Derek called to tell me that he had just gotten back from lunch with our friend Laura. It seems that her nearly two-year-old has been giving them a run for their money, too.
I had been starting to believe that we were the only people with crazy children. I know it's not true, but sometimes it feels this way. In fact, Nathan just got dropped off from school yesterday with a comment that he had bitten another child in the class. There are only eight children in his class. He has bitten three of them. Which means 50% of the class since he clearly can't get in trouble for biting himself. When I asked him why he bit poor victim number 3, he yelled, "it was MINE, Mommy."
Um, no, it wasn't. It wasn't yours. I'm pretty sure of that since we don't take anything to school with us. I'm pretty sure it was the school's. Whatever it was. But back to our friend.
It appears that just before Christmas, Baby Girl hopped over not one but two gates around the Christmas tree and her mother only realized this as she heard her glass ornaments shatter against the wall. It seems that Baby Girl was throwing the ornaments because she liked the sound they made as they hit the wall. And then there were the heirloom fabric ornaments that she attempted to flush down the toilet a few days later after filling the bowl.
K: Tell me you didn't laugh.
D: It was funny.
K: No, it's not funny.
D: Oh, it's funny when it's not your kid who is doing it.
They had discussed failed nap times and nearly snapping and slowing feeling like you are losing your mind. I felt this conversation was wasted on my husband. He usually makes it until 20 minutes into bathtime before bed before he starts freaking out because the boys have started this really awesome game of sliding down the back of the tub at the same time to see how big a splash they can send into the far wall before the wave veers over onto the floor.
And I don't even do bathtime. I guess that's because by 7:15, I'm already rocking in a corner, babbling inconsolably. At least today I'm not the person who is mourning her Christmas ornaments. We may be a small band of parents of ill-behaved, mischievous children but we know how to stick together. Now would be a good time to tell me your best story of "spirited" behavior by your child. I could use the company. Go on.
It used to be that we knew everything there was to know about babies in our house. We were veritable baby experts with a thousand baby tricks and a hundred baby books on our shelves and more well-researched opinions than any one household in America.
Then our babies turned into toddlers and all the fleeting discussions about a third passed and then we were parents of elementary school age kids and that was that. Now I ask silly questions like, "Would the baby like some pizza?" and "Do you think she'd like to sit here or there?" not having any recall really about what babies do and don't do. I honestly don't remember. All I wish for is that they feel included. And that they do NOT cry.
Crying, I do remember. Crying I still can't take even for one second.
This weekend I had the chance to spend a little time with baby Lyra, Patience's fourth (and final?) baby. We stared at each other for long spells until someone laughed or the other one smiled. She's something, that Lyra. She watches and waits to see where her dear ones are in the room. She sits quietly waiting for her moment, just in case you're curious to see her sweet, slow smile.
I like to think of babies as new friends. Lovely little people I am just this minute getting to know. I feel responsible that they are so new. I hope they know they are welcome in the world and that the people around them are glad they arrived, just in time. I think of this now when I meet grownups who eat pizza and sit wherever they want without a second thought. Each one of us used to be a tiny baby, I think. Each one of us used to be so fragile, so calm.
I hope you will be gentle and kind to the crying, screaming, not smiling babies today--the one in your house AND the one in your heart. I hope you will think about the beginning when you were little like Lyra and needed the simplest things like someone to sit with you, someone to hold you, someone to wait for your sweet smile. You still need it. You really, really do.
It's a rare occurrence to see those gummy little fruit snacks in my pantry. All I can see are the judgey Jane eyes of nutrionists and dentists everywhere when I pass them in the snack aisle. I then imagine my college aged kids buying them by the case load to keep stashed in their dorm rooms because "mom never let us have these", so I pick up a package like 4 times a year. This same logic does not apply to pizza and ice cream apparently which I am happy to purchase with zero guilt, go figure.
I bought Lucy some My Little Pony fruit snacks and thought since it's such an exciting treat, I would throw one in Jack's bag for his snack time at school. I wondered if the My Little Ponyness was a little young so I took them out of the bright pink packaging and put them in a small container.
"Mom, I don't want to take these to school." he said.
"Why? I thought you LOVED fruit snacks!" I replied.
"My friends will make fun of me, it's okay, thanks anyway mom." he said looking a little resigned.
"Oh dear, this is a problem. But what if you like them, I say blow off your friends." said with my most brave voice. "Let's ask Josiah if he has any advice, he's been in kindergarten before."
We tell Josiah the problem and he returns with a very flat and matter of fact, "Just tell them, Stop making fun of me, I like my fruit snacks."
Jack replies, "I'll just eat them now, how about that?", the advice offered being rendered completely useless.
"I think I know how you feel Jackie, I don't want anyone to make fun of me either. I used to be so worried about it when I was a kid. I still get worried about it sometimes. I think it kept me from trying some things I wanted to do but I had to learn a little bit at a time. You'll figure it out, it's okay."
Ummm, I'm still figuring it out. I promptly called my sister to analyze this parenting pitfall and obsess over my own childhood. She, much like Josiah, made it simple.
Go light with with him. Make your house and family the safe place. Tell him: "No problem buddy, We'll keep the My Little Pony fruit snack love on the down low. How about you have them when you get home?"
Problem solved. How is it that we even attempt to parent without the village?
I ask you supersister readers, what would you have done? or what do you do when the potential of projecting your past onto your kid creeps up? Let us know, oh wise ones, in the comments.
For Christmas we got Ethan the game Chutes and Ladders. It was only when we broke the box out today that I remembered the whole concept of the game.
