Jacob has been ever so slightly better this week. I'm not sure if it's because I've developed better coping strategies, or because some random discomfort isn't bothering him anymore, or if the four day Thanksgiving weekend got him out of a rut, but I will take it. And, of course, writing this will probably come back to bite me--never fails--but for now, I do think it's been better. And I hope it stays that way. As I've mentioned before, I'm not looking for perfection. He's two and it's a tough age. But if we can avoid tantrums about everything, or at least confine them to "convenient" times, or deal with them in a civilized, routine way, then that's acceptable to me. I'd prefer to avoid public meltdowns, random punches, drama over putting on his coat, food thrown on the floor, and the constant use of "jello legs", but I know it's not entirely possible. It's just learning to minimize and manage them.
I've had fairly good luck with timeouts. No, Jacob doesn't like to sit there and I have to plop him back on every ten seconds or so at times, but after it's over and we chat about why he was there, usually he's much easier to deal with. He gets out of his spastic tantrum and moves on. Hence the point of timeouts, I suppose. The only problem is that they're tough to do in public. I also think a good night's sleep works wonders. I've been trying to put him down a little early lately in case I make it out of bed early enough to head into work early (I am trying to make up some extra time for our holiday flex time, so I can use less vacation over the holidays and take an extra day beforehand), but as long as he falls asleep and stays asleep (unlike last night where he was wide awake for two hours in the middle of the night), I think he'll benefit from a little extra. Some mornings when he's dead asleep when I come in to wake him, I feel bad and wonder how much more sleep he could really use, and how it might impact his day. But with our schedule, any earlier of a bedtime means almost no playtime after dinner. And really, I think good playtime helps as well. When he's engaged and gets some good attention, he's a lot of fun to be with. He'll generally stay out of trouble and play nicely. The hard part is finding the energy sometimes, but I have to keep telling myself it's worth it in the long run. Even just threats of timeouts or losing privileges seems to help a bit, at least to change his course for a bit. And yes, they have to be threats that I'm willing to go ahead with. That's not always easy, but as long as I'm consistent, I think he'll get the idea eventually.
He's gotten "Cooperative" checked on his daycare sheet most of the week, which is such a nice thing to see. Seeing negative notes every day for a week or two was getting really old and really frustrating. I don't know if all of the talking-tos that we've done with Jacob are finally setting in, or if this week's activities are just more stimulating for him or less conducive to boredom or misbehavior. I'm hopeful it's the former. Eventually he'll learn that the more he cooperates, the easier things go in general. No, maybe he won't get exactly what he wants right this second, but he'll probably avoid punishment and get something just as good later. And really, who wants to spend every waking moment battling other people?
In other news...Jacob is really getting big. He's probably still only 30 pounds and just under three feet tall (far cry from the less than seven pounds and 21 inches he was!), which only puts him in the 50th percentile, but I'm pretty sure he's moved into 3T clothes, at least on top. Bottoms are a different challenge since he's so skinny--he'll sometimes grow out of pants in length before they ever really fit him in the waist, so thank goodness for adjustable waist pants!--but tops are suddenly not fitting him. Jacob is definitely his father's son in that he's a skinny kid with long arms. The thing that's perplexing me, though, is that Jacob seems to have a really long torso. Neither Craig nor I do, so that's a bit of an oddball thing to me. So many of his shirts (even 2T ones, some of which are still big width-wise) are too short for him, both in the body and the arms. I feel bad sending him to daycare in shirts that are too small (ok, they're "fitted" right now, if nothing else), but it's going to take time (and Christmas) to rebuild a wardrobe that had been seemingly well-stocked with hand-me-downs. This morning I pulled out a bunch of 3T shirts I had put away for him, mostly cheap clearance buys from last winter. Some look a little big, but not all of them! They'll fill in the gaps when I put away the officially too small stuff, and then I'll have to see how he fares at Christmas. Beyond that I'll fill in the blanks (and restock the reserves) with after-Christmas clearance. I just can't believe how quickly he outgrew the 2Ts!
I couldn't help but laugh the other day when I picked up Jacob out of his crib infant-style, like I was about to rock him. He wouldn't come out of the fetal position and I needed to get him up, so that was the only way to get him. But when I did it, it really hit home how big he is. I think he's nearly a full pair of legs longer than he was when he was born! It's amazing to look at the walking, talking little boy he is these days. It's a far cry from the less than seven-pound, 21 inch long infant we brought home!
I've had a couple friends have babies in the last week, talked to an instructor at the gym who found out she's having a girl (after a boy a couple months older than Jacob), and read a blog from a pregnant blogger who's due any day, and it's all gotten me thinking a bit about potential baby #2. Specifically, I've been wondering if I will bond more with baby #2 in utero than I did with baby #1. I think I will. For one, we'll find out the gender of baby #2, so halfway through the pregnancy we'll have an image in our heads and maybe even be able to call it by name. We'll start picturing our future--whether we'll be breaking up wrestling matches in the living room, or saving a tea party from a foul ball. Last time around everything was such an unknown that my brain couldn't even go there. All I could focus on was the present. And I think having gone through this process, we'll have a much longer term view. We'll be able to better comprehend that the tiny little baby will someday turn into an active toddler. I think there were times that we forgot that with Jacob--that we were so caught up in taking care of a baby that it barely occurred to us that times would change and he would turn into a little boy with a big personality. I mean, obviously we knew it was coming, but we couldn't even fathom what it meant at that point. Next time around I hope we can keep that in mind, so even on our worst days we remember that everything is just temporary. If we can make it through the tough stuff, we'll be rewarded in the end with an awesome kid.
Of course, the problems never really get better...just different and more complex. But one of the mysteries of parenthood is how fast time goes, and inherent in that is that things will change. Children will grow, they'll go through phases, and before you know it, you're on to the next step. Nothing ever lasts too long, including your child's childhood! I'm just trying to remind myself to appreciate these moments, because they're both fleeting and special. Our time will never be quite the same again, for better or for worse. Things are always changing, but at least that means there's never a dull moment.