Last weekend, Heather was sick with mastitis, which meant she just wanted to lie in bed all day with flu-like symptoms. It actually started on Friday morning, and she did get progressively better throughout the day, but still decided to stay home from care group that night.
I was planning on coming home around 2:00 or so to take care of her a bit, and then head off to care group after I ate some dinner. We had loaned our car to Janet, and so I was going to take the T. I ended up not getting home until 5:20 or so, and I was supposed to leave at 5:35 to get to care group on time.I quickly whipped up some soup, and Jonathan was eager to come with me, since he was tired of lying in bed all day.
We ran to the bus stop, and Jonathan did a good job of keeping up, and then not complaining when I made him go quicker than he wanted to (I was carrying dinner for both of us and my guitar - it was the first care group of the year, and I am now leading worship, so I didn't want to miss it). We just barely made it to the bus, and grabbed our seats.
I don't know if that ride was all that eventful, although the bus stopped a couple blocks from the T saying that he was going to wait a couple minutes to get back on schedule, so we ran down the alley to the T, and Jonathan wanted to walk on the sidewalk, rather than in the street - and though the "sidewalk" was approximately 5 inches wide, I didn't really want to discourage him from walking on the sidewalk instead.
We heard the T coming as we ran down the stairs, but it ended up being a "strange" one - strange defined as a number I hadn't heard of before: we can take any of the "normal" T's to the church office. On the T, Jonathan asked a lot of questions, pretty much non-stop, I think, "What is the T driving on? Tracks. Why does it drive on tracks? That's the way it is designed. Where are the tracks? Underneath the train. Why can't I see them? Because they are underneath the train. Why are they underneath the train? That's the way it was made. (I have since learned that Heather's father eventual answer to these sorts of continual questions was "Because Democrats are descended from dinosaurs", with his goal being to take as few logical leaps as possible to get to that answer.
When we got off the T (Jonathan pushed the button - another highlight of the trip) we watched how the wheels drive on the tracks before heading off to the office to eat our dinner. Since our care group is now meeting at the church office (though I just found out that we are moving locations for next time, yay!) the doors are locked, so it is harder to come early, unlike at people's houses, where we generally come early and eat dinner there, and get to spend a little time with the family and/or kids before the meeting starts. (I need to remember to ask the Batemans if they mind if we show up at their house early, I suppose bringing dinner for them at least the first time will make us more desirable...).
We ended up being the first people there, although we were really quite late compared to our normal arrival time. But, there was just enough time to eat dinner when our care group leader showed up with the keys, and I was able to get in to make photocopies. Jonathan helped to setup the folding chairs and joyfully put a copy of music on each chair - he has done that for probably a year, I think.
Jonathan usually stays with us during the singing time, and then sometimes heads off to the child care for the rest of the time. He had said he wanted to stay with me during the singing, but everyone expected him to go to child care, and so waited for him to come. When they saw he wasn't coming, someone asked him if he was going to come to play, and he said, "... I think ... I'll stay", but then slowly got up and joined the other kids, so everyone thought it was cute, though I think he was trying to make up his mind at the time when they asked him.
He did later say that they watched a "strange" movie, though he couldn't really define what strange was. It seems that most people think child care involves movies, although it was either finished, or Shannon turned it off when she got there, so that was nice.
At one point during the meeting, there was a question posed to those people who had gone to "One Single Day", and I knew that Shannon wouldn't want to miss it, so I replaced her in the nursery for a bit. I think when I left I brought Jonathan with me to go to the bathroom -- especially since, in my haste to leave, I hadn't brought a single thing for him to change into, but he succeeded in staying dry the whole trip (and whole weekend). And then after that, he went back to the nursery for a little while, but then came out to sit with me. Dave Klineburger remarked how well Jonathan responded to me when he was wiggling and I whispered something in his ear, and he stopped trying to get out of my lap for the rest of the time (probably a half hour). I did tell Dave that he didn't see Jonathan squirming a couple more times, and also he couldn't see what Jonathan could feel, my "unmovable" arm holding Jonathan while I whispered in his ear. Dave did point out that even considering that, everything was "peaceful". That is a good way to think about it, I think.
