Saturday, December 30, 2006

Time well spent

Today has been a good one. The holiday season has finally succeeded in loosening my grasp on the passage of time, so that I have to keep reminding myself what day it is, even though there is no real need to know as we have no plans. Even though days without plans now are hardly as unfettered as they were before we became parents, my sense of appreciation for them has never been so keen.

This morning, as per our normal weekend/holiday morning routine, I went to retrieve J from behind the gate in the doorway of her room (You know, the one that allows me to sleep at night secure in the knowledge I won't hear her tiny, confused voice echoing up from downstairs in the middle of the night, much like I did the night, not long after making the leap to the big girl bed, J discovered we weren't latching her gate after checking on her one last time? Right, that one.) when she called for me and brought her to our bed to "watch somefing." After about an hour of valiant but vain attempts at grabbing just a few more minutes of precious slumber while being used as a human jungle gym/trampoline, she and I came downstairs for breakfast. We left MOMD in bed to sleep off last night's poker triumph - I'm rarely so generous, being as I am of the mind that we got in this mess together and if one of us is suffering for it we both should be, but I had plans to head to the gym later so my time was coming. I haven't exercised since a very short-lived attempt at training for a 5K just before we got pregnant, and I was hoping that the associated endorphin release would help me overcome the crippling fatigue I have been dealing with for the last few weeks. It seems to be doing the trick, helped in no small part I'm sure by the cat nap I was just able to sneak in while J is asleep and MOMD is visiting his dad in the hospital. I came home from the gym to a yummy lunch of grilled sandwiches, courtesy of MOMD's proficiency on the griddle and my rare presence of mind to stop at the store for fixin's on my home, and then cleaned up the kitchen before heading upstairs to lounge on our big bed and make a little headway in the latest issue of Oxford American before nodding off.

No big deal, no great accomplishments checked off my to-do list, but I had an epiphany of sorts this afternoon that though I may have less time now to spend however I want, what I have more of is time well spent. As much as I may fret over the loss of entire weekends stretched before me with no commitments and no responsibilities, if I'm honest about it I appreciate the structure motherhood as brought to my life. I can barely remember what I did with all that time, but I suspect it was a lot of nothing - too few books read, too few words written, too few trips taken, and too many hours with an unread magazine open on my lap and a rerun of some insipid MTV offering on the television. Not that I didn't enjoy that time, I've just been given a greater sense of appreciation for the promise of "time to myself."

Which is what brought me down here to write for the last few minutes of naptime instead of continuing to stare at the spindly winter shapes outside the bedroom window. My father is constantly on me to write a book - my mother has not once mentioned as she is fully aware of the demands - physical, emotional and temporal - of raising small children. And aside from the fact I have zero brilliant ideas around which to craft the Great American Novel, nor, I fear, the patience to sit down and hammer it out, I just don't have the time. I am paid to write, and I write on a variety of topics for a variety of clients. I think I am good at it, and the fact that I often have more work than I can keep up with is seeming testament to my abilities, but in my heart of hearts I don't consider myself a "writer."

To me a "writer" is someone who spends his or her days reading and learning from great writers, and simply writing for the sake of writing, in a sunny, well appointed room dedicated to writing, surrounded by all the pretty, pretty things in the Levenger catalog purchased expressly to support the business of writing, and I have neither the time, the space, nor the supplies.

BUT. I know that one day I will have that time. Soon enough my children - the one here now and the one not yet born - will no longer need me as they do now, will be off playing with friends on weekend afternoons, off to college, {sob} off on their own grand adventures, and I will be left alone with nothing but time. And what I am learning now, is how to grab that precious gift of time and wring out every last drop. And one day I will. I just hope Daddy is still around when I finally get there.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Things we don't want to forget

MOMD asked me this morning if I was keeping up with all the funny things J says, because as I mentioned in an earlier post she figures out the right way to say things much too quickly. So in the interest of preservation...

  • When she wants to do something independently (which is pretty much all the time now, and since I am officially great with baby #2 (yay!) that suits me just fine when it comes to climbing stairs, etc.) she says, "I do it my byself."
  • Up until yesterday, when from the next room I heard the Little People Preschool bringing down yet another toddlerism, she pronounced twenty as "twent," a pronunciation I like to think came from the fact that she learned to count in English, Spanish and French simultaneously and that "twent" sounds suspiciously like "vingt." But now she's seen the light, and this morning when MOMD asked her what comes after nineteen she said "twenny."
  • Her breakfast of choice is usually "eatmeal." That's one is still going strong and MOMD is going to be heartbroken when she figures it out. He even corrects me when I say it correctly in a last-ditch effort to hold onto it.

