safe to be silly

I watch her in the rearview; studying her smile, her expressions, her enthusiastic singing voice. She sings with a careless confidence I haven't had since I was 8 singing my heart out in our downstairs bathroom with the good echo. I announced to my mother I was absolutely sure I was going to be the next Tiffany. She assured me that this would not be the case and that the singing portion of my First Communion would not in fact be my big break  I'm sure my singing has not improved much since then, but I'm still a car singer. Steve sang (badly) the very first time I drove with him and he did not care that I was staring at him screaching away in the driver's seat. In this way she is like both her parents.

"Fee, Fi, Fiddly, Eye-Oh. Fee, Fi, Fiddly, Eye-Oh. Fee, Fi, Fiddly, EYE-OH, strumming on the old banjo."

Her mouths strains to form the loud "OH." She is serious and claps along. Her brother Maggie Simpsoning his paci, gripping his silky blanket tighter, staring at her in wonderment, admiration or confusion? It's hard to say.

She makes up songs as she flits around the house about whatever she happens to be doing at that moment. "Spray the table, wash the germs away, wash, wash, wash, spray, spray, spray." When she realizes she's caught she is inevitably startled, embarassed, laughing hearty belly laughs at her silliness. I laugh right along, sing along when I can follow the odd nonsensical lyrics.

I want her to always have this confidence, this lack of awareness at the judgement of others. I know it won't last, it couldn't, but I hope at home she can always be silly, be confident, be herself.

Another bathtime horror show

I wrote in frustrated detail about our harrowing experience with Caroline and her fear of hair in the bath.

In
excrutiatingly
painful
seemingly
neverending
infuriating
sad
detail

We have another baby with another whole batch of bathing issues. It all started on Friday night when the kids hopped into the bath together. It is more efficient, just a bit more chaotic. Caroline had been washed and rinsed, conditioned and rinsed again. The tub was still filling. Steve is an exceptionally efficient bath parent.

We had directed our efforts at the smaller one and totally missed the girl at the front of the tub who exploring the lever that moves the flow of water from spout to showerhead. By the time we realized it, she had already moved it, but it was me in my absolute panic that pushed it over to the wrong side in an effort to correct the potentially explosive situation. We so rarely use the showerhead in our main bathroom's tub that I had no idea which way to push it. My instincts told me to push it the opposite way she had moved it, but what I didn't realize was she had already started to move it back to its correct position.

The whoosh of the water on the kids' heads made them erupt in screams and the little one lost his peanuts. We could not get him out fast enough and the other one, she denied touching the lever. Our other new issue is fibbing despite my promises that I will never ever EVER get mad so long as she tells me the truth. Steve took Connor and I took over the duties of discussing the latest example of the difference between truth and lie.

We did not think to warn Kiki and Papa about the events of the previous evening until Sunday when we put Connor into the tub screaming, tears streaming down his sad face.

Same thing last night. We even put them in together again in an attempt to distract him. He loves his sister and if anyone could get him to play and forget where he was, it was Caroline. No dice. He briefly played with a toothbrush and a cup, but that only lasted as long as his fleeting atention span would allow.

Tonight I tried a different approach - bathing with him. I got him comfortable, but he would not let go of me for a single second. I was able to get him clean, but the tears still came, his body still tense and fearful.

I never thought we would have to condition a baby to take a bath again, but once again it is like BF Skinner over here.

This is called "is it really only Tuesday?" dinner

Cheesy chicken pepper hoagies - two thumbs up!

she fell and instead of crying she laughed

First time on skates. We took her to a local public skate tonight to test the waters. Before we spend the $$ on a learn to skate program only to be met with sad cries and outright refusals, we wanted to be sure it was something she really wanted to do and felt confident enough doing that she won't need Daddy out on the ice with her. Her rentals were 4 sizes too big, she couldn't stay on her feet at all solo, Daddy had to carry her around the ice most of the time, but she was beaming ear to ear - even when she fell.

She loved it so much she cried when we had to take her off the ice. Needless to say, we are in the market for a pair of size 8/9 youth hockey skates. Stat. Learn to skate starts in April.

Because we weren't going all the way there without seeing the princesses

Lunch, 9/9/2011 at cindy's castle with belle, cinderella, jasmine and snow white. I think my heart just exploded.

Greatest coup ever

Brought it out to help with my week of being single mom as a clutch safe place. He asked to go in and refuses to come out. I'm not complaining.

distraction to a fault

Be British I said. Speak quietly I said. That’s all well and good until Thursday morning rolls around and for the fourth day in a row I am chasing down Caroline to put on her shoes and sit at the table to have her beautiful but wild hair tamed. The fourth day in a row that she smiles and laughs as she escapes my grip, something I just am not willing to do anymore. No matter what I do to avoid becoming her shrill mother in the morning, I just cannot seem to escape the house without raising my voice to command her fleeting attention.