We stayed a while, although not quite as late as we usually would have, but I wanted to make sure to not miss the T, and have to wait a half hour for the next one. We crossed the tracks a couple times while waiting, and then walked on the boards that hold the tracks a little, although after we started, Jonathan decided that it wasn't as fun as he thought it would be.
We did have to wait for a long time downtown for the bus and I saw a couple looks from women in cars that looked like they were thinking, "what kind of dad has his kid out past 11PM in downtown Pittsburgh, and doesn't even have him sitting quietly getting ready for bed, but instead running around like a crazy kid" - of course that is all in the 2 second glance as they drive past, so perhaps I made all that up. I did see a couple other babies/small children in strollers, so I am at least not the only dad who had his kid out late.
I don't remember if it was this bus trip or not, but a couple times on our weekend's adventures, Jonathan went looking for a seat, and didn't take the first one available, but kept walking down the bus and T, so he ended up ten or so feet from me when the bus started to move, since I had stopped to pay or manuever my guitar around people. I think only once was he not really in control and someone reached out to grab him, the other times he was able to grab onto something himself.
When we got home, even though it was late, Jonathan was mostly awake and we regaled Heather with the story of our adventures.
The next morning, Jonathan and I cleaned the house, and then had breakfast (Heather came downstairs with us), but by the time we finally got organized to go out to the bank (trying to get money transferred from Switzerland for Lime Daley work) the bank was closed (2PM), so we went to the grocery store, bought Heather a thinking-of-you card, as well as some steak, both of which were greatly appreciated. Jonathan wore his yukata, which a number of people noticed. We examined most of the meat and fish in the store, including the highlight of a whole fish, with eyes, etc. Jonathan didn't want to buy it, but thought it looked pretty neat. Also, in the fish section, Jonathan noticed they have paper decoration fish hanging from the ceiling.
We walked back to the bus stop (Penn Mall Station) which has 4 bus stops at it, I think, and Jonathan had to be told to wait at the particular bus stop, instead of the one he wanted to wait at, and I think he ended up needing to be disciplined for that. It was sort of hot, and Jonathan ended up "flying like a bird" with his yukata untied, flapping around.
That evening, we watched a movie together, and Heather thought she was better and would be going to church, but after the movie, decided that just sitting up to watch was hard enough, so she needed one more day of rest.
So, Jonathan and I headed off to church, again running for the bus (I still made our usual pancakes, but we haven't had to be up that early in a while, so we were later than I had planned), but we caught that, and caught our connecting T easily. As we walked up the hill to the church, he remarked that going uphill is better than downhill, since it is easier, although once we got most of the way up, he decided that uphill was pretty hard, and perhaps we should walk back down and just go home instead of going to church. But, we made it successfully.
Jonathan stayed with me the whole time during the church service. I was recently encouraged by the Kuhns, whose church has all of the kids stay in the main service, and whose children (4 and 6, I think) correctly answered a couple bible questions that I made up - they play a trivia game sometimes when they ask to do something like play a computer game or watch a movie, where their dad asks them a question from a story from the bible, and if they get it, they can do what they were asking to do. I think they can get hints if they get stuck, although the four year old kept answering the 6 year old's questions. I didn't know how much they knew, nor which stories their dad might have told them, so I didn't exactly know what to ask. So I asked, "What was the name of David's friend?", and the four year old correctly answered, "Jonathan". Then I was trying to think of a harder one for the 6 year old, and I asked their dad if they knew anything from the book of Revelation, and he sort of doubted it, but said go ahead, so I started to ask, "What were there seven of?", which I suppose probably has multiple answers, and then I realized that asking, "How many" might be an easier question, and the 4 year old blurted "seven", before his older brother could get a chance to answer, and then I re-asked my original question, and they correctly answered "lampstands", although I see now that the KJV says "candlesticks", which would be the translation they are used to, but I guess their church must use something else since when their dad asked how they knew that, the elder son answered that he had been listening during the sermon, and the parents realized that yes, they have had a couple sermons on Revelation recently.
So -- all that to say, even small children can listen and understand what is going on during the "adult" portion of the service.

