Archive for Toddler

22 Nov 2010

It’s Me Against The Clock. The Clock Wins.

9 Comments Toddler

I sincerely hate the person I am when I don’t get enough sleep. Garrett woke up at 5:45 this morning and I’m sorry , I don’t do well at 5:45. I begged him to go back to sleep but he just wouldn’t. Once this kid is up, he’s up. I feel like I’m a pretty worthless mom when I’m exhausted. Garrett wants to play and I just… Can’t. So I put the TV on and there he sat, watching “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”. It’s a funny movie, at least. So I’m helping to build his sense of humor.

After I had a cup of coffee, I poured myself some cereal and sat down on the floor next to him. I’d take a bite then I’d give him one. Then I’d take one, then he would. “Mom! We’re sharing!” Yes, we are! He put his head on my shoulder for a second then asked for more. I was starting to feel like a less-sucky mom. Then I wanted to get us dressed and get off to school. As I was getting my sweats on, he kept asking me to introduce him as different dinosaurs. We were whispering because Russ was still asleep. “Ladies and gentlemen… Supersaurus!”  Then he wanted to be a T-Rex. “Ladies and gentlemen… T-Rex!” Then a utaraptor. “Ladies and gentlemen…” you get the idea. Suckiness fading more.

Then we got him dressed in the outfit my mom just brought him back from her trip. It’s a great Spiderman shirt and sweat pants. The pants are big enough for him to pull all the way up to his chest, which he did. I started laughing so hard, I fell on the floor. “I’m you!”, he said. “You’re me?”  Then he started doing this hysterical walk, pants up to his chest, all around his room. We were both laughing hard.

Okay, so it ended up to not be a terrible morning. BUT, it still isn’t the kind of morning I like to have with him. Most of it was me trying to wake up and not whine, while he watched TV. And I hate that. It makes me feel guilty to send him off to school knowing we didn’t really play or crawl around or even really talk that much. But I can only do that stuff when I’ve had at least SOME freaking sleep the night  before. I can’t go to bed earlier than I’m already going to bed. That would leave me with no time to do anything. Ever. And I can’t wake up at 5:45 and be a decent parent, either. At least not the kind of parent I like to be.

I’m really trying to find a way to get him to stay in bed until 7:00, but so far nothing’s working. Next I’m going to try rewards. Maybe like if he stays in bed until 7:00 every day for a week, we can go to the zoo on the weekend. I know I’m not a bad mom. I know we all have our days when we’re counting down the minutes until our kids go to school. It’s just that I want to be as present as possible as much as I can. I owe that to him and to myself.

I also owe myself a big ass nap. But I don’t really see that happeing any time soon. DAMN YOU, 5:45 AM!!!!!!

19 Nov 2010

Uh oh.

4 Comments Toddler

We were just getting off of an elevator, Russ, Garrett and myself. And there stood a girl, about 23 or 24 years old. She had bleached-blond hair in a ponytail, too thin eyebrows, a tiny frame, and fake boobs. She was in that classic “I’m a stripper (or porn star) off-duty look, which consists of a sweatshirt and leggings with tennis shoes or uggs. Three three of us were mid-conversation and, all of a sudden, it stopped. Well, Russ and I were still conversing, but Garrett had dropped out of the conversation.

Russ and I took two or three steps and realized G was still standing there, by the elevator. He was staring at her like she was a unicorn. He literally could not take his eyes off of her. Imagine your husband watching a big play in a game and you ask him a question. Picture him, his mouth slightly open. He can hear you but it’s like you’re far away, in a tunnel somewhere, and he can only hear your echo. And finally a commercial comes and he turns his head. That was Garrett. But it wasn’t a game. It was a girl by an elevator.

When she made her move to the door, he turned to us and acted like that moment never happened. “MOM! Be a styracosaurus!” But Russ and I could not stop laughing. I swear, we were both DYING laughing because we couldn’t believe what we just saw. We’ll have to remember that girl to see if she’s the type G ends up being “into”. It was too much. I know, years from now, when he’s really checking out the girls like that, I’ll long for the days where he snapped out of it and asked me to be a dinosaur.

