Friday, 3 February 2012

Afternoons with the 4 year old Commander

We walk through the door after Jonah's morning at nursery and he gives me his orders:

"You can chop up my apple, make me a cracker and a drink and I will see if the chickens have laid any eggs."

Sometimes it's like living with a dictator in the house. Of course, I follow his orders to the letter. After a morning at work chasing toddlers around the last thing I want is for him to drop dramatically to the floor, wailing because I have not done everything perfectly. I know this doesn't help matters, but sometimes we do anything for an easy life (or is that just me?).

I position him with said snack in front of the television, change my clothes and attempt to be quiet so that he does not bark any more commands at me. I succeed for about 20 minutes - quite good going really. Sometimes I manage a whole half hour if I am quiet enough and he is engrossed in his programme, sometimes I make the mistake of walking past the door too slowly and he sees me.

The next request was to play on my computer. I don't mind this too much. I can convince myself that Cbeebies is an educational website. What I do mind is that he cannot wait for anything to load.

Jonah: "I want to play Charlie and Lola."
Me: "Ok, well you have to wait a few seconds for it to come up."
Jonah: "I want to play Charlie and Lola."
Me: "Yes, I know, but you have to wait a minute."
Me: (biting my tongue before I ask him whether he is deaf or just choosing not to listen to me) "It is coming, you just have to wait."

Thankfully and seemingly more slowly than usual the game eventually loads onto the screen and after I have shown him which buttons to press, and then shown him again when he presses the wrong ones (but pushes my hand away because he, of course, is right. How dare I suggest otherwise?)we are settled again for another few minutes.

I escape off again, only to be recalled a few minutes later when he suddenly starts loading Adobe Reader, Flash player or something else onto my computer.

After a while of computer bashing, I decide to play the good mother and turn the screen off. Scary, I know. Sometimes I try. Often it backfires but at least I have tried.

We empty out the duplo box and find a Baddie, a little boy and a 'King'. We also need some sheep, but because we don't have any sheep, a dragon does the job perfectly. With our duplo we act out David and Goliath, several times over. By the third repeat, the story seemed amazingly to skip very quickly to the part where David chops off Goliath's head. Goliath was not called Goliath though. Oh no, he was called Gladiator. Sometimes it's better not to argue - the story is going in and that's the best I can manage!

Once Gladiator is dead for the third time, the duplo and the dragon-sheep are all put away in the box and my least favourite toy is dragged into the lounge. The pop up tent. Ugh. I hate it. It is never used as a tent. Why use something for the purpose it was made for when you can imagine all kinds of other purposes? I blame myself of course. If I had not encouraged imagination then they might actually play with toys properly. Instead, we get tents that are used like hamster wheels, dragons that are sheep and rolled up pieces of paper scattered all over the house which are telescopes, swords, guns and other such like.

Often I find myself longing for September when Jonah begins school. Often I try everything I can to make him play on his own without me. Occasionally I realise that my little boy is going in September. These are my last few months with him. I should treasure these moments of orders being barked, of Gladiator's heads being chopped off and of duplo towers that are bigger than me. I should make the most of his little hand in mine (rare even now - most of the time he wrestles it back out again). Instead of inwardly sighing when he asks to play the matching cards game for the 5th time in 2 days, I should smile and attempt to enjoy those moments. They will soon be gone. My last little boy is growing up, and soon he will be lost in the school system. It is taking all my will power and determination, but despite the barked orders, the whinging sound of "I don't know what to doooooo" and my boredom of playing the same things over and over again, I am going to make the most of these last few months. I have so much to give to my little Commander before he is swallowed up by the system and commanded by someone else.

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