Archives for the month of: November, 2012

“You have four options,” I told her this afternoon, after I put away the Costco tub of pretzels, from which she had consumed, at a modest estimate, twenty shorty pretzel rods. “You can have some carrots, some celery, a banana, or an apple.”

Using her right fingers to make sure her left fingers did what she wanted, she lifted three fingers and said, “You have [double checking her fingers] three options. You can have a hotdog, a hambuh-ger, or a chee-buhger.”

I laughed and hugged her, and we split a banana with peanut butter.

I think we’ll have cheeseburgers tomorrow.

When she wears her cheery red robe (see previous post), I feel like she’s auditioning for a Christmas pageant. All she needs is a shepherd’s crook or a small sheep, and she’d be a shoe-in.

Unfortunately, her face is trying to match her robe. When we were in Idaho, I thought it was as dry as it could be; humidity wasn’t high on the panhandle’s list of priorities. It seems that we’ve found somewhere just as drying (it rains a lot more, so I know humidity exists – it’s not the tooth fairy!). Her cheeks have thick vertical stripes of dry skin. With the naps she has skipped in the past week plus (this started last Wednesday, and today is Thursday) and the path her more frequent tears take, it also seems that her skin is a mirror of her sleep state. Tonight, even her eyelids were rosy, making the stripes longer, the look sadder. You know this look: it adorns the faces of college students at the end of exam week or a driver at the end of a too-long road trip. She’s exhausted, but again today, she wouldn’t nap. How long can this last?

I guess her face is trying to prepare for the audition, too. I just hope she’ll nap once try-outs are over.

When we lived in Austin, we knew a little girl at church named Julia. She used to dress herself, and she picked outlandishly wonderful things that combined to make outfits that were part fairy tale and part beach vacation.

My daughter is learning to make her own fashion choices as well. Her Crocs and her Merrells – and other shoes she can put on herself – often jauntily adorn the wrong feet, giving her a duck-footed look.

Does putting shoes on the wrong feet affect the direction you take in life?

She wore her new little bathrobe today, and she loved it, fiddling with the ribbon which kept it together.

Feeling sporty in her robe

This past week, tutus have been her favorite item of clothing, and she likes to add them to any outfit, as naturally as one might put on socks before shoes. Orngin, pink, or yellow – yes, please! Spinning around is much more fun with one than without.

It’s the hat that really sets the tutu off so nicely.

Most of all, I love that none of this bothers her. For most adults, clothes do what they ought to: they cover us, protect us, keep us warm. For her, they’re fun, too, a kind of entertainment. I think she has the right idea…any adult-sized tutus out there, anyone??

There’s a fog that descends over you when you’re a parent. You can’t see too far behind you, you can’t see too far ahead of you; all you can see is what’s around you.

The fog was literal today, and heavy, as we drove from our town to the next. Each moment of the familiar drive was a small revelation, a lesson in attention to details. Does the road curve up ahead? What comes after this stand of trees? After the Smokehouse, how many driveways are there before the grocery store? With a visibility of five to ten yards, there was no time for anything but attentive awareness.

Taken from the blog Serendipity and its writer Paula, who got the picture from Flickr

It’s the parental state we seem to live in, too. We try to be attuned to her daily needs, to balance playing outside with down time, to be sure she doesn’t get too hungry or too thirsty, to expose her to the richness of the world. Sometimes, we try to look far ahead, but more often, we look behind. We look back at pictures from two years, one year – even six months – ago and we’re shocked. Did she really have so little hair? Were her cheeks really so much rounder? Was there really a time when she slept every two hours?? Living in the present is necessary: if we don’t notice the details of day-to-day life, we’ll miss things, both big and small.

