Then one day you realize that there has been a paradigm shift in the family, and without your really noticing it the kids have become completely different people.
I had a revelation like this last weekend. A visit from Geekydaddy's parents pulled us out of our weekend rut of groceries, laundry and the occasional playground trip, and saw us shopping at the Apple store, riding the cable cars and eating in restaurants. One of these was even a sushi restaurant that did not offer crayons and a 'colour in' menu. (sushi is a cheap and ubiquitous lunch option here in San Francisco, I feel I must add lest you think we are ridiculously pretentious).
Geekygirl at four has developed a new composure and sense of perspective. She managed a great recovery from accidentally biting her tongue along with her maguro nigiri. A cuddle and a quick mop of tears with a napkin and she went back to her meal, something that would have been unfathomable just a few months ago. Geekyboy, at 27 months is hitting the textbook oppositional stage, but even so managed to sit in his chair for the duration of lunch. We managed some cheery conversation and the kids were delighted with the polite waiters and colourful food. I had to stop and pinch myself, lunch out with the kids was actually an enjoyable experience.
Dealing with tantrums the second time around doesn't seem so hard, either. The force of tiny person anger seems less alien and terrifying now that I have seen first hand that it really is just a normal phase, that will eventually pass. Geekyboy is rather funny when he loses the plot. It is almost as if he has read that textbook on toddler behaviour and is dutifully going about the process, but really, all that drama just isn't his thing, and he can't be bothered putting too much effort into it before returning to his sunny self.
Yesterday though we did have a good meltdown. I offered a choice of mac and cheese or ravioli, out of a box or a can resepctively, and he chose both. I draw the line at serving pasta with a side of pasta, so decided to offer only the ravioli.
That was most emphatically not OK. A cannonball sized mound of playdough was hurled, then the box of kid cookware was upended over the kitchen floor. Geekyboy got a time out.
I'm very impressed by how well he handles his time out, he sits in the imaginary confines of the naughty chair, rattling the back of it and shouting "I break this chair. I no like time out" for a minute, a very impressive use of language to express emotion on such a little lad, I feel. By the time his two minutes are up he is usually back to his chatty self, and tells me one of this weeks facts, a favourite being "mummy, octopus is an ocean animal"
I've developed a new conversational tactic, giving Geekyboy the thrill of being able to correct me, and this time i responded with
" and a cow, that's an ocean animal, right?"
"noooo! A cow is a standing up animal not a swimming animal!" he told me. "a starfish is an ocean animal". After getting through sharks, crabs, whales and dolphins he, fortunately as yet unaware of the vast biodiversity of our seas, declared "that's all the ocean animals", then truly returned to good spirits, he tucked into his ravioli.
Though maybe with this ocean obsession I should have offered sushi again.
Here he is at the restaurant showing off his one chopstick technique