I once heard someone (or rather, I've heard many people say many different times) that we see ourselves in our children. That can either make us super proud, or super uncomfortable, depending on what traits are coming out. For example, Nathaniel loves to read, which is totally a trait from both Sam and I. But, Nathaniel also gets into these "Mr. Cranky Pants" moods where nothing can satisfy him, which is totally me. Ugh.
I have noticed, however, that Nathaniel is much politer than I ever was at that age.
I'm not known for being the most tactful person in the world. Forever I was hearing people tell me that I needed to think before I spoke. Thankfully, now that I'm 30, I can say that about 70% of the time I actually put that into practice. My apologies for the other 30%.
However, Nathaniel's sense of appropriateness amazes me!
He's a little (lot) type A when it comes to certain things. Like rules. Once Nathaniel hears the rules about something, he follows them to the letter. And he freaks out a little bit if other people aren't following the rules. But, he freaks out quietly, which is nice because when I was little my freak outs involved punching whoever the offending rule breaker was.
I'm not exaggerating. I punched my friend in the mouth and knocked her tooth loose for cheating in a game (sorry, Erika!). I also pushed a kid and bruised him up pretty good for cutting in line. I spent a lot of time in Kindergarten in the Principal's office.
But, Nathaniel, while he is freaking out internally about a rule being broken, has enough self control to whisper his concerns. On Monday we were at Disneyland and were riding the tram back to the parking structure. In front of us a little girl was sitting on her dad's lap. Nathaniel started to squirm next to me and started tapping my arm and whispering, "Mom!!" When I asked him what was wrong he slyly pointed to the girl sitting on her dad's lap and said, "No lap sitting!" (I must pause here and point out that every time we get on the tram the announcement says 'no eating, drinking or smoking and no lap sitting except for small children'.) I had to quietly explain to Nathaniel that it was okay for the girl to sit on her dad's lap because she was small. I'm not sure he was satisfied.
I hope that this type A personality works well for him and doesn't turn into an OCD thing. I want Nathaniel to be able to loosen up and have fun (which he totally does, most of the time).
With Aaron, however, it is a totally different story. It's like we had an invasion of the body snatchers. Someone took my sweet, agreeable, 'always nods yes to my questions' little boy and replaced him with this willful little toddler.
He has decided that it is time to push against every boundary that we have set up for him.
My formally great eater has started throwing his utensils at dinner time, tossing food over the side of his chair and spitting his food out onto the floor. So, our usual peaceful mealtimes now involve Sam or myself getting up, removing food from Aaron's grasp, correcting behavior, and listening to fits being thrown at the travesty of it all. Luckily, I'm not worried about him starving, because at least one meal a day ends up with Aaron having his food taken away (he's not eating it anyways, he's just throwing it around).
My passive little boy who used to do whatever his brother wanted to do, and who put up with a lot of wrestling and pushing around from his big brother has realized that he wants to play in his own way. Of course he doesn't have words for, "Dude, get OFF of me!" so he has resorted to biting. Poor Nathaniel has bruises on BOTH arms from Aaron's teeth. Time outs aren't working for this one because he bites his brother and then happily walks over to time out. Luckily the one little swat on the butt that he gets for that totally works. He looks at us with these pitiful, "I can't believe you just did that to ME!" eyes and bursts into tears. So far it's been two days since the last incident.
Finally, the sweet little boy who happily picked up his toys has started resisting. We spent 15 minutes last night rotating between time out and the mess of refrigerator magnets he had dumped all over the floor. In the end he happily picked them up, but for those 15 minutes it was as if we asked him to walk on broken glass! Luckily, Sam and I both remembered doing the same thing with Nathaniel at this age (once Nathaniel spent an hour between time out and Sam because he wouldn't hand Sam his sippy cup, but kept throwing it on the ground. Another time Nathaniel spent nearly two hours in time out because he wouldn't pick up the crayons he dumped*).
*Note. We do not make our kids sit in time out for the full two hours. This is one minute in time out, a quick, "You are in time out because of X" and then an opportunity to do what it is we asked them to do. It just took Nathaniel that long to finally do what it was we asked him to do.
And so, we are moving into that frustrating time of parenting. But, looking at Nathaniel and his general obedience and how easy it is now to correct him, we know that we are doing the right thing and that it is easier NOW when we can physically move Aaron into time out and help him pick up toys by moving his hand to the toy and to the place it goes. I would MUCH rather have the battles now than wait until he's 7 and people are wondering why my 7 year old doesn't listen to me.
So, that was quite the update, but with two kids at two different developmental levels, it's hard to keep it concise. Just wait until #3 comes along!