Thursday, April 12, 2007
I know what you're thinking... you're thinking, "Geez, that sounds terrible! How do you get anything done?" And, if I had to answer honestly, I'd tell you that yes, it is terrible, and no, I don't get anything done. Thankfully, most of the time the kids are very well behaved and understand that they should leave the sourpuss in the corner alone, because not even Jesus likes his car and he's so clueless he can't even pull off a successful date with his wife.
The upside of this whole "children are welcome in the office" environment is that no one complains too much when I have to bring Chunk in for a couple of hours. I try not to take advantage of it, but occasionally we have staff meetings on the days when I'm working from home, so I have little choice but to bring him along and wait for the inevitable poo which happens about half-way through... every... single... meeting.
On Tuesday we all gathered around the conference table to discuss next year's budget. One of my coworkers brought along her little boy, who I will refer to as Mohawk, and the two almost instantly started the dance of the Toddler Staredown. For those of you without children, I'll explain how this works.
Basically, being a toddler, Chunk cannot go anywhere without his favorite toy. He can't take a bath without knowing Buzz Lightyear is sitting just inches from the bathtub, waiting to be retrieved once the harsh job of washing has been completed. On this particular day, Chunk had both Buzz and Woody, as well as "the big boy Legos" that I bring along to occupy him whenever I need him to sit still and keep it down.
Anyway, I was talking about the Toddler Staredown. Here's how it went down....
Chunk, clutching Woody and Buzz to his chest, stood motionless in the conference room.
Mohawk, clutching a number of cars to his chest, stood four feet away.
They were silent.
A tumbleweed blew between them and then bounced off to places unknown.
Someone nearby covered the eyes of their child and rushed them inside, stifling a panicked cry.
Chunk sort of leaned towards Mohawk for a moment, eyeing his really cool looking cars, then rocked back on his heels to his original stance. Mohawk was obviously checking out Chunk's toys, then flashed his mother a quick, nervous glance, before meeting Chunk's stoic gaze.
Literally. I'm talking actually minutes here.
Mohawk pointed at Chunk, said something I couldn't understand to his mom, then continued to stare.
Somewhere, Ennio Morricone started humming his theme from "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" and smiled to himself, confident he had done his job.
Then, when I wasn't looking, no doubt trying to contribute to the meeting, one of them broke their standoff and the two of them began to play together, each one a little suspicious of the other, but genuinely having a good time. There were a few panicked moments, like when Mohawk was playing with Buzz, and then when Chunk declared one of Mohawk's cars was "mine," but they did great. What was weird was that Chunk and Mohawk have hung out together several times, enough that Chunk even knows his name, and they've gotten along really well. It was just that on Tuesday, the stakes had been higher. This was Buzz and Woody we were talking about, damnit, and there are just some things you don't share!
I don't get to see Chunk dealing with other kids in this way, very often. Out of the group of guys I normally hang out with, Chunk is the youngest offspring in the bunch, by about eighteen month to three years. Both of his cousins are several years older, so what peer negotiations I've seen have mostly just been him kind of following the "big kids" around and playing what they want to play. Or, if he doesn't like what they're doing, he just goes off and does his own thing. Either way, he's generally pretty happy and hasn't had many conflicts or chances to test his will against another child. At least, not in front of his dad. I'm sure he has plenty of power struggles during his one day a week at day care.
It's kind of neat to see my little guy in action. When push came to shove, he didn't... well, shove. We have some problems with hitting at home, but when he's playing with other kids, he just doesn't seem to take things to that level when he gets frustrated. On Tuesday, it looked like he might lash out at one point. Mohawk had taken his Buzz and Chunk wanted him back. There was an impasse, but rather than slug Mohawk in the nose for taking his Buzz, he stood his ground and firmly demanded his toy back. It didn't work, of course, Mohawk was having fun and just ignored him, but Chunk was continued to be firm with him and never resorted to hitting.
I know, in the future, as my son grows and changes and continues to develop, I'll get other opportunities to see him interact with the world, time when he doesn't recognize that his dad is watching him. I'm looking forward to it. It's neat to get a glimpse of your child's character, and so far, I've been impressed with mine.