Monday, February 28, 2011

Cuddle power

Alex has had asthma over the last few nights, and for the first couple of nights before the medication kicked in, he coughed all night, keeping any of us from getting much rest. There wasn't much I could do so I just lay next to him to comfort him

The next day, he turned to me out of the blue and said, "Mum, when you cuddled me in the night, it felt like a warm sheet of cotton wool."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Junior barrister-in-training

Alex was originally supposed to be going off to kindergarten this year, but it didn't quite work out that way. The short story is - the orientation provoked an extreme reaction that resulted in our doing an about-face and re-enrolling him in pre-school for another year.

In my mind, he was ready for school. Socially, he gravitated towards kids who were slightly older rather than younger than him, and fit in well with this group. Academically, he would be fine. The pre-school thought so too. But, when it came to the orientation, he was completely emotionally overwhelmed by the whole experience. Afterwards, we discussed our options.

The short version went like this:

Alex: My friend has his birthday in March like me and he is turning 5 and he is going back to pre-school. So why can't I go back to pre-school too?

Me: His parents have decided to send him back to pre-school, and we've decided that you are ready for big school {explains reasons why}.

Alex: How many other 4 year old boys will there be at my school?

Me: You'll be the only 4 year old boy, but you'll turn 5 soon after school starts.

Alex: Well I think 5 days a week is too many for a 4 year old. I don't want to be the only 4 year old guy. I'll go when I'm 5 turning 6 not 4 turning 5.

Me: {after quite a bit more debate} OK.

Fast forward to this week, and all is going well. Alex is confident in our decision to continue with pre-school and not lamenting the fact that he sees other kids rocking up for school across the road from our house.

After a lovely trip to the park wherein Alex helped and encouraged Maya a great deal, I thanked and congratulated him on the care he had shown her.

Alex: So who was right?

Me: What do you mean?

Alex: Well, if I had gone to school this year, 5 days a week, we wouldn't have had this nice day would we? I thought I shouldn't go, and you thought I should. So who was right?

Me: Well I still think you would have been ok, Alex, but we'll never know, and yes, you were right that you are doing well now.

Alex: So, was I right? And you were wrong.

Me: {a bit more to-ing and fro-ing before finally} OK. You were right.

Now to work on softening this obession with right-and-wrong, black-and-white thinking...plenty of time for the barrister training!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa Claus and all that BS

Alex seems to oscillate between getting really into the whole Santa deal and asking pointy questions poking holes in the logic of the whole charade.

Example 1

Alex, after being told by some well-wisher that if he wasn't a good boy Santa wouldn't bring him any presents: "Mum, last year when I was 3, we shouted at each other" (note the use of 'we', hence only partial responsibility taken for bad behaviour) "and I still got presents. So, even if you're naughty sometimes, you still get them right?" *raises eyebrows pointedly*

Example 2

After pondering for a while in the car: "Mum, you know how superheroes are pretend? Well then how can Santa be real? Because it's really the same kind of thing." *raises eyebrows questioningly*

Example 3

Further to example 1: "What happens to the kids in my pre-school who are bullies? Will they not be getting any presents?"

But then, when I've tap-danced my way around these curly ones ( sample responses include 'Santa prefers you to be as good as you can'; 'you'll find the present quality is better, the more of an effort you make to be good'; 'it's really about the effort, he'll know if you haven't been trying to be good' and 'people believe different things about Santa, just like they do about God, it's a personal choice in a way, you can choose what you want to believe until you find out otherwise') -

BAM - he starts explaining the Christmas myth to Maya in no uncertain terms. "Maya, the Santa in the shops is not real. He's a man dressed in a Santa costume. Only the real Santa is real." and "Mum maybe the elves are pretend, just guys in costumes, but only Santa is real?" and "are these lollies brought to us by Santa? Because they've got his picture on them."

I reckon it's partly wilful suspension of disbelief on his part - we all do it in movies, why can't a 4 year old do it with Santa? Possibly a dash of willingness/ desire to believe. I hope he can get a bit of magic out of life without needing to dissect the cold hard facts at every opportunity. Especially at the age of 4. In some ways I think his willingness to suspend disbelief in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary shows he is more of a dreamer than the kids who just buy the whole thing unquestioningly. Who knows, underneath his engineer-like surface, maybe he'll be a romantic yet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The meaning is clear

Tonight I got an explanation from Alex about what Uncle Ben meant when he said "With great power comes great responsibility."

