Sometimes I get fixated on some kid craft that I feel like we have to do, or we’re not properly celebrating the season or whatever. Last year it was a gingerbread house (stay tuned next month, I’m sure another one is in the works, against my better judgment), this year it was peanut butter birdseed pinecones. I bought the cheap peanut butter and birdseed weeks ago, and the pinecones have been collecting on our picnic table, blowing around in the wind, and carefully being regathered on the picnic table by me. No one cared. Henry sort of seemed into it, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do when he got home.
Then last Thursday Eli was being so clingy and needy that I couldn’t move without him leaning on me or literally hanging from my belt loops. And suddenly peanut butter birdseed pinecones seemed like the perfect thing to do. And I will say that it seemed to calm him down a lot and make him a lot less needy, despite the fact that he wasn’t all that into the whole craft thing.
You know, I do these things, and think it’s going to be all homey and crafty and beautiful and bonding, and then the house is a mess and there’s my kid with underwear on his head.
And when we got outside I was all about lovingly hanging the pinecones from the tree (now I know why I don’t hang more ornamenty things from the pine tree…it’s kind of sharp and soft all at once and I won’t be surprised if tomorrow morning all the peanut butter pinecones are lying on the ground). And Eli was much more all about yelling, “BASEBALL” and whacking at imaginary balls with his giant plastic bat. You can see the pinecones in the tree if you squint and ignore the giant hideous plastic slide that every day I sort of hope someone steals.
And I will say that after this whole thing Eli was much calmer and even played upstairs by himself for a bit, while I was downstairs, and different-floor-level play is well nigh unheard of these days, so it was a treat. So, Lesson Number One: Just stop for a galldarned minute, Julie, and pay attention to the kid. Then maybe he’ll let you work on your huge honking school project that mysteriously had the deadline moved up two weeks (why put the due date in the syllabus as December 6 if it actually needs to be done two weeks earlier for “peer review”?).
And then, predictably, Henry freaked when he came home because he wanted to do the pinecone peanut butter thing, never mind that I asked him pretty much every single day if he wanted to do it, and he said no. He sat on the floor and screamed and cried, and then ran outside, grabbed a pinecone off the tree, brought it into the living room, and started scraping at the seeds with his fingernails. He essentially wanted to undo the whole thing so he could redo it. Never mind that I’d used up all the cheap pb. And that now millet was flying all over the living room.
It took every fiber of my being not to freak out back at him, because it was, frankly, fairly annoying. But the Good Mom Angel who sometimes alights on my shoulder reminded me that it would also be annoying for me to lose my crackers. And so I took the four seconds to put myself in his head, and said, “You’re feeling left out, because we did something without you.” Which is totally what it was. He maybe didn’t need to shriek at me, “Yes! I felt left out!” but I understand that when you’re all ramped up it takes some time to float back to earth. So then I went on at length about how left out Eli and I feel, that Henry gets to do all this awesome stuff in kindergarten, and we essentially sit at home and wait for him to come back. And that the pinecone thing was like the only thing we did for weeks (well, except for baking, but I didn’t bring that up). And then amazingly he felt all bad for me, and ran to his backpack, and started pulling out all this schoolwork, saying, “Here! I’m going to show you what I did so you don’t feel left out!”
Phew. So, Lesson Number Two: Breathe, don’t freak, and put yourself in their shoes. (Sublesson Number Two-A: Even if he says he’s not hungry, he still needs some kind of snack when he gets home. He started eating the peanut butter off the pine cone, and cheered up immensely when I just handed him a spoon and the jar of our regular pb.) (Ok, yeah, so maybe it’s kind of gross and decadent, but this was still mid-freak-out, and it was a triage snack.)
(Random p.s. to this post: Zuzu above is modeling a vestige of when World of Julie had much more time on her hands.)