A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: tantrums

Life as Pictures: a day or two…or three in an ordinary life

Has it really been so long since I’ve managed this form of post? I like to mix it up, but here I was thinking it’s been endless publications of this same format…Oh, how I’ve been mistaken!

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Remarkable the way times change… When Little Man was born, I’d religiously experience a Saturday lonesome outing. It was miraculous! These days such frequency ebbs and flows…mostly ebbs at the moment. My go-to had always been to attend my Weight Watchers meeting before jetting off to the expansive mall down the street…sometimes some errands that would be easier to accomplish sans cherubs. I never used to be a mallrat, but sometimes it’s pleasant to be around a crowd of people. Staying home can be lonely and isolating, and while not perfect, sometimes it is a comfort to just meander with other meandering people. I’ve also turned into a weird kind of chatterbox. I have no qualms with talking to random people. Interestingly, no one places me as some crazy person intruding on their solitude. It’s a rare thing to be unable to bring forth a chuckle from a stranger that happens to be loitering within close proximity to me. Lately, however, I discovered an exceptionally pleasant diversion. I go to a frequent weekly meal haunt, but without my children. It’s rather luxurious. I eat lunch on my terms…without heartburn. I had been buying a three pack of the above cookies, but I must lament that they are no longer as tasty as they used to be. That discovery was a bit traumatic for me. But, I’ll sit down…read a book that’s been in progress for years. I read quite a bit during the week, but my diversions are among the collection residing in my tablet. I actually like this book a great deal, but it’s usually a disaster to pull it out in the house. So, it remains a sporadic treat for the time being.

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I’ve mentioned my fiberware. This is no longer the current progress update of my second ever afghan composed of the yarn stash I couldn’t bear to toss. I crochet about a row or so daily. I’m about three or four colors further as I post this.

The newly minted two-year-old Warrior Queen has tantrums about getting dressed most of the time. I’ve found a loophole that works about eighty percent of the time; imperfect, but I’ll take it. Getting a sharp kick to the throat on a regular basis is tiresome even under the best of circumstances. It’s a simple intervention, really. I allow her to choose her ensemble. I appreciate the way she throws items together, as I am one for clashing patterns and askew color combinations in my wardrobe…aside from my penchant for unnecessarily endless varieties of black dresses… My fierce girl loves pink, as well as cars and trucks, so stereotypes be damned! She also adores hats, and has excellent taste. It’s a challenging time of year. Her current clothing is too small for the most part, particularly the shirts that are currently reminiscent of 1980s belly shirts. The weather hasn’t been consistently nice enough to transition to the appropriate garb, but at least she’s little, so no one thinks twice that she looks ridiculous. Besides, with outfit pairings such as this, she would naturally be forgiven for an ill fitting wardrobe. My girl can rock the penguins combined with pants I affectionately term “Bubbe’s sofa.”

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I’ve mentioned my resistance to going outside. On a pleasant day I’m usually fine once I’m in the throws of the outdoors, but I consistently find excuses to remain inside…It’s probably why I need to consume almost the maximum dosage of vitamin D in supplement form. Warrior Queen and I had just dropped off Mr. Man for his morning at preschool. I’d committed to taking her immediately to a park or outside on our front lawn. It was supposed to be a beautiful sunny day, and I’m trying to commit to spending more time with the kids outdoors (spoiler alert: I still suck at it pretty profoundly). Warrior Queen decided that she didn’t want to make an appearance at one of our local playgrounds. Rather, she preferred to run with reckless abandon on the preschool’s property. I followed her as she climbed the various stairs, subsequently running down the ramps. I even chased her, soaking in her delightful giggles.

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The rare moment Warrior Queen sat. It was a fleeting instant. I think she just wanted to try it out to see if it was for her…It wasn’t.

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Fantastic hat, right?

