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October 17, 2003 - Friday
All week Harry has been sitting down in the chair in the back hall ready to get his shoes on long before I've asked. It's a remarkable change from that usually anxiety-ridden time in the morning when I'm trying to get the boys out the door, in the car, and off to school. Before this week it was would often take a lot of encouraging, a raised voice, and a greater degree of patience than I natively possess. This week, there's still been Jeremy to contend with, but Harry has gone there on his own and waited and I surely do appreciate it.

Of course, the question is what changed with Harry?

The first day this happened, Tuesday, Harry actually went to sit down some 15 minutes before it was time to go. "Harry, we haven't brushed our teeth yet," I said and he got up. Then two more times he sat there before we might have left and the second time I just put his shoes on and got an early start. That night Harry's mother told me that she had told Harry to "be sure to tell daddy that there are already socks in the back hall." Harry never told me that, but maybe it was on his mind and he was just leading me there.

But, mommy did not necessarily leave socks there each of the next few mornings when Harry also sat in the hall before being asked. Another possible explanation is that Harry wanted to be sure to be the "first one" to get his shoes on. We've talked about being the first one done with dinner, for example, as a point of pride and it's a phrase that's worked reasonably well as a tool, the possibly unhealthy aspect of competition acknowledged. Before this week, Harry was often upset on occasions when I put Jeremy's shoes on first. I originally thought he had just figured out a way to be sure he was first.

The other possibility is that Harry is figuring out that his behavior affects my behavior. I've recognized this a few times lately with Harry when, for example, he's come to the dinner table quickly or helped pick up toys. Was he trying to make the morning easier for me and, by enlightened self-interest, himself?

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