stop wanting his nappy on. Even now, he'll still put up a fight, but he will usually give in with a little coaxing. He just doesn't like not having a nappy on.
Something must be working because just last night he was calling to his mommy saying that he needed the toilet. When she went upstairs she found he'd stripped himself completely naked.

Next were pull-ups. We've had a package of pull-ups for a while now and after 3 weeks of relative success we thought we'd try him in the pull-ups. The moment we got them out Jack took offense and the kicking and screaming began. We tried everything,

But they're just like your swimming nappies.
But I don't wanna go swimming.
They've got Spider-man on them.
I don't like Spider-man. (a lie, he loves Spider-man)
They're big boy pants.
I not a big boy.

In the end we gave up. We made a couple more attempts over the next few days but got nowhere. The following Tuesday Helen picked him up from his Nanny's sporting a pair of teddy bear pull-ups. Nanny said that he was down-right enthusiastic about wearing them. So we took him home and after a 35 minutes session on the toilet brought out a pair of pull-ups, instant tantrum.

But they're just like the ones at nannies.
But I don't like them.
Is it because they've got Spider-man on them.
I don't like them.
They're big boy pants.
I not a big boy.

Nursery had a similar experience, he actually asked for pull-ups. But he wouldn't wear them for us. In the end we had to trick him but keeping the old pair of teddy pull-ups and fooling him into thinking we were putting them on. I'm not convinced that he was fooled, it seemed more like him just letting us have a win to me.

So today, we're trying him on pants, the final frontier. We're trying the theory that he's only weeing in his nappies because they're there. So far so good. He wore little red Mater pants all morning and hasn't had any accidents.

Several of Jack's friends are already potty trained, some more so than others. I have no doubt that Jack will get there and the mere fact that we're pushing it is probably what's making him so resistant. No doubt one day he'll just wake up potty trained.