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Warrior Queen also loves bows…all of them. I strategically place the remaining three on the other side of her head, and by “strategically” I mean I land them wherever they will stick on a moving target that squeals a somewhat garbled, “More bows!” It likely doesn’t help that I’m usually laughing as I lumber over whatever death and destruction my kids plot from their toy carnage haphazardly strewn everywhere we told them not to. And, for whatever reason all I can think from my fierce girl’s request for hair adornment is, “More cowbell!”

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We went to some kind of local festival with a llama theme; I assume in memory of Anna Dewdney. It was exceptionally well organized affair and a beautiful day. This particular game was pin the tail on the llama…I think. Mr. Man didn’t really move past the desire to wear the mask. The game efforts themselves were unremarkable, but at one point he pulled the mask up briefly to give me an air kiss before returning the mask to the above rightful place.

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After spending an exorbitant amount of time trying to convince Little Man to visit the alpacas, this was pretty much the only view to behold…

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This is mid tantrum…I opened the door. It’s sad I don’t have a video of one of her exhibitions, as they are impressive with their gusto. They have an incredible fortitude and limber quality to them. Certainly she’s loud and has a proclivity for ample tears on demand, but the flailing is a sight to behold. She literally pounds the ground with her fists and kicks her feet as one would expect any trite child caricature. Additionally, she kind of rocks her body in a spastic back and forth motion; occasionally looking up at me to ensure she has my attention. Inevitably she notices that I’m essentially laughing at her or I casually ask her if she’s done. That usually doesn’t go well, so she perseveres. Her tantrums amuse me because they just keep going…until they don’t. Often I won’t give into her demand, so she changes her demand mid stream…only she’s too upset to really communicate it…Consequently she’ll keep crying and screaming. At some point I figure it out from what I can only assume is divine intervention. It’s usually something reasonable and fine. I fulfill her request, and then it’s over like the episode never happened. She does her awesome toddler prance-trot off to play or whatever all smiles and sweetness, wiping the hair from her face…sometimes asking for a tissue. More times than not these days the act of asking for and receiving said tissue is enough to end the tantrum.

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This kind of dress is not my bag, but I saw it for cheap, and simply knew my feisty girl would love it. She watched me as I removed the tags and pushed it into the hamper for a first washing. Warrior Queen rooted it out, and demanded she wear it that very moment. How could I deny her such a request?

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Watermelon might be my girl’s favorite food among a long list of other favorites. Perhaps this one is more reliably eaten than others? This was day #2 of the pale pink ballerina dress. She woke-up requesting it. The dress was fairly soiled from a mere several hours of play the day before, but there was absolutely no amount of convincing that could be managed. I suppose the look on her face wearing it for the second day in a row is enough to assuage the dreaded Mom Guilt. Not than anyone could tell from her wardrobe selection for the day, but it’s eighty degrees outside. For the life of me I couldn’t even convince her to shrug off her sweater. I purchased it because it was three dollars, and I needed a bigger sweater for her just in case. I had no notion she would become so passionate about it. Maybe because it’s colorful and subtly shimmers? The pants sparkle too…and her shoes are multicolored hearts…The girl likes to make a statement!

The memories feel like they fly by, and I don’t have enough documentation of their every wonder. The knowledge of forgotten morsels break my heart; I want to remember all of those perfect times. More-seasoned-than-I parents offer an almost universal nugget of unsolicited advice, that I should enjoy every moment. I think that’s complete bullshit. Every moment is not worth enjoying…but so many are. I deeply wish to forget some of my parenting encounters, but others I want to stretch so I can savor them for an eternity. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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When Tenacity is Rewarded

Horrible night’s sleep, which included a nightmare of sexual assault…because I’m watching too much political news these days. I was awake at four, and on a positive note, completed my entire ninety minute exercise routine before the cherubs stirred. Even more rare, my son and daughter slept so long that I also was quite productive with my writing.

