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Archive for the ‘Mornings’ Category

Peter’s entrance downstairs this morning? Pantsless, wearing a costume fedora he found in his room, singing the Indiana Jones theme song.

His entrance yesterday? Shirtless in pajama pants, wielding two plastic kids hangers like sai swords, yelling “Hiiiiii-ya!”

(No, he wouldn’t let me take pictures either time.)

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Despite falling asleep at 5pm last night, Peter made it through till about 5:30am. Or at least, that’s when he came in to our room, whispering questions like “Do you know how dolphins play tennis? With their tails!”

It’s a good thing that boy’s so cute and funny.  Because that’s way too early, even for me.

Also, there is evidence (in the form of a half-awake, cranky Jack) that we were not his first stop of the morning.

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When Jack wakes up every morning, it’s a new day.  No matter how much crying or whining he does the night before, he usually wakes up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and tackles the morning routine (tea, morning show, breakfast, get dressed, off to bus stop) with a smile.  He rarely remembers whatever was bothering him the night before.

Lately, for Peter, 9-11 hours of sleep is but a pause button for his brain.  Witness the last two evenings:

Bedtime #1: Very late (9p) due to a long nap from 2-4p.  Peter still doesn’t want to go to bed; he insists that he needs to go back downstairs and “play with his guys.”  Finally, after crying and yelling, and a sippy cup of milk, he’s off to dreamland.

Morning #1: At 6am (way early for him) Peter comes into our room, and says, “Daddy — you open da gate so I kin go downstairs and pway wiff my guys?”

Bedtime #2: Normal bedtime (7:15ish), though Peter is upset because, after repeatedly denying he wanted to watch a show with Jack so he could play on pbskids.org instead, now wants to watch a show  (“Buh I changed my mind!”).  A sippy cup of milk breaks through the sobbing and he’s comfortably wrapped in his covers.  He asks me to find one of his favorite cuddly animals, a stuffed cow named Cow, but he falls asleep while I’m looking for it.

Morning #2: Peter slips into our room at 6:30 and comes to my side of the bed.  Does he say “Good morning?” or “Hi, Daddy!” or “You ‘wake, Daddy?”  Nope!  He asks, “Daddy — did you find Cow?”

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Jack has a very powerful Extinction Burst — the secret weapon your brain uses to fight off changing new behavior it doesn’t like — and it was in full display while we tried to get him to do regular teeth-brushing with REAL toothpaste.  He had been brushing with the Orajel baby toothpaste for 6 years now, using a fluoride gel thing in the evenings to help… but he was already getting cavities.  When our dentist had Peter move to real toothpaste (and he’s only 3!), we realized it was time to force the issue with Jack.  Time to brush your teeth, with real toothpaste, both morning and evening.

First we tried rewards.  “You get a sticker on the chart every time you brush; when it fills up you get a new $0.99 iPad app.”  Not enough.   “We’ll give you an extra $1 every day you brush your teeth.”  Still not enough, even though he’s saving to buy a Wii game he really wants.  That evening Katherine moved on to “just do it” and “because I said so” and “I’m your mother” and that brought out the expected obstinate stubborn boy we know and love (and fear).  There was howling and crying.

A coworker told me she’s tackled her boys and held them down while she brushed their teeth.  I was seriously considering it.

The next morning I started off with gentle encouragement, since Jack is better in the mornings.  He made it to the sink, made it to holding the toothbrush, then balked.  I escalated to threats.  “You can’t watch any TV until you brush your teeth” was met with “Fine, I’m not gonna watch any TV today.”  Finally, I said, “I won’t let you go downstairs until you brush your teeth.”  That brought the extinction burst out in full force.  “I don’t want this toothpaste — I wanted the watermelon one!”  (This, after he picked out the toothpaste he wanted at the store.)  “I don’t feel like this right now.”  (Too bad.)  “I want Mama to help, not you.”  (Mama’s sleeping.)  “I’m going to go say hi to Mama first.”  (Okay, I’ll be right here, but you come right back…. tap tap tap…. tap tap tap… oh look, he’s now snuggled up with Mama in the bed.)

That morning we eventually got him to brush his teeth, practically wrestling him into the bathroom.  That evening, I went to rehearsal, and when I came back, he had put up a huge fuss again in the evening.  There were tears, there were I-hate-you’s, there were you’re-not-my-mama’s, the works.

The next morning, though, he brushed his teeth with the adult toothpaste without resistance.  And ever since then, he’s done it with little to no fuss — he’s already up to 5 stickers on his new sticker chart, after all.

