So lately I've done a lot of teeth gnashing and hair pulling (my own, people, take CPS off speed dial) about some of the, um, challenges we've had with Ethan recently. There's the sleeping and the 4-year old version of adolescence--yesterday, shortly after I posted my blog entry for the day, I had to give myself a time out. Myself. In my room, lights out, door closed, deep breaths, counting to 100.
Until Ethan came to my door and said quietly, "Mommy, I'll be nice now," and I crumpled into a big ball of gooey mush and hated myself for a moment for indulging my own need to escape from the crazy instead of bucking up and being a better mother to this amazing (and amazingly stubborn, boundary-pushing, bouncing between independence and need) child. I know it's good for a child to learn empathy and to recognize when his behavior has hurt someone else's feelings and apologize, but as a parent you expect to be the person teaching him those things on the playground or during a playdate. You kind of expect to be outside of his bubble of negative emotional influence--because he's 4 and you're a grown up. And yet.
But really. There are moments. Last night, as Husband and I sat in bed and indulged in the most ridiculous hour of television watching I think I've ever been party to--The Jersey Shore--in which Snookie, The Situation and their band of merry illiterates take on Miami (and really, is that town big enough for them and the lesser known Kardashians? I think not.), Ethan woke up. It was only 10:30. He'd only been asleep for 2 hours. I'm sure Time magazine would say this is because we coddled him and *gasp* co-slept with him for 2 years. But really? The kid's just not a great sleeper. But only sleeping for two hours is extreme even for Sir Doesn'tSleepAlot. So Husband & I assumed, given the Pooh debacle of Monday night, we were in for another long and rambling 4-year old nightmare narratives of bad guys with angry voices and Pooh bears floating to the ceiling, etc.
Husband sighed heavily and headed into Ethan's room across the hall. I went to get a glass of water. Neither of us were terribly upset by being pulled away from the trainwreck of sweaty Jersey stereotypes on the TV. But truth be told, I hoped Husband wouldn't have to be in Ethan's room too long because by then we were 30 minutes into the show & had committed to seeing it through at least this one time, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to watch alone, with no one to snark with at the ridiculousness (seriously, is anything funnier--in a sad, sad way--than an overly tanned, processed, make-up'd, drunk to the point of slurring 20-something dressed in a tube top and hot pants slurring in a thick Jersey accent, "I mean, I'm tryin' to be classy here." Oh dear god, that is good stuff).
On my way back from the kitchen, I heard Ethan talking in a very matter of fact voice & assumed he was sharing with Husband the gruesome details of Pooh's latest acts of terror. But then I heard Husband laughing and saying "that's a good one, buddy." Hrm.
When Husband emerged from Ethan's room a few minutes later, I asked him what Ethan had been talking about. It's odd for Ethan to say anything at all when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He usually calls to us with a quick "Mommy" or "Daddy" and lies back down the second we walk in the room. If we ask him if he's okay, at most he nods before he falls back to sleep. A full conversation is a rarity.
But apparently Ethan's dreams have moved him away from the bloodbath that is Winnie the Pooh and put on stage at the Improv.
His big important, can't-wait-til-morning revelation for Husband? A chicken joke.
"Daddy. I have to tell you a joke. Why did the chicken cross the park? To get to the other slide."
Thank you folks, he'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitress.