A few months ago, Aaron made a decision. It wasn’t anywhere near his birthday, but he’d been planning for it. So he told his mother, “I want a Power Ranger cake.”
“Yeah. Tell the man cake.”
Now, I think Lillian understood that he meant the baker. But Aaron went ahead and explained him to her, just to be sure.
“He’s like Santa.”
Maybe to a three-year-old, the baker is like Santa, providing special goodies at designated times of the year.
Or, maybe there really is a Man Cake, who flies around the world delivering custom ordered confections to all the good little boys and girls on their birthdays.
Aaron’s mostly potty trained, with the exception of during bedtime. He knows what he needs to do: If he has to pee when he’s in bed, he has permission to get up and go to the bathroom.
But he’s a deep sleeper. When he wakes up in the morning, he’s got no idea whether he’d peed into his pull-up or not.
The first thing he does when he wakes up is to defiantly tell any nearby grownups to go away. Then he privately inspects his pull-up to see if there’s anything wet in there. Either he’ll come out of his room very pleased with himself, or a bit disappointed.
It’s like he’s checking if there’s been a surprise visit from the Pee Fairy!
Maddie has been in preschool for a while now, and she understands the importance of occasionally asserting dominance and the value of ownership. She might see other kids pushing each other around, or comparing each other’s things. A certain rank and order falls out of schoolyard play.
She’ll bring these learnings home to Aaron, and he completely doesn’t get it.
If they get to divide a pack of trading cards, she’ll dive in and start picking the best cards. He’ll wait until she’s done, and happily play with the left overs. He doesn’t care, he just wants to play with her.
If Aaron accidentally hits Maddie. She’ll get mad, and demand that he says, “sorry.” He’ll happily say sorry to her, and move on. But for her, that’s too easy on him. So, she’ll demand he say sorry ten times in a row. Without skipping a beat, he’ll sing-song, “sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry” and move on. He just likes being with her.
Well, that drives Maddie nuts! What’s the point in getting all the best stuff, or proving you’re dominant, if Aaron doesn’t cares about that? At this point, I have to step in before Maddie escalates her war with her brother who doesn’t even know a war started.
I expect Aaron to eventually understand the mind games that people play with each other. But I really appreciate his enlightened state right now. I wish we all simply had no grasp of jealousy or power-plays.
Lillian had been crying during the past week because Aaron’s starting preschool this week. She only had to think about him going to that big strange preschool to make the tears well up.
We told this story to one of our friends, who helpfully consoled Lillian with the fact that Aaron’s going to adjust just fine, and that he’ll have his big sister in a nearby classroom. He’ll need a little adjusting, but he’ll be fine.
I had to explain to our friend that Lillian’s not crying for Aaron.
Ah, mothers and their babies. The youngest is always their baby.
This was drawn on a Magna Doodle by Aaron a little after he turned three:
One of the perks of being a parent is the ability to see just the positive essence of your kids’ works. It doesn’t matter how crude the drawing might be, if it makes you happy, then it’s a job well done.
In front of the Lego Store in Downtown Disney, I saw a father squatting in front of a stroller with a crying toddler inside. The child’s mother wasn’t in sight, and the father was obviously at his wit’s end with the crying. I overheard him pleading to the kid,
Then, waving his hands, “We don’t have any more money!”
Guess how much that helped. My wife and I still chuckle, in sympathy for the poor guy.
“Daddy, what are opposites?”
“Opposites are things very different from each other. Like high and low. Or thin and fat.”
“I got one, Daddy! Day and light!”
“Those aren’t opposites, Sweetie. Those two words go together. Opposites don’t go together like that.”
“I got another one, Daddy! Stars and … Doggy!”
Great, now I have to explain the difference between opposites and non sequiturs.
…Your little boy stating firmly that “the pee is coming.” It’s like this army of pee that’s about to attack, and if you don’t act now, you’ll be sorry.
Lillian sent me that vivid little story while I was at work. It made my work problems suddenly fall into perspective.
Ahh, the joys of parenthood…
When I was a kid, my mom took me to a friend’s house where she chatted with the other mom while my friend and I played a board game. Let’s call him Cheating Cheater instead of Charlie Humphrey.
Cheating Cheater cheated. It infuriated me, and I called him on it. We got a little rowdy, and the moms came in. And get this – they didn’t punish him. They told us to make up and keep playing. Did they not understand what Cheating Cheater did and that retribution was demanded?
It was at that moment, I kid you not, that I dedicated my life to righteousness. To this date, I wait at crosswalks even when there are no cars, I don’t cheat on taxes, and I keep an eagle eye out for evil doers.
Jump to the present day. I’ve explained to the kids that they should resolve minor issues themselves. But sometimes there’s an escalating war of telling. Today, after a few dozen “Aaron spit at me”s and “Maddie hit me”s I let loose with an
“I don’t care.”
I regretted it as soon as I said it. I only hope that maybe my kids took the opportunity to dedicate their lives to righteousness at that point.
We inflated a couple of balloons for the kids to bat around earlier in the day. And so the batting commenced.
Some time later Aaron angrily comes from the other room, clutching his balloon, telling me that “Maddie’s hitting my balloon.” I want him to handle it himself, so I say, “Tell her, ‘Stop it Maddie.'”
He begins to head off. Then he stops, and sees Maddie’s balloon is in this room. He takes a minute trying to hold his balloon while picking up her balloon. He looked like the bear gathering fish in Disney’s The Jungle Book, as one balloon would squeeze out when he grabbed the other. He eventually succeeds, though.
So he goes back to the other room precariously holding both balloons and says, “Here’s your balloon, Maddie. You hit your balloon.”
My son, the conflict resolver. So much for his dad’s stupid advice.