Like tonight: I asked her what color plate she wanted (after she’d discussed, with Nene and Poppa via Skype, what color plates we’d use at dinner). She said,” Yellow. Actually, orngin [her way of saying ‘orange’].” When she went to bed, after a long and trying day which was nearly all downhill after 3:00, owing to being a no-nap day and having moms’ group at our house, during which she mostly snatched toys the second someone picked something up and cried, she gave me a kiss. Then, she gave me lots of kisses, kisses on both cheeks and on my forehead, back and forth, like a mama animal nuzzling its young. She covered me in kisses. “I love you so much!” she said. And so much of my frustration melted away. My within-five-yards lessons today: my daughter knows how to use the word “actually” and she is aware of, even if unable to control, her tired self and the frustration that she causes, so the kisses were love and apology and relief all in one.

I find some relief in the fog, too. Something’s ahead, something’s behind – but right now, it doesn’t matter. It’s enough to have this week, this day, this moment, with my daughter, my husband, my family, my friends.

Late afternoon on a no-nap day. Night time sleep: much better – only the one waking to potty, then sleeping until morning. Afternoons: hard. Very hard.

She borrowed – make that commandeered – her daddy’s iPad and had the companionship of her Pepper cat. What more could a girl want on an afternoon like that?

This does not necessarily happen when you most want it to, like when you’re trying to get to somewhere five minutes away and you have five minutes, which turn into two minutes as your dear, dear child looks at the penny in her hand while standing on the stairs then refuses to sit down in her car seat when you finally get her that far. Having your child listen and pay attention may not happen when you warn her that the pan from the Brussels sprouts is oven-hot and that she shouldn’t touch it. She may not listen when you ask her to go into the bathroom so that you can get her ready for bed; suddenly, the Play Doh, the books in her room, the records, and her dirty socks are all so much more interesting than what you have to say.

But paying attention does happen, and more often than we think, and often when we least expect it. Children listen. I know mine does.

“Some pig,” Charlotte spins into her web about her porcine friend. Our daughter brought this up at breakfast one day. Then she said, “Don’t be such a pig, Daddy!” Only today did I realize that it comes from one of her books, courtesy of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides a free book each month until a child turns five (a fabulous program; thanks, Dolly!). It’s a combo of Marci Curtis’ Big Brother, Little Brother and Big Sister, Little Sister. In┬áthe sisters’ section, a big sister takes a bite of her little sister’s food, and the caption reads, “Don’t be such a pig!” Not the phrase I most want her to learn – or use.

At breakfast today, ML blurted out, “Hands off my underwear!” Yes, a caption from the brothers’ section was prominent in her mind, too, where one brother’s tugging at the other brother’s pants. These aren’t really the lines I’d most like her to be citing – or the lesson I’d most like her to pick up.

Before dinner, she took little bookmarks out of a cookbook of mine. After being admonished, she said, “I’m dumb.” Of course I hugged her and told her she wasn’t (although I’m not sure she really knows what it means, exactly), but I blame Little My in Moominpappa at Sea: an abrasive, naughty, do-as-she-pleases character (she is honest about her feelings), she has used both the word “dumb” and the word “stupid,” which I think we manage to avoid using in daily life most of the time. But my girl, she listens. She processes. When she’s ready, she puts what she’s learned to use. Not dumb. Not dumb at all.

At dinner, she said her grapes were “dangling” – and they were, from their stem. Again, back to Marci Curtis’ brothers’ section: “We’re munching hanging donuts dangling in the air.” That one, I’ll take. Dangling is a good word, and she learned it and can apply it. Terrific!

All of this makes me realize just how much she absorbs…and how much we should be aware, if not careful. The mer-animals of yesterday’s posts were inspired by Ladybug Girl and Bingo, when Ladybug Girl imagines there are mermaids and merdogs in the water.

My takeaway lesson: know what she’s reading. Think about what we’re reading to her. Know what she’s watching.Think about what we’re watching with her or letting her watch. And for now, at least, take Marci Curtis’ book out of rotation. I know, that’s nearly the same as hogging it – “Don’t be such a pig!” – but she’ll learn from other books still. Who knows what she’ll pick up from Little My next?

Little My, as found on Tumblr, posted by oneoftheboysx

Sometimes she’s a mer-dog. She’s been a mer-tiger and a mer-turtle, once, too – although I must admit the need for mer-turtles is probably lower, with the need for mer-fish being the lowest. Sometimes, she goes for the traditional mermaid.