It’s so, so hard to see the other side of the hill when you’re climbing up it.  There are so many things that Jack does that are hard to reinforce because it’s so much easier just to give in and say “Okay, buddy, I’ll let you do thing you probably shouldn’t be doing regularly just this one more time,” and then all our work is lost.  So it was nice to see Jack, in a span of a couple hard-fought days, make it through to the other side.  Of course I brush my teeth, morning and night, with regular toothpaste.  Doesn’t everyone?

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It’s morning time.  Peter is watching a new favorite cartoon (“Johnny Test”).  I’m puttering around as I’m wont to do in the mornings.  At some point, like every morning dad, I need to… ummmm… well in our house we call it “Sudoku” given that I’m sometimes prone to do a puzzle or two while taking care of business.  As today is no exception, I scoot over to the bathroom and sit down (puzzle-less) and…

There’s no toilet paper.  Crap.  Literally and figuratively, crap.

Now, as a parent, I have no shame in eventually shuffling upstairs naked at 6:30 in the morning to the other bathroom and enduring whatever ignominy is associated with being one of the Unwiped.  But, as a parent, c’mon, I deal with enough crap — again, literally and figuratively — that I don’t think I need to add this to my repertoire.

From the den, I hear, “Daaaaaddy…. Johnny Test i’ dunnnnnnn…  I need help!  I wanna p’ay da Batman Wii game…”

Light.  Bulb.

“Peter!  I need some help, Peter!  Can you come help me?”

An eager response: “You need da help Daddy?  I come help you!”

Enter Peter, and a plastic grasshopper toy which he is all too anxious to show me.  After agreeing that it’s a lovely pet, I tell him I have a problem: I have no toilet paper.  He looks over at the empty toilet paper holder to get some for me, then realizes my predicament.  “Peter, can youuuuuu… can you go upstairs and get toilet paper from the upstairs bathroom for me?”

“Sure!”  He trots off, initially in the wrong direction, then corrects himself and heads upstairs.

At this point I realize that, given the spare toilet paper is up on a shelf he can’t reach, there are 3 likely possibilities:
a) He gets distracted and never returns
b) He comes back with one tiny square of toilet paper.  Maybe that’s enough to get me started.
c) He comes back with a trail of toilet paper from the upstairs bathroom, all the way down the stairs, and hands it to me.

Deciding that option c) is still better than the naked run upstairs, I wait.

Peter returns.  “Here you go, Daddy!”  Bless his soul!  He has almost exactly the right amount of toilet paper, that he’s pulled and torn off the roll.  The boy still won’t pee or poop in the potty, but understands the vagaries of toilet paper consumption.  Hallelujah!

So, reason #42 to have a preschooler — morning toilet paper retrieval.

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Saturday morning around 6:30am, I heard our bedroom door open.  I had been out past 1am with some friends last night (you know, partying… living the high life… okay, actually it was playing a 3 hour board game called Incan Empire, which is my idea of fun), so I was dead tired.  Still, 6:30 is the normal wake-up time for Peter.  Eyes shut, I lay perfectly still as if prey trying not to be noticed by predator.  “Oh please don’t be awake… please don’t be awake… please don’t…. hmmmmmm, where’d he go?”

The door had closed.  I vaguely heard the stair gate opening and closing.  The mystery kid was gone.

Well, not much of a mystery.  Peter can’t open the gate, so it must have been Jack.  But I thought I heard Peter say something.  Maybe both of them?  Wouldn’t that be great?

It was.  They were both up.  They had gone downstairs on their own.  I slept another hour.

At 7:30, Katherine and I were both vaguely awake, and we started discussing what I would find when I went downstairs.  The TV on, certainly.  And they can get yogurt and juice boxes on their own.  Fruity Pebbles all over the kitchen floor?  Empty yogurt containers strewn on the carpet?  Pee all over the couch?  The more we brainstormed, the faster I got dressed. You think they fed themselves?   Would they try to make their own tea?  Would they go outside in the back to play in the sandbox on their own?  Holy crap… do you think they might have walked to Dunkin Donuts?

I rushed downstairs to find two unfed boys (one in need of a diaper change) on the couch in front of the TV tuned to PBS.  They weren’t really watching it, because they were playing games on our iPad.

Who knew that the best feature of iPad games like 100 Rogues and Plants vs Zombies was the one that lets parents both sleep in an extra hour?

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Signs that your Saturday morning is not moving very fast…

You’re lying in bed, almost dead to the world, at 9am, three and a half hours after you first got up.  Your oldest son has proclaimed you are one of the walls to his pillow spaceship.  Your youngest is lying on top of you, scratching your stubble, and saying “I like-a your beard, daddy!  I like-a your beard.” And you’re not in any hurry to change this situation.

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