That's all I can think of at the moment - except for the fact that she constantly amazes us with her ability to retain and communicate information. At 28 months she speaks in complete, detailed sentences, and for the most part structures her sentences properly. We were musing the other day over whether she would be reciting the Gettysburg Address by age 3, and MOMD said, "It wouldn't hurt to start teaching it to her." Um... ok.

We had a fantastic Christmas (and Thanksgiving for that matter). J really got the whole Santa Claus thing, and it didn't hurt that the soot-covered one brought her the rocking horse and bunny she mentioned every.single.time someone asked her what she wanted. (And Mommy wasn't sad about the fact that the rocking horse was already hiding upstairs before she mentioned it the first time.) And since MOMD participated in the Christmas shopping this year the number of gifts was much more reasonable and much less overwhelming. After J perused her Santa stuff we took turns opening gifts with her so she had a chance to really check everything out instead of just blindly tearing open packages. Of course, as the day wore on - with two more Christmas celebrations with the grandparents - it became more about the pursuit of the next package, but all in all it was a great few days, even without naps!

We are slowly recovering from the overstimulation, and J and I are both quite ready for preschool to reconvene next Wednesday! Not that I haven't enjoyed a whole week of not having anywhere to be (although my grand vision of using this time to conquer potty training have not exactly materialized - methinks someone has dug in her heels, so I'm backing off for a few weeks), but it will be nice to get back into our routine. Not to mention the fact that pregnant Mommy is EXHAUSTED. Bring on the second trimester! I seem to remember feeling like a whole new woman when I hit that mark the first time around, and I am ready for a transformation.

There's so much more to say, but J has surrendered to peaceful slumber - with only one request to "sing Frawsty" and no false potty alarms to get me back upstairs(!) - MOMD is playing poker with the neighbors, my Gamecocks are quite close to winning the Liberty Bowl, and my devil pizza has arrived. So I must away before the grease causes the delivery box to disintegrate. Yum.

** I can't believe I forgot this one - it was the one I was thinking of when I sat down to write this post. J can sing the entire opening verse of Frosty the Snowman, and most of the others with a little prompting, but the first is by far my favorite because of her own edit:

"...with a co-rn pipe and a but-nun nose,

and two eyes made out of corn!"

We like her version so much that we've started singing it that way ourselves, inevitably to be corrected, "No, Mommy, iss not corn, iss coal." But then she'll go right on singing it her way the next time. Kids today, I suwanee!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

For the LOVE!

Consider this my Love Thursday post - in that I would LOVE it if the guy who cuts our grass would one day comply with my oft-repeated request to not.come.during.naptime. And I do realize how completely bourgeois it is to complain about the hired hand who keeps the yard all neat and tidy while I sit inside on the couch eating Cheetos and watching soap operas (and, ahem, working), but it's not like we don't pay him a whole bunch of money every month to make a whole bunch of empty promises about all the wonderful things he's going to do that will make the angels sing over our shrubbery and then not show up for weeks at a time while our grass/weeds grows knee high, including the day before our daughter's back yard birthday party even though we reminded him multiple times.

And breathe.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wait 'til Krispy Kreme hears about this

For the past several days J has been carrying around the chicken leg from her play kitchen/best gift we've ever given her - intermittently attempting to cram the whole thing in her mouth and calling it a donut. I have no idea why, and I try not to constantly correct her because I've learned she figures these out on her own all too quickly and the cute malapropisms fall by the wayside. But for some reason this one I couldn't let go.

She apparently processed this information but is not yet completely convinced that Mommy is right on this one. So now what does she call it? Chicken donut... or donut leg, depending on her mood.

The same day she fell in love with the chicken donut she was carrying it around with her play ketchup bottle and at some point when I wasn't looking stuck the chicken leg in her mouth - meaty end first. The bone end of the chicken leg is shaped exactly like the mouth of the ketchup bottle and eerily similar in color to her tongue - so it took me several seconds to realize she hadn't permanently disfigured her tongue by sticking it in the ketchup bottle. I was most horrified by the fact that she didn't seem at all upset by it. Silly Mommy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Somebody should have told me about this sooner

This morning while J was eating her giant bowl of "Dora Stars" I was taking advantage of a rare opportunity to chat up MOMD by the kitchen sink.

