Three.

Here’s the thing about Three. Three is big. Three is a great big, independent whole human with more than just the likes/dislikes/personality traits that zero, one, and two had. Three has the means to explain them. Carry them out. Demand their acknowledgment.  Three is very different than two. And this I know after just a few days.

The Who is now Three — an age that commands capitalization. He says things like, “I didn’t choose that,” and “I’m not comfortable like that.” He is aware of nuance and points them out: “I want a love, Mama, not just a hug. A love.” He can bargain: “How about five minutes, Mama?” He understands the concept of honesty: “Well, maaaaaybe I am telling you a story and not the truth.”  He is starting to make sense of time and its passage: “Why I won’t ever be two ever again?” He asks so many questions, I swear he must be done, but he never is. He is terrifically insatiable.

Three has brought with it a stunning admiration for trains and their tracks. The Who has always been a vehicle-lover (there has never been a shortage of fire trucks and diggers among his toy and book collection) but trains now hold a brand new allure. Magnetic connecting coaches, train whistles, “Top’n Hat” and the mastery of the crayon-drawn track are all present and accounted for here in Three.

The Who is a curious, clever, and often cheeky little monkey. The closer we get to naptime and bedtime, the more impish his grin becomes. He laughs easily in Three (but that is nothing new) and has become quite sociable. I’ve been referring to him as The Mayor lately, as he greets strangers with a cheerful “hello” and a waggle of his fingers. He is a likable and friendly playmate. He does seem to understand the ground rules of Three, though, and does his part to adhere to them: snatching puzzle pieces from his pals, elbowing a fellow playground-player out of his way on the slide, and demanding a turn with the toy he just tossed aside as soon as a classmate picks it up.

Watching him straddle the state line from Toddler to Preschooler has reminded me of the adage I have heard a thousand times before: the days are long, but the years are short. Never was there a truer statement. I’m looking forward to the rest of Three — savoring each day, even the tough ones — because as The Who and I both now understand, he will never be this age ever again.

Happy Birthday, Who. I can’t wait to see what happens during the rest of your days in Three.

 

Feast.

I’m not sure I understand the concept of school Thanksgiving feasts. The Who has one this afternoon and everyone’s all excited. Turkey! Cornbread! Stuffing! Hi, isn’t this the meal we wait all year for and are so looking forward to…on Thursday? Why do we not eat this stuff all year (mostly) and then saturate our pre-Thanksgiving week with the very meal we’re anticipating? When else does this happen? I mean, I know that when I am going to have dinner at, say, a Chinese restaurant on Friday, I don’t wake up Monday morning and think: Chinese! All week! All Chinese, all the time! No. Rather, I make a specific effort to eat other stuff. Because that makes the upcoming Chinese meal all that much more appreciated.

Anyway. So, The Who has his Thanksgiving feast at school today and I paid the money for his participation and I’ve been talking it up to him for a couple of days, but I’ve seen the menu and so I threw in a bag of string cheese pieces as back-up. Because my boy is not a Thanksgiving-feast-lover. At least not as near as I can tell, based on quotes like, “There are vegetables in my lemmalade (pulp); I don’t like vegetables;” and “I don’t like this potatoes. I don’t like how it feels in my mouth.” Maybe he’ll eat some cornbread. Maybe turkey. It’s a crap shoot.

I, on the other hand, am saving myself for The Big Show on Thursday. Mama loves herself some Thanksgiving.

Who.

Is it fair of me to use NaBloPoMo to simply ask who’s reading?

I love blogging because I love writing and I love having a place and a reason to write. But I also love blogging because I love writing for an audience. This is one of the things I miss most about writing school: weekly critiques and quarterly graduate readings. Facebook, honestly, gives me some of that. The “likes” and the comments tell me that at least people are listening and nodding. Sometimes I get that here, too. But not often. And when I do, it’s usually from a friend with whom I chat regularly.

I don’t need an audience to write. I’ll keep blogging even if it’s only my mother who’s following along, but I’m curious. Who are you? Are you there, quietly reading along?

Bang.

I missed posting yesterday and even though I am exhausted, I am determined not to miss another day.

