January 30, 2003 - Thursday
I screwed up a perfectly fine afternoon with the boys. What was my error? Being selfish; focusing my attention on something of my own interest rather than on the boys. We were down in the basement for the afternoon. I'd suggested it when we got home and both boys headed straight for the cellar stairs instead of taking off their shoes. Harry hadn't been down there for a while and it's still a novelty for Jeremy. We'd have fun, right? Probably, but I've been trying to build a simple workbench for about a month now. It's been progressing, but at a very slow pace since the only time I'm able to work on it is when one or both of the boys are down in the basement with me. Actually, the only real progress has been when Mommy is down there, too. I don't have to do too much more now than put on the legs and I thought maybe I'd get at least one done this time. So, I drilled a couple of holes were the bolts would go, rationalizing that Harry would be interested in the power tool and he was. He could see me drilling best from down on the floor, but he got it in his head that he needed to see it from above. I turned over hard plastic bucket provided the strength and height for him to see the assortment of screws and bolts waiting to go into the bench, but not the width nor stability for him to move around and play with all of them. For both good and bad, there really wasn't another convenient alternative for him to stand on. So, Harry began to whine. I tried to redirect him to his own bench and a new product. It didn't really work. Meanwhile, Jeremy was getting a little out of line as well, wandering around and starting to put random screws and tools in his mouth. They're all pretty clean, but it's just not smart. Of course, playing attention to Jeremy meant not paying attention to Harry and that begot more complaining and, worse, his purposefully doing things with a challenging look that I'd very recently told him explicitly not to do. He was looking for attention, of course, but he crossed a line. I'd warned him about bad behavior more than once already and I did again, but eventually he just needed a time out and sat him down on a half sanded bench seat I've also been working on for more like months. The typical crying followed and the basement adventure turned into a bust, as did my outlook on the afternoon, it having been foiled in a brief attempt to attend to a selfish ambition. It's a recipe for disaster, this self-centered parenting. I've sad that before, more than once, and it's still true.
An interesting side note to this awkward incident with Harry in the basement is the way that Jeremy kept looking concerned, glancing over toward Harry on the bench, appearing to wonder what was happening and if he was all right. The same happened later in the evening when, from his bedroom at bedtime, Jeremy's mother reports his clear concern at the sound of Harry crying loudly, a very unfortunate result of banging his forehead on the coffee table. He's fine, save being a little puffy and cut just above his right eye, and that's about all I want to think about that or any possible alternatives outcomes to this accident.