J: "Stop doing that, Mommy."

Since I was leaning benignly against the counter, not singing, dancing, showering her with horrid affection, or any of the other things I'm often advised against doing, I asked what particular behavior she would have me cease and desist.

J: "Talkin' a Daddy, don't talk Daddy."

Me: Why not?

J: "Daddy's TROUBLE."

Probably true, but I think that warning came a decade or so too late.

In other, less hilarious news, we had what seemed at the time to be a potty training triumph this week in the form of "pee-pee Mrs. Bell's potty!" at school. Mrs. Bell, MOMD and I all heaped praise upon her head and she seemed SO proud of herself that I thought surely this was the "clicking" moment I've heard such tell of. She was even making the connection between using the potty and Santa bringing her Dora big girl panties - not necessarily doing it, mind you, but making the connection. But alas, my attempts at repeating Monday's excitement have since been met with "I DON'T pee in the potty ANYMORE."

Lest I give the impression she is an incorrigible bossy britches (which at home she can tend to be lately) I should take a moment to brag about the "Good Manners Award" she brought home from preschool today. Mrs. Bell added a note that says "J always says thank you." I guess doing us proud out in the big wide world is all we can ask for.

And in other, queasier news, we are underway with month two of Project Baby #2. (I'm actually not counting month one as an ill-timed stomach virus ran rampant through our house and put a bit of a glitch in the schedule.) I'm trying not to get too excited over my sudden desparate need for ginger ale but I am keeping my fingers crossed. My sister has me convinced it's going to be exceedingly difficult for us to get pregnant - regardless of the fact that we got pregnant with J the very first time we tried. I realize secondary infertility is more common than people think, but I should also point out that she works in the fertility industry, so her sample set is a wee bit skewed.

Still... fingers crossed!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Who couldn't use a little Justin?

We received a note home from school last week that said J closes her eyes when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. As she has had an almost rabid obsession with flags for more than a year now, I see it as only fitting that she would hold sacred this oath of patriotism.

The note reminded me that her syllabus (for 2K - six kids in the class and a syllabus from each of her teachers (classroom/Spanish/music/PE) that tells me what songs they are singing, colors and shapes they are learning, exercises they are doing, etc., on a weekly/monthly basis - I love this school) indicated the class would be reciting the Pledge everyday, so I decided to quiz J to see how much of it she had learned. She got the last word or two of every line, with a very serious emphasis on "under God."

But this was hands down my favorite line:

Me: With liberty and...

J: Justin for all!

Boy band fans everywhere are shouting "Amen!"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hold the chili please... Check that

At a high school football game:

Me: Can I get a plain hot dog please?

Friendly Neighborhood Concession Volunteer: Sorry, we just have wienies (really?) and chili.

Me: Right, I just want a plain hot dog.

FNCV: No {struggling to find the words}, we just have wienies and chili.

Me: {blink... blink}

FNCV: We can't make them here and they come with the chili already on them.

Me: OH. {And... really?}

Me: Ok, can I get a chili dog... and a fork?

I was completely freaked out because J had been looking forward to a "hot gog" ever since I told her we were going to the football game - pieces-parts encased in whatever the wienies are encased in are the best part of sporting events as far as she's concerned - and since I wouldn't in a million years eat a freakin' chili dog I just assumed she wouldn't either. In the past she's only eaten them plain - no ketchup, no mustard, no relish, no whatever Those Who Eat Hot Dogs eat on their hot dogs - so I felt sure a big mound of artificially colored ground beef oozing out of each end would be the kiss of death for dinner at the football stadium.

Just for kicks, I offered her a bite before I commenced to scraping. Not only did she eat. every. last. bite. but she ate the chili off the top first and then went back for the dog.

Definitely her father's child.