You spin the wheel. Sometimes you get lucky and end up at the bottom of a big ladder and sometimes you end up at the top of a long slide. I had forgotten how this game makes you feel. In case you had forgotten, it makes you feel lousy when you are playing with Mr. Lucky (Dad) and you are the kid that seems to continuously ending up at the top of that slide. Ethan and I watched as Derek made it to spot 89 while I hovered in the 50's and Ethan couldn't seem to make it past 30.
I'll admit it. I had an urge to cheat. When my spin came, I silently prayed that I would spin a 4 so I would drop below my son. His father did cheat. He rolled a 6, did a complicated counting maneuver and landed on the long slide down to the bottom.
D: See, Ethan. Sometimes you get lucky and go up a ladder and sometimes you have to go down a slide. The important thing is being a good sport.
He wasn't having any part of being the good sport. It wasn't fair and he wasn't even sure he knew why it wasn't fair. He was just annoyed at his bad luck.
We tried to hang in until the bitter end but we didn't quite make it. I know we have this whole movement now that says that all kids are winners and everyone is the same, but that isn't really true. There will always be someone who is faster than you or smarter than you or more winsome than you. You should learn how to be a good sport and be supportive of others when they are doing better than you. It's just a life lesson I'm not sure is easily taught to a three-year-old. Oh, heck. It's not going to get any easier as he gets older, is it? So I think for now we'll just put the game away. Maybe we need to find a game that is based on skill rather than luck. It seems slightly more honest. I just don't know.
Whatever stage your child is in right now will pass.
You will be delighted to discover the next stage of parenting brings both happiness and new challenges.
You will discover new strategies to deal effectively with those new challenges.
You will not do so, however, without the counsel and kindness of a dear friend.
If you do not already own a pet, you will be petitioned endlessly to reconsider.
Someone, probably your two year old, will have a meltdown in the grocery store.
You will consider doing something new to your hair as the solution to all your current parenting dilemmas.
Your new hair will help.
You will experience waves of terror considering that all these little people will someday grow up and leave you.
This thought will be followed by long daydreams about the cleanliness of your house, the purchase of a white couch and the bliss of your grown-up vacations together.
You will continue to do your best thinking in the car, when everyone is either plugged in or sleeping.
You will discover that doing random acts of kindness with your children is an unusual kind of happiness.
You will decide that taking turns with children, when it's your turn is overrated, and that sometimes it's okay to require exactly what you need.
Relax will be your new mantra and you will master the art of the stolen snappy nappy.
You will find deep satisfaction in simple things--like rainboots (see above), crisp fresh apples and take-out dinner rescue.
You will go a little easier on yourself knowing you aren't in it alone.
Feel free to add your predictions for the new year, including any topics or parenting trends you'd like to see discussed in this space in the year to come.
I officially declare 2009 as the year of the nap. No seriously, we all need a nap don't you think? 2008 proved to be a challenging year for my family, hard on all levels and ways. I think more than anything, we need a rest and lots of recovery. More play, more fun, more sleep. Is it a pipe dream my friends? We are experts at lounging over here so I'm guessing it will be a returning to our roots a bit.
My friend Jen Lee has this great podcast about a cherry pie and all the lessons simple things can hold. Kissing perfectionism goodbye, letting go and being together is the thing. I can feel it.
Much peace and joy to you and all those you hold dear all as you start this new year of 2009.
How did that happen? Remember when you were a kid and it felt like you were spending your entire life waiting for the next big event (birthday? holiday? summer vacation?)? Your mother used to say, "just wait until you get older because time moves so fast." I thought my mother was lying (sorry, Mom), but now I am old and time sure flies.
I'm normally against the whole New Year's resolution thing but Jen had some great points about making resolutions that were do-able and not destined for failure. I, on the other hand, intend to make 2009 the year of doing the impossible. Having had such low expectations for myself for the last 10 years or so, it's the least I can do. So here they are.
1. Lose 50 pounds by my high school reunion. Don't get all panicky on me. I'm pregnant. Although those sites that tell you exactly how much everything weighs inside of you when you are pregnant is lying. I gave birth to an 8 lb., 8 oz. baby last time and only instantly lost 8 pounds. This weight loss goal might be interesting if a) I keep eating, b) I have a big ol' baby and c) someone sends me an invite on facebook telling me that the reunion is in the next 6 months. I mean, I am having a baby in three months but by golly, I'll just get J. Lo's trainer if need be. If God loves me, the reunion will be in August or September. If God has a sense of humor, I'll be buying a belly bandit for a May reunion.
2. Get a computer to actually function in my house that will allow me to post pictures. All those really horrible pictures I have been posting? They don't lie about the quality of the I-Phone's picture. But I have saved up my pennies and now I just might be able to download pictures onto a desktop that will not send the blue screen of death my way with every 5 MB picture. I'll let you know how this goes.
3. Run my children every single day. I know. Sounds like I am talking about a dog, but these kids of mine have more energy than a lab pup. When their father came home from work last night, he sat in stunned silence as the kids took turns climbing over him on the couch and trying to sit on his head. "Didn't you exercise them today?" Like they are horses. Multiple laps around the house will now be mandatory and I am still looking for a child's size hamster wheel that can be connected to a makeshift energy generator. I'll bet my kids could heat my house in the winter if we could harness that energy.
4. Clean the kitchen more than once a week. Don't look at me that way. I hate cleaning the kitchen. I might even go all crazy and do laundry too before my husband just resorts to buying underwear and socks from Target.
I am totally going to do these impossible things this year. You should set some impossible goals for yourself. If you aim low, you never get disappointed. If you aim high and succeed, you think you are the awesomest person in the world. That's gonna be me this year. Just pick one thing. You can do it.