Archive for Toddler

31 May 2012

Rituals and Revelations

11 Comments Personal Crap, Toddler

I have to stop waiting for huge revelations before I sit down and write. I have small revelations daily that are worth saying a sentence about. Or I could just write about my day and hope two or three people find it interesting. So I’m going to try to not let another month go by without putting words on my screen. Honestly, I’ll try to not let a week go by.

Jesus. This blog is starting to sound like my 12 year old diary. Each entry started with “Sorry I haven’t written in such a long time!”

Today I had three (Count them. THREE) auditions. I drove past a Hollywood Star Tours bus and almost rolled down my window to shout, “Hey Tourists!! You’re looking at someone with a one-in-seventy-three chance of booking a radio campaign for Volkswagen!”

But I also had a revelation. So here goes:

I have started at least 100 daily rituals since G-Man came along. I’m going to list as many as I can think of here, in hopes you’ll giggle or snort, and that you’ll tell me some of yours. I will put them in whatever order they come to mind.

I put a cup of ice water or juice in my car before I get G from school. He expects it there.

I sleep nightly with Penguey (G’s Penguin), a dinosaur blanket, and a black and white checked blanket. G insists on all of this. Apparently, Penguey loves me and Penguey can’t sleep without the black and white blanket because it reminds her of water. And the dino blanket is orange, which is my favorite color, so G can’t bear for me to be without it. I officially am unable to fall asleep unless I’m spooning Penguey.

Every night I put a magic spell on G’s water so he doesn’t have any dreams. Nope, not even good ones. Here’s how it goes: I hold the water and sing “No dreams Garrett, No dreams Garrett, No dreams Garrett, No dreams Garrett, No dreams!” Then I wave my hand over the cup and make a wind noise with my mouth. Then I touch the cup and say, “BING!” Then G pats the cup and blows on it. Then I kiss the cup and I kiss him. Then we each take a sip. Then I say “GORK” and he says “TWO AT A TIME!” I swear to god it’s the same thing every single night.  If he has any dreams, I get the blame.

The newest ritual is that, before bed, G takes this blue goo he got in an Easter egg and puts it in a “pajama egg”. Then he puts it in a tupperware thing and puts it to bed. In the morning, “Eggy” or “Slimey” gets his “clothes egg” back on and comes out to play.  I am, of course, in charge of picking out the eggs.

Every night I rock in G’s room as he falls asleep. This started about 8 or so months ago and I’m not sure when it’ll stop. Now the rocking chair is gone in favor of his giant bunk bed, but we still call it rocking. Now I “rock” by lying on the bean bag next to his bed and playing Words With Friends or doing a crossword on my iPhone for 15 minutes. Every night.

Whenever I am going anywhere without G, he stands at the front door and waves and yells, “I LOVE YOU” until my car is out of sight. Of course, I yell out my window and wave out my sun roof, too. Conversely, if he goes anywhere with Daddy and I stay home, I stand at the door and do the same thing. And he yells out the car window, “GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU! HAVE A GREAT DAY!” It’s priceless.

For two solid years, every time I leave G at school I wave to him. He stands at the window, his friends behind him playing with blocks or listening to “Free to be You and Me”, and he waves back. I wave and walk until I turn the corner. Then I wait a second and pop back out for one final wave, a blown kiss, and a thumbs up. I can’t believe it’s gone on this long. And I’ll do it as long as he lets me.

That’s all I can think of right now, because it’s 9:16 and my brain stops working at 9:14. But I’ll add more as I think of them.

PLEASE share some of yours!

03 Apr 2012

Flawless G

6 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

It has come to my attention that many of you who read this blog think I’m some sort of “great” mom. I realized I write a lot of stuff that makes me look like I’m super in-touch with my kid, and that I do and say all the right things all the time. You know that’s not true, right?

I mean, everything I write here is true. But I don’t tend to sit down and write right after I’ve made a huge mistake, or had a horrible day, or lost my patience.