Fall-ing in love

I. love. today.

The weather is perfect. Bright and sunny but finally not sweltering, just enough of a breeze to scatter the fallen leaves across the yard... perfect, perfect, perfect. J and I spent the whole morning outside and she's upstairs sleeping it off right now. Thursday is our only free morning - no preschool, no Kindermusik, and today no plans other than meeting the carpet cleaner at 11. She loves all of those activities, but sometimes I feel like she doesn't get enough time to just hang out and play, a feeling reinforced recently by the fact that anytime there's a break in the action she asks to watch TV. I don't let her everytime, of course, but I've been thinking lately that maybe she isn't so good at entertaining herself because we're rarely here long enough to afford many opportunities to learn how.

We slept in, hung out, and then went to the park for a brief sojourn on J's beloved playground. She chanted "playground time" all the way to the park and when she caught sight of it from the parking lot she took it down to a reverent whisper. It's time like those that I just want to pull the car over, climb in the back seat, and eat her up. I love seeing her so genuinely full of joy, especially over something so simple as a morning spent running and climbing and swinging and sliding. Her school puts a big emphasis on playground time, which I love... if it's not raining they spend at least a few minutes of each day just playing outside. They also have organized PE once a week (for two-year-olds, who knew?), which I think is fantastic.

When we got home we headed straight for the back yard - a few minutes of play-doh on the porch while Mommy dealt with the carpet cleaner (I don't know when we entered the "I can happily entertain myself without begging to 'watch'" phase, but I must say I'm digging it, and also realizing it's entirely possible I just got lucky this morning) and then it was out into the yard for more running, ball kicking, acorn collecting, and clambering up and sliding down the brightly colored plastic monstrosity MOMD abhors but that our neighbors were nice enough to offer us the use of for a season until their youngest daughter is old enough for it.

After that we walked down to our favorite neighbor's house (three boys ages 8 to 14 who shower J with attention, which, of course, she hates) so J could bounce on their "jumpoline(!)" for a few minutes. What a happy girl! On the way home the leaves were blowing all around the cul de sac and she had a great time chasing them. Made me wish I had my camera and a smidge of talent for photography to capture how much we both enjoyed our morning.

And in other "When Did We Get Here?" news, J played outside by herself while I made lunch. I remember last fall - our first one in this house - thinking what a great back yard we had - enclosed by a fence and highly visible from the kitchen window - but not being able to imagine letting her play out there by herself. Of course, this time last year she was only 14 months old, but even a month ago I wouldn't have done it, or maybe it's that she wouldn't have done it. I kept my eagle eye on her the whole time, of course, but it gave me such a contented feeling to watch her happily playing on her own.

After lunch I was rewarded with that favorite melody of mothers of toddlers everywhere, "{heavy sigh} I tired." We read a little Shel Silverstein, which she surprisingly loves even though I'm pretty sure most of it she doesn't even remotely get (I bought it when she was a baby but more to recapture my own fond eighth-grade drama class memories than because I thought she was going to be into oddball poetry anytime soon), and she was asleep within 15 minutes of my leaving the room. I don't know why, but I get such a sense of satisfaction from putting her to bed when she's truly worn out - I guess it's because I feel like I've done my job well when she is worn out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Catching up

We moved J to a big girl bed last week. She loves it and so far has stayed in it, even yesterday afternoon when her three-hour stint upstairs never gave way to peaceful slumber. She chatted and sang to herself and called for me a few times, but never once got out of the bed. I'm sure that won't always be the case, but for now I'm reveling in a seemingly painless transition. I had planned to spend way too much money on one of those precious PBK beds and make a new big girl room part of Christmas, but my parents are in the process of moving (closer to us, hurrah... and I mean that) and had an extra bed that needed a home so we took it. I still had plans to store the bed in the spare/baby #2 room until I could procure the ideal big girl bed linens, but the night we brought the bed home Daddy and I found her very nearly climbing into it from outside and thought, "heck, no time like the present."

I feel like I should have made a bigger deal of it than I did. It is a huge step in the life of a toddler, after all, but she took it in such stride it didn't really feel like such a big deal. I did have a moment, as I was dragging the crib and glider (an unanticipated casualty of the renovation) out of her room, where I realized she would never sleep in it again (if we were lucky) and that our rocking days will now be fewer and farther between, and the idea of that does make me sad, though not as sad as I thought it would. Because for all the baby things I'm losing I feel like I'm gaining so much more. She wasn't really into reading in the rocker anymore anyway, and now we can all three snuggle together - comfortably - in her big new bed while we read stories and say prayers and give her just a few more kisses on those plump, velvety cheeks.

