The preschool teacher pulled me aside during pickup on Wednesday and said that they were having some problems with Edward. He's increasingly defiant, she explained, especially during transitions. I stared at her for a few moments trying to come up with something better to say than, wait, he's just now starting this at school? I had assumed they'd been rolling with the fact that Edward - sort of like the Eskimo and snow - has forty different ways to say no. But apparently he's been mostly biddable (apart from the gothic drop-off scenes that still continue although, yes, I know, it is MARCH) until the past week or so when he's started putting his square foot down. No, he didn't want to get out of the pool, no, he did not want to put away the trucks and have a snack, no, no, craft project for him, no no and no. Non.
She asked if we had seen any of this behavior at home (HA!) and if we had any techniques for dealing with it. I said hmmmmmmmmmm and tried to look thoughtful and finally admitted we don't negotiate with terrorists and thus we frequently wind up carrying Edward like a clutch purse. I added that we would talk to him about expectations for school.
When I came home I repeated the gist of the conversation to Steve, ending with the teacher's query as to whether we have any effective strategies for dealing with Edward's intransigence.
Steve promptly said, "Yes. Yes, we do. We send him to preschool."
Edward is very sweet in many ways but he is in the stage when he is anxious to assert his dominance all the time. He's sort of a classic baby of the family, which he is both figuratively and literally albeit by only 45 minutes. We all dote on Edward and get exasperated by him and he spends his time saying, "I'LL DO IT BY MYSELF!" or "Ok, here are the rules and the order of the rules: first rule..."
Caroline never says, "I'll do it by myself" she just does it and Patrick never wanted to do anything (aw, I just got a mental image of a young Patrick following me around with wet floppy hands because he couldn't be bothered to dry them but was perfectly willing to walk around the house after me so that I could do it for him) so the vocal stubborn independent thing is new to us. I have been trying to let Edward make as many decisions as are reasonable in the hopes that this will help to quell his lust for power. I reorganized the pantry and the refrigerator and created Get It Myself shelves. He gets to wear pajamas every goddamned day. I have designated jobs for them (clearing their plates, helping me sort clothes and put them away, dusting) and they started earning an allowance.
Oh, right, that reminds me: the first week they got an allowance Edward immediately said he wanted to go to Target and buy another transformer. I thought ah ha! a teachable moment! and told him that he had $4 but the transformer he wanted costs $7 so he had a choice: he could either buy something else for $4 or he could save his money and buy the car next week.
He said, "Caroline, I need three moneys. Can I have yours?"
And Caroline said, "Sure."
He turned back to me and said, "I want to go to Target now."
(I negotiated a more equitable solution while in the toy aisles and they both spent their own money but I was sweating it.)
Anyway, Edward's going through a stage and I told him to knock it off at preschool and he said ok. We'll see if that works because if it does I am a parenting genius and every time I witness a kid throwing a tantrum in the future I can say with smug assurance that if it were my child I would just tell him to stop it.
Some pictures of Caroline and Edward after they got out of the bathtub and into my bed. They don't often look like twins to me but holy cats
Oh, on the subject of allowances and chores... I put a lot of thought into this and decided that they get an allowance because they are members of the family and are entitled to a little spending money and that they have chores to do because they are members of the family and are responsible for some of the work that needs to be done. Two different things. I am making this distinction because when we started an allowance for Patrick x years ago I tied the jobs he had to do every day to being paid a small weekly stipend and it blew up in my face almost immediately. Since Patrick doesn't like to spend money he doesn't really need any money; thus he frequently decided that the allowance wasn't worth the effort of doing the chore. D'oh. We quickly cancelled the allowance and then reintroduced the jobs later as a mandatory requirement for his existence. He fed the cats, put away his clothes and played with the twins when I needed him to do so. When I tried to come up with some ways that Edward might feel more responsible for things I decided on an allowance for the twins and I told Patrick that I would start his up again. I mentioned as a related aside that I thought he was big enough to have increased responsibilities and asked what things he would be interested in doing. He said he'd make some dinners.
And he did.
I gave him the stir fry recipe I like and he chopped and stirred and fried.
The deep-dish pizza recipe turned out to be kinda crummy but it looked pretty.
He's also done waffles, blueberry muffins and, you know, spaghetti. Today they are celebrating early Pi day (Spring Break next week) with a Pie Day and Patrick wanted to make and bring a cherry pie to school. I don't do pie. I have never done pie. And if I ever did do a pie it would not be a fruit pie because I dislike them. So it was Patrick's project in toto.
And in the end he created what I can only describe as a very Patrick pie. Click the link for the picture.
PS I got "It's So Amazing" and "It's Not the Stork" out of the library. The twins LOVE the stork book, which Edward calls the Snork book before saying, "Yet's find out how the baby gets into the tummy, shall we?" Caroline likes the part where they talk about how both boys and girls sing and dance and do karate and play with trucks and dolls.
I left "It's So Amazing" in Patrick's room, all casual, and was amused to find it the next day in the hall outside his door. When I asked him he looked surprised and said he thought Caroline had left it on his bed because it looks like a picture book. I said, no, it was for him and that I had gotten a smiliar book for the twins that was geared toward younger kids.
I found him in my room later flipping through the Stork book. When I walked in he looked up and said, very firmly, "This is TOTALLY inappropriate for the twins."
He gave me his best pious Elder Ebenezer Flintface look and showed me where the book illustrated, gasp, human bodies and showed a girl bent over checking out her behind in a mirror (excuse me, her anus.)
"Do you know how many times a day Caroline shows me her... her butt as it is?" he asked, resorting to strong language. "What do you want to do? Give her, like, a how to manual on being naked?"
I got to use my new catch phrase (it's perfectly normal!) and told him to chill. Bodies. Natural. All Good. He kept reading, I wandered off and then heard him say, "Well! I didn't know THAT! That's creepy!"
And I came rushing back to explain and normalize whatever it was he had read. Creepy? Nonsense! Nothing creepy about human bodies. It's all, perfectly, normal!
I asked him what he had seen and he showed me the page on... circumcision.
Ah. Yes. Well. OK. Maybe a little creepy.
He said, "According to this, people... they... sometimes... TO A PENIS!"
Then he studied the illustrations and I could see the wheels turning and I was backing out of the room when he looked at me and said, "I've had THREE surgeries?" in a strangled sort of Et Tu Brute way.
And I said no no, not a surgery, minor procedure, and he said if they knock me out it's a surgery and I said well they don't put babies to sleep for it and Patrick looked horrified and I said Um Well You See and then I told him to ask his father. It really was Steve's decision after all. I swear.
When I handed over the book I was worried that Patrick was going to ask me some awkward questions about penises and vaginas and whether someone would have to buy him dinner or at least a drink first. Instead I found myself on the wafer-thin edge of the circumcision debate. Jeez, Patrick why not ask me whether I think formula was an acceptable supplement to breastmilk for the twins; whether being born in a hospital compromised the birth experience for him; or whether, as a stay-at-home marmot, I feel I am an adequate role-model for Caroline who might know that there are female brain surgeon opera singer astronauts but who certainly did not find that out by watching me.