Frickin’ floozy. Oops sorry! That just slipped out.

11 Nov 2010

Dino Sores That Heal. (Oh no I didn’t!)

11 Comments Toddler

Four months ago, my family and I stepped off the plane in Portland, OR and began our week-long summer vacation in the place of my husband’s birth. For a month prior, and all the way on the plane trip our (nearly) three-year-old son could not stop talking about the dinosaurs he was going to see at the Oregon State Fair. “We’re going to Oregon to see DINOSAURS”, he would tell anyone who would listen. “When do we get to go to Oregon to see Dinosaurs?”, he would ask every night before bed. On the rental-car ride to the town where Grandma Farm lives, he would say, “Are we almost at the Dinosaurs?”

And then the day came. Grandma Farm, Daddy, Mommy, two cousins and Garrett piled into the car for the two-hour-drive which consisted of several choruses of “Dinosaur this” and “Dinosaur that” and “Dinosaur, Dinosaur”, just for good measure.
Then we arrived. The fair. We were starving. We ate. We hurried because the dinosaurs were waiting. We finished. Where are they? That building! Let’s go! Oh, really? More money here than we paid at the entrance to the fair? This must be good! Doors open. Roars are heard. There they are, around the corner! This is it! The moment we’ve talked about for months!

What’s happening with Garrett? Why is he convulsing? Are those giant tears? Garrett? G…G…Garrett? “I don’t want to see those dinosaurs!  I want to go! Let’s get out of here!” But Garrett. Honey? This is what we’ve been taking abou… “Listen, Bitch! You get me the hell out of this place NOW, or I’m gonna do some pretty crazy SHIT!” Whoa. Slow down, boy. That is some pretty abrasive langua…. “What part of ‘get me out of here’ don’t you UNDERSTAND? Turn your shit around and move it!”

Listen, I don’t know who taught a three-year-old how to talk like that, but I guess the dinosaurs really brought it out of him. I mean there they were, these giant, animatronic dinos in a pretty dark room, roaring and carrying on. It was a tad scarier than I had imagined, too. But this is what we had been going on and on about for friggin’ months! He’ll get over it, I thought. He just needs a little potty break and it’ll all be okay. In the bathroom, there was more: “Are we going to have to pass the dinosaurs again?” Yes, Garrett, to get to the exit. But you don’t have to look and we won’t go in. “I don’t want to pass them!” I told him I’d hold him close and we’d walk by fast. So, we exit the bathroom and we’re about to go past the room with all the dinosaurs again. “NO, MOMMY”, he screams! And then, before I can stop him, he looks in. And through giant tears he screams, “A PTERODACTYL!  A T-REX! AN IGUANODON!” (This kid knows his dinosaurs). “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!”

So, that was our whole Oregon Dinosaur Experience. Garrett sobbed and screamed from outside the doors and saw three of his favorites from 40-feet away, while begging me to take him out of the building. He still talks about it like it was the best day ever.

Which brings us to today. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Just like when we were going to Oregon, we prepped for this day. I showed him videos of the fossils and the 10:30 AM Dinosaur Experience show they put on, where a giant T-Rex, with a guy inside, walks around the Mammal Pavilion and helps you learn about dinos. He was pumped. PUMPED! “When are we going to the museum?” “Is the museum open yet?” “Can we go see the dinosaurs NOW?”

You could feel the excitement over breakfast this morning. Something big was about to happen. We got in the car at 9:10AM. No traffic. We’re there at 9:35. We bought a membership for the year that gets us into NHM and the La Brea Tar Pits as many times as we want. We look at the insect zoo. AMAZING! We look at the North American mammals. WOW! And now it’s time for the show. Russ and I place our bets. The lights go down. “I don’t want to see the T-Rex!’, it begins. “Let’s go!”

