November 2012

Skills

Everett is developing new skills, even if he doesn’t always want to admit it. The other night he was buttoning his pajamas, as he was telling us that he doesn’t know how to use buttons. One recent morning he zipped up his coat by himself. He is also getting more skilled with writing. Today he brought home from school several pages of tables filled with handwritten numbers. He is also becoming a skilled negotiator. He often expresses his views by saying something like “Ok, well, here’s my deal‚Ķ” followed by a detailed description of what he would find acceptable. This usually works out in his favor, but there are times when his parents have to tell him that he isn’t getting a deal this time, and that he has to do what we say. Like many children he does not like being faced with the limits of his control, but fortunately he is also getting more skilled in handling his emotions. Even at when he gets very angry or upset, these times don’t last nearly as long as they used to.

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Darth Claus

One of the benefits of living with a child is the unanticipated questions, such as “do Darth Vader and Santa Claus know each other?” It turns out the answer to this question is yes. In fact, we have evidence to prove that at the very least they have met and appear to be friends.
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This came about because on the way out of the house to see Santa, Everett decided to put on his Darth Vader costume from Halloween. Chris wasn’t there but Melissa reported that this was quite a hit with almost everyone at the mall. Even the police stopped by to give him high-fives!

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Humor

When Grandpa and Grandma were visiting us last summer, Grandpa told us a story about a squirrel who kept eating from the bird feeder on their deck. Like many homeowners they went through a series of tactics to keep the squirrels out, such as putting freely-spinning soda bottles around the pole used to hang the bird feeder, but none of them were effective. Anyway, Grandpa explained that “one day a squirrel was feasting in the bird feeder and I snuck up and swatted him on the butt with a stick. And he ran off!” Everett thought this story was *hilarious*! And this came up again one day recently when we were riding to school and saw a squirrel’s tail and derriere sticking out of a bird feeder. Chris asked Everett what was so funny about Grandpa’s story. “He said butt!”

A couple weekends ago at lunch Chris was telling a story about a coworker many years ago who forgot about his leftover lunch in his desk drawer and then left town for a few months. It sat there for weeks and finally started emitting an odor that was simply overpowering. So Chris posed the question “Is there a pig farm in here?”. Also hilarious!

Everett is now reaching the age where he is very attuned to humor. One of our most recent experiences is the book The Dumb Bunnies’ Easter which he checked out from the library with his card (yes, he now has his own library card). Both Melissa and Chris have mixed feelings about this book. We don’t like to use the word dumb, particularly as a descriptor for people, or in this case story characters. Also, the book could be perceived as making fun of people who are not well-educated. But it was difficult not to like it at least a little bit once we saw how hard Everett laughed. This caused somewhat of a positive feedback loop. Everett liked the book so much he kept asking Chris to read it, and in fact we once read it seven times in a single day. In an attempt to keep from losing his mind, Chris starting adding embellishments. For example, Poppa Bunny spends the entire book walking around in his heart underwear on Christmas Eve, even when he goes outside to cut down the neighbor’s Christmas tree.
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So every time Poppa appeared in the book Chris would yell “Would you put some pants on for crying out loud!?!” Everett laughed so hard he was having trouble breathing. After a few days of progressively greater embellishments Chris was walking around the house in heart underwear, which is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. No, we are not providing photos.

It’s curious what children find funny, and that they can remember funny events for so long. Chris recalls when once when he was a child a bit older than Everett, and his family went to see a Christmas play that featured “The Three Wise Guys” instead of the three wise men. Both Chris and Sean thought this was hilarious and it is a joke that persists in our family to this day.

As a final example, Everett has been in the nap transition period for a few months, which basically means that some days he takes them and some days he doesn’t. Generally speaking, he hasn’t been crazy about taking naps for the last year or so, but he needs the extra sleep and Mom needs some break time during the day. However, after a while we developed a problem: his sleep inertia at the end of the day has been getting lower and lower. This translates into extended periods of wakefulness around bedtime, during which he is procrastinating, talking to us, getting up for various reasons, tromping around his room, etc. A couple weeks ago he quit naps altogether, and his sleep inertia is now much higher at bedtime. This is much better for everyone because now he falls asleep much faster. In fact, many nights we don’t hear a sound out of him. The downside to this is that he is sometimes so sleepy that he can’t wake up enough to register when he has to go to the bathroom at night. The other night Chris got him out of bed and took him to the bathroom. Everett was so tired he almost couldn’t walk, yet he still managed to ask “Is there a pig farm in here?”

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School

Everett: “Why do we yawn?”

Mom: “It’s a natural reaction to seeing other people yawn.”

“Why did the first person yawn?”

Dad: “We aren’t really sure why people yawn. It might have something to do with getting more oxygen or releasing surplus carbon dioxide, but it’s not clear why this tends to happen when we are tired.”

“Well I want to go to a school that has all the answers.”

This led to a discussion about school, how much school you can attend in a lifetime, and what you might get out of it. This seemed to be the first time that he realized you could go to school to learn to become a scientist (his response: “Really?!?”). On a related subject, montessori school is going well. Our first parent-teacher conference a few weeks ago. Chris couldn’t attend because he was in Baltimore, but Melissa received a lot of positive feedback. Everett still seems to have a sense of wonder about it when Chris drops him off in the morning, and he does seem to enjoy his lessons and interacting with the other kids. He is still getting his mind around the fact that school is five days a week, and he is getting into the rhythm of getting up every morning and getting ready. He is now required to pick out his own clothes and get himself dressed. We are also getting him into the habit of getting his cold-weather gear, his milk cup and his backpack before he heads out the door. However, his Dad is still severely morning challenged after many more years of experience so we may have to adjust our expectations.

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Nests

Nests and forts have become a common part of our family life over the past year,¬†regardless of whether we are at home or traveling. This probably started as a result of our travels with Everett. Ever since he was old enough to sleep outside a crib we would construct a “special nest” for him wherever we went, which usually consisted of a pile of pillows and blankets in a closet, under a table or in any available small nook. He loved it, and now has started building his own nests and forts at a frequency that borders on obsessive. His bed currently contains several blankets, a menagerie of stuffed animals, a yoga ball, three small pumpkins from Jim’s Pumpkin Farm and a wide variety of pillows. More recently his room was taken over by a fort made of sheets and a “snuggly pit”. During a recent play date at his friend Kelly’s house she came upstairs from the basement and announced to her Mom that they were building some “cozy nests”. This must not be a common term in Kelly’s house because her Mom got a good laugh out of it. Today Everett had a play date with George. Naturally, he was very excited about this because George is one of his closest friends, but he was even more excited because he was going without either of his parents. After about two or three hours Chris called Lynette to see how it was going and to arrange picking up Everett. She asked Everett if he wanted to talk to his Dad. “No, I’m too busy.” It turns out that they were turning George’s closet into a giant nest.

As a result of this behavior Everett has turned into somewhat of a pillow hog. He will take every pillow he can get his hands on, including the ones from our bed, and pile them into one of his nests. The only way to avoid this is to get him to build a nest in our bed. We now warn our friends to put away any pillows or blankets that they don’t want to be used as building materials.

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