A meeting at a local coffee house during my son’s playgroup went well, and a new system for a the inevitable spontaneous feeding was phenomenal. I can’t believe such an approach never occurred to me before. I suppose it’s the expertise of a subsequent child. But, glorious system to assist with the relatively unpredictable aside, my part-time employment/volunteer work is pulling together so well that I wonder if I need to pinch myself. I would think this even if I continued to work entirely for free, but I received my first paycheck for a four-month project a couple days ago. It’s a small stipend, but will pay for a good amount of chocolate, tea, and the occasional ten dollar cardigan or dress. And, let me talk about the amazing cookies I discovered at this exceptionally expensive establishment. The amount of butter involved preserves the day old discounted confections, and my taste buds were singing my praises hours after the cookies were consumed.

On the way home, we stopped at a local orchard that has a small assortment animals. Little Man lasted forty-five minutes, eating the apple he pilfered from me. He trotted along shrieking at the penned residents. This visit he ignored the goats and sheep, but once again gawked excitedly at the chickens screaming, “Cluck! Cluck!” with delight. His favorite fare these days seems to be the pumpkins for some unknown reason. I wore Warrior Queen, watching him as bliss consumed me. I followed my son around the area to the soundtrack of goats possessing the distinct bleats of old men attempting to rise from a recliner.

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(Can’t you just hear this one saying, “Get off my lawn?”)

Time was uneventful once we arrived home. My son had a bath, and we rolled right along. I sensed Mr. Man might be succumbing to another cold. His sudden wailing wake-up only and hour into his nap confirmed he wasn’t feeling so grand.

My daughter was sleeping peacefully at the time, but that wouldn’t last long. Once downstairs, Little Man tantrumed for hours until just before my husband arrived home from work. My son’s displeasure awakened the fierce one, who took her big brother’s screaming as a challenge. After some time, she yielded to Mr. Man’s tirades, immediately ceasing to cry. I’m used to this periodic unpleasantness; she was surprised, and just stared at him in bewilderment. At one point she briefly looked at me aghast, before returning her attention to him.

Toddler tantrums are funny beasts. What does one do with a small unhappy person overcome with misery because I’m willing to do exactly what it is he wants? I’m not sure how long it lasted; time stalls during these events, but Little Man eventually calmed enough to utter, “Piggies out,” and climbed on my outstretched limbs. He nestled into my chest and neck while I read book after book. My daughter finally smiled midway through the second story. My son paused his affection to quickly retrieve his disease infested stuffed dog, but otherwise the three of us remained in the same position until we heard the garage door open.

I don’t like them so unhappy, and the duration of these episodes tries my sanity. But, once the dust settles from the uproar, I wish the snuggles to last forever.

Travel Log

There is one significant distinction between schlepping one kid around and the addition of another.  With one child any daily traveling was mostly uneventful.  I could go an entire outing not having to change a diaper or even stop to eat…But, I love to eat, especially out, so Mr. Man luncheons were often superfluous additions to our schedule…  Sure, there was the occasional public tantrum that amounts to a belly flop dive in the middle of a main walkway, or my son jamming something horrible in his mouth as I do a Matrix style freeze frame deciding on what level my freak-out should be.

With two, however, dumb shit happens just about every schlep; It’s pretty remarkable, actually.  It isn’t so much that things become heinous or terrible to endure, but as events unfold I’m acutely aware of how stupid and unnecessary the situation is, yet completely unavoidable.

The toy-play bonanza historically was my go-to, especially during pregnancy.  Reliably uneventful, mostly free from stupid stuff occurring.  Now, however, I carry two.  I took my little ones to a different one to vary things.  I’m still adjusting and stick to the reliable and pleasant…for me…  Things were going well.  I’m dancing around to the surprisingly good and kid friendly music with the almost six-week-old Warrior Queen snoozing away in my carrier.  I feed her without incident.  My daughter is pro spit-up, so lasting through an entire feeding without such an event occurring is remarkable in and of itself.  It was time to go, so I didn’t bother to tuck her back into the wrap.  I carried her and began my trips to and from the car that I parked just outside the door.  Little Man was last, and so far mostly oblivious to my actions; his girlfriend was working.  Warrior Queen was buckled in, and I hustle to get Mr. Man who tantrumed for a brief moment for show…all moving according to plan…until I smelled it.  No way I’m leaving my girl in the car while I take my two-year-old to the bathroom to change the noxious lump he was harboring in his diaper…car trunk it is…  The change was awkward, but easier than usual…I didn’t get kicked in the face and Little Man giggled as the wind danced across his bare bottom.  The situation wasn’t catastrophic or all that unmanageable, but stupid nonetheless.