I thought it was only fair to let you know that today I lost my patience. It was a good day, but I have a sore throat and I haven’t been getting enough sleep and I haven’t had a second to exercise since last week. So I’m bitchy and tired and a little bit sick. This morning we had a three-hour play date at the house of a friend from school. They had a blast and I loved talking to the mom, but after three hours of repeating myself, answering questions, putting costumes on G and taking them back off, walking up and down the stairs, and in and out the back door… I was tired.

Then we came home and I had about 10 minutes before my friend dropped off her two girls so she and her husband could get something done. These girls are delightful. They are well-mannered and lovely and awesome. But after four hours of the three of these kids, who after dinner stripped their clothes off and did some tribal chanting for 20 minutes… I was BEYOND tired. I had played cash-register and legos, taken them for a walk, made them dinner, got them numerous drinks and snacks, and played stomp rockets with them.

After they left, I was done for the day. Done. G had done absolutely nothing wrong, but I was finished with the day. I couldn’t talk anymore or listen anymore, or repeat myself or clean up one more thing. I yelled a little and so did he. We talked about how we both get frustrated with each other when we’re tired (okay, that was the in-touch part), but when the clock struck 7:23 and I wanted him to brush his teeth and get in bed… There was no discussion.

I told him he had done nothing wrong but I couldn’t say one more word and was done. He didn’t question it. It was like he totally got it and was just as done as I was.

Then he asked me if I was getting up with him in the morning or if Daddy was. I told him I would and he gave me a big smile. Then I told him I was banning all fun in the morning and if he had any fun, he’d get a time out. This made him giggle. Then I told him no giggling and I tickled him until he almost passed out. Then I told him there was seriously no more talking and turned out the light. Then he told me he loved me and I told him I loved him and that we were really, really done talking now.

He was asleep in 30 seconds. I should go to sleep, too. And yes, I realize the above paragraph makes it sound again like I know what I’m doing. But I wanted you to know that a lot of those great moments come AFTER moments of failures, or simple mistakes, or total impatience, or or or…

None of us are perfect. We all fuck up daily. But maybe it’s in the small, quiet moments of redemption when we are at our best. That last-ditch effort at being perky or kind or loving.

It is G-Man who brings those moments out of me. He is the one who knows what he is doing. He gives me the chance to be great at something. Actually, he gives me many chances every day. With him, I have a reason to tickle someone at my most exhausted. Without him, I’m just exhausted.

01 Apr 2012

BORED

8 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

It happened. Mark it down. At four years, six months and fourteen days… My son got bored.

B.O.R.E.D.

It’s truly the first time I’ve really seen it happen. He was so sick of everything it was palpable.

“Who can we call???”

“Where can we go???”

“Pleeaassee mom!! I want to GO somewhere!!”

I called a few people. But when I got a response it was already 6:30, which is dangerously close to bedtime and we’d have to turn around and come right home.

“Sorry, buddy. It’s not gonna happen tonight.”

This didn’t go over well. He cried. Then he threw a paper airplane at me.

“Go to your room”, I snapped. (I mean, it was a paper AIRPLANE. The fuselage could have caught on fire and maimed me for life.)

He cried harder but obediently walked to his bedroom, turning dramatically around half-way there to say, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

This damn kid. He’s too much.

A few minutes later I went to him. He was on his rocking chair, legs crossed with a book sitting on his lap. He was flipping through the pages, looking at hippos and memorizing their behaviors.

We looked at each other, and I remembered something I had promised myself when I was seventeen and had just gotten my heart broken, only to have my parents tell me it would be alright and to come watch Jeopardy with them.

I promised myself I would always remember what it felt like to be a kid. I promised I would remember the pain and anguish and confusion and that I wouldn’t turn into an adult who forgot they were once young.

“Garrett, I remember how awful it feels to be bored.”

“When you were young or old?”

“When I was young. I remember getting so sick of my house and wanting to go anywhere…”

“Because you hated your house?”

“No! Because I was so bored.”

“Oh yeah. I’m really bored.”

