Monday, June 16, 2008

may Bob the Builder rot in hell

I may be joining him, but let’s talk about little-mister-fix-it first.

My son likes trucks. A lot. Blame it on Salvador – our garbage man from when Isaac was approximately 11 months old until he turned 2 – who would faithfully wave with umph and spirit as Isaac gawked in admiration from the window. Blame it on the Y chromosome. Blame it on the fact that I live in an area that refuses to accept the housing crash or the scarcity of available land or of open space as a natural and needed resource and so is constantly under construction. Blame it on Bob the freaking Builder and the fact that in a weak, unguarded moment, his father and I actually willing rented Isaac a video entitled “Bob the Builder Meets the Real World” which, besides “visits” to real work sites, featured squirrels and bunnies and other forest creatures excitedly begging Bob to tell them more about how to build roads. Cut me a flipping break already.

Let me tell you, this “phase” of Isaac’s has lasted WAY TOO LONG.

And let me tell you something else: I HATE TRUCKS. The trucks and construction vehicles I hate include, but are not limited to: garbage trucks, front loaders, fork lifts, excavators, mini excavators, back hoes, cranes, graders, rollers, pavers, dump trucks, giant dump trucks (yes, this is a category of truck), tractors, scrapers, street sweepers, cement mixers, skid steers, bulldozers, utility vehicles, snow plows, and logging trucks.

One more thing – the only thing I hate more than trucks is PLAYING trucks. One of the nicest things about being away this past week was getting us out of our routine and doing some different things – a swim in the hotel pool, a ride on the bike path, a visit to a new library, the beach. Isaac couldn’t drag me out to the driveway and begin “You’re gonna me dit truck, ‘n’ me gonna be dit truck.”

Today, while we are still all feeling the jet lag, I brought my obviously tired boy home after preschool, betting on an early nap. Before we were out of the car Isaac told me, “me weawy busy with some work trucks ober hewe, so I haffa go do dat.” And off he went to pick up where he left off this morning, and the day before, and the week before that. It’d be just fine, except that after about 3 minutes the inevitable happens…

“Mama, dit a weawy bid job. So I need you to help me.”

I told him I’d come out and sit with him and check out what he was doing while I read a little. (He wasn’t the only obviously tired one.) That lasted not so long before the whining started up. “Me need SOMEBODY pway wid me.” Boing!!

Did you hear that sound? It was my heart strings singing out their best twang. Now, don’t get me wrong, we do LOTS of discussion about the adventures and advantages of playing by oneself. “Isaac imagination time” is implemented more and more often around these parts. But truth be told, I hadn’t played with him in a while and was hoping between a (fingers crossed) extended nap and the arrival of his dad not to have to sit in gravel pushing a plastic four wheeler at all on this particular day in history.

Here’s the equation: Jet lag/exhaustion + bad back + old game + new magazine in the mail + bad mommy attitude = no wanna play.

But that little whine plugs right in to something else – the idea that Isaac is an only child. That I am making that conscious decision for him. That he, like I did, spends the vast majority of his time with adults, without other children around, and often with just me, while he clearly, like I do, absorbs his energy by being part of a group. Under the circumstances, I feel like I should be a better play-with-me mama. But I can’t stand it. I admit it. Sorry. I don’t have the lose-myself-like-a-kid-in-play-gene. Perhaps I never did. I really go crazy. I do it – I lie on the floor and pick up his building blocks with the truck of the week, but I am always looking for an out. There are a few things I’m good at doing – puzzles I’m okay with, drawing I’m down with, but trucks – I’d really rather slam some remote part of my body in the garage door.

The pouting escalated to stone throwing and stomping on mama’s camping chair. Sometimes I wonder Isaac’s under-motives with his behavior, but it didn’t take an early childhood education major to figure this one out. Here I was, planted with a magazine. Here he was asking me to play. Maybe another day I would have caved. I often do. But shit. What’s the recipe when I just don’t want to? I just don’t. It’s mama mental health day. I told him (reluctantly) that if he let mama read for a little while then I’d play trucks with him. Not good enough. With tantrum at full capacity, I got to pull out the old “you must not want mama to play with you at all then” and we both came in the house.

After a few “I want DADDYs!!!” and much snot on his newly washed jean jacket, we figured out that a snack might help along with a visual depiction of the rest of our day, into which I (reluctantly) built Mama and Isaac play time.

I don’t know how to resolve this long term. I don’t really enjoy my days at home and that sucks, it’s tiring in and of itself. I can’t always blow him off to play alone. And then there are the trucks themselves and what they represent.

Bob, may you and Scoop and Rollie and whoever else those ridiculous characters are, pave yourselves a road straight to hell.

Stay tuned late this week as I explore more on the Y chromosome and the lives of bugs in the balance.


Pagan Sphinx said...

I'm still chuckling. What a well-written, funny post.

Despite the humor, I understand how boring it can be to play with a preschooler. I've worked with young children for decades and while I enjoy planning for their learning and exploring, when it comes to joining in for long stretches of time, I can feel my brain turning to pablum. There are only so many cups of tea one can accept graciously in the house corner, ya know?

I really enjoyed your post!

Kitty said...

thanks and thanks for coming by!

bobbie said...

Caroline's Crayons has a cute one on pre-schoolers. No particular help to you in this, but you might enjoy it.

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