I know this is all a game to her, a game she is beating me badly at, but I am really done playing this foolish game with her at all hours of the day. For the most part it is trivial things like shoes and coats, but sometimes it is about hitting her brother, letting him play with her at the kitchen sink, and lately the bane of our existence; not putting down 25 blankets, pillows and dolls on the ground for naptime. It’s endearing to see her do this or to gather them all up for circle time, plastic eyes alarmingly staring straight ahead while she holds a book up for them to see. It’s endearing and incredibly frustrating because she is so overwhelmed at the task of cleaning all that up that it results in a symphony of “I don’t know HOW!”s and putting her hands to her face in the most Oscar worthy cry you have ever seen when we ask her clean up the mess/nap. We often tell her that “mats are closed,” when we walk downstairs for after dinner play. It’s a school term that really works; we tell her what is open – coloring, puzzles, a bin from the Expedit of her choosing, the kitchen, a game and she goes with it, but those blasted “mats.” It creates a huge issue because not only is it overwhelming to look at, but try to keep a 13 month-old from trudging through like Godzilla waking all those nappers up while she screams in protest. Mats are not for sibling playtime.

What a tangent!

When I have time I can come with a creative way to get her to do my bidding. Caroline is not happy about being asked to put on her pajamas? Simple, make the pajamas come alive in your hands and race all over, even have them pull you to the ground and she is giggling and sticking her legs out to get eaten by the crazy pajamas. Caroline won’t willingly go upstairs for a bath? Easy, remind her that she can run around naked before she hops into the tub. Problem is I don’t have the energy or time to come up with creative ways to get her to do EVERYTHING and honestly, I want her to just listen out of respect not because it is some fun thing I have created to distract her. What is she really learning if I never force this issue? I want her to show respect, to be a good listener and to be kind, but I don’t want her spending most of the time I see her each day sitting in a chair in the corner of her room.

I’m sure this is just an ebb in the constant ebb and flow of parenthood, but this one seems to feel like a defining moment in how we plan to achieve the coveted parents of well-behaved children status. Any hints?

overheard and observed

Observed this evening (and most nights) in the play area of the family room, a "mommy" chatting away on her phone (carefully tucked between her ear and shoulder), mixing spoon in one hand, pan of cut up veggies in the other, frantically stirring and adding water and slamming cabinets because she is just.so.busy.
Overheard this evening:

"Hi, I'm just taking care of my babies and making muffins. My baby loves muffins."
"My baby is just sleeping, she's a good baby, but sometimes she screams."

She often makes me pick up my phone and "talk" with her as the caller on the other end of the phone. She asks me about my babies and insists I call her Mommy. We chat about the weather, our kids, the stresses of caring for a family, working, and making a healthy meal. She's trying to teach me about work life balance. She's got some good ideas on the subject.

Yesterday Caroline was tip tapping away on the Elmo remote control pretending it was a phone. When we asked what she was doing: "I'm just checking my email." I am equal parts proud and horrified.
She also got the stalling techniques at bedtime beyond mastered these days. She blends in with her surroundings all snuggled up on the couch as quiet as a mouse hoping that if she can just hold her breath so no one hears her breathing we will forget she is there altogether and she can see ALL the American Idol contestants. When we bring her up to bed there are smiles to be decided on her responsibility chart, teeth to be brushed of course, but the actual act of bedtime she drags out with a flurry of "um, um, um, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I, I, I just love you." Recently she told me a story that melted me in exactly the way she had hoped because I laid down on that comfy bed with her and stroked her hair and smelled her preschooler goodness for awhile longer.

"Mommy, remember a long time ago when we lived really, really far away and we moved to Kiki and Papa's house? and then we went to the purple house, but it was broken so we found the white house (it's actually yellow, but whatevs!) and another family was living there, but now we live here? remember?"

At dinner tonight the master of the house (that's Connor) was unhappy that his chicken was not yet sufficiently cool and could I please HURRY. When I finally put the plate down with a harried "go to town" my little mimic insisted that he "go to town, Con, go to town."

You guys, she is seriously growing up and while there have been more than a fair amount of meltdowns and timeouts and ohhh the screaming (from both of us I am sad to admit), she can hold a whole conversation, tell you her opinion on a variety of topics and my god the things she says sometimes just absolutely blow my mind. She makes me laugh when I need it most. She pushes me over to the edge of insanity. She loves me fiercely and then hates me with the heat of a thousand suns.