Back to our fun weekend together - we went to the church picnic with the Taylors, who we had asked for a ride earlier in the week, and their children greatly enjoyed sitting with Jonathan in the backseat. Our deviled eggs got tossed around on the bus, on the T, and when we were walking, so they were not the best looking eggs we have ever brought to a picnic, though when we got there (which was sort of late, usually the picnics don't start until the pastor gets there, I guess since we have two pastors now, it can start when one gets there) lots of people had already started eating, though a bunch of people were looking forward to our eggs so came back to get them. One person said that they were still good, but not as spicy as they usually are (I made 18 eggs this time, so my proportions were probably off from my usual 12 eggs), and another person who hadn't ever had one of our eggs before, said they were the hottest things he had ever eaten, and though they were good, they were really surprising.
Jonathan chose most of his food in the buffet line, helping himself to a large portion of salad, and also wanted to make sure we didn't miss the lasagna and also a deviled egg (oh, which we made together, I think Jonathan put in most of the ingredients himself, even cracked a couple eggs, which he discovered opening hard-boiled eggs is much nicer than cracking raw ones - he doesn't like getting the egg on his fingers), as long as I said that I would lick out the filling, which was too spicy for him. A lady came by and asked Jonathan what his favorite part of the picnic was, and he kind of bashfully turned away, but picked up a piece of lettuce, sort of as his answer, and the lady was pretty impressed that he was eating all that salad. The church had rented a cotton candy machine the day before for the community day, so had that at the picnic as well, and that was kind of neat to watch, although apparently it hadn't been cleaned properly the night before, so little pieces of melted and dried cotton candy bits would shoot out of the spinning machine every once in a while, and if your hand was too far in the machine, it would get pelted, but the after the first couple surprises, the kids thought it was okay to keep making it. Jonathan was not interested in trying it at all.
He played on the playground for a while, and put on some girl's flip flops, and was pretty upset when she wanted them back - had to be told that he shouldn't just take stuff without asking, and then be grateful that he got to play with them at all, instead of being upset.
We played with the bean bags, which he did throw some in, but mostly wanted to be behind the target, and would pick up any that I missed into the hole, and then would push all of the bags backwards out of the hole at the end.
He also helped in the water balloon volleyball game that the older kids were playing, by keeping them supplied with water balloons. At the end of the game, I looked over to see where he had gone, and realized that once the water balloons had run out, he had walked off. I couldn't find him for a while, but finally saw him heading towards the parking lot and/or soccer game. I whistled, and he turned around, and saw me waving to come back, but turned around and walked off, so we had to talk about that for a bit. We tried to watch the soccer game, but they were in some sort of break, so there wasn't much to watch - apparently, it was some sort of tournament with multiple games. One interesting note about the game - was that at one point a referee blew a whistle since a kid had gotten hurt, and all of the players on the field instantly dropped to their knees. I hadn't ever seen that before - presumably it is to keep the kids from crowding the injured kid, and limiting the EMTs access.
We then watched a crab walk relay race, and Jonathan tried that out and thought that was pretty fun. He didn't do as well practicing as a wheelbarrow.
The Taylors drove us back to a T stop, where we waited a while, and Jonathan met a kid, whose mom correctly guessed they were about the same age, though Jonathan insisted he wasn't since the other boy was three (just had his birthday recently), and Jonathan is only two. They played together some, and gave both of us (the other kid's mom and I) a small scare when they didn't really seem to be paying attention to the approaching T as they ran back to the boarding place. I think Jonathan knows to stay on the other side of the black line, but there is a difference in theory and in practice. Both kids didn't know why the mom had freaked out and yelled, and I think they both were aware that they weren't going to cross the line, but better safe than sorry, as they say.
We bought dinner at Subway to bring home to Heather, and Jonathan ordered his own sub - meat, cheese, toppings and dressing, although both the employee and I couldn't figure out which dressing he was asking for, although once we figured it out, it made sense, and is also the kind of dressing he would normally like - Italian, he was calling it "yellow", and getting a little frustrated with the lady when she picked up the oil and then the vinegar.
Heather was glad to see us when we got home, and we spent dinner telling her about all the things we did.