This time was different, though. No tears. Just a lot of convulsing, which he does when he wants you to really get the point that he’s scared. “Garrett”, I start, “The dinosaur you’re about to see is a costume. There’s a man inside.”  “And all the growling”, Russ adds, “Is from those speakers right up there”. We tell him it’s not real, it’s just for fun. That dinosaurs are extinct and the only way we can see them walk and roar is with puppets or costumes or robots, but we could leave at any time if he wanted to. Then Little Red Riding Hood comes out and tells us about how cool it is to learn about things you don’t understand. And then, OH NO, the T-Rex. Here it is, right in front of us and what’s Garrett doing?  CLAPPING! Oh, thank you Lord. Garrett is clapping! And listening and learning and enjoying every second! We’re not running for the door. We’re in the room with the dinosaur and we’re loving it!

Show ends. We go see a lot more fossils and gems and bugs and mammals. Then G and I head to the potty where, lo and behold, Little Red is going into a stall! We wait outside the bathroom for her and Garrett says hi and tells her how much the T-Rex reminded him of “Buddy” from “The Dinosaur Train”, and how he loves Iguanodons and Triceratops. And he promises he’ll be back to see the Ankylosaur show soon.

We’ve come a long way in four months. But Garrett still managed to call me a bitch when I had a bite of his banana at lunch.

crib, bed, 3-year-old, baby, boy, monitor
10 Nov 2010

Big Boy… Crib?

20 Comments Toddler

My kid is on his own time schedule. He does things when HE wants to do them. And we don’t push, because whenever he finally decides to do something, he does it very well. Speaking, he did incredibly early. Other things, he did… later.

Walking? 14 months. Potty trained? Three years. Big boy bed? Big boy bed? Um. He’s been three for two months. Big. Boy. Bed?

He’s not in one yet, okay?? We’ve had  the converter kit for six months. We’ve asked him, “You want a big boy bed, Garrett?” He seems content with the crib. “We can make your crib a big boy bed for your birthday!” Nah. Has he climbed out? Nope. Once, however, he did climb IN. And just like when he seemed to take forever to take his first steps, I’m GLAD! I am! I mean, when he’s able to get in and out of his bed, it’s over! No more waiting for him to call me in, he’ll just be standing at the foot of my bed, or lifting one of my eyelids like in that cereal commercial!

And forget about sex without locking the door! It’s bad enough we can’t get the damn DOG off the bed, I don’t need my kid walking in! (And, believe me, that’s the last thing HE needs!)

So, I’m just letting him take his own, sweet time. If he’s still in his crib at eight or nine, I’ll do something about it, alright? Oh, and as long as he’s in his crib, I have an excuse to use the monitor and listen to him talk to himself. When he’s in a big boy bed, there will be no reason for a monitor because he’ll just come and get us. And then where does that leave me? No crib? No monitor? Oh shit! A baby doesn’t live here anymore! There’s a little BOY in the house!

I’m sticking with the damn crib until he says otherwise. Back off. YOU HEARD ME!

03 Nov 2010

The Littlest Bully

14 Comments Toddler

There’s a kid in Garrett’s class who makes at least one kid cry every day. It usually happens in the 15 minutes I’m there, at school, dropping Garrett off. These are pre-schoolers, mind you. And every, single day this kid is making someone cry. He hits, he kicks, he trips them, he takes their toys, he knocks down their blocks, he grabs books. Is this the beginning of a bully? Is this how it starts? Is it something that can be fixed now, if it’s dealt with the right way?

I see his teachers tell the crying ones to “use their words”, to tell this kid that they don’t like the way they’re being treated. “Don’t hit my body!”, they say. That’s a good start I guess, but shouldn’t something be done about this kid? Is there a way to deal with him, with his parents, that could improve his behavior and nip this in the bud? I’m sure he’d be a pretty sweet kid if he could only change this one part about himself. And should the teachers be allowed to do more? To punish him?

It’s possible there’s something clinically wrong. He might not be able to control these things. But that should be looked into also. I fear that if it’s not taken care of, he’s just going to turn into a monster. He’ll be the kid no one likes because he’s mean and so he’ll be all alone and that will just make him meaner. Right? Doesn’t that seem like the way it’ll happen?

So, I guess my question is what can be done? I feel like it’s partially my responsibility, as a parent who sees this happening daily, to intervene. If this child is causing a disruption every day, he’s affecting every other child’s experience there. And, believe me, I think it’s okay for these kids to deal with some adversity. But that isn’t the point. The point is, it seems like now is a good time to try to change this kid’s path, to figure out what is wrong with him so it can be worked on. It’s not only the right thing to do for all the kids he comes in contact with, it’s the right thing to do for him.  Otherwise I foresee a sad, friendless future for this boy.

