Monday, July 18, 2005

freaky sunday

Last night I had one of those moments when you realize that, despite all your best efforts, you are turning into your parents.

I told S that he should be happy to be a kid. "You don't know how good you've got it," I told him.

I uttered those exact words.

And you know who uttered them before me? Of course you do. My parents to me, my grandparents to my parents, I'm sure my great-grandparents to my grandparents (though in Russian and I don't know how to translate the phrase, but if I did, I would) and so on and so on.

I've joined the ranks of grown-ups who just don't understand anything.

We were celebrating my step-dad's birthday and during pie and ice cream, S declared that he didn't want to go to school because it was just too boring. So B told him he'd gladly trade places with him and he could show up at the architecture firm and B would go to preschool. Their conversation was priceless and couldn't have been better if planned. I wished I'd had a tape recorder, but I may try to get them redo it (though I know it could never be as good). Anyway, S was telling us what his day looked like...

First you have free playtime, then you have to go to circle time where you have to sit still and listen, but then you can sing songs sometimes, but you can't talk whenever you want to or you have to leave the circle. Then you get snack and some outside playtime, which is the best, but you can't take the balls away from the girls or you have to go see the principal (I didn't know the preschool actually had a principal, but I'm thinking that this part was made up after reading the Junie B. Jones books).

Then you come in and have lunch, "and you can't say anything bad about it no matter how gross it is," said S, "because Marianne worked really hard to make it." (I've tried telling him the same thing about the dinners we have at home, but S always gives me an incredulous look like what I've just placed before him just could not have taken that much work.)

Then you have naptime, and you have to hold really still and pretend you're sleeping, but because you're five, you're just too big to nap. And then you wake up and have art, more playtime, more outside time and then you finally, finally get to go home.

Sounds rough. Especially that nap part. So then I said those words. S looked at me like I was crazy (especially since he's pretty sure that I spend my day at work eating tater tots and Cheetos and drinking chocolate milk while playing computer games, which is how he spent the day when he came to work with me last month). B looked shocked, as if he'd seen that I'd gone beyond a certain unsaveable grown-up point. And my mother smirked. I'd joined the ranks.

The next thing you know, I'll be drinking pink wine with ice cubes in it.

(To J, this is what you've got coming to you!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

what success looks like...

Yesterday S dunked his head in the water 7 times! This is big. This is huge and monumental.
Because S hates getting water in his eyes.
In the shower or bath, washing his hair is a chore that includes regular towel dabs to his eyes in order to get through rinses. And not only does he need those dabs, they're accompanies by piercing shrieks and screams.
"I've got water in my eyes! You did it to me again, Mommy!"
or just simply...
"Water in eyes, water in eyes!!!!"
And T has started doing it, too, even though she doesn't mind the water that much, but because her little sister status necessitates that she do whatever S does.

Needless to say, learning to swim has been very, very difficult because it really is quite a challenge to swim without getting your face wet.

I've tried a lot of different approaches to get him to swim. I've spent countless hours in the pool coaching, "paddle, paddle, paddle, kick, kick, kick." I've told him how much I love to swim and let him ride on my back in the pool. I've told him that he needed to swim in order to be safe, in order to go to kindergarten (okay, that's not exactly true, but I'm going to use peer pressure to my advantage for as long as possible), and I even tried to tell him that if he didn't start swimming soon, T was going to learn before him. That gave him a shiver, but he got over it.
"That's okay," he said. "I don't like getting my face wet."

So then I had no other choice. I committed the cardinal sin of parenting.

Warning: Those of you perfect parents out there may want to stop reading at this point.

I bribed my young son. With toys. Trashy ones. B was appalled.

"Listen," I told S. "You have to learn how to swim. If you learn to swim across the pool, I'll buy you anything you want." B gasped. But I felt confident in S's love for small, inexpensive, plastic toys. I could bribe him with the world at that price. And really, when you think about it, what is really wrong with offering a little extra incentive? I mean, I wouldn't continue to show up at work everyday if I weren't offered a monetary incentive, no matter how intellectually stimulating it is sometimes or how many free sodas I'm offered.

"I could get a Dash?" He asked. For those of you who aren't in the know, Dash is Dashiell Robert Parr, Incredible and Boy Super. "I really want Dash, but that's too hard," S said.

I took a breath. "Okay," I told him, "if you can dunk your head in the water as many times to feel comfortable, you can have a Dash. And when you can swim across the pool, you can have the rest of The Incredibles." B groaned.

So we headed out to the pool and though S didn't seem sure about this whole plan, he first watched B dunk himself and then he took a deep breath and dunked his own self under the water with his dad. And when he came up, he sputtered and wiped his eyes and smiled. And then he did it again and again. And there was no mention the whole time of Dash or any of his plastic family members, just a lot of shrieking, "Hey! Watch this!" as S when under again and again. S suddenly felt too big to play in the wading pool with T and wanted to practice his kicking. And then he even jumped off the side of the pool into our arms, making huge splashes that got into everyone's eyes. He was amazed by himself and of what he could do. First a dunk, and then who knows what would be next? He was proud of himself and I felt triumphant.

Later that night, after tucking both S and Dash into bed, we told him again how proud we were of him. He smiled, pleased with himself. And then, as we turned out the light and said goodnight, S sat up and said, "Mommy, I know that if I swim across the pool, I get the rest of the Incredibles, but I bet I could really get a lot if I swam across and back!"