So, a long weekend, but lots of fun.
Posted by Jon Daley on September 24, 2006, 7:56 pm | Read 3315 times
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What church to the Kuhns attend?
Posted by serina on September 24, 2006, 9:24 pm

Wow! Great stories! I did wonder at first about this line: "she just wanted to lie in bed all day with flu-like symptoms." :)
Posted by SursumCorda on September 24, 2006, 10:08 pm

I actually wasn't feeling better until they got home at midnight on Friday - then I realized that my fever had broken. I would say that Saturday was the gradually getting better day, since that day was just recovering from not eating much on Friday.

I can't remember exactly the name of the Kuhns church, Butler Community something.
Posted by joyful on September 25, 2006, 9:00 am

"lie in bed": yes, now that I read it again, it doesn't sound like it is going to be all that fun... The church name is something like South Butler Community Church - though I can't seem to find their web site now. It is pretty far, though the church does tend to spend some of Sunday afternoon together too.
Posted by Jon Daley on September 25, 2006, 10:29 am

We keep our kids through the service, too, for many reasons. It can be challenging in the young years, but worth it. I'm always interested in a church where they encourage it; most are adamantly opposed to worshipping together with all ages. The biggest turn off was a local mega church with a sign basically banning babies from the sanctuary.
Posted by serina on September 25, 2006, 12:21 pm

Amen, Serina! I've fought age discrimination in churches for years. Though I don't have much credibility when I say I'm opposed to "Children's Church," having come to that position AFTER our children were too old to participate. But of course that also says my opinion comes from experience....
Posted by SursumCorda on September 25, 2006, 1:12 pm

About care group--Gumby was on for 5 or 10 minutes, so that might have been the movie he thought was "strange." I think it's strange, too. The TV is a useful visual distraction while parents leave, but I find it irritating. Jonathan's attention during meetings is actually very encouraging, and I'm hoping to follow your example if I'm blessed with children.
Posted by Laedelas on September 25, 2006, 8:59 pm

Yes, that was it - I can't quite remember how he said it - he has a trouble with G's unless he really concentrates.

I rephrased the part about the tv since I realized that you would probably read this, and that it wasn't quite clear that "other" (I think) people had put the tv on prior to you showing up...
The thing about distractions is that it doesn't really solve the problem. I was talking recently with someone about whether discipling (heh, interesting typo -- I meant to say disciplining, but I suppose discipling is relevant here too) or distracting is a better way of training a child for the long term, or just getting by for the short term. An example I have seen of the distraction method is how some parents try to interest their child in a toy when dropping them off at the nursery so then they can sneak off to church, or even worse, saying, "I'll be back in a minute", when really they mean two hours. The children start out noticing the parent is gone perhaps right as they walk out the door, then within a month, maybe they don't notice until a minute later, and the care-givers can comfort the child. I was in the nursery the other day when the parents snuck out on their toddlers, I was saddened to see the children glance around later, look at the door, and then continue playing - they have been conditioned, and I guess it is working, but I wonder what the child is thinking.

Hrm. I guess you can tell this is something I care about a fair bit. It is too bad it is probably too hard to figure out what the kids are thinking until they are way older, and by then they probably don't care, and have grown out of, or gotten used to whatever they grew up with, so probably still can't talk intelligently, or scientifically about if distractions are a good way to parent or not.
Thanks for your encouraging words. I suppose now is a good time to quote the person who said, "I used to have five child raising theories and no kids, now I have five kids and no theories." We do like how we are teaching Jonathan for the most part, but I wonder how much is his personality, and how much is what we are doing. I guess we need to have more children to figure that out... :)
Posted by jondaley on September 25, 2006, 9:44 pm

Yep, that's the age-old problem. Each child is different, and a cookie-cutter approach to childrearing rarely works. But general principles apply, nonetheless -- not that it's always easy to figure them out, or to apply them!

About distracting: I think it's a great tool in some circumstances, and can turn a negative into a positive, which I believe in strongly (part of the Conspiracy of Yes). As in, "You may not play with the dump truck right now, because Nate is using it, but you may play with this bulldozer instead." Or, "Look, Sammy is playing with the blocks; let's go show him how to build a castle, and let Nate play with the bulldozer right now." But I agree wholeheartedly that sneaking out on a child is deceptive, unfair, probably harmful, and only relieves the parent at the expense of the child and the caregiver.
Posted by SursumCorda on September 25, 2006, 10:05 pm

I don't think I'll be able to "distract" my own children much when they come (I wasn't raised that way, either), but when it's someone else's kids I'm never quite sure what to do. But it does seem that God has built an incredible amount of flexibility in children to forgive the mistakes of their parents :-)
Posted by Laedelas on September 26, 2006, 8:15 pm

"when it's someone else's kids I'm never quite sure what to do" There is a very good argument for why the children's own parents should be taking care of them the vast majority of the time. This is exactly the reason I did not enjoy babysitting very much when I was a teenager. Even now that I have more experience with my own children, it's still different with other people's children.
Posted by joyful on September 27, 2006, 9:22 am

What happens when distractions don't work? I was sitting on the bus yesterday across from a small child who continued to shriek even though her mom tried to distract her with different things and try to get her to make different sounds.

As I was getting off the bus, I walked to the front, and wondered how loud the shrieking would be heard up front, but discovered it was drowned out by a lady yelling into a cell phone.
Posted by Jon Daley on September 27, 2006, 10:19 am

"What happens when distractions don't work?" You do something else. I've never yet found one tool that worked for every situation. And nothing seems to work for cell phone users, though I've heard of people loudly commenting on personal details of the conversation, which sometimes has a salutory effect.
Posted by SursumCorda on September 27, 2006, 11:53 am
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