Jonathan is 4 and 1/2 years old. He has an inquisitive, sharp mind and wants to "discuss" things constantly. His imaginative play is amazing, as is his empathy, especially with his stuffed animals. He takes very good care of all those animals! He needs, sometimes legitimately, more attention than I can give him. I wish I could figure out a way to spend an hour each morning and an hour each afternoon just with him, probably focused on some kind of learning. He would love that and I think it would go a long way toward helping him be calmer during the rest of the day. He often whines that he is "bored" and those are the times he is most likely to provoke/hit/kick/shove Thomas, or take his toys, or throw a full-blown tantrum about who-knows-what.
Thomas is 2 and 3/4 years old. His speech is improving, giving us a better window into his mind, which is often such fun! He wants to be like Jonathan, but he is definitely his own little person. He loves to read and can sometimes be found sitting on the floor in a corner, carefully paging through a book. He needs quiet time alone, but rarely gets it. Jonathan is always pulling him away to join into his own games. Perhaps in retaliation, perhaps just because he needs to be alone and never is, he has mastered the art of getting on his brother's nerves. He takes toys away from Jonathan and Josiah, hits and shoves both his brothers, and then cries desperately if Jonathan retaliates (even though he started it.) He needs, sometimes legitimately, more time and attention than I have to give, especially right after waking up from a nap. I wish that I could spend an hour just holding him and reading stories. He would love it and it would make our afternoons much more pleasant. He's just starting to give up his afternoon nap, so our afternoons are always difficult (either because he's been awake too long or because he's having a hard time waking up.) The whining and crying are hard for me to handle.
Josiah is one year old. He has an even, sweet, happy temperament. He loves to explore, to touch, to taste, to climb (on everything), to throw things. He has a truly incredible ability to find the open door when my back is turned (the older boys simply CANNOT remember to keep things closed) and get into the toilet or the mud puddle. He gets multiple baths, or at least rinse-offs, nearly every day. He's old enough to get into lots and lots of trouble, but not quite old enough to obey instructions. He needs, legitimately, more time and attention than I can give him. I wish I had the luxury of lots of time to spend just focused on him, looking at tree leaves, and bugs in the mud, and reading books and stacking blocks. All things we do but in tiny little two-minute increments, when I want fifteen.
There is so much going on in our household right now. So much growing and learning - an explosion of fascinating maturing - yet with that comes a cacophony of discipline issues. I feel like I spend my days dealing with the immediate, the required, the child who has been shoved and needs a hug and the child who did the shoving and needs a time out and a talk, the little one who has now been ignored for too long, is playing in the potty, and needs a bath. The tyranny of the urgent is my perpetual reality.
This does feel like a perfect storm. I think I would need to be super-woman to be successful right now, given these realities. And the fact is that I'm not super-woman. I get tired and stressed, I raise my voice too often and I listen too little. Like Thomas I need quite and space to myself, and like Thomas, I find it in far too short supply.
I started writing this hoping, I think, that I'd figure something out in the writing. Sigh.
God grant that this stage, this storm, is short, and give me grace to live well until it passes.
(photo credit: Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com)