“Well, I know. And I’m sorry. And I totally understand how bad it feels.”

“I’m really sad about it.”

“I know.”

“Mom?”

“Yes?”

“This book has a lot of pages. Like a hundred.”

“I know! Let’s look at the last page and see how many.”

“Whoa! 32! That’s MORE than a hundred.”

“Well, it’s not more, but that’s okay. Do you want pancakes for dinner?”

“Can we go somewhere?”

“Not til tomorrow.”

“Okay. I have to pee.”

“Well, let’s go do that.”

The ironic part is, since G-Man came along I don’t think I’ve been bored for one hot second. Today we played with legos, watched TV, played video games,  did a craft project, grocery shopped, and went to the bird store to look at parrots. But I remember how that wasn’t enough sometimes. And I’m so grateful I remember. I hope he really, really knows that I do.

13 Feb 2012

The (not-so-awful) Play Date Situation

10 Comments Personal Crap, Toddler, Uncategorized

Something unexpected has come with having a son in preschool. No, not the germs. The moms.

I remember, vividly remember, saying I would NOT let my son’s friends dictate who my friends were. I remember dreading play dates the same way I dreaded nuclear war when I was nine. The thought of them kept me up crying until I fell asleep, a snotty, red-eyed mess. “Dear God, please don’t make me have to go to other people’s houses and make up some bullshit small talk while my son “parallel plays” with their kid. Please God, don’t force me to have strangers over, eating my food while their kids pull out all of Garrett’s toys and put them directly into their mouths.”

Play dates were a thing I had only read about online or heard horror stories about through friends of friends. I wanted nothing to do with them, or anything that came along with them.

But guess what happened? Guess!! Play dates happened. And they are glorious.

First of all, they take up at least two hours of what would otherwise be time that I would have to fill with crafts or art, or arts and crafts, or pulling out my hair trying to think of something to do besides arts and crafts. Not that I don’t adore, relish, and thank the lord for the time I have alone with G-Man. I do love this time. But there are days that are easier for both of us because of play dates. I have an only child. And he sometimes needs a playmate under 40 to hang out with after school.

Second of all, I have met some pretty freaking unbelievable women (and some awesome men) because of these dates of play. These are women I never would have known if it wasn’t for G. These are women from all walks of life, in varied careers, with fascinating stories. These are women who love their kids as hard as I love mine, who take great care in caring for their families, who miss the hell out of staying up until 2:00AM, taking weekend naps and working out five days a week, but wouldn’t trade the life they’re living now if you paid them.

They’re funny and smart and lovely. They are women I have things in common with. I don’t feel pressure to be anything other than myself around them, and I don’t feel pressured to be a better friend than I can be. Some of these women may only be in my life for a little while, but some might be around for the long haul. The great thing is, none of that really matters now because we’re mostly doing the play-date thing for our kids, so that they can be social and learn how to have their own friends.

I just never knew that my kid’s play dates would turn into dates that I looked so forward to. And, having lost friends from my past who no longer fit into my evolving life, nor I into theirs… I feel very lucky to be meeting new people who seem to be the exact people I need at this moment, (and hopefully some for years to come). I hope I offer as much to them as they do to me. It’s true what they say about one door closing and another one opening. I just had no idea it would be the door to my kid’s preschool classroom.

05 Feb 2012

Phases

16 Comments Toddler, Uncategorized

These phases of his. These interests of his. This growing he does. It kills me.

An interest in Dinosaurs was the first big one. Before that, it was Blues Clues and Backyardigans and stuff like that. But we moved through those swiftly, not really looking back. Then came the T-Rex and the Brachiosaurus and such. He was so focused on them, studying them, memorizing their defenses and diets and heights. He has hundreds, in the forms of action figures, or pictures on cards. Some are stuffed and some are on pillow cases, (one of which I hand-sewed.  Stop it. Sit down! It wasn’t that hard.)

