Monday, April 14, 2008

The Payback Kid, Part II

Back in January, I wrote about how Thing 1 and Thing 2 were in heated competition (though they didn't know it) for the title of THE PAYBACK KID -- the kid destined to pay back Late Blooming Mom for all the trouble I put my own mom through. After trading the title back and forth over their first three years, it seemed pretty clear there was a decisive winner: Thing 2, my daughter.

But in a mere three months, she has lost the title back to her brother. And oh, how he is earning it.

It all started when we resumed preschool after a week of spring break, and he decided school is not for him. Every morning, as soon as I entered the kids' room, my son would begin his whine: "I don't wanta go ta school." He'd proceed to repeat this whine all through my attempts to distract him (strategy number one) or ignore him (strategy two), and get him to breakfast, whereupon he'd start a new one: "I don't want orange juice." Or waffles. Or bananas. Or whatever was placed in front of him. Employing strategy number one, I tried to read him books from a selection he'd carted to the dining room table. Then the whine became, "I don't wanta read CURIOUS GEORGE," or "I don't wanta read MAISY MAKES LEMONADE," depending on whatever book I'd started to read. And so on and so forth it went through attempts to get him dressed for school and out the door and into daddy's car for drop-off.

Sometimes Thing 1 behaved like an angel during all this, being wholly cooperative and even attempting to get her brother to feel better by offering him toys or books or snacks for the car, or whatever she might have that he inevitably insisted he wanted. But other times, she fed off him and began whining too -- though not nearly with the persistence, repetition, and grating tone he seemed to have perfected.

My husband and I began to dread the mornings ... and we did so even though we have help in the mornings: our own part-time supernanny shows up at 7:30 and helps us get the kids fed, dressed, and out the door with lunches packed. Her preferred strategy was to ignore, and sometimes it worked, provided Late Blooming mom or dad left the room, instantly diminishing the reward of negative attention my son seemed to crave. But other times, there was no consoling him, especially if he hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before -- a distinct possibility on many mornings lately, since we've recently removed one side of his crib (see my previous post, The Rails Are Off).

Bottom line, in the morning, Thing 1 had become a pill.

He was still exhibiting these behaviors last week, though this morning he seems a bit better, having responded so far to my attempts at distraction and kissing/tickling him in giggle-inducing places. I am cautiously optimistic. But also prepared to have my hopes mercilessly crushed before morning drop-off. We'll see how it goes.

What's clear is that he's going through the same icky, willful, assertive developmental phase his sister went through several months back. Apparently it's typical of boys to be a bit slower on the developmental curve than girls, so this is understandable. Understandable, but no damn fun for anyone.

It's not really about school either, as he whines on the weekends ... and when I go to pick him up at school, he doesn't want to leave.

It's just about where he's at: seeing how far he can push mommy and daddy. Testing limits. And getting himself a reputation, to the point where even his sister, on the ride home from school the other day, turned to her brother and said, "Stop being difficult!"

Once again, my late mother is somewhere laughing her head off.

Payback isn't, in this case, a bitch. It's a male twin.

Post-drop-off uptdate: It must be noted that dad called from the road after dropping them both off and related the following: "I had THE SOUND OF MUSIC on in the car. He was singing along to EDELWEISS, every third word or so, in that sweet little castrati voice of his. It was adorable." And there was that moment, before he got into the elevator this morning, when he leaned against my leg and spontaneously said, "I love you, mommy."

That's my kinda payback.


Bow Van Riper said...

Hi! (Says a voice from "back in the day" . . . )

I'm not exactly your target audience, but as the at-home parent in an other-than-conventional family, I'm enjoying your posts tremendously (and nodding in recognition more often than you might think).


bvanriper at bellsouth dot net

Beth K. Vogt said...

The funny thing is, the kiddos don't realize they are paying us back for anything ... this is they're first go round ... and I've apologized to my mom many times for making her crazy (on the few occasions that I did!!)

And, yes, I am a twin!