Three going on thirty (or how many gray hairs my kids give me daily).

Three might be the best age ever.  Gavin can be trusted to do so much on his own.  He climbs the steep subway steps all by himself.  He walks the sidewalks in front of me, but waits without fail at least 5 feet before the crosswalk.

Hode my hand, mommy.”

One of our favorite things to do is spend time at the local playground.  He’s been playing here since he first learned to walk and he knows every inch.  Now that Chloe is walking, she’s beginning to investigate the steps, the slides and the scene herself.   I spend a lot of time shadowing her.  That leaves Gavin with free reign as I keep one hand on her, one eye on him.

At the park this April, er, winter?

There were a lot of bigger kids at the park on Saturday which instantly makes me queasy.  Gavin loves to run behind the older kids as they run and roughhouse.  On this day, I noticed two 8-year-old boys that he was trailing.  They clearly didn’t enjoy the presence of this “baby” and had told him to get lost as they ran away repeatedly.

He chased after them as fast as his tiny legs could carry him until the boys stopped suddenly.  Together they backed him against the slide and one boy screamed some awful things just inches from his face.

I was behind Gavin at the time this happened, on the other side of the slide.  I couldn’t hear what the older boy said but I could see the menacing look on his face.  When they ran away I quickly circled over to see my boy.  His face was contorted in that way when you are trying with all your might not to cry but all you want to do is bust up and sob.

Yeah, just like that.

I was so proud of him for holding it in until the boys left.  I was so relieved that he cried (and let me console him) when I arrived.  It was time to go anyhow and after this incident I hauled both kids over to the stroller.  I strapped Chloe in and handed her some snacks.  But Gavin suddenly stopped the waterworks.

“I need one more minute mommy,” he said.

Somehow I knew he was right.  Intent on leaving on a high note, he ran another loop around the shark infested waters playground.

Dun-nah, dun-nah, dun-nah

Collision!  The boys were back.  Gavin stood shocked when he spotted them but I caught his eye and smiled – letting him know I was there.  Suddenly his demeanor changed.  As the boys charged over, he met their pace.  When they were all face to face he yelled to them “hey, you’re not gonna follow me!” and resumed his stride.

But the boys were bored and content on breaking him down so they chased after him.  He stopped and faced them.  “Leave me alone!” he boldly announced.  And they did.

How my heart leaped!  He was cautious, but not afraid.  He was assertive but not aggressive.  I couldn’t have asked for a more positive result from what could have been a mother’s nightmare.

My heart pounded out of my chest for the entire walk home.  I was sad at what happened, proud of his reaction, assuaged I was there to witness it all, troubled by the fact that this is just the beginning.

Frankly, it was too damn much for a Saturday afternoon.

Who said this parenting thing was easy???

Love this boy

 

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Parenting upstream

When Gavin was born, my ass was quickly kicked by Motherhood.  Breastfeeding gave me the one, two punch.  Attempt to implement a schedule?  Uppercut.  Colic was the roundhouse kick to the face, just for good measure.  I waved my white flag of surrender a few long weeks in, gave up all the baby books and vowed to learn as I go.

When the second child came around I thought “surely my experience over the past two years has left me with some shred of useful information.”  A practical, if not hard earned “What to Expect.”

“WRONG AGAIN” taunted Motherhood.  Bitch.

Obvious gender differences aside, Gavin and Chloe are different in every way.  Their sleeping habits, their eating habits, their playing preferences, their dispositions, their methods of communicating – complete opposites.

Different kids call for different parenting techniques, right?  Absolutely.  Or maybe not?

Gavin has learned that everything has the potential to cause hurt.  When first learning to walk his forehead was always black and blue, his hands perpetually scraped.  At two, he got stitches in his lip after slipping on his own pants.  The simple act of walking or jumping up and down in the wrong pants = pain.

He's too young to think this now, but I'd be surprised if this poster isn't on his teenage walls

Chloe has no idea of the dangers the world holds.   She gets herself into a dangerous situation no less than eighteen times a day, but I am always there to dive onto the concrete  to cushion her fall or juggle the glassware she topples before she cuts herself.  She has never even heard the word boo-boo.  Blissfully oblivious.

No problem, I'll get that. You just keep on walking.

 

I silently push Gavin.  I stand far away while he plays.  If he shows interest in something new, I offer tons of support and instruction.  He still refuses to step out of his comfort zone.

I am Chloe’s shadow.   I constantly remind her that slides are not for running up, or for licking, or for diving down face first.  I discourage her from doing most of what she wants to do.  Her comfort zone is everything she’s never tried before.

So by pushing Gavin, letting him fall in an effort to show him life goes on, am I only reinforcing his caution and concern that he is never safe?  If so, I am getting the opposite of my desired result: to foster confidence and autonomy.  Should I hold his hand every step of the way instead?  Wait until he is decidedly ready to move away?

Or by protecting Chloe from the tornado that she is, leaving her with only a warning, am I reinforcing her oblivion and wild child antics?  If so, I am getting the opposite of my desired result: to foster awareness and caution.   Should I let her try things I know she can’t do?  Even if that means injury?

Some traits are present from birth (nature) while some traits are learned from our childhood environments (nurture).  It seems I am trying to nurture what goes against their nature.  It also seems that my efforts are only reinforcing their DNA.

What do you think?  Am I fighting the current, swimming upstream, and getting nowhere?  Or should I stay the course, confident they will get there with time?

WTTM Jennifer Garner!

Today I had two posts in mind — it was going to be either Gavin’s birth story or the harrowing results of his preschool admissions process.  Those will have to wait.

Last night I received the wonderful news (ok, not me personally, but through E! Online) that my soon-to-be BFF Jennifer Garner welcomed a boy into her brood! And on Gavin’s birthday no less!  See, we are getting closer to a real friendship every day.

Even though it’s not her first child, I want to welcome Jennifer Garner to the wonderful world of mommying a boy.  It’s a whole different world than the pretty pink one you’ve been living in my friend.  Get used to bruises, toy car crashes, and a whole new relationship with urine.

Let me tell you, those tiny fire-hoses spray everywhere.  During the diaper stage, it’s best to anticipate the projectile pee at every change.  Even with those nifty tee-pee things, expect to get a shot or two in the mouth.

I know I said I wanted to be a model, but this is not what I had in mind. I need a new agent. Where's Jerry Maguire?

During the potty stage, you know your face will be safe, but that’s all.  You will find pee on the seat, over the seat, under the seat, in the bathtub, in the bath toys and on the vanity.  Pretty much anywhere in the general vicinity of the bathroom is fair game.

Just be happy I'm actually in the bathroom.

You can also expect your son to love you in a way that a daughter can’t.  Your daughters will model you and need your help and guidance, but your son will cherish you and need you purely for love and comfort.

Welcome to the Motherhood of boys Jennifer Garner!  I eagerly await the release of your perfectly crafted baby name.

And if it’s Gavin, I may just have cause to have that restraining order reversed (who’s stalking who now?).