A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: April 2017

Rebel Yell

Many swimming things in my mind the past couple weeks…some with the potential to be incredible…some notsomuch, but all have delayed my writing. I ran through my comfortable reserve with no motivation to cobble together the post that has consumed real estate in my gray matter for a month. Finally, here I am, and I hope it is worth the exceedlying long wait.

I posted Warrior Queen’s love of my singing shortly after her birth, something quite shocking to me…my voice is terrible, and generally I’ve never particularly had much yearning to break into song.

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(Nope.)

But, music is good for kids, so I buried my dignity in the backyard and danced on a field in the mountains with the rest of the crazies who get this shit. So imbedded in my routine throughout the last two years that I incorporate music instinctually all the time. It’s actually quite ridiculous. I find myself singing to myself whenever the kids are around regardless if I believe they are listening…Aren’t they ALWAYS listening?

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(Friendship Circle understands the cloak and dagger innate in small children…especially when it’s most inconvenient.)

I make-up random songs for random reasons. Sometimes it’s to announce a transition of little importance. Sometimes to urge Little Man to progress anywhere faster than a glacial meander…or move at all. Shockingly it works a good chunk of the time, and I have absolutely no idea why. Sometimes I’m simply excited…like the arrival of nap time…three-years-old Mr. Man continues to nap two hours in the afternoon. At times my son will ask me to repeat one of my spontaneous little ditties, and I usually can’t remember the lyrics for the life of me. Some occasions my inability to recreate vocal magic prompts a tantrum, but they are typically reserved for when I have a headache or desperately need to use the facilities. All in all, I’m surprised that my singing skill has improved, which is helpful for our broken glass budget allotment.

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(Opera singers…and Pinterest…have nothin’ on me. We started using plastic dishware long ago.)

Warrior Queen benefitted from my singing practices while residing comfortably in my uterus for thirty-seven-and-a-half weeks. Often I would feel her flip or move a certain way while I sang…or read. She was quite active throughout the pregnancy, but there was something unique to her movement during Little Man singalongs or story time. She always knew, and I always loved it. It’s one of the few positive memories from her wretched pregnancy. Consequent to the frequent occurrences of my singing, she’s primed to enjoy my melodious song renditions now that she exists in the outside world…lucky girl.

Her first word in the ten-months neighborhood was, “MMM…Meh…Mmmm…Meh.” It’s her version of Mommy, and I’m not kidding when I say it counts as a word. Warrior Queen utilized this specific speech pattern whenever she needed me. Now that she is mobile, she wails it throughout a pained crawl just to ensure I understand the depth of her displeasure, willing me to prepare and act accordingly. At this early stage it’s about the association. If she said /b/ while pointing to her bottle, that would be another word.

A few weeks ago, however, I witnessed her first and only sign. Little Man had a speech delay, so I’ve never experienced this phase, and let me say, it’s lovely. Having birthed two children, it seems a child rearing standard in our household that all the monumentally wonderful things first happen on the changing table…intelligent design perhaps? Warrior Queen at eleven-months is generally opposed to diaper changes, and forcefully asserts the degree to which she would rather not experience the situation. She doesn’t quite respond to playing with toys during the process like her brother two years ago. But, one morning she was decidedly unhappy with my diaper change pursuit, complaining quite vocally and squirming to grab the plastic bag we use to collect non poop wiping articles. I often sing to my children on the changing table. But, for whatever reason when I began singing my somewhat unique version of “Wheels on the Bus,” Warrior Queen snapped her head to look me in the eyes, absolutely delighted. I ran through the first verse to which she enthusiastically signedmore.” She is little, so it looks more like applauding than anything else, but it is marvelous nonetheless.