When she was a baby I used to get so sad at the thought of her growing up and not being "exactly like she is right now" forever. But I know now that was only because I didn't know then how much more fun it gets. Not to say that I don't miss the baby stuff, and I still sometimes wish cryogenics research was a bit more advanced, but watching her grow into a little person is the most fascinating, rewarding and hilarious thing I have ever done. I say all the time now that she is the best thing I've done, and I firmly believe that to be true.

Independent thought is probably my favorite thing about the toddler years. She's no longer simply churning out colors and numbers and repeating the information we prompt her for, though there's still plenty of that, but coming up with her own ideas and her own answers to our questions. And volunteering information about her day at school, "Drew mash fingers door," though, admittedly, usually not the information I'm looking for. She sings whole songs that I don't know the words to - I thought it would break my heart to not know exactly what she's doing every minute of everyday, but it turns out I love seeing her blossoming in a new environment and learning fun things from someone else.

I'm forever repeating to Daddy and her adoring aunt and grandparents all the brilliant, funny things she says and thinking I need to write them down so I don't forget them, and now that I'm finally sitting in front of the computer I'm drawing a total blank.

Here's one...

This weekend we went apple picking for the first time - a misty, foggy, chilly day; quite seasonal, but not the Sound of Music morning on the mountaintop I had envisioned - and after our adventure I bought J some fresh apple juice in an apple-shaped (or was it a red bell pepper?) sippy cup. In the car on the way home she kept trying to close the lid on her finger while saying, "bye-bye finger!" Disturbing, no?

In less fun news, her peanut allergy was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. I took her to the allergist for an hour or so of torture - for both of us - only to be told that not only is she allergic to peanuts, as we had suspected, but that she is to avoid all tree nuts and - wait for it - chocolate. Because most of it is processed with nuts. Her father argues that she's been eating chocolate for a while now with no problem, but the allergist says her best chance for outgrowing it is by totally avoiding nuts of any kind right now. Which makes total sense, but man, that news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was sitting in the testing room crying my little eyes out, feeling ridiculous and not at all sure what I was crying about, but knowing that if I opened my mouth to articulate that fact or apologize to the clinicians in the room my weeping would give way to an all-out bawl.

And this wasn't helped by the fact that on top of the allergy I pretty much already knew she had, she also tested positive for wheat, soy, some kind of spring tree, and mixed feathers. Which means she's allergic to our bed. The big, fluffy, white one she can't wait to watch "Rickey Mouse" in every Saturday and Sunday morning. I do take issue with this one, however, as the testing site was right next to the peanut one on her back and I know she rubbed the peanut one so doesn't it stand to reason she could have smeared some it on to the feathers one and made that one well up, too? The nurses all seemed rather surprised by the reaction, too, so I'm approaching that one with healthy skepticism. I'm not buying down pillows for her new bed or anything, but she's still allowed in ours and we're just keeping a close eye on any resultant physiological response, which, so far, we haven't noticed.

She also tested positive for wheat and soy - both 1 on a 0-4+ scale (peanuts and feathers were both 3+) but the nurse said if we've never seen a problem she wouldn't worry too much about those. And that kid eats edamame like there was no tomorrow, so, again, grain of salt.

And to be honest, I'm ashamed by how emotional my reaction was. Not just because my two-year-old handled the whole thing with more bravery and composure than I did, even after being pricked in the back 40 times and subsequently not being allowed to scratch the enormous welts rising on her back but sneaking a hand back there anyway and then rubbing some of the allergen solution into her eye, in a room with no sink, which sent Mommy in search of a nurse and some water. But because, for the love, there are so many more frightening, life-changing things we could have been hearing that day, that it just seems downright selfish to get that worked up over the fact that J won't be able to have pb&j for lunch.

{Where did all this come from anyway? I never knew anybody who was allergic to any kind of food when I was a kid - I know it happened but it certainly wasn't as prevalent. J is one of nine kids in her preschool that are allergic to peanuts, and several others are allergic to milk, etc. What changed, and is anybody doing anything about it?}

But I've realized since then that my reaction really had nothing to do with what she won't be able to eat, it was about the fact that she'll be different. She'll be the kid in her class who can't eat what everyone else is eating, or (worse?) the reason no one can have it at all. And I don't want that for her. And if I'm really honest with myself, right now it's a little more about me than it is her. Because, really, she isn't old enough to understand it and as long as she's getting her two pieces of candy on the way to the carpool line, who cares if she gets Skittles when everyone else gets M&M's? If I'm really honest, I don't want to have to tell people that my kid has a peanut allergy - because lord knows her father and I did our fair share of mocking this very affliction before we became parents.