Whatever mer-creature she decides to be, though, she loves the bathtub. Just when we despaired that we’d even be able to wash her hair without a battle, poof! She likes to swish her hair, and she’ll let you rinse it with a cup, too. Who knows how this came to be; changes are rarely momentous but more often gradual, and then you wonder how you got to where you are. About this, I don’t need further investigation – it’s enough to be grateful for the change.

Here, her imagination goes further: her arms are trees growing up from the yellow depths. Her legs were big trees, too.

Water really can put forth wonderful things. Keep an eye out for a rogue mer-unicorn, next time you find yourself in the bath!

We’re at ZeeZee and Pop’s house for Thanksgiving. By 3:30 today, after no nap, we were shocked at how early in the day it still was. Life without her going down for a nap can be exasperating and exhausting.

Then we heard a sad story about a family ZeeZee and Pop know from church, about the woman suffering through the loss of her grown son. Unaware of the story, ML looked up gleefully from her Play Doh, her face radiating all the love, happiness, and trust a two-and-a-half year old feels when surrounded by some of the people she loves most in the world. If only she could always feel like this about us, and we about her.

“It’s OK, Mommy. It’s no big deal,” ML will admonish us. And she’s right – a day without a nap, some spilled water (or milk, or salad dressing, or Thai coconut soup), a broken plate – these things really aren’t a big deal, and it’s good to be reminded of that, even if it takes my two-and-a-half year old to do the reminding.

I just hope that when we fast-forward through life (and these days, there seems to be no slow motion option), we all remember that we make each other happy, that the little things we get hung up on really matter less than we think, that families aren’t perfect but our love for each other is.

 

My daughter, my husband, and waking up in the morning with both of them. Baby Baby growing inside me. Watching ML put on records and either listen and read along, if it’s something like Dumbo, or sing and dance along, if it’s Yankee Doodle or I’m a Little Teapot. Reading to her at various times of the day – small books with simple stories, nursery rhymes she knows better than I do, big books like Moomin, during which she’s beginning to ask so many questions that the story is sometimes buried beneath the mountain of where’s and who’s. Watching her look at a book by herself – the intensity of her looking, as if the words and pictures could tell the stories to her without an intermediary. How friendly she is to people and animals alike. My family, my dear and wonderful family. My friends spread across the globe. Moms’ group, which helps to save my sanity. Reading. Listening to her retell stories or sing or make up songs. Watching her dance when there is music, no matter where we are. The time after ML has gone to sleep, when I’m overwhelmed by the sweetness of my sleeping child and when Matthew and I can have a linear conversation or just flop on the couch.

Mommy and Daddy, ┬áMaria and Pepper. Nene and Poppa, ZeeZee and Pop. Aunties and uncles. Fruit snacks and cheeseburgers. Playing in the water, including the ocean, the pool, the tub, the shower, or puddles, big and small. My record player. Reading books. Being read to. Being held. Animals. Watching WordWorld or Pinky Dinky Doo or another show. Playing with Daddy’s iPad. Sweeping. Playing with Play Doh. Moms’ group, which is when I get to see my friends. My friends. Playing outside. Itsy Bitsy Yoga. WND. Dancing. When Daddy comes home from work and hugs me. Having Mommy and Daddy in bed with me in case I get sad or just need a snuggle or a song at night.

And still, and still, Mama’s mole.

Temper tantrums. Kicking and flailing. Night terrors. No-nap days. Traffic that further slows unpleasant car trips. Almost always having to prompt the use of the word “please.” Being ignored when giving instructions. Being told “go away!” after just getting home.

Having to sit in a carseat instead of being held. Following someone else’s schedule and directions. Not getting to play with bubbles, watch TV, or eat cheeseburgers more often. Having to share toys with other kids. Not being able to do things that bigger people can do, like cook or hammer or clean toilets or chew gum. Watching the cats hide instead of come closer to be petted or hugged. Being separated by a closed door from Mommy or Daddy.