Then came the Wild Kratts on PBS, and with it a love of animals like I’ve never seen. I mean this kid has always had an affinity for the furries, but this show made him LURVE animals of every ilk. Raccoons, Wolves, Badgers, Bees, Whales, Squid, Octopi, Lions and Tigers and Bears… (You say it.)

The zoo became his temple. The aquarium became the altar at which he prayed. And he studied, and again gathered information as if his job as a toddler depended on it.

Now we are on to Star Wars. Some kids at school and a close friend outside of school already had their obsessions, and now it was to become Garrett’s. He picked their brains, and read their books. He made us look things up on Wookipedia. He fell in love with Princess Leia, he perfected his Luke Skywalker pout, and he even dabbled in the Dark Side. We got Star Wars books at the library, we watched the Jedi Training at Disneyland, and his cousin bestowed the Star Wars encyclopedia on him the other night.

Yes young Jedi, you are nearly ready to know all. You’ve seen Episode IV approximately thirteen times and we are weak against your will to see the other movies. But you are only FOUR, young Jedi. You have so much time ahead of you to learn the ways of the Universe.

The way he’s moving through life, gathering and collecting and sifting through new knowledge every day… It fascinates me. I watch him light up with new information, and again when he teaches a friend. We pretend we are characters from the movie and he takes it so seriously. And then I remember only a year ago when we was a T-Rex and I was a Parasaurolophus, and my heart literally breaks to think of how fast it’s all going. Remember his second birthday, when he nearly fainted at seeing the Blues Clues Bouncy?

But here we are at this phase, now. And lucky for me, Princess Leia is far more attractive than a Parasaurolophus.

01 Feb 2012

His Choice

12 Comments Family, Toddler

This was my conversation with G as I brushed his teeth:

G:  Brian wouldn’t let me play with new friends today.

Me: What do you mean?

G:  I needed to play with Ben and Cody, and Brian told me I couldn’t.

Me: You mean the teachers told you you needed to play with different kids?

G:  No, I just thought it’d be good to play with some new friends.

Me: And what did Brian say?

G:  That I needed to keep playing with him and not the other friends.

Me: Well, did you tell Brian that it’s YOUR choice who you play with and that you’d still be his friend even if you play with other kids?

G:  (Slapping his forehead for effect) Oh! I forgot to say that!

Me: That’s ok. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what to say.

G:  I think he confused me.

Me: Do you want to practice for next time?

G:  OK.

Me: Ok, I’ll be Brian and you be you.

G:  “I want to go play with other kids.”

Me: “No! You have to stay here!”

G:  “I think it’s good to play with other kids. You’ll still be my best friend.”

Me: “No! You have to play with me.”

G:  (blank stare)

Me: Tell him its your choice and you can do what you feel is right.

G:   “It’s my choice!”

Me: Good!!

G:  Ok, I’m going to tell Brian tomorrow! He has to let me play with other friends. It’s my choice.

And then I melted and thanked God for these moments with this kid.

18 Jan 2012

Lullaby

5 Comments Toddler

G often sings himself to sleep lately. He’s great at making up lullabies, probably because I’ve been doing it for him since he was a baby.  But he’s better at it than I am.

Tonight his lullaby was this:

I’m singing myself to sleep.

My mom is rocking on the rocking chair.

She loves me so much. More than all the planets.

Like Venus. And Jupiter. And Mars.

And I love her as much but she says I don’t love her as much as she does.

She loves me so much.

And so does Dad. But he’s at work.

(At this point he interrupted himself to ask what time Russ gets home from work.)

And he gets home in about an hour.

But he loves me too.

And now my mom is trying to not listen to me.

She’s not paying attention because she wants me to sleep.

(At this point I laughed out loud).

And she thought that was funny.

(At this point he asked if I did, in fact, think it was funny. To which I replied yes and then sort of harshly told him to close his eyes and go to sleep. Which he did… With a blanket shoved in his Batman pajama shirt. So he looks like fat Batman.)

Goodnight.

