My Family

Notes From the Jungle

I had to sign off on another incident report today. No biting this time, but Alex was written up for pushing a girl and causing her to fall (outside, on the gravel in the play yard) and scrape some portion of her anatomy. She probably cried too. The wimp.

Just kidding about the wimp part.

According to the report, Alex was removed from the scene and seated at a table with a couple of toys so he could, apparently, realize that if he really is sick of sharing toys with these other kids at any time, he just has to injure one and he’ll get a few toys or books all to himself. Gee, I bet that’ll work real well.

After his “punishment,” Alex apparently hugged the girl. And they went on with their little lives.

It was also noted that Alex has been pushing and shoving his friends this week (I feel like doing that almost every Monday, come to think of it…).

I read that little bit of information and I can hear the disappointment in the daycare voices…it almost throws me back to my own childhood, when I’d done something wrong and my mother was disappointed in me…that awful feeling of failure…I slouch just thinking about it.

Plus, you read that and it sounds like Alex is the ONLY child being aggressive and violent. But he isn’t. Not two minutes after I read the report and signed it, I saw another kid go right up to Alex, matchbox car in hand, and shove Alex in the face, which knocked Alex onto the floor. Of course tears and sobs and runny nose and drool followed, but I wiped them away and waddled quickly across the room to pick up Alex. The daycare teacher person took off toward the attacker and made him sit down at a table and play with some toys and books. (Some other kids, jealous of his “punishment” tried to take the books for themselves. They were chastized. I don’t get it.)

I bet that kid didn’t get written up. It was the end of the day and I’m sure no one wanted to do the paperwork.

But you know, it made me feel better, in a weird way. Clearly, Alex is not the only little thug at play in the room. They are all little monsters at one time or another. One hits, they observe, they try it themselves. And I really don’t think telling them to keep their hands on their own bodies (yes, overheard that today) is going to do much of anything. First of all, I doubt they’re really paying attention, and second, do they really care? If the worst that happens is they have to sit at a table and endure toys, I really don’t see how this will change their behavior. Perhaps I’m just uneducated.

Not that I have a solution. Not for that setting. Not with that many kids bouncing off the walls and each other. But I take comfort in the fact that Alex is not the evil child among the pure and innocent. They’re all cute, and they’re all (including the girls) little monsters at times. They have to be. It’s the only way to survive.

But to balance that out…

I wanted to post this the day it happened, but in my current state of disorganization that didn’t happen. But better late than never…..

Two Saturdays ago I was home with Alex, and Bill had gone down to my parents’ houses (something old, something new) to help move more stuff from the old to the new. I stayed home with Alex, because he had a probable case of pink eye, and I didn’t want my sister’s kids catching it.

It was afternoon, and Alex had just gone down for his nap.

I was tired and – as I’ve been for much of this pregnancy – overly emotional. I also have been feeling, lately, really frumpy and dowdy and ugly and yucky. I do not have the “glow” of pregnancy this time. I had it last time. I found great humor in my ungainliness…in my swollen ankles (Fred Flintstone feet)…I accepted the carpal tunnel pain with some grace. Not this time. This time I feel ugly.

I caught a glimpse of my profile (okay, no, “caught a glimpse” is incorrect. I masochistically sought out the reflection of my profile in the bathroom mirror at work.) I was wearing this very pretty sage green maternity sweater my mother gave me for Christmas…only I think I should have stopped wearing it at the end of the 6th month. It no longer drapes nicely. It hugs. And at nearly 8 months, the only things you want hugging you are your husband or your adorable little son.

I observed the various rounded portions of my anatomy, swathed in acrylic cableknit stitching…and I later told someone that I looked like I was hiding all the easter eggs under the sweater. Some pretty damn big eggs under there, too.

I also decided I looked like a (green) mangled sausage…or a mutant balloon animal. Oddly enough, these things make me happy.

But anyway, back to Saturday. I was just wiped out. I’ve been tense and crabby and less than fun to be around. So much so that I come close to screaming insanely at my husband things like “You don’t find me attractive any more!!!” (Well, gee, no, honey, I haven’t really ever been attracted to raving lunatics.)

It was, perhaps, good that I had some quiet time to myself.

I watched TV. I just sat there on the couch, remote in hand, and watched. I think I made myself some lunch, too, but basically I just sat.

I saw the last fifteen minutes of Splash on some movie channel – and cried buckets. “Tom Hanks gave up everything to follow Daryl Hannah into the ocean! He loved her so much!!!!” And so on…I didn’t actually say any of this out loud, but I thought it.

Fortunately the movie that started right afterward was a nice, safe, action movie. Something called Murder at 1600, starring Wesley Snipes (D.C. Homicide Detective) and included in the cast Alan Alda, Ronnie Cox, Dennis Miller, and Diane Lane. Diane Lane was a secret service agent who ends up working with Wesley to figure out who was really behind the murder of a young woman (I can’t remember what her job there was…) at the White House…

It was not the best movie I’ve ever seen. It was not the worst. The important thing was that I got to see almost the entire movie, from start to finish, uninterrupted.

Alex woke up at 3:00. The movie was scheduled to end at 3:30. And by that point, I had to see the end, just because I’d seen so much of it already.

So when I heard Alex talking to his stuffed animals and pointing to faces on his “family tree” and naming them (Mama…Daddy…JOE…Em!…Nanee…Papa), I ran (well, waddled swiftly) up the stairs at the next commercial, went through some more naming of family members with him, and brought him back downstairs (with juice). Phew!

The movie was back from commercial. Wesley Snipes and Diane Lane were in his car driving somewhere with very concerned looks on their faces. I didn’t hear what they were talking about.

The only thing I heard was Alex’s little voice. He pointed at the television, put his little index finger right on Diane Lane’s face, and said “Mama!”

I cannot express how overjoyed I was at that moment.

Alex somehow thinks his frumpy, lumpy, sausage-like mother looks just like Diane Lane.

That is, I believe, the best compliment I have ever received in my entire life.

Thank you, Alex.

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