Tonight, John’s aunt, Linda, invited us over for dinner. It was so nice to just hang out and enjoy Nathaniel over a delicious meal.
Nathaniel was a boy on the go! Everything had to be investigated! He walked and crawled around and thoroughly inspected the house. He loved the “doggie” statue and petted it and played with it’s tail. They say there is something about girls and horses and boys and dogs… Nathaniel definitely loves “doggies.” Figures- John was SO not a dog person… he liked well behaved dogs, but they were so few and far between in the general dog population that we saw. John was much more of a cat person! Most cat’s are independent, typically pretty neat, and pretty much take care of themselves… qualities that John liked.
Nathaniel quickly located knobs and proceeded to try to open drawers and cabinets… one of his favorite pastimes. Linda even attempted to tie one short and it didn’t take long till he’d stretched it enough to get the door open. He’s very strong and determined! He also is a thinker and figures out how to get through situations. Not much get’s by him either… he’s a very observant little fellow!
Nathaniel opened one cabinet and removed a bunch of plastic cups. Linda let him play with– destroy– several, but he kept wanting more. I tired of trying to hold the door shut and employed my “mommy- NO!!!” voice.
With the horses… one of my philosophies is “ask, tell, make.” Obviously, one training technique doesn’t work with all horses and if fear is involved (or the horse is a green “baby”– I also train with treats and prefer to use positive reinforcement whenever I can.) then the scenario changes. But for those that KNOW and should know better, I’ll be honest, I have little tolerance– “Do it.. Do it right & Do it now!” With horses you should give a command, say what you want, and don’t keep picking– aka don’t keep telling the horse walk, if they’re already walking… it is confusing to them. So… the theory of “ask, tell, make” is that you first politely ask for a response, if you don’t get a response then you become more firm, and if that doesn’t work then you make them complete the command with more force. I like my horses to be light to the hand and leg and typically all that is needed is a squeeze…. true harmony occurs when you can think the command and they respond by the shift in your seat and change in my breathing— Tiny & I were there years ago! Of course, she’s enjoying life as a pasture puff right now. No means NO and it means you’d better not push my buttons! I use it firmly and mean it.
So… how does this apply to kiddo. I’m working on him learning “No!” He’s actually doing pretty good with it… most times. Tonight, when he tried to get into a cabinet that he’d been told to stay out of, I politely told him “No!” When that didn’t work I loudly and sternly told him “NO!!!” This resulted in him stopping and crying! Poor kiddo. But at least he seems to be understanding that mommy means business and he respected what I told him. I know single parenthood without a father is going to be difficult… especially when he turns into a rebellious teen. But, at least for now… at 14 moonths… I’m usually mostly in control…
Don’t think that I’m a total mean mommy! I enjoy rewarding him and I’d much rather correct him. John’s favorite philosopher was Skinner. In school he had chosen Skinner as a topic for a paper/ presentation. If I remember my philosophies correctly then Skinner believed in positive reinforcement to get desired behaviors and was noted for the skinner box. I believe that he didn’t punish negative behavior.
Nathaniel had decided to take his cups and place them in a drawer. For each up that he picked up, Linda & I cheered and clapped. Nathaniel beamed! Linda then got a basket and Nathaniel picked up all of the cups on the floor and put them in the basket. If he dropped a cup or was slow to get one then we weren’t negative with him, but as soon as he dropped it in the basket we cheered… he was SO proud and happy. Soon he had all of the cups picked up off of the floor. It was interesting to watch Skinner’s theories in motion, remember John, and beam with pride watching our son and his happy smiles!
Two thoughts went through my mind. 1. I’ve been told that as a youngster John picked up his toys and put them away. 2. I wish John could have been there to see it. He would have been so proud. I remember a few months ago when John came to me and told me that Nathaniel would now go to or go get an object if you pointed to it. John just marveled in Nathaniel’s changing development and just found it amazing! I know John would have been so proud to see our little cup picker upper in action!
My physician knew John and after she heard of his death and expressed her condolences, she told me, “You’ll always have the best part of John with you.” gesturing to Nathaniel. She’s right.
Driving home… “If You Only Knew” came on the radio…
I’ll be honest, lately certain lyrics in songs pop out at me…
If you only knew
I’m hanging by a thread
It’s 4:03 and I can’t sleep
Without you next to me I
Toss and turn like the sea
If I drown tonight, bring me
Back to life
Breathe your breath in me
The only thing that I still believe
In is you, if you only knew
How I refuse to let you go,
Even when you’re gone
I don’t regret any days I
Spent, nights we shared,
It’s probably more of a breakup song than an losing a loved one… but to some degree… grief is grief.
On the drive home- I cried… I missed John not being there in person for our special moments as parents… By the time I was home, the tears were finished. I took the little Mr. inside, hugged him, kissed him, and put him to bed, with my, “Mommy and Daddy love you, forever, and ever always.”