20 Oct 2011

There’s Apple Juice in Heaven

16 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

It comes with the territory of having a smart kid; a kid who isn’t satisfied with “yes” or “no” answers, a kid who likes details, who looks inside of things and turns them around in his head over and over until they make sense. You have to expect it from a kid who likes to know everyone is happy and no one is in a bad mood, or angry, or sad.  A kid who totally understands when you take his chocolate dessert away because it’ll make him cough harder. (As long as you replace it with a frosted sugar cookie.)

We told G on Saturday that our cat, Sonny passed away, and for two hours he was untouched by the news. But as soon as he digested it, the questions came.

“Will we see him again?”

“Is he still sick?”

“Was he old?”

They were easy questions at first. The great thing about Garrett is you just have to be honest with him. We always are. Yes, the shot will hurt a little but then you’ll get a lollipop. No, you can’t bring your blanket to the restaurant because God knows what’s on the floor of those places, and if it touches the floor I’ll have to wash it 30 times.  No, this isn’t mommy’s original nose.

But the questions got harder. And somewhere between honesty and fantasy lies spirituality. This is the first time I had to share any of my beliefs with my son, and the first time I wasn’t sure about how honest I was being… Because I don’t know the truth.

“Am I going to die?”

“Yes, we all are.”

“What happens when we die?”

“Well, I think we go to Heaven and we get to do a lot of fun things.”

“Do they have houses? And food? And drinks? And refrigerators?”

“Yes to all of those.”

Then he said this:

“I’m SO EXCITED to get to Heaven!!”

I put the brakes on.

“Whoa!! Slow down, sweetie. Don’t rush to get there. You should stay here as long as possible.”

“But Heaven sounds fun!”

“I’m sure it is, honey. But it’s fun here, too. I would miss you if you went there, so let’s all stay here for a while.”

“Okay.”

Then he got sad and said he didn’t want to die because he wouldn’t be able to play with his Transformers. (He only has one Transformer. And it’s on loan from his cousin. But apparently it’s the one possession that’s making him want to stay here.)

We talked about Grandpa Art and how he’s probably taking care of Sonny, then he asked if we could call them. I told him he could talk to them whenever he wanted but we wouldn’t be able to hear them talk back. I told him when people die we don’t get to see them again, and that it’s harder for us then it is for them.

He wanted to know what Heaven looks like and if we could look it up on the computer. I told him no one knows unless they’ve already gone there, but we could draw pictures in the morning of what we think it looks like.

He asked if Russ and I are going to die, and when. I told him we’d hopefully all live until we’re 100 years old. Then he said over and over how he didn’t want to ever die and I told him it was so long from now that we don’t have to worry about it. I distinctly remember those childhood fears. They’re still fears of mine, but they’re a lot less raw and scary.

It was a hard conversation to have. It tested all of my parenting skills. And I know we’ll be talking about it for a long time. It is in these moments, when we’re faced with these challenges, that we parents wonder how much we’re screwing our kids up. Because, we are. It may just be a little bit, barely detectable, but it’s most likely bigger than that. And if we didn’t screw them up this time, we’ll do it the next time, when they ask us about love or marriage or oral sex or drugs or alcohol or geometry.

But it is in the deepest part of me that I long to look my son in the eye and share with him my truths.  I promise to not shy away from the tough questions, but to face them head-on and answer them. I want him to know that he is worth the painful conversations and the uncomfortable silences. I will do my best to not screw him up too badly. Or I’ll die trying.

16 Sep 2011

All Of These Books Have Been Read!

27 Comments Personal Crap, Toddler

About a month ago, Garrett and I went to the library together for the first time. It’s not that I’d been putting it off, it’s just that I wasn’t in a big rush to get there. After all, there used to be a thing called “A Book Store”, where you could walk in and pick any book off the shelf. And purchase it. Yes! For reals!! But, since I have to drive 40 minutes to get to the nearest “Book Store” now, I thought we’d try the library. That’s a lie. It was G’s idea. He said, “Let’s go to the library!” And we did.

We walked in and headed straight for the information desk, where a lovely 20-something girl offered to help us find whatever we needed. What we apparently needed were dinosaur books. “Picture-books, or information-books?”, she asked. I looked at Garrett. “Information”, he offered. So we went to that section.

