Friday, February 23, 2007

Just Another Day at the Urban Toddler Community Center

Today Big and I went with Sidekick's Mom and her litte sister to a community center where on Fridays they open their gym to what seemed like all of the toddlers in the greater metro area.

It was a blast.

Balls everywhere, toddler cars, blocks, tantrums, raisin boxes and exhausted moms chasing about 50 kids around this entirely safe environment GALORE!

We got there a little late (my oldest kitty had to go in for a non-routine check up) and Sidekick's mom said she had been checking out a kid who she said "looks a lot like [Big]."

When, at one point he had made his way to where his so-called curly-haired cute girl look-alike (I didn't see it) was playing, I sidled up to her mom and told her that my friend had said that our kids look alike.

I smiled at that and went on chasing him around the room, kicking balls with him, rescuing him from random rocket cars, and one actual punch from a block-hoarding three-year-old.

Later, the gal came over and said to me:

You know how your friend said our kids looked alike? Well, um. . . She is a donor baby. . . . Is he?

Hum. . . . Something about me must have given it away. . . .

Anyway, we got into a great discussion about cryobanks and, no, they aren't step-siblings.

Turns out that a donor registry may not be necessary to make connections after all!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

All You Need Is Love

Picture this. A moment at the height of frustration. Let's say its Saturday. All four of us need to be somewhere. Somewhere at a certain time. BioMom is heading out, I ask "can you start my car?" A little grumble at the added detail on an already too-long list, but "yeah." With an unexpected 15 minutes left over I try to squeeze in piano practice for the unwilling and distraction-seeking Six. This goes nowhere as I can't get dressed and get directions to wherever we're going AND coach her on a new song (even though she now knows all the notes). This is highly frustrating because when I DO sit down with her, she invariably either doesn't remember or fakes that she doesn't remember what the notes are. Staring (again) at the black letter on the bottom of staff, the one with the line running through it, as though she's never seen the note in her life despite spending much of last semester learning the notes on the staff, I lose it. "EEEEE! It is EEEE! It will always be EEE! See, this song that you mastered last week? What note is that?" "e. . . . But that was a different song!" "It is like reading!!! An L is and L is an L, right?"


We get to the car -- no minor feat, as you know. Bucked, in our seats... When I look and BioMom had not fully depressed the start button on the car and the Prius was not actually running. I loose it...

"Can't any of us do anything to completion? I mean really finish something?"

Six responds: "You know, love is the only thing that really matters. And we love each other. So, finishing something doesn't really matter."

Of course, she's right.

That night though, we were discussing her impending 7th birthday. She started talking about presents and what she's interested in getting. I responded:

"But, as you said, isn't the most important thing love? Isn't THAT all that matters?"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Visions that Keep Me Up At Night

Or this could be filed under "How the kid stresses me out".

Or, "How do so many kids make it to their teens relatively unscathed?"

Last night we were getting ready for "[their last name]-bath." This is a greatly anticipated evening ritual where the kids bathe together. Big LOVES it. He gets to splash his (very tolerant, I must say) big sister, stick letters on the wall, and poke her belly button reservoir, filled with water from the bath (this part grosses me out completely as I hate belly buttons -- ask Cousin if you're wondering why. It's her fault I'm traumatized with that particular neurosis).

Last night we had lingered outside the bathroom and the water had reached an unusually high level in the tub (and, as we would soon find out, had become, well, not even tepid).

I was hearding Big toward the bath, ripping off his clothes as he toddled toward the tub.

Usually, I get some indication of his intentions. Say, a leg reaching toward the lip of the tub that I can easily redirect until we're all ready for his aquious entry.

This time, however, though I was no less than one foot away (12 inches!), I was unprepared to see him seal-flop his way into the full, quite chilly water, submerging himself like the dolphins we had just observed at the zoo.

I quickly grabbed him and held him tight. I don't know if his reaction was to the surprise of being submerged, or to the cold water.

We had recently visited the zoo so, maybe he was just imitating the fish he'd seen splashing through the water. In any case, I can't get the vision of him submerging out of my head and the look in his eyes when he realized it was actually WATER in the tub!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

If You're Not With Us, You're Against Us

This post's theme are twofold:

1. the memories of kids and the need to be hyper-consistent as a result and
2. the externalities of parenting in public.

The post is also remniscent of a recent post by LesbianDad that is only fun to read if you are not her: the mean parent enforcing the necessary limit.

A few weeks ago, thanks to the highly motivated and planful, BioMom, we were at a restaurant with some friends whose daughter was about to turn 10. At the restaurant we surprised said daughter and our SYO (Big was with a sitter) with tickets to the play High School Musical at our local Children's Theatre.

Of course, Six, could never really understand the ends to which BioMom had to go to get these tickets (at that point in time you'd have to promise your next born to get them) and, I think, that just being with this older girl, a good and looked-up-to friend was so ENOUGH of an experience to her that adding tickets to an actual live production of her beloved movie was just over the top.

I say this because I am admitting that we may have set her up for failure here.

Anyway, we have brunch at the restaurant and the kids enjoy a sundae in celebration of the birthday.

We go to the play, BioMom elbows her way to front row tickets (the seats were not reserved and we were not at the front of the line. Don't ask me how she did it. She has her ways.) Needless to say, it was great. I'm not into the movie at all (in fact, that was the first time I'd seen it start-to-finish, and I was hooked. Picture me clapping and sort of singing the words with the actors at the end of the show dancing only feet away from us!

At intermission, Six turns to BioMom: Where's my snack?

