Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5. So big...yet still so little.

Driving to Denver last week for our yearly family vacation, we decided to leave Vegas at night, right after I got off of work. The plan was to drive the seven hours to Grand Junction (right across the Colorado state line), stop for the night, then push through the last 4 hours to Denver in the morning. Jr. cooperated with our little plan, pretty much sleeping the entire way. J declared that he wasn't going to sleep, that he was going to stay up and "drive with you guys," as if he was going to take a turn at the wheel at some point. Right before the trip we bought portable DVD players to hypnotize the kids for the trip, and stocked up on Scooby Doo DVD's. Scooby Doo is J's latest obsession. He has now seen just about every episode of old and new (and newer) Scooby Doo, from the cheesy 70's episodes with "guest stars" like Tim Conway to the more recent iterations that have plotlines about viral bad guys in the internet.

Anyhoo, J set himself up in the back seat with a stack of DVDs, juice boxes, raisins, several books, his blanket, and his pillow pet. Before setting out we'd decided to convert J's booster seat to backless since he's 5 now and getting taller by the minute. But when he got in the car, he kept fidgeting, pulling on the seat belt, leaning forward, whining about being uncomfortable. Finally he tapped me on the shoulder.

"I don't like this seat," he said.

"But it's a big kid seat now, remember?" said TH.

"I just...I don't think this is very safe, Mommy." And he looked genuinely worried. So we put the seat back together. Not ready for the big boy seat yet, I guess.

As we made our way through the mountains, J was alternately awed by the experience of driving at night and scared by it. "I can see constellations! And planets!" he exclaimed at one point. "This is really scary and spooky," he said later. "I hope we don't ever have to stop our car out here."

Around 10pm, I glanced back and could see that J was pretty much zombified by the latest Scooby Doo adventure, his eyes glazed over and his head listing off to the side. Normally he's in bed by 8pm, but we'd decided to let him set his own schedule in the car. Why not? He's a big kid now. But realizing that he wouldn't stop watching unless we made him, I told him that it was time to turn off Scooby Doo. His face crumpled.

"But I'm staying up late with you guys!" he whined. "I'm NOT TIRED!!"

I reached back and flicked the DVD off, expecting him to start crying or throwing some kind of overtired fit. Instead he leaned over onto his pillow pet, and was dead asleep about 15 seconds later.


While we were in Denver, we treated J and his cousins to an afternoon showing of Kung Fu Panda 2. J has only been to the movie theater twice before, and both times I don't think he was quite ready for the big show. He whined, cried, covered his ears, fidgeted, tried to walk up and down the aisles, etc. But this time we were with his older cousins, who he is always desperate to fit in with. He was so excited by everything -- the entertainment complex with a fountain and yogurt shop and arcade, the little kid's meal boxes of popcorn and Icees, the sharing of Red Vines (which he's never had before. We don't keep candy in the house.) Prior to the trip he'd used part of his allowance to buy Superman sunglasses, which he insisted on wearing through much of the movie even though we kept telling him it wasn't 3D.

"Everything looks so different with my glasses," he said breathlessly. "It's all blue and yellow and everything."

About 45 minutes into the movie, he said, very loudly, "I think this should be the end of this movie!" and covered his ears. Then he almost folded himself up in the seat and after that refused to sit down. "Can we leave, please??" he whispered. Finally my mom had the idea to let him sit on the steps next to our row, where he calmed down until the end of the movie.

After the movie, his 11 year old cousin X had to go to the bathroom. "Take J with you," my mom told him. J and I both paused. He's never gone into a public bathroom without me or TH before. When we're out together, like most little boys he's used to going into the women's restroom. I could tell the thought of going into the bathroom "by himself" was making him nervous, but I knew there was no real reason why he couldn't go in with X watching over him. He is 5 now, after all. X went in, and J stood halfway in the door, looking back at me and then looking into the bathroom. "Come with me, Mommy," he pleaded. Finally he went in, and I stood right next to the door, listening for any indication of problems. At one point I must have been almost in the door because a man behind me cleared his throat as I was obviously in his way. Finally X and J came out, J literally skipping. "I used the bathroom!" he shouted, making sure everyone in a 10 foot vicinity could hear him. We started for the doors.

Suddenly J skidded to a stop. "Oh, no!" he cried. "I left my sunglasses in there!" We looked around for X, but he was engrossed in the arcade.

"You're going to have to go back for them by yourself," I told him. "I can't go in the men's bathroom."

"I can't!!" J said. He was genuinely nervous. When we got to the door, he again begged me to go in with him. Finally he ran into the door, and less than 30 seconds ran back out, breathing hard with his face flushed, like he'd just run through an obstacle course. "Next time we have to go in your bathroom," he told me, and then took my hand, something he usually fights me on these days.


claudia said...

Ahh... good to know there is still a lot of baby left in them. They will be grown long enough.

Beth said...

You capture this in-between stage so well! You're such a good writer. William's pre-K teachers talks a lot about how parents' expectations of their kids often change when their kid turns 5--as if we suddenly expect them to be more emotionally mature just because they're 5. So true that the "little" kid still lurks. Sounds like you had a great trip!