Thursday, June 12, 2014

Alone time with Sam

This week Ben's in YMCA day camp. It's Art 101, but they also do a lot of traditional camp activities, like swimming, singing and games. He's gone to day camp before, but this year he's going all day, from 8:30am-3:30pm, roughly school hours come August. I think this is the longest amount of time Sam and I have spent together, alone, ever. And I have to say, it's been a delight.

For months now our lives have revolved around the Terrible Twos. Sam has been very whiny and tantrum-y and all listening skills seem to have gone out the window. Unfortunately, Ben's also realized the power he holds over Sam. Sometimes he uses that power for good, encouraging Sam to finish his meals or brush his teeth. But more and more lately he's been drifting to the evil side, merely "suggesting" Sam throw his food or spit at someone. It's been incredibly frustrating and I've found myself yelling more and more, but feeling like I've been accomplishing less and less.

At the beginning of summer I always have these rose-colored glasses, tricking myself into believing we're going to have a fun, sun-soaked summer lounging at the pool and flitting from playground, to outdoor concert, to food truck event. And it never quite works out that way. So even though we'd only had two weeks of summer, I was very ready for Ben to be in camp this week. I needed my quiet afternoons back.

Getting to spend time with Sam alone has been a benefit of camp. He's been so much more pleasant and I think it's because I can actually give him some focused attention. He's never really had that. We can do activities on a two year old level, instead of me having to find something that will entertain a two year old AND a five year old. I get to listen to what he says without someone else talking over my shoulder. He gets to choose all the games and the TV shows and activities, which is completely novel to him. It's been a good week, and I'm looking forward to Ben's next week of camp, in July.

That being said, all day every day Sam's been asking about when we're going to pick up Ben. He's never really known life without Ben for long stretches. The transition to kindergarten might be hard on him, too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Project

About a month ago, with summer approaching, I started thinking about what we could do everyday. Not just activities all three (or four) of us would enjoy, but something Ben and I could do during Sam's naps. He still naps 2+ hours most days. That's when Ben was at school, so I knew my quiet, alone time was turning into Ben time. He's not exactly a play-quietly-by-himself kind of kid. So rather than caving everyday and letting him play an hour or more of video games, I decided we should do something constructive. A summer project.

So I started looking around online, not entirely sure WHAT I was looking for. A big art project? A summer-long science experiment? Maybe we could make a movie - write the script, gather props, film it. But, honestly, I wasn't that enthusiastic about anything I was thinking of or finding. I'm not a crafty person and neither is Ben. A science experiment could be neat, but I wasn't sure I'd have the energy to keep up with it. Making a movie sounds cool, but is probably a better summer project for when the boys are older.

Thus, summer started and I had no concrete plan for Ben's and my afternoons aside from "play board games." Which we both love, but we only have a limited number of games he's ready to play and even the fun ones would get boring after a while. But then fate stepped in, in the form of Heath's old Roald Dahl and Judy Blume books. Ben has been ravenous to read them, so every afternoon we spend an hour or more reading together. It's so fun! I signed him up for the library summer reading program and we are well on our way to earning him prizes.

I love reading, but I think of it as mostly a solo activity, so I guess that's why I never thought of spending our lazy afternoons with books. But it's become a great way for Ben and me to connect without having to talk endlessly about Super Mario Brothers. And it's so much more fun than doing stupid summer crafts.