We (obviously) didn't bring a snack for loads of reasons, not least of which was that she had literally shared lunch and a sundae less than an hour before this request.

Once. ONCE BioMom brought a cookie that had been left over from the day before, to one of the Children's Theatre shows. And now, as could be read in her eyes, she was furious that we didn't have a snack for her that day. She was so furious that it seemed (to us at least) to cloud over the rest of the production.

That night, during our five minutes before bed, we asked her about her highs and lows for the day. All she could focus on was that she did not have a snack at intermission.

All of the parenting books written don't prepare you for moments like this. Dissapointment that she is dissapointed. Horror that she's dissapointed about some stupid snack. Dissapointment that she doesn't recognize the effort you made to surprise her with her very favorite thing. . . etc. etc.

On a related note, today she and I attended this cool "writing adventures" class for kids and their "favorite adults" (no idea what was in the person who wrote that title's head. Imagine asking a kid who their "favorite" adult is!?!) for four-to-eight year old's.

It was great. The class leader prompted characters settings, actions, and problems about which the kids could write a story. Six's was a fun story about a cat named "Midnight" from Antarctica (we just saw Eight Below) who was somehow involved in East High (the setting of High School Musical) and wanted to be a painter. You can imagine a plot based on such diverse building blocks.

During one break time we were in the bathroom, taking up two of the three stalls when one woman walks in with her son. Without waiting for any request from him, she kept reminding him that she had his "snack." "Are you hungry?" "Do you want your snack?" "I've got your snack!"

The kid was all: "After I pee!"


Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-snack.

I get it that kids need little snacks here and there. I'm not sure that a six-almost-seven year old needs one in less than two hours after she's had breakfast. And I'm even less sure that the "snack" needs to be what we used to refer to as "treats" but that is an entirely different story.

[As an aside, here's my personal snack test. In response to this request from Six "Can I have a snack?" I say: "Sure! We've got fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, raisins, milk or crackers. What would you like?" She invariably responds by saying that she no longer wants a snack. Hungry? I think not.]

Know, too, that I have high sympathy for a sweet tooth.

In the bathroom stall next to Six, I can just feel her energy change after over-hearing this conversation between the woman and her son.

I see Six, and she says "I'm HUNGRY!!"

Of course, I have no snack. We are literally going home after the class to eat lunch.

Walking back, the woman turns to me and says (incredulously): A Kit-Kat WITH caramel!

Let me ask you this: Who brings CANDY as a snack in the middle of the morning???

This is clearly a negative externality of parenting. The behavior between that woman and her son not only makes that moment uncomfortable for me (what a terrible parent I am to a) not have a snack at all and b) whatever snack that would have been it certainly wouldn't have been a candy bar) but it makes it harder for me to enforce healthy eating at every point in the indefinite future.


Okay, not exactly, but you get the point.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Irregular Newsletter: Month 14

Welcome to 14 months, Big!

And, wow. It has been a month.

Your motor skills (or attempt at developing them, I should say) are/is still going strong. Now you're into climbing. Everything. Whatever you can wrap that little knee up and over, you will. Thank God you can't reach the top of your crib yet, but that is obviously coming. I'm planning on locating a little crash pad beneath it for the day you get tall enough to swing that knee over.

We got you and your sister a little table from Ikea with its accompanying stools.

It was my idea, and it was a bad one. You're not ready for even the least unstable stool yet. This past Wednesday I looked over and you were standing on one of the little stools. Looking so proud of yourself, you were smiling over at me: Look what I can do!!!

Your smile is infectious by the way.

I rushed over in an attempt to help and in all the excitement, the stool slipped out from underneath you (all in slow motion from my perspective), you fell back, hit your head on the window behind you, and took a good bite on your tongue.

Blood was everywhere and your legs kicked as I held you tight in my arms.

On the bright side, you are LOVING hanging out with Mo4 and her kids while I'm at school. On the first day of that transition, she said to me: He and I will be fine, it's YOU that I'm worried about.

And that has been entirely true. When I go to pick you up, you'll usually acknowledge me with a smile and a hug, and then you're off to either continue your play or to show me something. One person advised me (re: this transition) that you can't have too many people loving your kid and I get that now with full force. He is so happy.

As for your verbal skills, you definitely have "kitty" and "ball" down, but Mo4 claims a whole host of other expressions: "hide" and "dog" and "mama" and "baba". Expressions I have yet to witness.

The "ball" (which actually sounds like "bop") always catches me by surprise. The other day I was helping you into your carseat in BioMom's car when you looked down and then back at me with a huge grin and a "BOP!!" I had no idea that that meant anything until I looked down and saw a baloon on the floor of her backseat.

It made my heart leap!

Of course, I think I understand everything you're saying, but now, to have you actually communicate with us feels a little like hearing static on the radio and then finally dialing into a few recognizable words in the AM frequency.

In The Car On the Way To School

SYO: I don't believe in the naughty finger.

BioMom: What?

SYO: I think life is just life. And it doesn't mean you're gonna have bad luck.

BioMom: ?

SYO: So. . . I do it all the time.

BioMom: There are a lot of people who DO believe it's bad luck AND they think that it's like swearing.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Groundhog Day

Conversation in tub this evening:

SYO: So, tomorrow we'll find out if we're having six more weeks of winter!

Me: Oh, [Six], we live in Minnesota. There's no suspense there.

SYO: ????

Me: We'll DEFINITELY have six more weeks of winter.

SYO: So, it is all just a silly, made-up thing?

Me: Well, maybe not if you live in Oklatucky or something, but definitely if you live in this arctic tundra!