It means: "You need to help people and share things and not be a thieve."

Cool. That sorts it out then.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Alex hasn't watched the M-rated Spiderman for about 6 months. We had let him watch bits of it under supervision for a while, but the boundaries kept getting pushed back and it became a bit hard to police. After a spurt of what we saw as possible 'copycat' behaviour we realised that a blanket ban was called for.

Alex took it pretty well, all things considered. He likes to know where he stands and is a rules boy, after all. When we explained the ratings system - that M-rated things are only for grown-ups, PG is for older kids if their parents say yes, and G is for any one - he seemed fine with it. We also described in some details the reasons why M rated things were for adults, namely that they showed bombs, guns and other stuff that could give kids nightmares, or stuff that kids would find boring or wouldn't be able to understand easily.

He then proceeded to find a loophole in the system by locating the one Spiderman cartoon DVD that is in fact G-rated (even though it features a scary-looking baddie called Venom). We've let him watch it on occasion until such time as his behaviour indicates it's not doing him any favours. He displayed a remarkable understanding of the ratings system recently by commenting, "Mum, I don't know why this Spiderman cartoon is G. It's got lots of bombs and fighting and things. It really should be PG at least." I asked him if he thought that meant he should stop watching it, and he assured me that, no, it was ok, he could handle it.

Recently we went out and my mum came over to baby-sit. Alex, like the cat that ate the canary, convinced her to let him watch some of the M-rated Spiderman while we were out. I can imagine his saucer-like eyes and the illicit thrill of getting away with something so devious!

When we came home and it was revealed that Nan had allowed him to watch it, Nan and Alex were each quick to point the finger at each other. Nan claimed Alex had told her he was allowed to watch it. Alex just shrugged and said "Well YOU let me."

Today he further emphasised his point by commenting, "Nan is the grown-up and I am the kid. The grown-up gets to say yes or no if a kid can watch something or not. Nan said I could. If she didn't want me to she should have said no."

He also told me that Peter Parker's Uncle Ben says "With great power comes great responsibility." I asked him if he knew what that meant. His eyes glinted. "Yes" he replied, "but I'm not telling you right now."

I guess I'll just have to wait to find out.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Master negotiator

This morning Alex had two pieces of toast with honey for breakfast. Then he asked for a bowl of Weet Bix. One bite into the Weet Bix and he wanted two more pieces of toast. I was reluctant to make them as I thought his eyes were getting too big for his belly so I said that once he had finished the Weet Bix, I would make the toast.

"No mummy," he said, remaining calm and rational (not the "noooooo!" whine I had expected), " I do need the toast to be in front of me at the same time as the Weet Bix. I just do."

I repeated that I didn't want him to run out of space and waste food.

"I promise you," he assured me, "It won't be wasted. Mummy, I still love you but I'm not happy about this. I really want you to make me the toast now. Please." I could see him mustering the strength to control himself as he looked at me plaintively.

I suppressed a smile and agreed to make the toast. I wanted to trust his judgement and reward him for asking in such a polite way instead of whinging. I figured if he then wasted the toast, my point about not wasting food would be made for future reference. But do you know what? He ate the whole thing.

Evidence-based approach

Alex is nothing if not concrete in his thinking. After breaking his leg and having it in a CAM boot for 3 weeks, I told him that he could bear weight on it as long as it was comfortable, enough to move around and walk a bit.

He refused. Getting out of the bath he would fold the leg up like a bird with a broken wing. He insisted on being carried everywhere or he would crawl. He was just too nervous to put weight on it. I told him the doctor said it was ok to give it a try, it would be healed enough to put some weight on it by now. If he didn't find it comfortable he didn't have to do it. He shook his head. No.

"I'll wait till we get the second lot of x-rays done today, and if it looks fixed then, I'll walk on it," he declared.

And so it was that I carried him in to the specialists appointment, into a full waiting room. We had another discussion while we were waiting about maybe trying to walk a bit into the doctor's room, to show him how much better his leg was. No dice. So I carried the 21kg+ of him (as I had been doing for three weeks) into the consulting room. I actually suspected he was more than capable of walking on it, at least a bit, but I knew better than to force the issue with Alex, and besides, publicly admonishing a boy with a broken leg to walk might have looked a bit suss. The doctor showed him the x-ray and assured him it was ok to walk on it.

Imagine the amusement in the waiting room when, ten minutes later, the boy who had been carried in, walked out (albeit with a slight limp, but full of confidence.) That doctor is a miracle worker!