Thursday, April 12, 2007

Do-det-do-do... wah-wah-waaahhh....

I think I've mentioned it before, but I work in a non-profit that supports families with children that have a specific condition. I know I'm being vague, but they say that the fastest way to get fired is to blog about work, and I like my job enough that I don't want to screw it up. So, please bear with me. The important thing is that, given we work with children and families, our organization is very family friendly, to the point that I see all of my coworkers' children in the office quite frequently.

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.

Minutes passed.

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.


Papa Bradstein said...

First, I'm so glad to hear that they didn't settle things they did in the Old West--or in the mountains of Italy, whichever comes first. Second, thanks for planting that earworm; now I'll be hearing wah-wah-waaaaah everywhere I go today. Finally, do you remember anything that happened above the table at the meeting?

Jason h said...

Going to Cali this weekend!! We're you the one asking me about the government grants website? Here it is..Here ya go..

Dad Stuff said...

Good job Chunk. When my daughter was around 2 or 3, a daycare child took a toy from her and ran to the other end of the room. My daughter's eyes flashed. She then put her arm straight up and held it up all the way across the room, until she could get close enough to hit. She's learned since, that you can't hit, but it was funny watching her 'wind up' for a big punch.

Lainey-Paney said...

I ditto what papa bradstein said about having the little jam stuck in my head.

yeah---thanks for that.

But, your post gives me hope!
Maybe we'll have issues at home with hitting & violence (should I consider myself a victim of domestic violence???)...but perhaps "out in the field" Gage will be much more collected & refined.
I'll hold my breath.

Sarah O. said...

All I can add is that I love a blog that mentions Ennio Morricone.

Maria said...

I do freelance, but teach one night a week. One week, I had to take Liv with me. So, I brought her crayons and Barbie coloring book and sat her in the last seat in the back of the room.

About halfway into my lecture, I noticed that the back of the class seemed very intent on taking notes. I gave myself a pat on the back.

And then I noticed that they were all coloring Barbie pages from Liv's book.

Denver Dad said...

Okay, I feel like I just need to apologize to everyone who heard "Do-det-do-do... wah-wah-waaahhh...." all day on Thursday or Friday. That wasn't my intention and I really do feel terrible about it. Unless, of course, you would periodically make that whip-crack noise while going about your day. Because, you know, that would be awesome and there's notthing to be sorry about at all!

Papa Bradstein... No. I don't remember a thing from my meeting. :)

Jason H... Wow! Clever spam! Thanks, buddy!

Dad Stuff... I don't know if that was a big punch, Dad Stuff. That sounds like a full-on haymaker. A wind up like that only happens every so often, so I'm glad you were able to see it.

Lainey-paney... I wish I knew how to find that particular issue. Chunk is great about hitting the people he knows and loves, but then is well mannered when we go out into the world. I've heard a few theories about that... about how toddlers are more comfortable acting out with their parents, because they love them (how is that for weird!). So, every time your little guy slugs you, just remember... he's doing it out of love.

Sarah... I'm glad. You can bet that at some point, I'll reference whatever it is that you're into. It'll happen sooner if you're into nerdy stuff, but occasionally I get out of my comfort zone and delve into more respected stuff. :)

Maria... OH! Can I color too?! That's hilarious!

creative-type dad said...

Whatever you're doing is working. When you have time, let me know the secret, ok?

Lainey-Paney said...

Time for a new post.
You're slacking.

Sarah O. said...

What lainey-painey said!