I signed him up for half-day nature camp at work with me this past week, though I suspected going in that he would not be on his best behavior with me as the teacher. He was so-so on Monday, missed Tuesday because he had Kindermusik, was whiny and wild and generally unpleasant on Wednesday, and then Thursday morning flip-flopped between wanting to go to camp and wanting to stay at Grandma's with Elliott so many times that I finally said, "This is your last chance. Put your carseat buckles on right this minute or you're staying here." He slumped down and out of his seat and then was shocked - shocked - when I promptly scooped him out of the car and deposited him on my mother's porch. He immediately flipped out and started sobbing and demanding to go to camp, but I refused to yield. I have to say, his behavior at camp on Friday was enough of an improvement over Wednesday that I'm hoping the lesson was learned. I can remember being about his age and doing the same yes / no, go / stay flip-flop on my mom about going to the grocery, and refusing to put on my shoes so that I could go. Finally she said fine, I'll just go without you, and I remember being utterly stunned when she actually walked out the door and drove away, leaving me behind. She actually did it! She left me!
Today we went to another birthday party and he was pretty good until the end, when he didn't want to leave and didn't want to put on his shoes. I told him, fine, you can walk to the car in your socks. It certainly won't bother me, though I know you won't like it. He did the whole maddening yes shoes / no shoes / yes shoes / no shoes thing and I told him, this is your last chance. If you say no again, you will not get your shoes. So he said no and then of course wanted his shoes desperately. He sat in the floor and had a huge fit because I refused to put them on for him. Another mom even offered to help him if he used his words and said please, and he wouldn't do that either. Finally he put the shoes on himself and sucked it up enough to ask me to please tie them. So I did, and we went home. I explained that once we got home, he was required to rest if he wanted to go to the animal show at the library this evening. "I won't rest!" he told me defiantly. "I won't rest ever again! I will get out of my bed and sit on the floor!" Once home, he did refuse to stay properly in bed or to nap for about two hours. He eventually fell asleep about half an hour before we needed to leave for the library and didn't get to go, then woke up after the show had ended and tearfully asked why he couldn't go see the animals. I try to appreciate that he is developing independence and thinking for himself and doing these normal kid things that need to be done, but oh my LORD, four and a half.
It occurred to me today, too, that because I very thoughtfully spaced my children almost exactly three years apart, they will always be going into their half-ages at the same time, forever. So pretty soon Elliott will be breaking my brain with eighteen-month antics. He's already showing quite a fierce little temper, though (like me) he gets over it pretty quickly. And at least he eats (and eats and eats and eats some more), though that may change as he gets older. Truly, still, they are wonderful children. They are funny and sweet and mostly kind and constantly surprising me. I try to take nothing for granted and to appreciate them and to (gag) treasure every moment. But no lie, halfsies are hard.
Reading: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Playing: an old mix CD