Falco gets lots of attention

Our New Year’s resolution was to get rid of nappies for Matthijs (nights) and Daniël (days). We did our very best, but it did not work out. Daniël went to the toilet regularly, sustained by consistent bribes of sweeties on delivery of a poop, but was just as happy wetting his pants. Every now and then we would notice that he was walking around quite happily with soaking wet trousers so, after a week of massive laundry baskets we gave up. The trouble is that Daniël is extremely stoical by nature and not impressed by social pressure, threats, bribes or anything else we have in our arsenal. I suspect that the only thing that would seriously bother him would be witholding carbohydrates… We will try again next month, maybe.

I had read in a book (yes, I know) that the way to get your child dry at night was to bite the bullet and let them sleep without a nappy until they got the hand of it. We stuck it out for a week with Matthijs (even more laundry) and he finally told us that he thought his body was not ready for it yet. We will try again when he has had a few dry nappies.

So that Matthijs could go to the toilet in the wee small hours we took the lock off their door. Though the idea of Daniël waddling around unsupervised was worrying the alternative was being woken up in the middle of the night by Matthijs banging on the door and Daniël screaming his head off because he was rudely awoken. Of course they do in any case wake each other up. We suspect that Daniël would sleep longer in the mornings if Matthijs did not want a playmate and that they both would go to sleep earlier if they were not being (over)stimulated by the other. This has caused us to think about giving them their own rooms. That way Matthijs can take playmates up to his room without being bothered by his little bro etc. It may not be entirely welcome for them: they do enjoy playing together and are getting steadily better at working out games, settling disputes and so on.

Marjolein got to witness male/female role-patterns being established this month. When we met one of Matthijs’ (girl) classmates in the bookshop they scuttled off to play together and Marjolein heard the girl say “pink is my favourite colour”. To which Matthijs replied “mine too”. The girl was surprised and said “do you like a girl colour!!?” to which Matthijs (not one to be caught out) replied that he liked all colours, red and purple and yellow and…. It is amazing how quickly the clichés are installed and how children are forced into roles. After a while I dare say Matthijs will no longer want to wear the princess dress when they are dressing up and those are only the very obvious and explicit things.

On the subject of gender differences, Daniël saw Marjolein getting out of the shower and was fascinated by her nipples. She told him that he had them too and said that he should have a look when he was in the bath. He promptly trotted over to the bath and had a good look in it to see if there were any nipples floating around in there. Communication remains a complex business.

Matthijs had a bad experience in school this month. While the class was in the playground one of the other children threw Matthijs’ things in the sandbox. Matthijs got angry and threw the first thing that came to hand at the other boy. Unfortunately that was a bucket and it cut the other boy’s eyebrow. Blood everywhere and the boy had to go to hospital to get it glued together (they do not do stitches any more). Everyone was terribly shocked and angry with Matthijs, particularly as he did not seem very concerned by the results of his action. WE know that he is also not very concerned by things that are done to him: the previous week he got a bad scrape on his face when tussling with a friend and was playing happily with him half an hour later. People who are used to less “macho” children tend to be shocked by the lack of an emotional response. At four years old we are not yet expecting Matthijs to have a lot of empathy and it is not much in evidence in his contempories. We will be watching out for a pattern of behaviour though: the other boy’s mother said that there had been other (minor) incidents between them and we do not want him to become a bully.

Marjolein took him straight home after the incident and he was in disgrace for the rest of the day. He was not allowed to play with his brothers and lost his sweety at sweetytime and his bedtime story. We both gave him very extensive talking to’s and then I had a fun time calling up the boy’s mother to apologise. She was very decent about it, though a little shocked that Matthijs had not exhibited some shame or remorse. When he and the other boy were back at school he apologised to the boy, his mother and the teacher and gave the boy a picture which he had drawn of the incident.

The class read a book that morning about anger and the things you can and cannot do when you are angry. With a little luck the whole business will have made an impression on him. He is a strong and determined child with a quick temper (probably my genetic fault) and he will have to learn to control his impulses.

January finished with a nice chunk of snow – which was lots of fun for the boys. We went out and had massive snowball battles with the neighbours children. We do not have a sledge (no room what with all the bicycles and scooters in our garden) but there was no shortage of sledge and people willing to pull them, so the boys had a fine time.

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