* Weekend Recap

Life with Hercules has been pretty good lately. This weekend we experienced some ups and downs, but that sort of fluctuation is the norm for our beloved Hercules. Saturday with The Kids was kinda rough, especially later on in the day. Hercules, El and I sat down to play a card game and Herc wanted to learn it with us. So we played a practice hand and explained the rules and coached him when necessary. Unfortunately, as the game progressed he became increasingly upset whenever he tried to make a play that was not allowed. As I tried to calmly explain to him why you can't do that in this game, he would proceed to yell at me, refusing to accept the rules as I stated them, even when El backed me up. I tried giving him some push-ups to do, hoping that would persuade him to turn down the volume and chill out, but it didn't make any difference. I finally got fed up with his overblown reactions and I kicked him out of the game. This totally devastated him, and his weepy promises to stop yelling and play by the rules softened me up, so I promised him one more chance. I figured this time he would take my warning seriously, since I had demonstrated my willingness to oust him from the game. Alas, it wasn't long before he resumed his argumentative bellowing, so this time I kicked him out for good. He demonstrated his displeasure by kicking the table and whatever furniture his short little legs could reach. For that, he was sent to his room.

By then he was so pissed off that he was in a near-meltdown state, but at least it never got that ugly. I made a deal with him in which he was grounded to his room until dinner time (about an hour away), and as long he remained in his room with the door shut without any fuss, he could come out at dinnertime and then watch a movie afterwards with everyone else. However, if he proceeded to spend his time in his room throwing things at the door, smashing toys, or screaming insults at me through the closed door(as is often the case), he would be sent to bed immediately after dinner. That's the sort of bargaining that motivates Hercules, because otherwise he would succumb to his darkest impulses. And it was effective, for he sat quietly looking at his books for the next hour and he was able to join us for the movie.

The movie, however, was not such a success. My husband chose March of The Penguins for our family entertainment that night. The Kids had requested The Fantastic Four, so you can imagine what their disappointment. It was funny, actually, listening to their sarcastic remarks:

"Gee, I can't wait to watch a bunch of penguins marching!"
"Wow! Have you guys ever seen marching penguins?? I bet it's real exciting how the penguins march!"

So the marching penguins did not engage our uber-hip, action-craving youngsters. They apparently cannot bring themselves to view anything that doesn't feature wisecrack humor and fast-paced action. So Pa and I enjoyed the Penguin movie on our own while the kiddies entertained themselves in the next room. But all six of them managed to do so without any quarrels! Let's just say that Hercules is not the only child prone to argumentative bellowing, so this is the sort of miracle that does not go unnoticed in our household.

Sunday was a much better day for Hercules. As usual, I spent the morning doing housework and he was left to his own devices. He managed to amuse himself very well for the whole morning and I got all of my work done. I promised him that after lunch I would read to him from his new Rugrats comic book that he got from school. So after lunch I fulfilled my obligation and he was pleased. But then I had to work on Christmas projects, so once again he had to amuse himself without the benefit of the television or the computer. Meanwhile, I was on the phone with my mom. I asked him if he wanted to talk to Papa when I was done, and he said yes. While he waited for me and mom to finish, he went into his room. I heard him talking quietly to himself in his bed, and I smiled. That's what Hercules does before he falls asleep, and sure enough, he was in dreamland in a matter of minutes.

It may seem extraordinary for a hyperactive kid like Hercules to put himself down for a nap without any prompting whatsoever, but interestingly enough it's not so rare as you might imagine. Hercules requires a lot of sleep, and afternoons have been difficult for him ever since they ceased the naptime routine in Kindergarten. That's been my primary lament since his school days began. If only Hercules had a full 2 hours to wind down after lunch and catch some Zz's, life would be better for everyone. Sunday afternoon after his nap he was the picture of courtesy and cooperation! We even took him to the Chinese buffet for dinner, and his manners were impeccable. In addition, Hercules discovered that Beef Teriyaki is his new favorite food. He became quite enamored with the whole buffet concept as well. As we were leaving the restaurant, he spotted our waitress clearing a table and called out to her "Hey, the food here is GREAT! You guys should be FAMOUS!"

Someday, maybe I'll take him out for Chinese where the food hasn't been under heat lamps for an indeterminate amount of time. But not for a while yet. I don't want to spoil his enjoyment of the Chinese buffet.

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