Oh, and I’m not gonna lie. The one day I was there when he made Garrett cry, I wanted to stand over him and yell obscenities. Instead, I let the teachers help Garrett “use his words”. It was all fine after about five minutes, but if it keeps happening I’m going to give Garrett a few “choice” words to “use” next time. And I’ll give him a cupcake if he uses them correctly.

01 Nov 2010

My Kid Made Me Like Kids

8 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

Okay, I admit it. I didn’t really get it before I had one. What’s the big deal? They’re just little people, only they’re harder to entertain and I have no idea what to talk to them about. I mean sure, they’re cute, but I have no desire to spend any actual time with them. They don’t get me. I don’t know what they want from me. They have nothing important to say!

I have nieces and nephews, and I love every single one of them, but I never totally understood them until I had Garrett. I don’t think everyone is like me. As a matter of fact, I think there are tons of people who are just innately good with children. They have a childlike quality that kids relate to, and a place inside themselves they can tap into that tells them how to make a kid smile. I have that place now, but I was not able to tap into it before. Maybe it was hidden in my uterus and needed a baby to activate it.

Here’s an example of what an ass I used to be around kids. My boyfriend’s (now husband’s) niece and nephew were in town and we all went to Universal Studios. Britt was eight and Tyler was three. Britt and I had a pretty good thing going. I could tell she thought I was cool, and I thought she was quite adorable and very well-behaved. We were sharing laughs as the day went on and I was proud of myself for not screwing up. She then convinced me to go on some Jurassic water ride that looked terrifying. As we stood in line watching the people on the ride screaming and getting soaked I turned to her and said, “I hate you!” Of course, I was kidding. I was being sarcastic. I thought everyone understood sarcasm. Even eight-year-olds who weren’t born into a sarcastic family. Well, that did it. She looked up at me with such hurt in her eyes, and started to cry. OH SHIT! I had no idea what to do. I scrambled. “I WAS KIDDING”, I said. “Please, Britt. I was totally joking! I don’t hate you at all! I LOVE YOU! You’re the BEST!” She didn’t seem to believe me. I said I hated her, so that must be the truth. It was a lesson in kids taking what you say seriously.

When my brother’s kids were born, I was equally inept. I loved their son, Sam immediately. He was adorable with his big, blue eyes and curly, blond hair. I’d hold him and coo. But I wasn’t ever totally comfortable with my skills. Am I holding him right? Is he okay? Should I make a funny face? Is he pooping? And even when Julia came along, I still wasn’t really… There. Again, I loved her. Again, I was confused and a little unsure.

Russ was an expert from the get-go. I think he’s like his mom. If there’s a kid around, they gravitate toward my mother-in-law, and the big, cuddly man I married. He doesn’t even have to try. Kids just always like him.

So, I was afraid that I wouldn’t bond with my own child. I thought I’d be tentative and scared and like, “What the hell am I supposed to do with you?” But, of course, I wasn’t. It was easy and second-nature for me. I knew what he needed, what he meant with each sigh and burp, and exactly how to make him laugh or fall asleep. That was all a surprise. But the bigger surprise was that, all of a sudden, I understood OTHER kids too!  I liked them and wanted to be around them! I’d point them out to Russ and say, “Aw. Isn’t that little guy cute?”

I understand now. I wish I had always understood. Kids are nothing short of amazing, little, sponge-brained, innocent, beautiful beings. They deserve pure happiness. They generate pure joy. Sure, they’re stinky and loud and they need you to do EVERY LITTLE FRIGGIN’ THING for them, but they are so much damn fun to be around. And they’re funny! And smart! They can teach us so much about who we are and the world around us. Now I see a kid, and I feel like I get them and they get me.

I think the biggest thing is that I used to look at kids and think, “What do you want from me?” Now I look at them and think, “What can I offer you? And what will you show me?” I thank God that Garrett activated that part of me. It’s a part I cherish. I’m jealous of those of you who have it naturally. But at least I got it!

