Monday, May 30, 2016

Birthday songs and Benjamin swimming

Today I was supposed to help out in Sunbeams (which is Benjamin's current class), because one of his teachers is out of town, but then I was asked to cover singing time for the girl who was covering for the chorister and said yes, completely forgetting that I was already supposed to be helping in Sunbeams.

Because that's the way my brain works.

So after sacrament meeting I asked another mom to help out in Sunbeams (and she was more than happy to—thanks, Lisa!) so that I could do singing time.

We did the opening song in junior primary and Benjamin gave the opening prayer. The primary president welcomed us to primary, glanced at her paper and said, "It looks like we don't have any birthdays here today, so we'll just move on," so I sat down we moved on.

While one of the children was reciting this month's scripture, the secretary, my friend Heidi, leaned over and whispered, "Did you do birthdays yet?"

"Oh, she said there weren't any birthday children here today," I whispered back.

Heidi double-checked her list.

"There definitely are birthday children here," she said.

"Oh, who?" I asked.

"Ummm...Benjamin..." Heidi said.

"Oh, that birthday boy," I said. "My birthday boy. Yeah, I guess we should sing to him."

"Too bad Marcella's not here," Heidi said. "We'll have to remember to sing to her next week."

"Well, her mom's the music director. I think she'll remember her own daughter's birthday," I said.

"Maybe," Heidi agreed, smiling while tilting her head from side to side. "But then again, she might not."

Point taken.

We halted everything and called the birthday boys up to the front. We'd also realized it was the birthday of Miriam's substitute-for-the-summer teacher. He's home from his first year at BYU and when they handed him his candle cut-out he just about died on the spot, muttered something about this being "so embarrassing," but was ultimately a good sport and held up his candle while we sang. Meanwhile, Benjamin was thrilled right down to his toes. He didn't want to give his candle up!

I wish I could have snapped a picture; he was so happy!

We sang Your Happy Birthday but instead of singing "this month is such a special one" we sang "next month is such a special one," because both birthdays are in June, not May.

After primary Benjamin asked me, "Is today my birthday? Am I sor now?"

He's been asking that question a lot lately and has been practising getting his fingers ready to show the number four. He was so hopeful that this was the day that I almost didn't want to tell him no. But I had to.

"No, buddy. Today's not your birthday; you're still three. But your birthday is this week and then you'll be four."

He's looking forward to it.

I am, too. Watching kids grow up is both wonderful and hard. There are things I wish would last indefinitely and other things I can't wait to see pass. Benjamin's been in a particularly...trying...phase lately, so right now growing up a little bit sounds good to me.

Yesterday I was able to take him to the pool without Zoë (Andrew took Miriam, who can't go swimming because of her ear, and Zoë shopping) so we talked about how we were going to have lesson time with Mommy before he'd be allowed to just do whatever he wanted to do in the pool.

I guess I should have known he'd flip out. He's been an ultra-contrarian lately, opposing everything anyone suggests. But, honestly, Zoë doesn't allow for much one-on-one time for anyone else, so you just have to take it as it comes up. His time came, the clock was ticking, and all he was doing was screaming at me, which was not only embarrassing (because everyone was staring at the crazy lady who couldn't control her preschooler), but also mind-numbingly irritating.

He calibrates his voice just perfectly to press every button in my brain all at once. It literally gives me the shivers. Like nails on a chalkboard. STOP IT ALREADY.

"If you don't stop screaming," I threatened, like the kind, patient, and gentle mother (who always remembers her children's birthdays) that I am, "I will toss you into this pool."

"No, you won't," he said.

"Try me," I said.

"WAH!" Benjamin screamed again.

*SPLASH* went Benjamin into the pool.

I suppose I should mention that he was crying because the water was "cold" and I was holding him on my hip instead of letting him sit on the top step like he wanted to. His feet were barely touching the water and the water is the warmest it's been all year so far (and not remotely goose-bump-inducing) and he was screaming right in my face. So I just picked him up and tossed him into the waist-deep (on me) water and let him flounder for a couple of seconds before picking him back up. I should also note that when he stands up (which he wouldn't do, of course) his head is above the water. This was far from cruel (maybe it was a little bit cruel).

"You dropped me in the water!" he accused when I picked him back up.

"You're fine," I said.

"YOU DROPPED ME IN THE WATER!" he accused again.

"Want me to do it again!?" I asked.

Obviously this approach to learning how to swim is far from ideal (or is it? because that's how his friend Ollie learned to swim last summer); I didn't want to traumatize him. But also...stop screaming.

We did a lot of bartering. I promised I wouldn't put him under the water without his permission (again) though he promised very little in return.

"Benjamin," I said. "This is your time to practice swimming with Mommy. When I have Zoë I can't help you practice but I can now. So we have to practice because we're going to be spending a lot of time at the pool this summer so you have to know how to get back out of the pool in case you fall in. You have to learn how to float. You have to learn how to get to the side and climb out. You have to. This is not an option. But here are your options..."

I began ticking my fingers off as I listed options.

"You can try really hard for fifteen minutes and do everything Mommy asks and then when we get home you can have a freezie," I said, sticking up my thumb. "You can kind of listen to Mommy and sort of try to do things, but then you won't be getting a treat when we get home," I said, putting out my pointer finger. "Or you can continue to cry and carry on and be sent to stand in the corner," I said, adding my middle finger to the other two.

Benjamin weighed his options, then he pointed to my ring finger and said, "But what about this option?"

This boy! I don't know how he comes up with these things!

We ended up spending four hours at the pool. The first hour was fairly miserable (thanks to Benjamin's relentless screaming (and my relentless, "Just try blowing bubbles. I know you know how to blow bubbles. You blow bubbles all the time"). The next two hours were decent. I let Benjamin put his puddle jumper back on, which is apparently all he wanted, and he happily played while I helped Rachel with her stroke improvement. The last hour was probably the happiest hour of all (for Benjamin). By this time Andrew had dropped Zoë off so that she could swim with us. Benjamin was comfortable enough that he asked to take his puddle jumper off and then he proceeded to go a little crazy, dunking himself under water, wading in up to his neck, kicking his legs, practicing his rainbow arms. And then when it was time to go home he threw a fit about leaving!

If only I had known four hours earlier that all he needed was four hours to warm up to the idea of swimming...I could have done his "lesson" last! (Though really, it's hard to wrangle both him and Zoë at the pool when he's feeling wild). I'm rocking a glorious sunburn, but I guess those four hours were worth it. Hopefully the next time we go to the pool he'll decided he's ready to swim right away and we can avoid getting the stink eye from everyone else there...

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