Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sneaky, sneaky

The only constant is change, and I’ve become thoroughly convinced that at no time in life is that more true than when you are raising young children. Those slippery little suckers change and change fast and do it all the time.

It was, let's see, late November when I mentioned that maybe my wife and I were thinking about starting to consider night-weaning the baby. Now it’s early January and not only is the baby night-weaned and more or less sleep-trained (by which I mean the instructional aspect of the sleep training has been concluded and all that remains is for the baby to abide by it consistently; as of right now, some nights he does, and some nights not so much), but we are counting down the weeks and days until the baby will be fully weaned, at which point … well, it’s not so much that we have some elaborate run-off-and-celebrate-unencumbered-by-kids plan totally mapped out, but it will be something of a pleasant relief for the baby (and us) to have passed that particular milestone.

The baby is in fact passing milestones all the time, e.g. recently progressing from belly-crawling to hands-and-knees-crawling, which provides him an added dimension of speed such that he can literally disappear while your head is momentarily turned. We have baby gates all over the place now, which I have been not at all surprised to learn the little guy can open and close on his own, but have been somewhat surprised to learn the little girl can operate as well. That’s a double-edged sword, of course, because we don’t have to run around letting the bigger kids come and go, but they are both (age-appropriately) spotty at best as far as remembering to close the gates behind them again so as not to defeat the whole purpose of corralling the infant.

The little guy and little girl are thick as thieves so they are usually defeating the purpose of gates in tandem, which makes it all the more curious how in certain ways they are vastly different. The little guy has reached the point where he recognizes right and wrong and has internalized most of our household rules, but still has no self-control and almost always underestimates the observational powers of his parents. He will do things he knows he’s not supposed to do, and utilize what he believes are surreptitious approaches, and then he’ll get busted, and he’ll be flabbergasted that we foiled his genius scheme. Every. Time. Recently his sister was confined to her room for part of the afternoon and he kept sneaking in to play with her, and I kept hearing him because the baby monitor was turned on in the kitchen. The little guy’s brilliant stratagem was to creep into the kitchen and turn off the baby monitor, thus killing the hum of the fan in the little girl’s room coming through the speaker, and then bolt upstairs. The perfect crime! I felt bad intercepting him with the crushing news that I knew what he was up to. Almost.

You might notice in the above anecdote that the little girl was in no way aiding and abetting her brother. Although she is every inch a two-year-old, armed with a volatile temper and hair-trigger tantrum-escalation capabilities, that side of her tends to come out when she doesn’t get what she wants. And for a lot of our house rules, she’s fine, because they don’t directly contradict her desires. Apparently at one point (this is how parenting multiple very small children works, I’ve found, in that things happen and you don’t remember them happening even though you were one making them happen, because your brain is perpetually exhausted, but somehow you make do and keep going) we told the kids that they need to check in and at least let us know when they’re going out of earshot and beyond sightlines. I deduce we must have laid down this law because the little girl is now very taken with the reporting-in idea. And she doesn’t just inform us, she super-sweetly asks permission: Can we go play upstairs? Can we go to the basement? The other day it was even, Can I do a dance for the baby? I’m not sure if she’s a born people-pleaser (her mother and I are, so that would fit) or if she’s the true evil genius of the Frick-and-Frack combo and she’s playing a very long con with us in order to go into master manipulator mode down the road. I guess we’ll find out, probably sooner than later.

Because change is always upon us! While the little girl is learning how far honey can get her, and the baby is learning how to stand up in the crib when he’s decided he’s done napping (uh-oh), the little guy is already about halfway done with kindergarten. Soon it will be time to figure out what exactly we’re going to do with him over the summer, especially on days when both parents are at work, and just this morning my wife pointed out to me that by that time the baby will be old enough for the second-tier pricing of daycare centers rather than the newborn first-tier. We skipped that tier for him altogether, opting for in-home care this time around, but we may very well be headed back in that direction. Or some completely new option, who knows, how are we supposed to predict any outcomes when none of the inputs are constant?

So it goes and so it goes. At least there's never a dull moment, or if there is, it's bound to change before too long.

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