First of all, thank you so much for the kind and supportive comments. I have seen others post about things like this and get some. . . divisive comments. . . so I am so glad that it stayed positive AND that others shared similar frustrations. It's so good to feel a little less alone in this situation.
We instigated "House Rules" last week. Before each and every interaction with other children and throughout the day, Will was reminded of our "House Rules". The rules are:
1) No hitting.
2) No spitting.
3) No yelling.
4) Have fun.
We then prompt him on what to do if someone does something to him that he doesn't like. He is to say: "Please stop that, I don't like that."
If the person persists, then he is allowed to come get a mommy (or daddy) to help him resolve the situation.
We had less hitting this past week. I saw him utilize the "Please stop that" with a friend. Of course, it's just one week and, I've seen improvement before, only to have it come back full force.
I do want him to figure out how to resolve things on his own and I don't want to encourage tattling (a potential pitfall to the "come get me" idea). BUT I think tattling is easier to deal with (especially from the perspective of the victim) and I am willing to trade hitting for tattling.
I have also been keeping a notebook with me, detailing things that I am noticing about our day together. Will sleeps well at night and still (KNOCK ON WOOD) takes a solid nap, so I don't worry about him being tired per se, but I have noticed that some of the hitting incidents are happening toward the end of playdates when the kids are definitely winding down and the moms are distracted with picking up toys or shuttling things out to the car. So, I have made a committment to end playdates earlier than I have been. This is admittedly a difficult thing for me to do. If things are going well, I really don't want to leave, but I remember reading in a parenting book somewhere that the age of the youngest children in years is how many hours a playdate should last. So, I started cutting our playdates off at two and a half hours. The trick with this one is how to not make leaving earlier than his other friends seem like a punishment, but so far, he seems okay with it.
The problem, of course, with employing several tactics at one time is that I will never know if it was just one thing I tried or the magic combination. In any case, the big test with obviously be this weekend in the church nursery (we were out of town this last Sunday and so he didn't go). I'll keep you posted.
Speaking of keeping you posted. . . plans for Emma's birthday-palooza are in full-swing. We have picked a theme: under the sea! We have a pretend fish tank and Emma loves the "sish". She and her daddy will sit and point to the "sish" for several minutes every night. Last week, M came home with one of these for her crib, which I quietly thought was probably too young of a toy for her. I was wrong. She loves it and gazes up at it in awe each night as she is tucked in to bed. "Sish" was her third word and anytime we walk by a fish tank, she starts getting super excited, pointing and alternating between "wha da" and "sish"!
And I always think a theme just makes it easier to decide on everything. . . from food, to decorations, to games, to cake. In this case, it definitely has. Our menu is decided: submarine sandwiches (pun so intended), shell shaped pasta salad, jell-o jigglers in marine shapes, a Goldfish cracker "bar", and of course, cake.
I am still trying to decide on a cake. My girlfriend, who just started her own cake decorating business, got a contract for her first wedding on the day of Emma's party, so I am going to make the cake myself. I found this amazing creation (seriously, click on it), but I know it's probably a bit too adventurous for me to attempt. I like this cake and am then thinking of making that her smash cake and then making these cupcakes for the guests. The cupcakes look fairly easy to me, the cake looks a bit harder, but if I mess it up, eh. It's her smash cake, after all. It's just gonna get smashed.
Even M has gotten into the spirit and wants to do a fishing game of sorts where the kids get to "fish" for their goody bags. And then, there is a playground, and I will bring a bubble machine and chalk, even if it all went to waste last time, it is easy to stick in the back of the car and have just in case.
I feel like the plan is coming together and I don't even think it will be that stressful. I hope, anyway. The sandwiches are ordered and we will pick them up on the way to the park. I plan on making the pasta salad on Thursday (I think pasta salad tastes better if made the day or two before anyway) and then putting it into covered 9x13 dishes and then putting those into shallow pans that I will fill with ice the day of the party. I am going to make the jigglers on Thursday, too. I think cake just tastes so much better fresh, so I will probably save that until Friday, but I don't think they will be that difficult.
I am not going to decorate much - just colored plastic covers for the tables and balloons. So, I think getting there about an hour before the party is to start will suffice. I just have to throw out the decorations and food. I will have M arrive with the birthday girl right at 11. We'll eat, do the cake smashing, open presents, and bam! Done!
So, there we are. How are you?