Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gentle Giant No More

So far, Daniel has been the gentle giant. He has never been the aggressor at preschool and in fact, is usually the recipient of bullying in the classroom. He has been bitten and pushed and has had many a toy stolen from his eager little hands.

All that changed this week: Daniel had his first "really bad week" at daycare. Sad, but true. His sweet teachers (while attempting to be polite) let us know in no uncertain terms that Daniel did not do very well with his peers throughout the week. He became aggressive - pushing kids and stealing toys. Throwing tantrums, crying and whining a lot. And almost never sleeping at naptime.

My theory is that the shift happened for two reasons:

1) Daniel finally realized he was (without question) the largest and strongest kid in the room. This has been the case since day one, but it's taken him a while to catch onto this fact. I know that bullies become bullies because they are bullied (say that a few times quickly) but it's still sad to watch it happen. We're trying to figure out how to stop the aggression before it becomes his mode of operation.

2) I think Daniel was, in part, acting out because of the crazy schedule we had at home this week. I worked every night this week, but pulled him out of school an hour early so I could have an hour with them, then left, and barely got home in time to tuck him in. It was an emotional week for all of us - tensions were high in the house - and I'm sure that kind of environment affects a 2-year-old dramatically.

SO. Hopefully, with a "back to normal" schedule and a less stressful week, Daniel will chill out a little. He knows he's in the wrong, too, which is humorous. He actually confessed on Friday.

Fernando: "Did you have a bad day today?"
Daniel: "Yeah."
Fernando: "What happened?"
Daniel: "Benton was crying."
Fernando: "Why was Benton crying?"
Daniel: "I was mean."
Fernando: "We shouldn't be mean, Daniel... we should be nice."
Daniel: "Yeah." (pause) "I sorry, Benton."

Monsoon Memories

It's monsoon season here in Phoenix. It seems to happen about twice a year, and while it brings rare (and uncomfortable) humidity, the change in sky scenery is a welcome one. Large clouds move in quickly, and lightning can almost always be seen in the distance. Occasionally an actual thunderstorm hits, and the whole city stops to enjoy the sound and smell of rain.

As an Arizona kid, Daniel hasn't had much exposure to rain (or thunder, or lightening). We've taken him north for fun in the snow, and we've had plenty of pool time, but as far as water falling from the sky - he's a novice.

Needless to say, when a storm hits - he's interested. He wants to "go get the rain" and experience the weather. He loves listening to thunder. If he thinks he hears it, he shushes us and says in a hurried whisper... "Mommy, Daddy... did you hear that? Did you hear it?!"

Over the past few weeks, we have developed a routine that ranks among my favorites. It began with the first big storm of the season. That night, the storm snuck up on us quickly, waking Daniel with violent rain on his bedroom window panes and booming thunder. To calm him down, we all piled onto his bed, turned off the lights, opened the blinds and watched the storm together.

Fernando laughed at each thunder clap so Daniel would learn that it wasn't scary... it worked. Now Daniel declares "it's funny, daddy" each time it thunders. We counted the seconds between lightening, predicting when it would light up the sky again. (After that, sometimes even during clear nights, Daniel would look up at a cloudless sky and start counting, waiting for the lightening.) We watched the water running on the ground, and talked about the plants "drinking". It was an intimate family moment - one that we recreate as often as possible, while the storms last.

This year, I'm praying for an unusually long monsoon season.