Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year

My last two vacation days from work were taken on Monday and Tuesday, December 30 and 31. The original plan was to travel to New Jersey to see my father and some of my friends, but December turned out to be a tad more grueling that I expected. Combine that with the fact that I had stuff around the house to do - and my vacation days in 2014 would be predominantly taken by chorus-related travel - and the decision to stay home was an easy one. The good news is that I accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to do; the bad news was that I didn't get quite the rest that I needed. I'm feeling kind of beaten up right now, but I'll get over it.

On Monday, we took the kids to Jumpzone. Jumpzone is an awesome place: a big warehouse building filled with a half-dozen large, inflatable climbing and sliding toys. We had three more visits on the pass that had to be used in 2013, so we took the opportunity for a family visit. The boys absolutely love this place: it's good for about two hours of non-stop sprinting and climbing for them, which is a huge deal. In the winter, places that encourage the kids to run and climb and play are worth their weight in gold. The Baby turned back into a pumpkin first, so we left there and had a nice lunch at the Original Pancake House before heading home.

On New Year's Eve, we hosted a small gathering at our house. We had over a family from Rodef that the boys know from preschool and Sunday school; a family from my chorus; one of The Wife's quartetmates, and one of my quartetmates. We had a nice little meal, and the kids (there were four in addition to our three) ran around for a few hours, playing costumes and such. The biggest hit was the Silly String, which, we discovered, shares traits in common with Christmas tree tinsel: you're going to be digging pieces of it out of the living room for months. Sigh. Still, the kids colored, and did puzzles, and chased each other around, and played trains, and ate, and otherwise had a wonderful time. The grown-ups enjoyed themselves, too, by the way.

Little Bear crashed first, and two of our little friends went home. The Boy and The Baby fell asleep on my lap, and we managed to successfully relocate all three children to their beds. The grownups played Mad Gabs for a while before petering out at 2AM - which is, I think, the latest I've stayed up in quite a while. The next morning, The Boy was awake at 6:30, and Little Bear followed suit at around 7AM, which brings to mind my refrain about small children: no matter how much you drink the night before, they are still awake at 6:30AM. Sigh. The Baby and The Wife did manage to sleep until 9, mostly because I confiscated every noisemaker I found as the children discovered them the next morning.

Backtracking a bit, on New Year's Eve, I did some erranding early in the day. I had to mail my broken Playstation 3 controller back to Playstation, go to Big Lots for clearance Christmas lights and for some food, go to the alcohol store for the party favors, and go to the bank to deposit Christmas checks from Grandpa into the kids' savings accounts. The Wife, Little Bear, and The Baby were busy straightening up the house for the party, and The Boy was being difficult. When she was "motivating" him by guiding him towards his stack of toys, he tried the ultimate passive resistance and lay flat on the floor. I decided to save her the issues and told him he was coming with me.

Well, that provoked an epic tantrum from him. He took his shoes off, and I walked him out to the car, anyway. It was a short walk, but wet and cold, so he didn't try that trick again. He proceeded to scream bloody murder all the way to Big Lots and into the store, where I hugged him close and told him that, no matter what he did, I loved him very much. Once inside the store, he started pushing on the front end of the cart; I pretended that he was superstrong and allowed myself to get "slammed" into the shelves at the store, making appropriate groaning sounds. He thought that was hilarious, and after six or seven more of those, he calmed down and got into the shopping. I even let him pick out a toy for the party - "rocket balloons," with a small plastic pump, which turned out to be a huge hit. You pump up the long, cylinder balloons, and when you let them go, they make noise and shoot wildly around the room. It's very clever.

I was really quite proud of how I handled that one. I didn't shout back at him, I didn't engage in a punishment contest (threatening more and more severe punishments until he stopped shouting), and I kept my cool and my patience until he calmed down. I understood that it was a control thing more than anything else, and at the first safe opportunity, I let him take control of the cart in a fun way. +1 for me.

The bigger issue, with him, is that he's just not getting enough sleep. He's been coming downstairs earlier and earlier while I've been exercising. I can get by on 5 or 6 hours sleep on a regular basis; I've done it for decades. He's a growing boy, and he needs that extra hour or two of sleep. Wednesday night, I told him that, until he caught up on his sleep, he couldn't get out of bed until either 1) I was done exercising, or 2) Mom had gotten out of bed. The last two mornings, he's slept extra, and he's been a nicer kid because of it. I wish it was different - I really, really enjoyed spending time with him, because I don't get to spend nearly enough relaxed, non-activity

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