29 Oct 2010

Role Play

15 Comments Toddler

Garrett is three-years-old and already he has ideas about girls and boys.

When we were potty training him, he picked out all of this super-hero-themed underwear. He got Ironman, Batman, Spiderman, and a little Spongebob and Diego thrown in. I never thought of it as a “boy” thing. It was just the underwear he wanted. A couple nights ago, we were both getting in our PJ’s, and I was standing there in my underwear and a t-shirt. “Are those Princess underwear?”, he asked. “Nope”, I said, “Just regular underwear.” “Oh”, he said, “Daddy should buy you some Princess underwear.”

Now, while I found the fact that my son thought I deserve Princess Panties to be insanely adorable, I also found it a tad puzzling and odd. Where had he even heard of princess underwear? Why does he think I need them? Why does he think Daddy is the one who should buy them for me? Doesn’t he know I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan (while wearing princess undies?) Side note: I’ve been asking my husband to buy me lingerie for 13 years. I will blog next week about the outcome of THAT!

Here’s the other part. Garrett and I were driving somewhere last week and I was “interviewing” him. “What’s your favorite color?” Green. “What’s your favorite animal?” T-Rex. “What’s your favorite food?” Pancakes.  Then he interviewed me. “What’s YOUR favorite color, Mom?” I said my favorite is orange. “No it’s NOT”, he says, “It’s PINK!” I told him I actually am not very fond of pink at all, and my favorite color is, in fact, orange. “It’s PINK!”, he said again.  I asked him if he thought every girl loves pink and he said, “Yep!”

Hmmmm…. Where is this coming from? Is this just an innate feeling that he has? Girls love pink and princesses and boys love superheroes, dinosaurs, and guns?  Am I only bothered by it because as a girl, I HATED dresses, barbies, and dolls with a PASSION?

I showed up at Garrett’s pot luck Halloween party at his preschool this morning.  (I brought along my homemade mac and cheese, but that’s not important. I just desperately want you to think I’m a very committed mom.) Guess what? All the friggin boys were superheroes, vampires, and Woody from Toy Story. The girls? Princesses, butterflies, and Jessie from Toy Story. Most of the girls were wearing some version of a pink tutu over their costumes. Do we put these labels on our kids? Or do they put them on themselves? We don’t make Garrett feel like he can’t like dolls, or watch Dora, or that he only has to drink out of blue cups. But I guess I do buy him shirts with footballs and dinosaurs all over them. And these girls are probably being bought pink shit all the time. Garrett just gravitates toward the more “rough and tumble” stuff.

So what does all this mean? Is it a bad thing? Is it normal? I like that Garrett is such a “boy”, but I don’t want him to ever feel like he can’t be sensitive, or caring, or that he can’t wear bright colors! (By the way, there’s NO SHORTAGE of him being sensitive and caring). And I don’t want him to pigeon-hole every girl into being a princess-loving damsel in distress. I guess we’ll work it out, one annoying stereotype at a time.

And I’m STILL wondering how he knows about princess underwear! It’s those preschool tramps, isn’t it? I knew it.

Tell me your gender-role stories. Are your kids falling into the typical boy/girl stereotypes? What were you like as a kid?

18 Oct 2010

Becoming a Man

4 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

This weekend my family celebrated my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, a Jewish ceremony marking a boy’s (or girl’s) 13th birthday and the fact that he is becoming a man. It represents the change from a boy with little social responsibility to a man with the onus to do good in the world and to affect positive change. It’s a lovely service at temple where the young man reads from the Torah, surrounded by all of his friends and family.

A Bar Mitzvah is also a big, fat party with music, food, dancing and pure chaos. It was an absolute blast, and I saw my kid do some stuff that blew my mind. First of all, he was in a suit. Garrett, my adorable little man, looked like a lady killer in his pin-stripe jacket and tie. When we got into the tent that held the festivities, incredibly loud music poured out of the speakers… And Garrett promptly covered his ears and scrunched up his nose. “It’s too loud!”, he screamed. And I thought we were in for a very long, frustrating night. But then a song came on that must have been “his jam”, because all of a sudden he ran to the dance floor and started rocking out. I mean, he wasn’t merely dancing, he was feeling the music and busting a freakin’ move! This dance fest lasted for about an hour, and I’m still sore. I danced with him (well, NEAR him) the entire time and I had the sweat pouring down my face to prove it.

