As is often the case, when something feels especially difficult, it turns out to be the ideal opportunity to learn just what I needed to learn, just when I needed to learn it.
Yes, three and a half is hard. But Friday was a very good day. And so was Monday. And so was today. (Yesterday, Mademoiselle was sick with a cold and I was recovering from a night awake with her every hour, on the hour. The day went well all things considering, but it still doesn't count.)
I picked le Petit up from school late Friday morning and we walked back home at our usual snail's pace. I started off in a bad mood because le Petit had lost yet another one of his winter hats; a cashmere one, a gift from Grandma. In the middle of grumping at him, I realized that I was probably overdoing it. He was only, after all, three and a half.
My mother-in-law stayed to help me prepare lunch, then left the three of us alone for the remainder of the afternoon. Selfishly, I wasn't particularly looking forward to hours alone in the apartment with two kids. I like the peace and quiet I get when someone else is looking after le Petit and all I have to do is nurse Mademoiselle while sitting on the couch with a book or the computer. Yet I suspected that an afternoon together was just what le Petit and I needed.
First, I let le Petit spend an hour on sesamestreet.org. He's learned to use the mouse by himself, and I've learned to stop obsessing over too much screen time. I set the kitchen timer for an acceptable amount of computer time, then kept an eye and ear on le Petit while I did dishes and started to prepare lamb stew for dinner. Then, when the buzzer went off, I calmed down a very disappointed le Petit (and avoided a tantrum) by offering to make dessert with him. We made a raspberry tart. OK, I made most of a raspberry tart, while le Petit "reorganized" a kitchen cabinet full of jars and cans. We both had fun, and I was downright joyful at the end of the day.
On Monday afternoon, we spent some time on lego.com, then transitioned to playing with real, not virtual, Legos on the living room floor. We don't didn't do much, and I can't even remember most of the details, but it felt good to be together. Oh, and both winter hats were miraculously recovered at school that morning.
Today the living room floor is instead covered by a network of wooden trains. A tall Lego crane is standing ready to build a "tower" -- an upside-down wicker wastebasket. Le Petit and I spent the morning together today, before I took Mademoiselle off to a doctor's appointment in the early afternoon and left le Petit in the able care of Grandma. He's still at her place now. I'm enjoying the peace and quiet, especially since Mademoiselle is napping in the baby carrier, but...
I miss him.
(But no worries. He'll come bounding through the door any minute now. And we've got until September to learn from one another like this, daily.)