Friday, March 20, 2009

Melting Moments

The morning of our eighth wedding anniversary, Late Blooming Dad and I attended our kids' preschool parent-teacher conferences.

On the whole, the conference was a love fest of the kind I don't know if we'll be getting come, say, third grade ... and especially not come seventh. The moments the teacher described when one of our kids is in distress, and the other rushes over to offer comfort, made our hearts melt.

The teacher began by gushing, "Your children are wonderful." And, beginning with Thing 1, she declared, "I love him. He's just so sweet!" We learned he's aces at puzzles, always comes over eagerly for story time, loves alphabet and number time, and is never aggressive or the kind of boy who tries to dominate others. Yet thankfully, he knows how to stand up for himself: he was overheard declaring vehemently to another boy, "Stop that! I don't like that!" Dad breathed a big sigh of relief, remembering that he was also pegged as Mr. Nice Boy, but got pushed around by other kids because of it.

We learned Thing 1 managed to crack all the teachers up one day by joining the girls at dress-up. The only boy to do so, he donned full girl gear -- princess dress and princess shoes -- and thought nothing of it. This didn't surprise us -- he's even shared Care Bears underwear with his sister -- though he may not want us to bring it up years from now at his wedding. (Most of the time he is all boy, preferring activities involving cars, tools, trains and rocket ships to anything involving the donning of tiaras, but a little experimentation is far from abnormal at this age.)

As for Thing 2, she's managed to be right on target with nearly every social, physical and academic skill she's supposed to master at this age -- even ones her brother is still working on. Her toughest problem at school these days is parting from mom or dad: separation is still a challenge. And though she can be a domineering, bossy Queen Bee at home, she's a shy and reserved girl at school who rarely leads the girls in activities and never bosses them around.

Perhaps not surprisingly, both kids save their worst behavior for mom and dad ... bedtime especially. Thing 1 is particularly reluctant to go down to sleep, and seems to take perverse delight in keeping his sister up (with whom he shares a room), and tormenting mom and dad with more requests for water, the bathroom, one more hug, coming out of his room ad nauseum till nearly 10 p.m. despite being marched right back, or tossing and turning relentlessly, unable to shut his eyes. We've cut out his nap on the weekend, but haven't succeeded in doing so at preschool, which makes school nights problematic and often exasperating. In fact, Late Blooming Dad just brought him out of the room for a time-out and it's already 9:25 as I write this. Late Blooming Dad is not melting at this moment. Late Blooming Dad needs a drink.

Last night, I was the exasperated parent, desperately willing the boy to sleep and unable to take staying in there until he did. So I'm trying not to focus on this difficult bedtime behavior, and take a moment to remember and savor the heart-melting stuff his teacher told us.

One day I'll probably miss the nights when he kept asking me to stay in the room for "one more song" (while the bedtime music played). And I'll wonder why I was so anxious to get out of the room to attend to whatever needed tending -- the laundry, work I needed to make up, or blogging, like tonight. But I also know that after a few intense hours from school pick-up through dinner and the whole bedtime routine, I need a few quiet moments to myself ... to get back in touch with the heart-melting stuff. It's how I fortify myself to cope with the stuff that ain't so heart-melting.

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