And of course it's not just nuts, it's everything in the world that is processed with or near nuts that we now have to watch out for. Which means Halloween should be a blast. And honestly, that's the first thing I thought of when the doctor said no chocolate - Halloween and Christmas and all her preschool parties. But later I realized this year I can switch out the candy she brings home on Halloween night with a pre-purchased, pre-approved batch of my own and she'll be none the wiser. I'm sure that won't work next year, but by then I'm guessing avoiding certain foods will be so normal for her {ugh} that it won't phase her... much. She already knows that nuts make her "sick," which kills me, but she has to know she's not supposed to eat them, right? I certainly am going to do everything in my power not to turn into one of those freakout moms who petitions the school to ban peanuts and makes her wear a big placard that says "hey, look at me, I'm allergic to peanuts," but I also have to put aside my own crap and keep her safe.

Just today at lunch she had a reaction and I have no idea what caused it. She hadn't even eaten anything yet, but from the minute we sat down at the table she was clawing at the backs of her knees and by the end of the meal she had huge welts there and on her wrists and her face had started breaking out. I gave her a dose of Benadryl and my dad went to the drugstore for some Cortaid, which both seemed to help, but on the way home I could. not. make her stop rubbing her eyes, so by the time we got back here one of them was so red and swollen it looked like her reaction had been much more severe than it actually was. So, not life threatening by any means, but clearly miserable for her and who knows when it could cross the line? I'm carrying an Epipen now, at the recommendation of her pediatrician, which I still can't even believe but pray I never have to use.

And the worst part about today is I have absolutely no idea what set her off. Did the kid who sat in the highchair before her eat peanut butter and smear some on the seat? The seat wasn't visibly soiled when I put her in it - believe me, I always check - but I guess if I were a good mother I would have wiped it down anyway just to be safe.

So - this sucks - but it could be so much worse and I know that and am ever thankful that she is a happy, healthy little girl. Just a new reality to which we all must adjust.

Another one just came to me...

On the mornings that I have to wake her up for school - which I HATE doing and always wait until the last possible second, which usually means feeding her breakfast in the car, which I further hate doing - as soon as she hears me moving around her room she pops up her sleepy little head and says "all done right now!"

Would that we were all that cheerful first thing in the morning.

Friday, September 15, 2006

What Mommy doesn't know won't hurt her

I arrived at J's preschool a little earlier than usual today and was excited to see the kids on the playground - a chance to surreptitiously observe her in her new element! I was all smiles and parental adoration as I watched her run with true toddler abandon, the late morning sun glinting off her silky highlights, and a song in her heart so joyous it was almost audible from the carpool lane. The girl is obsessed with being outside and "playground" is her newest constant refrain - I try to indulge her passion for slides, swings and jungle gyms whenever I can in hopes that she'll always be a mover and a shaker - but since she started school most days have been too hot or too wet - or the playground too infested with red ants - to allow for much free outdoor play.

ANYway... I watch her gambol over to what I would soon learn was a highly coveted piece of playground equipment, currently in use by one of the boys in her class. I saw a discussion ensue, one which I can only assume was a very measured, diplomatic negotiation of when it might be J's turn to take a climb. (I should interject here that, knowing her sassafras nature as I do, I have no doubt my sweet little ambassador was using her words to facilitate the negotiation - words like "mine!" "no!" and "get down!") Interjection notwithstanding, I'm quite sure she didn't do anything to warrant the large foot planted firmly in her chest that sent her stumbling backwards. I'm also sure she was crying, as evidenced by the lightning quick speed with which our villian abandoned his perch and took off in the opposite direction.

