A Shaver Invasion

August 2, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Liam is such a quiet, unobtrusive little kid, it really does feel like an invasion when his cousins come to visit. But these beings from another universe are the friendly kind, so we don’t mind.

The night before they arrived Liam was still getting over a nasty cold and our air conditioning crapped out. I braced for the worst, but Liam seemed to rally once Evie ran downstairs to play, and the air conditioning was fixed by Monday afternoon, just hours after they arrived. Let the playing commence! Poor Milo always seems like the odd man out. The older kids kept running and hiding from him, exclaiming that he was a monster. Milo would stand outside the shut door yelling, “Me no monster!” Thankfully he’s a pretty easygoing kid, and while at times he ran to mama to “make Evie stop it,” he mostly played on his own contentedly. At one point Evie got bored playing with Liam, which Liam of course blew up about. But I redirected him to play with Milo, and soon they were happily building marble tracks. Evie joined in the fun when she was ready.

Jill and I are both reading a book that is helping tremendously, Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic. Evie and Liam both fall under the “spirited” category, though the traits they exhibit are from different ends of the spectrum. While Evie is highly energetic, extroverted, creative, and sporadic with her eating and sleeping schedule, Liam is sensitive to his environment, fearful of change, and a firm introvert. They are both incredibly persistent and stubborn, which makes being their parent particularly challenging. But the book offers concrete examples and advice for how to turn a standoff into a success. I’m learning to “find the yes” when Liam digs his heels in, and I’m trying to get him to help me solve the problems that usually end with tears and spankings. Evie responds wonderfully to the challenge of solving a problem, and Liam is warming up to the idea. It’s not perfect, but I’m feeling a little less at my wit’s end and ready for school to start now.

Armed with all of this parenting information, we brought all three kids to Liam’s tumbling class at the Y Tuesday morning. Murphy’s Law in full effect, the regular teacher wasn’t there, and the substitute was wholly unprepared for us to play while she ran the class. I had run it by the regular teacher a couple of weeks before, and she had planned to test the kids and offer a “free play” day for all the siblings. Instead, the substitute asked that we stick to one small area of the gym. Thankfully there were other siblings there, and while they didn’t have free reign of the equipment, Evie soon made a friend to jump around with. Frankly, I was more concerned with how Liam would respond to a substitute. The last time that happened, we had to leave early because he was so out of sorts about it. This time around was much better – maybe because it was a different substitute who seemed to work better with kids this age, and maybe because his cousins were taking the heat off the attention I usually focus on him during class. At any rate, Liam did great adapting to a different class routine, and I’m holding out hope this will bode well for Kindergarten.

Liam did so well that a lunch at BJ’s was in order. It was definitely a more trying experience with three kids instead of one, and our waiter was clearly new at the job, which added to the stress. But I had plenty of cars, card games, and video games to keep Evie and Liam occupied. Milo was a little more of a challenge, but he perked up once the Pazookie arrived.

Having survived the outing, we got even more ambitious on Wednesday, setting off for Exploration Place for a couple of hours. The kids had a blast, and despite the crowds, Liam did very well. He had only one outburst while waiting behind Evie at the harvester simulator. I thought it was more fair to let Evie go first because she’d never been there, and I used it as a teachable moment for Liam. He writhed on the floor, pouted and screamed, whined and threatened. I kept talking to him, tried using humor to lighten his mood, tried explaining the fairness of the situation, but to no avail. Finally it was his turn and the tears suddenly dried up. Jill spent most of the time separately with Milo, and after chasing him through the gift shop while he tried to pick up and buy everything within reach, we were ready to head home for some much needed wine and Chicken Tikka Masala dinner.

Reading this book, I’m trying to anticipate the moments when Liam does the most acting up. One of them is when people have to leave, and I knew when Evie and Milo had to return home, I was in for one of Liam’s monster tantrums. I tried to head it off by warning him when they were leaving. First a 30-minute warning, then a 10, then a five. All the while he was perfectly okay with the concept. Yes, they’re leaving. We’ll see them again soon. But then when it was time for them to go, he unleashed the fury. He punched Evie in the arm when she said she had to go. She wasn’t going to stand for that, so she just left. I’m really proud of her for not hitting him back. We brought her back in after a few minutes and talked to Liam about it. I think the big issue had to do with interrupting their play. He was prepared for her to leave, but they were right in the middle of a game, which made him upset.

Today, at the Farmer’s Market, I finally had a parental “win”. I was trying to come up with a solution for waiting in line, which almost always triggers a tantrum. I remembered when I was a kid I used to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with other kids in line. So I taught him the game, and we put it to use waiting in line for the balloon animal man this morning. And it worked! No whining, no crying, no complaining that he was TOO TIRED to WAIT in this STUPID line. I praised him afterward for being so good and patient in the line. Tomorrow we’re off to see the new Planes movie. Perhaps we can employ this technique in the concession stand line.

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