Monday, November 30, 2009

Phase In, Phase Out

As I have mentioned before, I have a few parenting mantras that get me through the rough patches. One such phrase is "no phase lasts forever, it only feels like forever". 

Fortunately, with two kids, the odds are that  both of them aren't going through an extremely challenging phase at the same time.  The fall is usually our best time of year. Both kids like the newness of the new school year.  We often have brief late September lull when the longer school days catch up with them, but with birthdays and Halloween in this period, they seem to regain equilibrium.

This year, however, in about early November, Jackson seemed to become less interested in two things: listening to his parents and playing with his sister. It's a coin toss which was less popular around here.

It felt like every time we had a request, we were exasperated, going to the mat and threatening consequences. He lost computer, TV and his DS at different times and once he lost all of them together.  At one point I took away "everything fun you could ever want to do in the day".  He would taunt me "you still haven't taken away the one thing that is important to me!".  I think that might be oxygen because I took away everything else.  He was going to sleep ridiculously late and the resulting fatigue no doubt was not contributing to harmonious parent-child relations the next day.

Add to this Jackson wanted to play less with his sister. To be honest, we've always been impressed with how much they have played together and even how much Jackson would play games that Sydney wanted. But lately, it's like he matured in his play preferences and suddenly Sydney's suggestions, even when playing Star Wars games, were rejected.

Sydney, Ms. Sensitive, did not take well to this rejection.  We had tears, pouts, feet stomping and slammed doors.

We tried to help the kids find a happy medium, taking turns playing each others games.  But when Jackson is not listening to us and Sydney is in pout mode, productive things just don't happen.  So Husband and I played more games and did more crafts with Sydney, which seemed to fill her void.

We wondered if this was the end of our kids as each other's best play mates? We knew it would happen sometime, but we were unprepared for it.

Then suddenly, this past week Jackson has gone all reasonable on us. He's done his spelling homework without complaint, he's listened to our instructions (and obeyed at least some of the time).  He has shared the computer without going to code red. 

And this weekend, he started playing together with his sister.  A lot. They played spies, made documentaries, dressed up, had a dance contest, created movies on the computer and played board games.  When they needed a snack then went to the kitchen and helped themselves.  In a major freak of excellent timing, this coincided with Husband's last trip of the year, so I could actually enjoyed their being independant while I watched football. (Grey Cup, you know.)

As if to remind me of just how good I had it all Sunday, well after 11 last night,  I went to turn out the hall lights and saw Jackson, still fully clothed, climbing into his bed with a book.

"Um, it's kind of time to be sleeping." I said.

"But I need to read my book". He has a whole schedule where he reads one chapter of Harry Potter and then one chapter of Geronimo Stilton.  He had the latter in his hand.

"Well, maybe you could read that tomorrow? It's 11:20!"

"No it's not. It's 11:18."

"Point is, it's late! It's a school night."

Mr. Reasonable curled up into a ball and cried.  I rubbed his back and hoped he might just fall asleep.  He didn't. He insisted on reading his book and I left exasperated.

Perhaps not unrelated to the late night reading session, this morning he was far less than reasonable. In order to get him to the dentist, I resorted to the Angry Mommy Voice. I told him the dentist would charge if we were late and it would come out of his allowance.  I carried him downstairs and when he started to run back up,  I had to threaten no DS until 2010.

Here's to hoping for the good phase again.  Or else I will have to threaten deferral of putting up the Christmas lights. The J Boy is nothing if he's not into the seasonal decorating.

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