I did manage to suppress my initial mama lion urge to throw my car in park and rush over to regulate, mainly because I realized this would be a good oppportunity to see how a) J handles things like this when Mommy isn't around, and b) how her teacher would address the situation. J seemed to bounce back nicely (and didn't run to tattle, but is she even old enough to do that yet?); I was a little put out by the fact that Mrs. B wasn't aware of what happened and didn't appear to try to comfort J when the other teacher brought it to her attention. (I take that back, she did spend a few seconds picking mulch out of J's hair and could have been simultaneously doling out some comforting wisdom to which I wasn't privy.) But I also realize she is responsible for six kids and coddling isn't in her job description. The offender was made to apologize to J, although when Mrs. B put her in the car a few minutes later it was clear she had no real idea what he was apologizing for... so I told her. Is that wrong? I feel a little like I tattled, though I tried to take the middle ground when telling her what I witnessed and conceded that J probably wasn't offering him chocolate chip cookies right before he kicked her. But we have been having trouble lately with J swatting at us when things don't go her way and I'm working very hard to teach her that hitting is never okay - "I don't hit you, you don't hit me," - but if there are no consequences when other people hit/kick her how can she be made to understand that?

I know, I know. This is the first in a long line of less than pleasant peer interactions, and this is how she learns to deal with people, good and bad, but she's my BABY. I really think I did a good job of not losing my shit over it, but it was not easy to watch.

To her credit, though, J has mentioned nary a word about it since we've been home. But we're off to my parents' house for dinner tonight, so I'm sure she'll string together something along the lines of "Luke kick Jane, Mrs. B no care," to let them know what a bang-up job Mommy does at choosing preschools.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My mother and I took J to the ATL today for a relative's first birthday party, and let Daddy spend a much needed day lounging on the couch and inundating himself with as much college football as he could take, to which I've learned there is no limit. {I'm working on being more of a giver, and trying not to focus on the fact that I haven't been on the receiving end of such a day in the two years since giving birth to the true love of his life... how'm I doing so far?}

Anyway, J was a dream. It was a long day with a lot of time spent restrained in the car, but punctuated by a fun visit with Mommy's oldest friend and her family, which includes two darling little boys sandwiching J chronologically, and later by a birthday party complete with an ample supply of fellow toddlers, adoring elders, and CAKE.

We've been a wee bit fixated on cake since J's birthday a few weeks ago, and I was worried that the exhaustion/hunger/sick and tired of being in the car combo might not work in Mommy's favor once she caught sight of the frosted nirvana - who am I kidding, she doesn't need to come face to face with it to know that party, in her world, equals CAKE, people. There was one brief hurl onto the floor with an anguished cry of "caaaaaaaaake," but it was easily diffused - Nana to the rescue - with a trip outside to what J referred to as the "playground" in the back yard. And much to my shock and pride she ate every bite of her lunch without benefit of prodding from me and with no mention of cake until, of course, her plate was clean and she knew what was coming. But even then, alas, there was still more waiting for all those slow big people to shut up and eat already so we can get to the good stuff!

And, at last... it was well worth the wait. I'm not usually a fan of kid party birthday cake, but this was one of the best cakes I've had in a long time. The yumminess of said confection only slightly bittered by the knowledge that it was procured - fully decorated - from Costco for a mere $15. This after I dropped almost $60 for the very popular - but now not so sure worth the money - Eeyore cake for J's second birthday.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Oh, how the mighty have fallen

another blogging mommy

It seems I have been laboring under what has turned out to be a misguided impression of my daughter's personality. Based on my observations of her past interactions with her toddler peers I assumed she would be the quiet one in her class, preferring to hang back a little and watch the others rather than diving in to the action. And I absolutely would never have pegged her for a ringleader. At least not right out of the gate.

But she has proven once again that I don't know quite as much about this whole parenting thing as I like to think I do. Which brings me, sheepishly, back to the conversation we had with her very first teacher at our very first meet-the-teacher conference two weeks ago.

Mrs. B: As you know, they are always better for someone else than they are for you.

Me (aka: Misguided Mommy): Oh yes, and she seems to be very well behaved, as toddlers go, so I'm sure she won't cause you any trouble.

{Egad. What in the world was I thinking? How obnoxious must I have sounded?!!}

It seems J was listening. After her first day Mrs. B called to solicit our impressions of the program and to ask whether J was saying anything we had questions about, etc. The message also included the obligatory, "I enjoyed having J in class today and am looking forward to a great year," with an extra bit of praise over how well J handled herself despite the fact she is the youngest and one of only two girls in the group. So I called her back to ask if J had, in fact, done her "doo-doo" (this is what she picks up on day one... it's going to be a long year) on the potty as she reported. Um... no. But Mrs. B did recount the very charming anecdote in which J sassed her beloved teacher on the very first day:

Mrs. B: She's so funny. I asked her to do something and - I probably shouldn't be laughing at this, but - she looked right up at me and said, "No."