  • Today we sucked up the last of the beautifully warm autumn weather before the week of rain moves in. We kicked around in the leaves, played “rescue” on the fire truck structure, and took turns collecting chestnuts. Both of our allergies kicked up tonight, but it was worth it. I need to be outside and so does The Who.
  • I’m approaching this winter with a new attitude. We’re not hibernating. We’re getting out in it. There’s no reason why, as long as we’re properly outfitted, we can’t play at a park in the snow and cold. I remember thinking this last year when the little local tot lot was covered in a foot of snow. I thought about how much fun it would be to bundle The Who into his snowsuit and just roll around in it. We never did, though. We took some walks in the snow and one day, we rode the trolley up the street for lunch, but that was the extent of it. I figure that the older The Who gets, the easier it will be to venture out into the elements.
  • I had a grown-up dinner tonight at The Cheesecake Factory. It’s a pretty rare thing — going out to dinner as a grown-up with another grown-up. We talked about our kids and poop, sure, but we also talked about work and shopping, and other non-kid things. And no one interrupted us. And no one needed his food cut up for him. And no one required a backpack-of-treasures on hand in case of imminent meltdowns. And there was wine. And it was good.
  • My new haircut requires more product and attention than it ever used to. And the haircut’s not even that new; it’s just that this product now exists and I think it makes my hair look a lot better. So I use it. But now I have to scrunch. And simulate drying with a diffuser (since I don’t have a diffuser.) And I have to wash my hands again when I’m done because the sticky goop is sticky. I think maybe it’s worth it, but I am also a little tired of it. Also, and plus, I need root mascara. I’m tempted to just use regular mascara. I won’t, but I’m tempted.
  • Operation Sleep Re-training is a success. Gone are the nights of waking for no apparent reason and mumbling some throaty gibberish while I cover him up and pop a binky in his mouth. He just moaned for a second, but went right back to sleep. I love when a plan works.
  • The end.

 

Timeout.

I was commenting on this post, over at Life With Roozle and my comment got very long, so I decided to post it here instead. This is a hot topic these days — discipline. In fact, The Who’s preschool is planning a session with a parenting coach who will talk to all the parents about discipline and I for one can’t wait for it.

Anyway, the original post was about timeouts and the question was about how we felt about them and what alternatives we use. This was my comment:

I recently read an article about timeouts and why they don’t work. It said a lot, but the message that stuck with me was the one about how kids already feel bad when they are misbehaving (because their major goal in life is to please us) and isolating them in punishment makes them feel worse. I get that. And I don’t want to make my kid feel worse.

But in the moment, I love the timeout because it gives me a break. And gives me an opportunity to direct my anger in a way that is an alternative to smacking the everloving crap out of him (which is what I want to do when he is really pushing my buttons, but what I have never done, and will never do.) I can say, “SIT HERE,” and then walk away and take time to cool off alone and usually, he is just so glad to be released from timeout, that his behavior improves exponentially. But those are not reasons I am proud of for utilizing a “technique” that ultimately probably does more harm than good. So, for that reason, I very rarely employ the timeout. Sometimes I snap to it in a moment where I feel unable to pull myself together enough to make a different choice. Sometimes (especially when I have not had enough sleep or I have PMS) my fuse is so short that I know that a few minutes apart is the only thing that’s going to allow us to move forward calmly.

But, ultimately, I think taking a break is a better way to go. Redirection is a better way for sure. Lots and lots and lots of love and tenderness is a much more appropriate response to a toddler whose emotions are overwhelming him than an angry directive to sit alone on a step. So, I do really try not to let it get to that point. I do find, though, that I need a few minutes of silence to collect myself sometimes and I am fortunate enough to have a kid who seems to be able to understand that. I can say, “Let’s have a few minutes of quiet time,” and usually he will comply. He has never been a kid prone to out of control tantrums, so even in his anger and frustration and sadness, he can usually find his way to a more peaceful place.

Another thing I struggle with is the warning. When The Who is choosing not to cooperate or is on the verge of making a really unhelpful decision (which is all “good-parenting” code for “being a pain-in-the-ass 3-year-old”) I want to have a way to ward that off before it goes full-blown. My tendency is to threaten and warn. “Do you need to sit in timeout?” is something I will often ask, which is weak because I don’t want to sit him in timeout anyway and I know I will have to follow through if we continue down that road. I will sometimes say, “We won’t have time to read stories if you don’t cooperate,” but then I am taking away an essential and cherished part of the bedtime routine that we all love. I say these things, though, because they work. Because he doesn’t want to sit in timeout. Because he doesn’t want to miss stories. The threat of the consequence is enough 99% of the time. But lording my power of punishment over my small child feels bullying and punitive and I am sure there is a better way to encourage helpfulness.

I just haven’t found it yet. Or maybe I have and I need to figure out a way to put it into practice.

Chrismakkah.

Here’s what happens in my head as I’m driving along lately: I see Christmas decorations somewhere. I feel excited about Christmas! I feel guilty about my excitement because I’m Jewish. I have a momentary crisis about co-opting someone else’s culture by planning to get a Christmas tree. I remember that my wife celebrates Christmas. I remember that we’re raising our son Jewish. I get frustrated about all the rules. I think about God and wonder about my beliefs. I rationalize that Christmas trees have nothing to do with Jesus. I decide it’s ok to love Christmas and have a tree and lights and stockings. I worry about sending a confusing message to The Who. I remember hanging stockings as a kid and never being confused about being Jewish. I remember really wanting a Christmas tree and lights and not having them. I get annoyed that I am thinking this much about this topic every time I pass a display of poinsettias in a storefront. I keep driving. I see Christmas decorations somewhere. I feel excited about Christmas! Rinse. Repeat.

What I want is to not feel conflicted about the holidays and to just enjoy them, angst-free and I’m not sure what I need in order for that to happen. Do I really need to choose?