Tyler refused to take an afternoon nap on July 4th, so we ended up having to miss the fireworks. I knew he'd be crazy grumpy if I kept him awake until after 10pm, so I figured he wouldn't enjoy them much anyway. Instead we went downtown to the festival and played in the bounce houses. We got in line to ride the ponies, but it was enormous, so we kept walking to these firetruck inflatable slides, assuming it would be less of a wait.
I assumed wrong...The line was much longer and slower because it was more than just slides. It was a simulation of all the things firemen do, accompanied by a fireman. The line was turtle slow (nearly an hour), and Ty had a hard time staying in one place and understanding that he couldn't climb on the poles while he waited. But he did have a blast pretending to be a fireman for about 3 minutes. I'm glad we did it once, but man, that line was pure torture.
Putting out the fire!
Tyler and I like to sing and play to a song called "Run, Baby, Run." It has run, clap, dance, swing, jump, etc. and the one that's been most difficult to get him to respond to is "sing, baby! Sing." I don't have an action to teach him with that, so I just sing bright and loud, but he'd never responded to it. Then one day he got to that part of the song and said "I have to go get my speaker!" I had no idea what he was talking about, but a minute later he brought down his little toy microphone and totally sang with it. I loved it! It's so great to see him make connections and come up with his own ideas.
Nibbler came to play during a diaper change. Allison didn't mind.
On the left they're playing with the potato heads in the church nursery while we were waiting for a Chennault Beach activity to get started.
Having fun in the backyard with daddy!
Oscar gets the cutest reactions out of her, and she's such a good little imitator.
Little Allison finds admirers whereever she goes. One afternoon at the park, two separate people told me "I love her thighs!" and another couldn't stop smiling at her little head bobble dance.
Allison has been crazy for the swings since the first time I put her in one. Tyler's never liked it much. He actually asked me to put him in this one then whined the whole time.
Oscar kept wanting me to watch Battlebots with him, but it isn't all that appealing to me. I am entertained by it, but when there are a bunch of shows on our DVR, it's fairly low on my priority list. He eventually gave up on me watching it and found his ideal partner in Tyler.
Cute video of Tyler carrying Oscar's backpack.
While Oscar was cooking he said "do you want to help pour the pasta?" To which Tyler replied "with you daddy!" He then ate a frozen pea and came up and told me "it's crunchy and cold."
Of course, right after posting that, Tyler had two poopy accidents in his underwear....He's been good since then, though. I was just really upset and overreacted because on the last one I kept asking him if he needed to poop and telling him to let me know when he did only to have him close the bedroom door and poop in his pants. I didn't think anything of it at first since Tyler often likes to close the door and play in his room, but I checked on him in the camera and could tell he was pooping.
Playing at Jetty Island! The kids both got a bit sunkissed from that beautiful day, and Allison still has a visible tan mark from that headband.
Oh so cute! She adores that little clapper and pretty much anything else she can hold in her hands that makes noise.
I asked Oscar to work on organizing the garage while I took the kids to the gym and then took Tyler to the Tour de Terrace festival. He built this while we were gone!
We still had a couple hours until the fireworks would start, so we took off after the first ride to play at a nearby park. I could tell there was closer parking available from there, so we grabbed our car, ate at Romio's (which did take credit cards), then moved our car into the closer lot. Tyler wanted to eat the tomato sauce straight with his plastic knife.
He enjoyed this Scrambler a lot at first until it went way too long. It was ridiculous how long it lasted. All the kids were getting upset and Tyler started crying and trying to get out. I had to yell at him to stay in.
We finished off our rides, did a few games, and sat down for fireworks. Coincidentally we were seated right next to a mom and son I know from the gym! We'd set our chairs up before they got there and didn't know the other was coming, so it was just totally random that we sat next to each other. The fireworks did not disappoint! They were right over our heads, and if anything were a little too intense. I was surprised Tyler wasn't scared. I think he was a bit since he wanted to sit in my lap, but he was also thoroughly enjoying them. He just needed a mommy huggie to help him feel safe.
6 months ago someone on "Buy Nothing Everett" offered free unopened containers of baby cereal. I was expecting like 3 or 4, but when I got there she gave me a box with over 20. Apparently she'd belonged to some sort of baby food subscription deal. Since Tyler only went through about 7 his entire infancy, I was afraid I wouldn't use them all either, but I actually had to buy more recently. Allison can't get enough baby cereal! Now it's just a thickening agent for her fruit purees, but we go through tons of it. She's the kind of baby that subscription deal was meant for!
This girl could sit and splash forever! It's nice we live so close to Silver Lake park.
