“You need some R & R. Rum and Ritalin.” – Dr. Spaceman, 30 Rock
I’ve had two busy days, and am enjoying my version of rum & ritalin – a glass of white wine in front of reruns of 30 Rock. We had a last minute filing pop up from opposing counsel at 4:30 pm yesterday, and a first-thing-in-the-am hearing this morning, and so I spent most of the night writing a reply instead of sleeping. (Kind of a DICK MOVE, opposing counsel, and one that will be remembered.) Since I had a discovery deadline in another case this afternoon, there was no recovery after our hectic rush to the hearing, but rather a pell-mell flurry of drafts and revisions and compilations and calls with the client and that sort of thing. I actually kind of love being pressed up against a deadline, it makes me feel important and accomplished when I get the thing out on time, by hook or by crook. But I’m glad that it’s not every minute of every day. I worked yesterday from 8 am til 2 am, and today from 7:30 til 7 – but I have some down time this evening and a less pressed day tomorrow. The ebb and flow of litigation is pleasing to me – because it tends to ebb and flow regularly, and not just flow flow flow. I got a couple of new cases today, so that’s also cool. Work, in other words, is trundling along nicely.
The boys had a rough morning – because of my early morning hearing, I had to get them up earlier and moving faster than usual. It was very trying to their constitutions and mine, but I managed to hustle them along through a vale of tears. Liam was especially inconsolable. He handles mornings best when I can give him five solid minutes of cuddle time, and we both missed that this morning.
This evening was also tricky – Jack has been punished at school twice in a week for being disruptive, and so I had to think of how to reinforce this punishment. I literally looked at him sternly but wordlessly for a full two minutes, trying to come up with some set of consequences and unable to think of anything good. Time out is only really effective as an immediate punishment – I don’t think he has the maturity to link up the consequence of a timeout with an offense unless they occur within the same minute. (He’s a bit like a new puppy in that way . . .) He has nothing I can take away – no video games, no stereo, he already doesn’t watch much tv. He plays with so many different toys that taking just one or two away would have no effect – it would probably just puzzle him – and he doesn’t play with friends outside of school or do any extracurricular activities, so being grounded would also be pointless. Finally I settled on writing a letter of apology to the teacher, and telling him that if he gets “on red” again at any point between now and his spring birthday, he will have a bigger punishment. I didn’t define what that would be. I suppose it would have to be something affirmative rather than a negative – maybe he has to do some odious chore?
In any case, when I said I was going to punish him, he thought I said I was going to punch him, and asked if it would knock him out. Seriously. He was very earnestly curious about that. This is the problem with attempting to reason with a kid who has a bit of a verbal disconnect . . . it’s almost impossible to explain new concepts like “punish” and “grounded” and “slap you three ways from Sunday if you do it again.” He definitely understands that getting on yellow or red is bad, because he’s embarrassed to tell me. He’s also definitely obedient enough that he marches right home and reports when he’s been on yellow or red. He’s a funny kid. A good kid – I understand that it’s typical 4 year old behavior to not be able to control your body sometimes during naps at school, to get the giggles with other kids in Spanish class. I’m not concerned, particularly. Just trying to establish very early on that poor behavior in school = MOM SMASH.
About an hour after I put them to bed, I was sitting down here, enjoying my white wine R&R, when I heard his little mouse voice calling me from the top of the stairs. He very sweetly asked if he could sleep in my bed wif me ’cause Dada’s not here, please? I heaved a weary sigh and told him no, get in his own bed, I’d see him in the morning. I heard two little feet trudge down the hall, conveying a Dejected Four Year Old Posture with every shuffle.
A minute later I went up to get him. Every once in a while – I don’t know if you all who are parents find this to be true of your children as well – but once in a blue moon he’ll smile in a certain way that recalls the way his baby face used to smile, and I shatter, I am vanquished. Each day that I enjoy the blessed presence of my healthy, happy oldest son, I mourn the chubby infant that has disappeared somewhere into this big boy, impossibly four. I whispered to him and he leapt out of the bed and wrapped his arms and legs around my torso. I heaved all fifty pounds of him down the stairs and into my bed and tucked him in under the white down duvet. He beamed, beams of light shone from his face, his reaching arms, his golden, spiky, big-boy hair. He is a terrible sleep companion. After last night’s 3 hours of sleep, I kind of need my rest tonight.
But I need my baby more.