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September 18, 2002 - Wednesday
This river is a short ride from our house and a place I think I've taken the boys on just one other occasion. Outings to these sort of outdoor places are nice, but in the past I'd been hesitant to put Jeremy down on the ground, so we'd usually end up leaving far before Harry would be done throwing rocks or whatever he was doing and that meant unpleasantness. This time, however, I thought if I brought the little stroller that we've been keeping in the back of the car I could sit Jeremy there. As it turned out, I just ended up putting him on the ground. He seems to have nearly come to terms with the realization that not everything tastes good and so, beyond getting his hands and legs a little dirty playing with the pebbles, it worked out amazingly well. Harry threw rocks to his hearts delight and I, though spending most of the time sitting with Jeremy, got up, too, and threw a few myself. I showed Harry again about skimming stones. Harry counted the bounces on the water. It was a happy time, complete with the above self-timer picture (that's something the boys' mother and I have done a lot of over the years on our own outings and likely will be popular with the boys when I'm not needing to carry one of them all the time). By the time the boys' mother arrive home, the three of us had come home and were up in our bedroom playing with some half-deflated balloons and banging around loud enough for her to find us up there with no trouble. It was a wonderful afternoon with two boys.

The spur of the moment idea to go to the river worked out and Jeremy's increasing independence from constant carrying or direct visual monitoring made it so I could play much better with both him and Harry. But, somewhere between splashing rocks and balloons, I got as mad at Harry as I ever have. Actually, that's not really true, but I'd claim it's the first time that I've been made when I've felt out of control and shown raw anger rather than something (at least somewhat) more calculated to elicit Harry's attention. It happened as we were leaving the river after, surprisingly, Harry said he'd had enough and was ready to go. We picked up and started to leave and maybe it would have been fine, but for that damn stroller. Harry wanted to get it and that was a problem. The gravel path was too bumpy for me to push him with one hand while carrying Jeremy, although I tried it until we got to a log across the path. From there I hoped Harry could walk the relatively short distance to the end of the path and to the car. He did, but felt he had to hold the stroller from the side. Unfortunately, there was poison ivy growing right next to the path and I said he needed to walk in front or behind. By the time we reached the end of the path, Harry had started whining about not wanting to leave, although I suspect the whining didn't have much true purpose beyond not getting his way with the stroller, and that made me angry. Our car was by some houses and we needed to walk through one's side yard to get around some debris and I just didn't like Harry being so vocal and so negative in such a silly way. Still, that didn't set me off. In fact, I didn't say anything until I'd put Jeremy in the car and turned back to Harry. But, by the time I'd put Harry in the other side of the car into his seat, my explanation for why Harry shouldn't whine like that had deteriorated into an argument with a two-year-old about why we were leaving the place that he had wanted to leave. The short two minute car ride home just got worse, with Harry getting sillier and me hating the fact that everything had been so nice and now, because of this whining, had hit bottom. Jeremy sat quietly in his seat as Harry and I yelled about what we each didn't like.

I made three trips to empty Jeremy and other items out of the car before I got Harry out of his seat. Once we were all inside I tried to explain to Harry what had happened. Harry said he understood and I'm sure he did understand that I was angry. I hope he understood that it was because he changed the entire mood of the day with his effective ranting. But, I sure he didn't really understand that for a short period of time I stopped making decisions about teaching, leading, encouraging, nurturing, and being a role model and was just angry.

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