Since that first instance, Warrior Queen continues to urge my continuation of music, but she’s discovered that she will be awarded other pleasant things at her request…like ice cream. My favorite moment of late was during my own relatively rare ice cream indulgence. My husband holding our fierce sprite of a girl, but she was facing me staring down my mug of ice cream with a slightly protruding tongue movement that is akin to slow motion lip smacking. I suppose it is never too early to salivate for something as grand as ice cream, and my daughter is certainly a budding foodie like her big brother…and mommy. After a few of my spoon to mouth taunts, Warrior Queen signed “more;” naturally I obliged.

An interesting result I wasn’t expecting as I dusted off my baby signing form of communication; Little Man began doing the same. It isn’t the complete breadth of vocabulary he used before the floodgate of chatter emerged a little under a year ago, but he periodically throws random correct context signs I haven’t introduced to his baby sister quite yet. At times it’s like he forgets he knows how to speak…or his hands move magically without his conscious thought. Sometimes his sparsely signed words are in response to conversation in the background while he sings something unrelated.

Little Man may very well have a gift for music…possibly perfect pitch. He certainly didn’t receive such a skill from me. Warrior Queen is beginning to communicate beyond her wails of displeasure and giddy chuckles. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t see it as such, I wonder what gifts she will bring.

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Schooled

Little Man began “preschool” roughly a month ago. It isn’t quite a regular preschool program, but the differences between the two aren’t worth the effort to differentiate. It is a private program, not our original intention. I hoped we would enroll him in our town’s preschool, but considering we drew 109 out of a possible 113 lottery slots, it is more likely pigs will fly and I will lose my taste for chocolate before we will be called from the waitlist.

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(Church of Halloween processed our paperwork.)

In general I prefer public education. Certainly, there are quality private ones, but there isn’t necessarily the same level of accountability and oversight in the private sector as there is in the public. The ease of terrible, weird shit occurring is a topic absent from discussions about charters and privatizing our nation’s education. There is also the issue that our town’s public preschool is a fraction of private school tuition. It’s easy to see the seeds of socioeconomic disparity and academic achievement even at this early stage. Quite crudely, our children will benefit greatly from our means…This shit is expensive.

The school we chose for Little Man is middle of the road in terms of cost. It is also the one a friend in a neighboring town sends her two older children, and probably the younger one when the time comes. An added bonus is that her middle child, a close friend of Mr. Man’s, may very well be in the same class come fall. My friend raved about this school. I also know of another woman in my town who sends her older child. He was somewhat recently diagnosed with a brand of Autism that makes him a challenge to manage behaviorally. Paired with his large frame, it’s been a struggle for the family. I’m not friends with her, only interacting with her a MPOTUS sized handful of times. The last occasion I ran into her was by chance. I’m not sure how the discussion occurred, but she also raved about the school. Our tour was a good experience, but there aren’t so many options for me to be choosey. If we want him enrolled in preschool, this is it. I’m lucky this is the positive option it is.

One day a week Little Man is carted to school for a three-and-a-half hour morning. Hopefully, we can add a second day before school is out for the summer. It’s a play-based program, which was most important to me…A budding preschooler needs play above all else for his education.

I’ve been told my son has strong attachment. He’s never exhibited any type of social anxiety, even a normal level of it. I’m not sure what gives, but Warrior Queen is almost a year-old, and while she is quite feisty, she appears to be chill like her brother in this same regard…We’ll see if she continues on a similar path as her big brother. I knew dropping Little Man to school wouldn’t be an issue. The peanut gallery was noisily fretting because it is quite a long morning for such a small person, but I knew he would be fine. My son struggles with transitions, so we spent a week or so discussing school. He was with us for the tour a few weeks prior. By the time the big day rolled around, he was ready and couldn’t have cared less that I left. He trotted off, and Warrior Queen and I went home. It was a weird feeling stepping into our house…I felt like I was forgetting something important.