I met a woman at a local park once. She was British and her child was so well-behaved. She spoke in such a quiet voice that I could barely hear her myself and yet there was her child LISTENING without an ounce of sass. "Now darling, wouldn't you like to go home and have an apple now, c'mon now, let's be going." AND SHE WENT, WILLINGLY, WITHOUT EVEN A SMIDGE OF DISCONTENT. Is there truly something to that? If you speak quietly will they listen more?

I tried it tonight when I was on the phone with a colleague and I watched her beat her brother's head several times with the pointy end of a large paintbrush. She denied it of course, she always denies it, because she knows I am going to be angry. She went right to her room where she stayed for two time outs because the first one didn't quite take. At bathtime she threw an absolute fit and was sentenced to bed directly following the bath, except that I knew she would be up there in her bed screaming and whining and didn't she wake up this morning before 6AM? I know we need to stand together as parents, but I took her little towel wrapped body close to me and told her quietly (without a british accent) that her behavior at bathtime really had been terrible and that she could not react that way to something she does nearly everyday, something she complains about ending when the water whooshes down the drain. I told her she needed to stick to me like glue and that at the first sign of sass she was going to bed. She was my shadow upstairs as I finished helping get Connor down for the night (thank you blasted eye teeth for that business). She played with Katie and at times joined in for Night 1 of the 30 Day Shred. She sat like a statue on the sofa watching the beginning of Glee with and when Gwyneth whipped out that condom it was off to bed without so much as a peep and zzzzzzz.

Take home: When losing your temper with the child that makes you want to poke your eye with a dull pencil, don't count to ten, pretend to be British. It works.

Desperation

We are turning Mickey into Santa for the next 6 months. It better work bc the behavior we have been dealing with is of the poke your eye out with a dull pencil variety. Perhaps a sprinkle of tinkerbell's fairy dust will help?

crackle

There is a fire crackling away, a cup of tea beside me, and both children are snuggled in their beds. Sounds pretty amazing if it were not 2:15pm on a weekday.

Connor was sick at school yesterday and needed to be picked up. He spent the greater part of the afternoon asleep on my chest, drool pooling under his chin, cute little sleep flinches in abundance. Had he not been so sick and had I not been so worried about him, it would have been the best weekday afternoon I've had in quite some time. We aren't quite sure what happened with Con. I had been under the weather on Sunday, but it was clear we were dealing with something much different yesterday. You don't want to hear details about vomit or poop, but it got us a bit worried, particularly when he had just started a new antibiotic the evening before for the ears that will not get clear. Poor kid has been sick since practically November straight on through and those ears have not been completely clear ever. This is the last medication we'll try before the ENT gets involved so OMNICEF, DO YOUR WORST. We're on high fiber probiotic overload.

While I sat with my sleeping sickie yesterday the phone rang and it was school again. The Director checked on Caroline at my request before I left with Connor because the only thing worse than picking up a sick kid from daycare is returning with one sick kid to pick up another. Caro had the green light then, but just hours later she had awoken from her nap with the croupy cough that signals an imminent cold and drippy nose. We put the humidifier on for her and crossed our fingers for a vomit free croup free evening. Steve got up early to head to Corporate today for an all day event and little miss croupy cough sounded her alarm arriving in bed feeling icky with a slight temp. Connor woke up feeling ok, but coughing a bit. I knew that the Director would be watching the kids like a hawk for signs of illness and would not hesitate to call me to collect them at the slightest signs. I thought Connor might be ok, but last time we played this game, he wasn't at all.

There is a lesson you learn quickly with kids in daycare. If they get sent home, they usually can't come back the following day. Choosing when to send them back is a chess match; too soon and you lose that day AND the following day, too late and you take a day off at home with a healthy kid. Negotiating your way around this takes skill and forethought and often just luck.

The Director told me Connor could come today if I felt he was fine because his vomit has really been just phlegm at school and he had no other symptoms. She left it up to me. I could have sent him, but I knew that one tiny cough, one phlegm ball, one pull of his ear and he'd be packed up waiting for me to arrive and that would mean no school Friday either. Seeing the shape Caroline was in and knowing she would benefit greatly from a low key, watch movies, take a nice long quiet nap day to get her on the road to recovery, I just kept them both home with me. I avoided the "pulled the trigger too soon" fear with Connor and it's likely she'll be feeling well enough to go back Friday as well.

It's my first sick day, my first PAID sick day, since Caroline was born. That was 2007 people.

This green tea with a side of multivitamin is both celebratory and an attempt to prevent the inevitable. Hoping that with the warm weather this weekend we can usher out the winds of winter and the sickness from this family once and for all.