Within minutes, G had a lap-full of dinosaur books that he literally could not wait to start reading. “Let’s bring them to a table!” We did. And we spent the next hour going through those books, him telling me about all the dinosaurs and asking me about the ones he didn’t know yet. Every ten minutes or so, he’d tell me how AWESOME he thought it was at the library and how HAPPY he was to see these books. His head nearly exploded when I told him we could borrow them for three weeks. He read them over and over when we got them home.

The library is a magical place. But I’m going to admit something that many of you will not find at all surprising. Used books freak me out. I like new, crisp books that have not been read by anyone yet. And here is why:

As G and I read and became filled with dinosaur knowledge, I couldn’t take my eyes from the stains and splotches on nearly every page. These were my thoughts as we read: Why are the stains always brown? Do people take their library books to the bathroom and use the pages to cleanse themselves? Do they eat chocolate pudding, using the books as place mats? Do they clean their wounds with the pages and let the blood dry slowly on the words written there? What’s that awful smell? Did the man next to me just poop himself? Oh. Nope. G just turned a page.

I also feel the need to wash my hands even MORE than I usually do, after touching library books. They’re gross. But Garrett has found a place that he loves, and it’s filled with stinky, poop-stained, disgusting books that are filled with fantastic information. We’ve gone a couple times now, and both times have truly been wonderful. He pulls books off the shelf with such excitement and we spend so much time reading them at the library, and then at home. I do love it there, and I love our time there.

I just wish I was really rich, so I could fill the library with brand new books, and enforce jail time for anyone who stains them, writes in them, rips the pages, or uses them as loofas. Reading is fundamental. But library books are funky. (And not in an R&B or Hip Hop kind of way.)

*The views expressed in this post are not supported by my son, the information girl, the librarian who helped us get our library cards, or the man sitting next to me who did not poop himself.

16 Aug 2011

Some Awesome Quotes

16 Comments Personal Crap, Toddler

Since Russ has gone back to working outside of the house, G-Man and I have been spending a TON of quality time together; even more than we did before. We’ve been having some fantastic adventures and a lot of good bonding time (which he will never remember). Over the past week he’s been dropping some awesome quotes and I wanted to share a few with you.

*Upon seeing a SCUBA diver in the water at the aquarium: “Mom, look! A SCREW DRIVER!”

*Talking about taking a shower: “We have to put the mat down so I don’t slip. My butt is hard so I could get hurt. Your butt is squishy so it won’t hurt as bad if you fall.”

*After finding my Jillian Michael’s workout DVD’s: “Mom, you have to exercise. Put this on now. I want you to exercise.” When I told him I had to change clothes: “Okay. Are you going to put on your exercise boobs?” He then proceeded to work out right next to me for ten minutes. He’s a great trainer.

*After a day of some fun, some errands, and a lot of silliness: “Mom, I love you in my whole heart.”

*Upon trying to make him laugh: “Only Dads and boys can be funny. Girls and Moms can’t.” I’ll have to show him “Bridesmaids”.

*Picking him up from school last week:

“When I get older, will I marry?”

“I think so. But you have to find someone you love very much.”

“I want to marry Penelope at my birthday party when I turn 4. And I want a radio to play “The Final Countdown”. And I want my teachers to be there.”

*And possibly the coolest of all: At school they were learning about different cultures all over the world. His classroom got Ireland and Greece. The teachers taught the kids the Greek alphabet, but weren’t sure if it was completely sinking in. It was. Garrett recited the whole thing for me and then for Russ. Russ was very proud, but said he’ll only be accepted into a fraternity when he recites it holding a burning match after ingesting three beers.

There you go. Just a few of the gems I’ve been privy to lately. Oh, kids! They say the DARNDEST things, don’t they? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

I’m exhausted.

Update!!!! I just got done swimming with G. When his cousin asked why I got out of the pool, G replied:

“She was really freaking cold.”

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