I finally pried him away from the dance floor long enough to say hi to some folks and have a little drink. Then the DJ started playing a song I requested at the beginning of the night: “The Final Countdown”. If you haven’t read my post on this little ditty, now might be a good time to do it. Suffice it to say, it’s Garrett’s favorite song. And as soon as he heard it, he ran full speed onto the dance floor and started going nuts! Within seconds, he was surrounded by every one of the 80 tweens attending the party. Outside of them were the rest of us, staring in wide-eyed awe at the three-year-old in the middle of the floor. At the chorus Garrett started to jump up and down, and so did all the kids around him. It was like he was their short, blond czar and they all had to do exactly what he was doing. Then they all started chanting, “Go Garrett, Go Garrett, Go Garrett!” and he kept dancing. Read more

15 Oct 2010

Toddler Senility

2 Comments Personal Crap, Toddler

You know what gets me? Garrett won’t remember any of this time in his life. I guess he’ll remember a feeling, a general sense of well-being and security (hopefully). But he won’t remember all the cool stuff we do together or all the amazing things he does on a daily basis. He won’t remember how much he loves dinosaurs or how he wakes me up in the morning by saying, “Mom! Ma! Mommy? Mama! Mom. Mom. Mommy?” He won’t remember how proud we were of him when he got potty trained or how much we laugh when he does his “crazy run” in the living room. I hate that he won’t remember the first time he actually liked his broccoli or how we try to get him to tell us about his day at the dinner table.

He won’t remember how excited he was when he saw a Blue’s Clues bouncy in our backyard on the day of his second birthday, or how much fun he had spraying his friends with water on his third. He won’t remember how it felt to feed a cow an apple for the first time or how hot it was the day we went to the Oregon State Fair.

It seems so odd to me that he’s living so much life every day and he won’t remember a damn thing about it. I mean, at three you’re learning new words, new sensations, new tastes and smells. You’re meeting new people and seeing things daily for the very first time. Garrett’s excited to see airplanes and the moon and he loves to pet dogs and ask people their name. How do you take in so much information and not remember later on in life how it all got there?

I think part of it makes me sad because I love the moments we share, and I wish he’d know years from now how great they were. But he won’t. And that’s just odd to me. I wonder why it’s set up that way? Are we not meant to remember this time because it’s too precious? Is it because everything else that comes after this part is so dull that remembering the majesty of the beginning would destroy our souls? Or maybe there’s just not room in our brains to hold all the new stuff we’re learning AND bank it all in our memories.

I try to write as much as possible in his baby book and make some albums of photos. But I wish he was going to remember how perfect he is right now. I wish he’d be able to look back and see how much he makes us laugh and how lucky I feel to be with him, even at 6:30 in the morning when all I really want is a cup of coffee or to go back to sleep… Even in those times, maybe especially in those times, I wish he was going to remember.

But the years will go on and, God willing, we will create new memories as a family. And I will do my damndest to make those times memorable for us and for Garrett.

13 Oct 2010

Quick Preschool Update

No Comments Toddler

I went to pick Garrett up today and the teacher stopped me:

She told me Garrett had been crying a little in the morning and saying he missed his mommy. She realized that, it being free-play-time, he didn’t really have anything to do. No purpose.

“Garrett, maybe we should give you something to do”, she said.
“To make me happy?”
“Yes, to make you happy.”
Then he said, “Why don’t I draw a picture for mommy. That would make me happy.” And he did. And he was happy. And when I got there to get him, I was certainly happy to get my picture.

Isn’t it cool that a teacher, a preschool teacher, a teacher who spends her day with three-year-olds, cares enough to talk to them like people? She didn’t pander to him or only say, “Don’t cry”. She gave him something to do with his feelings. She gave him a purpose. I think that’s pretty gosh-darn fantastic. Here’s to all the teachers, from preschool to high school, who care enough to teach kids individually and to pay attention to who they’re teaching.