It’s been a long time since I did a dayhome update.
Since Blissdom I’ve picked up a bunch of new Twitter followers, and a lot of them are local. Halifax is a small town, ya’ll. I don’t want to post anything that isn’t positive and cheery about the gang here, just in case.
So I’m happy to report that things seem to have taken a sharp turn for the ever-so-much better.
Oh, Louis. Everyone always wants to know how Louis is doing. Here’s the thing; I’m about to recommend a book I haven’t even read, that’s how good Louis is doing. His parents picked up this book:
And by whatever magic, it’s working.
From what his mom has told me, the basic tenet is say what you mean, mean what you say. I’ve been a little horrified to hear how inconsistent their parenting was before, but this seems to be the magic bullet for their family. They’ve been on time for drop-off every day since they starting using this method because the morning is not fraught with stress, nagging, and tension. Louis is visibly happier, less anxious, and about one million times more pleasant. He’s suddenly remembering all the things I’ve been painstakingly drilling into him for a year now; manners, sharing, using his big-boy words, and the like are all happening with little to no prompting.
One day last week he had a perfect day. Not only was he not a problem, he was actually a joy. I was almost in tears when his mom came to pick him up and I could give her a good report. She told me later that she was congratulating him in the car on the way home and he said “well, mommy, it is HARD to be grouchy all the time.”
Pixie is a follower, not a leader. As such, she has been pretty foul-tempered for weeks now; picking up on Louis’ mood, she’s also decided that her favourite facial expression is a sour pout. It got bad enough that one day in circle time I explained to them that it takes two to make a smile, and that I’ve been finding it hard to keep my smile on when no one ever smiles back.
The following week Louis had his big turnaround and just like that, Pixie also cheered up. She’s suddenly recalled that she knows how to talk and has decided to do so, making my life much easier.
She’s doing fabulous in preschool, too. Her teacher was actually a little surprised to hear that she’s got another whole year before she goes to big-kid school, because she’s got all the school readiness stuff down except for writing her own name (it’s really long, and hard to spell, so I give her a big pass on that one.) When I passed the compliment on to her dad, he said “Oh, that’s all due to you, you taught her how to dress herself and tidy up and all those things.”
I like Pixie’s dad.
Daisy turned two yesterday and it’s like a switch has been flipped – it happened at around 4:45PM, in fact. All of a sudden, my sweet little go-along-to-get-along girl is a stubborn, limit-testing turkey who has a temper that matches her bright-red curly hair. She’s especially pushing the older kids to see if they will let her wreck their block towers, tear apart their train tracks, and kick their dinky cars across the room.
However, she’s making some progress with language – we’re hearing more short sentences (“water please”, “Christmas songs”, “go pee”, that kind of thing). She’s also less frightened of my pets, making some hesitant attempts to pet the dog and cat if they drift into her zone.
Since he’s only before-and-after school, I don’t have much of an influence over Arthur anymore, not really. As long as I’ve got a snack for him when he gets off the bus and he gets his half-hour of video game time, he’s happy.
We’ve just come off a bad bout of bronchitis for my littlest muffin. There is nothing more pitiful than a toddler too congested to sleep, unless it’s his mother. I was sick for a weekend first, then he caught it and it moved into his lungs, and by the time the smoke cleared ten days had pretty much vanished in a haze of sleep deprivation and puffers.
His facility with language continues to amaze me; I finally looked up language milestones for kids his age and he’s left them all behind. He routinely uses sentences with five to ten words. He loves to tell stories about his life; most recently we went to the zoo and he’s still telling the “we saw a camel and then it POOPED” story to anyone who will listen. Last week the boys watched Star Wars: Episode IV with their dad, and he has told me “and then Chewbacca was in DA GARBAGE” approximately one million times.
Of course the downside to a very verbal 23 month old is that he talks back. He’s heard me say “that’s not cool, guys” to the older boys when they do something they shouldn’t, and it’s become his go-to phrase when he’s bossing the other kids around. Example:
The scene: Daisy is playing with something George wants.
George: Daisy, gimme dat dump truck RIGHT NOW.
Daisy: *shakes head* NO!
George: *grabs truck* DAT’S NOT COOL, DAISY!!
So we’re working on that.
He’s come a long, long way since school started back in September. He’s learned to swim! This has been a major fear of his so that’s the big milestone, for sure. He stayed at a birthday party without me for the first time last weekend; he stuck it out, although he burst into relieved tears when I arrived because it was “too loud and too many kids”. He still really needs his alone time to recharge and his quiet time to think, especially when he gets home from school. I totally get that, although we are definitely the only two introverts in the house and sometimes “a quiet place to sit and be alone” is hard to come by.
A week ago Michael and Harry were out for the day playing in a Warhammer table-top gaming tournament, so I asked Ron what he’d like to do with me that was kind of special. “I want to do some Christmas projects” was his answer. We picked up some simple craft kits and he spent a happy afternoon making me some decorations. He’s definitely got real artistic talent; his sketches are easy to identify and pretty detailed. “I’m making it look REALISTIC,” he’ll tell me earnestly, and he erases lines and tries again.
He’s learning to stick up for himself, and is not always cheerfully going along with Harry’s every whim just because he’s happy to be included. Harry is taking this hard; instead of a small worshipful satellite he now has another whole person in his space, a person with opinions of his own.
Yesterday we had the follow-up meeting with the ‘team’ at Harry’s school; we got the results of his math skills assessment and heard the next steps.
I’m not going to reveal his scores but I will just say this – yes, he’s gifted, and I am quietly vindicated to hear that the issues we’ve had with him aren’t “speshul snowflake” syndrome but instead a legitimate issue that needs to be dealt with.
They have a plan for keeping him challenged in the classroom, and they have also ordered further testing across the board to see what his actual capabilities are. They’re also going to be examining his learning style so they can better meet his needs.
We have to see if this will all happen, of course, but I can say that he is obviously much happier in school this year than last year, so I think things are well in hand.
Under the heading of ‘funny things about my weirdo kid’, he’s developed an obsession with herbal tea. He drinks at least three cups a day; at breakfast, with his after-school snack, and before bed. I’m spending a small fortune feeding his tea habit.
He is, however, still a kid. Yesterday his homework was to list words containing the “UM”. I peeked over his shoulder at a quite impressive list:
Me: Hey, Harry, good list. What about “bum”?
Harry: Oh no, mum. Our school doesn’t like bathroom talk AT ALL.
Me: But ‘rum’ and ‘hummer’ are OK?
Harry: Neither one of them has to do with bathrooms.