I arrived on time to retrieve my big man to the chorus of, “We had a scheduled fire drill this morning.” Yikes, poor kid has trouble with certain, random loud noises. I was told by multiple adults that he was trying to “keep it together” through the process. He managed just fine otherwise. His teachers went to great lengths to tell me how exceptionally well he did for his age on a first day. I heard many comments to the tune of, “Talk about go with the flow…” Sigh, that’s my sweet little man. But, the look of excitement on his face upon seeing me makes all right with the world. For as little as he cares that I leave, he is dichotomously excited I’ve arrived to retrieve him.

Little Man has been attending school for a bit over a month now. In that time I’ve heard him detail exciting play events…a puppet show…sandbox…painting…some kid named James. But, as much as the activities thrill him, most weeks have included some type of horrible loud noise that chipped away at my brave soul’s stubborn grit. The second week was uneventful…the third the fire alarm was mistakenly awakened by workmen…the subsequent week an electric drill frayed my son’s resolve.

In general I try to make a point of not promising things to my children that are out of my control. I never told my son the next school day would be without a fire drill. I would say it probably won’t occur, but it might. So, conversation would focus around discussion of said drill, and what transpires as a result. He seemed okay with the fire drill, but the tool was something else. I hadn’t realized the extent to which he was bothered by this specific noise…or maybe it was a culmination. He chatted about the “regular drill” the entirety of the weekend, but he often focuses on random things…telling stories of specific interest to him. Another item on the top of the list was his excitement to tell one of his teachers he dressed himself in his quiet time pants all by his lonesome.

But, during our morning wake-up routine my son chatted with increasing distress about a random thing. It didn’t take long to realize he was quite freaked about going to school in the event of another rendition of “Workman Drill in Loud Vibrating Sharp.” My poor sweet boy began crying, repeating the phrase, “It was a regular drill, not a fire drill.” The school is in the throws of a never ending construction project; I certainly can’t insist his day will be drill or bothersome noise free, but he was so terribly upset. My little man so cheery and optimistic about adventures was trying his best to persevere, but in the process reluctance and fear oozed from his small stature. Clothed, I pulled my sobbing son on my lap, and we made a plan. I would speak to his teacher about him traveling out of the area in the event he encounters another drill during the day. That was enough. Residual tears continued to leak, but he prattled on about some of the more interesting possibilities he might encounter…interchanged with what we discussed for his drill plan.

We pulled into the parking lot; my son repeating his special plan on a liquid courage loop, becoming increasingly distressed as we wound our way to his classroom. Interesting, he never refused or tantrumed…always the one to confront his fears. I admire that about him. We arrived a bit early, running into one of his teachers as she exited the room…I told her of his distress as my son stood there trying to keep his cool. But, as I relayed the weekend and morning, and about to launch into my proposed plan; the lead teacher spied us. She probably overheard something, because she announced there would be no drilling…They spoke to the workmen and arranged for such pursuits to remain on hiatus while my little man was in attendance.

My son calmed in progressive intervals before I left the area, but I called an hour into his day just to be sure. Even as I felt confident he was having a grand ol’ time, I needed the reassurance…I received it, and planned a normal pick-up time for a boisterous and excited toddler.

It’s the weekend again, and he still mentions the drill periodically, even if there isn’t the same edge as last weekend. I’m not promising him a wonderful repeat of last Monday. I’ll speak with the teachers in the morning, and hope. But, my son and I resurrected our plan…just in case. He’ll be okay…so will I.

But, here is a pondering concern that nags at my peripheral mind. While I am so very proud of my son’s risk taking…his inclination to be strong in the face of adversity even as such a small child; I worry I am communicating to him that it is a flaw to feel vulnerable…to cry or break down in fear. Certainly, I want both children to be fighters, but I don’t want either to shirk or judge themselves harshly for moments of frailty. I don’t want them to treat themselves they way I treat myself…Perhaps I’m over thinking it. For now my son enjoys school…sans drill. So, in a couple days time I look forward to another drive home filled with tales of a puppet show…sandbox…painting…some kid named James, mingled with broken toddler statements that there was no drill of any kind.

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