Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life Lessons

How young is too young to teach your child about life lessons? I take Jellybean to the play area at our local mall at least once a week during the summer. It's a great place for him to play and get out some energy while I have my coffee. I've had the opportunity to observe JB and see parts of his personality play out. He's very persistent about getting what he wants, but he's not a bully. Also, he loves to play with other kids and follow what they do. He is starting to hit and kick on an inconsistent basis, so he's had to have a few time outs. Luckily, he uses "nice hands and feet" after his timeout.

This past week, while we were at the play area, there was another boy there who was about 4 years old. He had golden blond curls and the face of an angel. That's where the comparison to anything angelic ends. The boy was very rambunctious and aggressive to every child he came in contact with, including JB. JB was on the play bridge and was waiting his turn to go down the slide area, which *devil boy was splayed out on. The boy turned over on his back and used his body to push JB off of the play structure. I saw the whole thing happening and I just sat and watched. A few reasons I waited to see what would happen is because 1) the play structure is very well padded and 2) I can't bail JB out every time he encounters an aggressive kid. I never got a chance to see what would happen because another parent verbally admonished devil boy and then picked up JB and removed him from the play structure without my permission. Devil boy acted like he did not hear anything, and he chummed up with an older boy, at which point his behaviors became progressively worse. At this point, we just left.

Yes, JB is only 20 months old, but really, what would have been the harm in letting the other boy push him? If I rescue him every time, how will he ever learn how to deal with other personality types? How young is too young for these lessons? I'm not really sure what the answer is.

*I do not use the term "devil boy" lightly. I've worked with kids with very severe behaviors - blowing snot on me, kicking, hitting me in the head with a cast, biting, scratching my arms (which is how I got most of my arm scars), so my yardstick for "bad" is not the norm.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ups and Downs

Summer with Jellybean has had its ups and downs so far. On Sunday, he turns 19 months, which doesn't seem possible. One of the "ups" has been to take JB on day trips and see his reactions. We went to Santa Cruz a few weeks ago with some friends and the high point of my day was watching the little guy ride on rides like big kids do. I think I had more fun watching him than he did on the rides. He only had me to help him stay on the carousel. The rest of the attractions he rode by himself - he was so brave! I expected a few different things - that he would scream once I was outside the gate, that he would try to stand up on the ride, or that he would somehow figure out how to undo his safety belt and fall. Thankfully none of these happened. One of the downs was attempting to spend time on the beach. JB did not want to put his bare feet in the sand, so it was difficult to get all of our gear to that perfect spot where we were close to the water, but far enough away from the boardwalk. I discovered that strollers don't maneuver very well in sand, so it was just one more thing to carry. That JB would not walk in the sand should not have surprised me since he had a similar reaction to walking barefoot on grass. When I attempted to get him to do this by holding him under his armpits and dangling him over the grass, he held his body very tightly in an "L" shape so that there was no danger of the green stuff touching his feet.

Another "up" was our trip to Seattle. He did surprisingly well on the airplane ride, and was really pretty good at the places we stayed. We mostly stayed with my dad, and I thought he would get into more things, but JB did minimal damage. It was also fun to see JB interact with my dad and my friends. He's very social now and can say things like "hi", "bye", and "wuba" (which loosely translated is "love ya"). I think the most fun I had was watching him interact with my dad's friends' 6 month-old girl. I was worried at first that he would be rough with her, but he only poked her in the eye once. I instructed him to "use nice hands" and to "give her a kiss", which he did. She was so enamored that she stared at him and leaned in for kisses periodically.

The major "down" of this summer has been the lack of sleep. Jellybean has been waking up at various times of the morning several times a week for the last 3 weeks. He has this horrible cry, and when I tried to let him "cry it out", it only escalated. The bad thing is that, depending on the time he wakes up (this morning it was 4:30), he may or may not go back to sleep. If he does return to sleep, it sometimes takes quite a while to get him to that point. I've had to be a detectivce since I have no idea why he's waking up, and he cannot verbalize enough to tell me. I've tried giving him yogurt before bed because his appetite has not been that great, I've tried changing his pajamas to make sure he's comfy, we've changed the temperatures in the house to make sure he's not too hot or cold. I have to concur with what H said - that really why he's waking up may be out of our control. I am just hoping to have some semblance of normal sleep return by the time I go back to work in late August.

Ending on a positive note, it seems like Jellybean learns new things every day. He has at least 20 words that he says, and is now just starting to combine two words. He is very active and curious about everything. His whining is starting to decrease as he is able to tell me more of what he wants. He is still so loving and sweet - at random moments JB comes over to lean his head on my shoulder and give me a slobbery kiss. When I'm playing with him, he will sometimes look at me and say "wuba". So even with the trials of sleep deprivation and pre-terrible-two behaviors, there are plenty of moments that I will cherish.