Me: {oh, mon dieu}

Mrs. B: You just don't expect that to come out of that little face!

Me: {Well, I have come to expect it, but not towards anyone other than me!}

I was a little concerned that J may be wrapping Mrs. B around her sweet little finger if she thought that was funny - adding to that the fact that on meet-the-teacher day she had to take J around to all the other teachers so they could gush over how much she reminded them of some adorable little girl from two years ago. And she is exceptional in her adorability :-) but I'm not so sure I want her learning to use those powers for evil at the tender age of two.

So today when J was being re-deposited into my car at the noon hour Mrs B informed me that J had been banished to time out for THROWING TOYS. What happened to my meek, mild people pleaser? I know, I know... she turned two. But I wasn't quite ready to let go of the fantasy that she would be the one, shining exception to the terrible rule. How many play dates have I left smug in her seemingly preordained gift for sharing, her patented look of confusion followed by dignified resignation when some cretin playmate snatched a toy from her hand. Rise above, J, rise above.

I guess I always knew she would succumb. I used to worry about how I would teach her to stand up for herself without turning her into the snatcher. I don't worry about that anymore. She has a firm grasp of that familiar toddler concept: what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine.

Still, it seems the time out her hurling dervish act earned her has made a - hopefully - lasting impression. All day today, when any reminder of school cropped up, like the sweetly scribbled red apple (the first artwork I pulled from her elephant backpack and proudly posted on the fridge(!)), she would state, in a low, serious tone, "throw toys, time out." So hopefully it's been J's turn to learn a lesson and she won't be the bad kid after all. I've only had to put her in time out a couple of times at home and now the threat of it is usually enough to put a stop to the ill behavior du jour, but I think the realization that someone other than Mommy has that kind of power has given her sufficient pause. And I'm hoping the 400 times we talked about it this afternoon will serve as adequate reinforcement.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Monkey Hear, Monkey Say - or - Watch Your Mouth

I should have known it was coming, but I've never worried much about J starting to repeat everything we say because I've always felt like we've done a pretty good job of censoring ourselves around her... the advent of 2K has given me a new perspective on this issue. Somehow the things we say that don't seem that bad sound REALLY bad when she comes out with them in the carpool line. Take, for instance, "crap." I've maybe said the word around her twice (or maybe I'm censoring my own memory), and never directed at her or in conversation with her. Yesterday it became her new favorite word. We were sitting in line waiting for her teacher to come get her out of the car when she started chanting it.

J: Crap.
Me (hopefully): Clap?
J: Uh-huh! Crap.
J: Crap, Crap, Crap.

And then the grand finale:

J: Crap, J!

I finally - biting my lip - turned around and told her that wasn't a nice word to say, which of course only made it all the more appealing. Add to this the patch of eczema under her eye that looks for all the world like a shiner, and you can imagine my dismay at discharging my little potty-mouth into the world. What the Methodists must think of us!

On a sweeter note, this afternoon she was putting her baby doll down for a nap and said, "tired, busy morning." These are the things I want her to pick up. These things are endearing and indicative of the kind, loving and attentive mommy she is lucky enough to have. Announcing "wear me out" at the dinner table... is not. She does wear me out, of course, but it makes me feel horrible to hear it out of her sweet little mouth. I don't think I've ever said it harshly - at least I hope not - but no matter how lightheartedly I imagine it sounds coming from me, it doesn't sound so funny coming back from her.

So... lesson learned, and on to the next psyche altering mistake!

Monday, August 28, 2006

We are shameless in our attempts for j's affection. We ask her if she loves us when we know she's in a negative mood and we know she's going to say "no" in her sassiest tone, and yet, we ask anyway. And then we fake cry, which we also know she is powerless to resist, all so she will lunge for us with sheer pity on her face and give us her patented "hug?" "kiss?" "happy!" brand of therapy. It works every time - I just hope we're not setting her up for a lifetime of being attracted to wounded birds who will never her bring her anything but heartache and IBS... like her aunt.

About Me

My photo
Southeastern, United States
34-year-old freelance writer/mommy of one, married to S who loves his work but is gone too much