And now for a little extra parenting rant from me...We'd only been back from our trip a couple days when I was pulled aside by the manager at the gym saying Tyler's behavior was out of control. I was a bit upset since he'd only been to the gym twice after nearly two weeks away, so I had a hard time believing that two days warranted being called out like that. They weren't saying they couldn't take him anymore, but they needed to see some change and wanted to figure out a better system for when he misbehaved (things like spitting in a caregiver's face or pushing a girl off a chair into the wall). I think they'd gotten the impression that I wasn't taking his bad behavior seriously enough because I'd stopped seeming upset upon hearing about it. The truth is that I'm not nonchalant, I'm just exhausted. I have tried a million things to fix his behavior, and anger and spankings and time outs and other obvious discipline measures are completely useless on him. I do the positive parenting stuff (like if he wants to hit, I show him a pillow or something soft he can hit), which is very effective at helping him channel his energy appropriately, but there's literally nothing I can do after he's been naughty that will prevent him from doing the same thing again. Once I yelled at him, slapped his hand hard enough for it to turn red, and put him in time out after catching him in the act of pulling a girl's hair and tackling her to the ground, and he did the exact same thing to the same girl the next day. Obviously the harsh punishments don't result in positive change. Tyler makes no connection to my actions being brought on by his choices. Since then I've gone for a softer approach and looked up all kinds of positive parenting approaches, but I think that makes the caregivers assume I don't care and need the manager to come give me a talking to. In all fairness to her she was very professional and not judgmental, there were some misconceptions that we cleared up, and I probably would have done the same thing in her position, but it was still pretty humiliating. I felt like I was being put in time out for not being a good enough parent. Since then we've figured out a system of giving him smiley or frowney faces when we come to pick him up, and that's had a enormous positive effect on him. When they see him about to do something bad, they say "uh oh Tyler, you're going to get a frowny face," and that usually stops him, or they remind him about things he can do to earn extra smiley faces (like sharing and playing nice and gentle with the younger kids), and he does great. His behavior has improved a LOT, but we're still stuck without an effective consequence when he does misbehave. :/
After that conversation, I took a shower and cried pretty uncontrollably while I came to a few decisions. I love my boy like crazy, and even if he's overly aggressive and wild sometimes, I refuse to break his spirit in order to truly "control" his behavior. That exuberance, that energy, and that fierce determination will serve him well when he is older. I will never try to break him of it just to make him a bit more manageable. I once heard him described as a Niagara Falls child - that water's coming and it's far too powerful to stop, but you can redirect it, channel it, and make it beautiful.
Tyler does not need to be taught that hurting others is wrong because he doesn't intentionally cause harm. His actions and his aggression are not vicious. On the contrary, he is incredibly sweet! Just now I had a few tears come down my cheeks while writing this, and he came up and gave me a hug because I looked sad. He's very affectionate, and he's very good at apologizing when someone gets hurt. He'll even say sorry when it's not his fault (like when I yelled out after some boxes from the top of the fridge fell on my head when I opened it). Though I've seen him hit and pull hair, he never does it as retaliation or to punish another child for doing something he doesn't like. He does it purely for the reaction. Even if another child hits him, he rarely hits back, and if he does it's because he thinks they're just trying to horseplay with him. When he pushed the girl off the chair, he did it because he wanted the chair and saw her as an obstacle, not because he wanted to hurt her.
My responsibility is to prevent my child from harming other children. When I'm around him, I try to watch him as closely as possible. At places like library storytime, I often grab him out of the way just before he's about to step on fingers or barrel through a crowd of babies. I think I do a fairly good job of this, in spite of Allison demanding my attention as well. The challenging part is when I can't be there to stop him. I think what Tyler needs is to understand when people are hurt and that their pain was caused as a direct result of his actions. I've tried many tactics for this, some have been more effective than others, but even the effective methods take time and a lot of repetition to really sink in. It's a huge trial and error process. He doesn't see yelling or loud wailing as a sign of distress. He sees that as a big reaction, and he likes big reactions. He laughs at them, but he's not laughing at other's pain. He's amused by their response, and it only encourages him to repeat the action that caused it. That was a tough lesson for me when he would bite while nursing. If I yelled at him and screamed out in pain, he'd giggle at me and clap for more. I figured out how to stop it by pulling him off immediately, setting him on the ground, and suppressing every part of me that wanted to cry out. Once he knew that the biting meant nursing was over and it wasn't even giving him an amusing reaction anymore, he stopped doing it. I try to use similar techniques when I discipline him now (like leaving when he's misbehaving), but that's hard to do at places like the gym. I can't make the other children not react to him, and I can't be there to immediately pull him out. By the time I could get there, he'd have no understanding that the reason we're leaving is because he'd made bad choices, and he'd just be excited to see mommy again. So I try something else, like the smiley/frowny technique, and cross my fingers that it works.