I honestly didn't intend to make my break so long but we've also had some unforeseen computer hassles. For awhile we were having real trouble with our internet connection. That was a pain in the neck, particularly because we didn't know if we were missing important emails, but all is well now. And then for a few weeks, I found I had a bit of what I can only call "blogger's block" during which I could hardly think of anything I thought worth saying. But now I'm back and will update with what we've been doing.
Blake and his naughty antics have been taking up a lot of my energy. He's our youngest, at 4 years old. Just lately he's been a real challenge. His older brother and sister, although they had their naughty moments, never used to throw such enormous tantrums and never dreamed of doing some of the things that he's been doing. For starters, my in-laws popped in one day when Blake didn't feel like seeing them. So he decided to flop on the floor and scream so loudly that none of us could hear anything that anyone was saying. I hauled him into his bedroom for some 'time out' but when I returned to our visitors, he started bashing and thumping the walls with anything he could lay his hands on. (Daddy, by the way, wasn't home for any of this. Although these hissy-fits appear totally spontaneous, Blake seems to choose his moments well.)
My mil suggested that he wasn't 'normal'. Perhaps we need to totally eliminate all possible chemicals and sweet foods from his diet, she thought. He might have some sensitivity to particular 'triggers'. I thought this sounded reasonable. However, when we thought about it, I wondered if it was really true. Many of those children I've heard of seem angry and uncontrollable at all times, or perhaps more consistently than he does. And Blake can be very docile and sweet when it suits him, with a very long concentration span. On the flip side of this long concentration span, he can keep his tantrums, crying fits and sulks going for far far longer than the other two ever used to. No, it seems to be plain bad temper. My older kids even said that he'd make a perfect case for "Super Nanny" and I think they were only half joking.
Another of his tricks has been to open the front door (because he's just worked out how to unlock it, drag over a chair and slide off the chain too), dash outside and race up the footpath as fast as he can. And he runs like an Olympic sprinter. Logan, Emma and I have really had to puff and pant chasing him down. But he grins and giggles. This one seems to be his little joke. Now that he can open all restraints on the door, I don't like it much. I've been trying to impress on him that running away could be dangerous.
I told some friends at our fortnightly Bible study that if Andrew and I had decided to call it quits with two children, we'd probably think we were quite good parents! I got quite a lot of encouraging feedback. Some of the children of others, who are now grown older, used to be very similar to Blake, they tell me. I was very relieved because these kids are now polite, well behaved members of the community.
So for now, we're just getting through this stage with him and trying to be consistent. If it's Emma's turn in the front seat, I'll just let Blake do his block in the back rather than caving in and letting him sit in the front for the sake of peace and quiet. Because that might be one of the factors that has turned him into a menace at times. In the past, I've often heard Logan tell Emma, "Let Blake have the biggest piece (or whatever) because he makes the biggest fuss if he doesn't get it." Definitely worth putting up with loud tantrums from him at this current time rather than having a complete obnoxious young man in the future. We're trying to explain each situation he objects to calmly and then not reinforce his behaviour with too much attention. But if these power struggles are what he's capable of, I feel sorry for the little girl he'll end up marrying. We'll have to persevere with lots of prayer and trust that he'll break through his 'nice person' barrier one day too.
Having said all this, he's very cute and smiley. Nobody sweeter when he's in a happy mood. I guess that's another of his weapons.
Another thing that's happened is that we've got a baby guinea pig. Emma found out that some friends of hers had a little male, Red American guinea pig (I think that's what they said he is) to give away, and she pleaded for him. So Andrew built a good sized hutch and we now have Bamboo as a new member of the family. I don't really know why she called him that but she wouldn't consider any other name. What's surprised me is that I've taken such a liking to him myself. Some readers of my blog may know of my extreme aversion to mice and rats. Yet this little rodent, who I admits looks very rat-like except for his wider nose and lack of a hairless tail, is charming!
I'll also mention that last night we watched the Olympic Games opening ceremony and it was so magnificent, I'm still thinking about it. Beijing put on a flawless show! Emma, who currently has a fascination with anything Chinese, and has watched the "Mulan" movies over and over, was spellbound. I love opening ceremonies. They're almost breathtaking enough to wait four years for. We're very interested in the Games in our family. One of Emma's little friends told her, "I don't know what all the fuss is all about" and Logan's opinion when he heard that was very gruff and sharp.
Watching the athletes parade is a very good experience for kids to understand just how many different nations our world contains. Emma badly wanted to see our own team walk in and I told her that she could, but they turned out to be almost last out. I think only China, the hosts, were behind them. She was getting very bleary-eyed and cross as it was getting closer to 1 am. It reminded me of watching our Christmas pageant when the commentators keep saying, "Santa Claus isn't far away." Last night it was, "The Aussies aren't too far now!" and we found out they were 202nd! The rest of us were having fun identifying the world leaders and athletes (especially tennis players) from the other nations.
This has been a particularly long blog post, so I must have a lot to make up for. I'll catch up with others this afternoon and I'm REALLY looking forward to that as I've missed you all. Will keep our eyes on the Games and no doubt share thoughts about them.