Tuesday, July 3, 2007

do preschoolers get that it's the thought that counts?

For as long as we've owned our boys, it's been a battle to keep them out of our bed at night. For whatever reason, there are good stretches and then there are bad stretches, and we seem to have very little control over them. But that doesn't stop us from trying.

So last night, after a weeks-long bad stretch, Stupid Daddy told the boys that if they stayed in their beds the whole night, I would take them to the movies today.

Lo and behold, it worked. Sort of. They did indeed stay in their beds all night, but Levi came bounding in a 6am, about an hour and a half earlier than his usual wake-up time, and asked, "Can we go to the movie now?" He didn't stop asking until we got to the movie theater at 3:00.

We went to see Ratatouille with their 15-year-old cousin Kirby while my sister-in-law took care of Lilah. But about half an hour into it, Levi began whining very loudly that he wanted to leave. I tried shushing him and plying him with popcorn and Twizzlers because while I wasn't exactly wowed by what I had seen so far, I at least wanted to get my six bucks' worth. But I realized that the woman sitting directly in front of us was about to turn around and wallop us, so I agreed to leave. Ezra had appeared to be watching the movie contentedly while shoveling popcorn into his mouth, but when I told him we were leaving, he leapt out of his seat to join us.

So while Kirby watched the rest of the movie, we hung out in the lobby. The boys played a race car video game for a bit, totally unaware that you had to put money in to make something really happen. Then they experimented with different ways to climb up on and jump off of the seats.

Then the three of us ripped through a pack of bubble gum I happened to have in my bag, which was lucky, because I chew gum about once every six months. I blew bubbles and the boys took turns popping them. Ezra practiced blowing bubbles. Levi practiced actually keeping his gum in his mouth. (He swallowed his first piece and dropped the second into our bag of popcorn but managed to hang onto the third.)

All in all, it wasn't the worst way to spend an hour. But it certainly wasn't the slam-dunk positive reinforcement we were hoping for. I wonder whether the boys will decide they'd much rather be crawling all over us, kicking us, and bunching up our covers during the night if, when they do what they've been asked, this is the thanks they get.

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