“You didn’t do jack?”

My husband and I hid our laughter when little boy looked up and asked me in all seriousness, “You didn’t do jack?”

He overheard us talking about our day.  I’d had such great plans.  We both did.  We did have a nice day and we got a little done and we spent time outside on the frozen ocean and we joined in a local parade and so overall it was an okay day, but I was still feeling a bit discouraged at what hadn’t been accomplished – primarily due to lack of effort.

“That’s right, honey.  I didn’t get things done today that I wanted to.”

“You didn’t do jack?”

Writing the blog, it’s not nearly as funny as it was.  He is a sponge and we have been amazingly lucky that the words he keys in on are not the words that we need to do a better job editing.

He practiced the word “awkward” last week throwing it into all sorts of sentences.  It was awkward to play with his sister.  It was awkward to put the puzzle away.  It was awkward to eat his zucchini and mushroom burrito.

This week he’s been practicing days of the week so he throws in a random day to give a little je-ne-sais-quoi to his statment.  “Last Monday we went to the grocery store.”  “On Saturday, we will take a present to the new baby.”  “The mushers saw the northern lights on the trail on Wednesday.”

This week it has also been the words responsibilities and consequences.  Actually, those are our words.  He uses them, but only to respond to us.  He’s still thinking that he can do his responsibilities after his snack or after his chewable vitamin or, heck, after bedtime.  It’s a bit of a process him learning that that is not going to be the new order of things.  I like, though, that he’s attempting some negotiating skills.  Those are important things in many careers.  Too bad it’s not such a good one in the parent/toddler career of PICKING UP your mess!

We had a great day overall.  There were moments, my husband and I threw each other concerned glances that we might have a repeat of the last few days, but through the concerted efforts of us playing good cop and bad cop, he pulled through.  We might not have always been good cop and bad cop, but we were certainly backup replacement to the other parent when the little trigger-pushing-button boy was pushing a little too long.

Single parents don’t get this back up.  Well, they might via friends and family, but on their own at home at night – wooooey, it’s tough keeping the emotions in check.  My hats off to those who don’t have a partner to help shoulder the hard stuff.

Overall our day went fairly well until tonight – except for not getting jack done.  Husband got triggered by the throwing of the box of markers and the response to cleaning them up which was a, “no”.  He was busy cooking and unprepared for such “willful no-ness”.  I returned and, untriggered, was able to move us through that scenario with a little parenting finesse and some when/then’s and some out loud musings of sister cleaning up “so fast”.

But my efforts only went so far.

After vitamins and before a sofa cuddle and book, little boy steadfastly refused to clean up two last messes (small, but still his responsibility) before heading up to read with dad and go to bed.  We talked about it.  He knows he made the mess.   He knows it is his responsibility.  He knows I will clean up the mess tonight and he knows he will have consequences in the morning.  He just doesn’t really “get it”.  Or perhaps he does.

I picked up his messes.  They took me all of a minute.  Tomorrow, he’ll help me do some of my work. Maybe this is a planned negotiation on his part and he was okay trading work effort with me.  No, I think he just doesn’t really get the cause and effect of it all.  So we will practice and while, I certainly don’t feel like dealing with it tomorrow, tomorrow is better than this next week when my husband is out of town and better than when we are sick or when we are traveling or any other scenario.  At least we have no big plans and can spend this time battening down the hatches and staying calm during the next possible hurricane of emotions.

I climbed up the stairs and re-tucked him in, kissed him, hugged him and received a hug, kiss and pretend bite.  He is such a cute sweetie.


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