Park and playground outings are becoming more reliable sources of entertainment as my son has started liking the outdoors.  I’m still hesitant to go to them as a mainstay occupation, as he doesn’t endure all that long and I don’t like bugs.  I will, however, take him as an auxiliary activity, especially if I can rope in a friend or two to join us.  One particular playground outing occurred in our town.  The structures are new and the area expansive, as the playground is part of a larger recreational area.  My son was running along the field and the perimeter of the woods selecting and handing me random rocks, acorns, and pine cones.  I’m not sure why; he started acknowledging that I toss them almost as soon as he hands them to me.  He doesn’t seem to care even when I’m not all that covert about the sudden nature expulsion.  I don’t know what dead animal my son eagerly grabbed, but he managed it full fisted…I calmly asked him to release the decayed bit of fur or feathers while internally running though the possible diseases leading to death my son exposed himself to…and that’s why parents carry hand sanitizer…except this parent.  I clearly need to get on the bandwagon…

I really haven’t been carting two children for more than a few weeks, this week was the first time it was my show for the duration.  How can such a short time span yield so many stories because I’m not all that interesting of a person?  Mondays we tend to go to a free library program that is pretty good and short.  This particular Monday I’m describing, though, had us leaving the house late, but I couldn’t say why this day was such a problem.  I’m pretty good about getting out of the house.  I guess it was just a lot of dumb little things like a bag of crayons getting tangled on my purse strap (They are both inanimate objects.  How did that even happen?), and the same purse getting caught on the garage door knob as I was exiting carrying the bucket car seat…I need to get a different purse.  We arrived at the library just as the program started, but it was at capacity.  I take the kids to the walled in patio because it would be safe from anything eventful, right?  Wrong.  My torrid tangle of toddler managed to dump over three pots of dirt that looked to be a children’s group planting project before I even had a moment to register the destruction before me.  I wonder if they have “Wanted” signs at libraries.

Another day later during the week, we were on the way to the bonanza.  I missed the drive thru turn, so decided it would not be a day for an iced tea…totally changed my mind after the following disaster.  Then, I was on a mission.  But, the initial pursuit was not meant to be.  The later attempt not much better, sadly yielding empty hands.  No lemon, fine, but then they tried to hand me an iced green tea.  I have a newborn.  What’s the point of that?  The cashier tells me that they were out of the regular.  I think they just messed up my order.

In between the depressing iced tea fiasco, I took my children to our less frequented indoor play spot; it was Little Man’s girlfriend’s one day off…bad sign.  Usually my son handles disappointment pretty well…for a toddler, which translates to him refraining from burning down the establishment.  But, this day it was bad enough his squeeze was absent, but he REALLY was unhappy we could not join the music class in the back room.  I get it.  The guy had a guitar, and Mr. Man will be the next frustrated musician complaining about the industry and poo-pooing the latest talentless rage while he continues to live in our basement.  For the first time ever he wanted to leave after only an hour, but it was time for my fierce girl to eat, so my son would need to wait.  Not usually a problem, c’mon, this place has toys, slides, and a bouncy castle…  But, alas, he started launching a wooden toy that might be a Jetsonesque lamp for the full size doll house.  I had to stop feeding the Warrior Queen so I could snatch my son for a time-out.  As I tended to him, my girl started exerting her hunger battle cry, which oddly is less dramatic than the poop one.  Holding my son’s leg with one hand, I plunked the bottle back in my daughter’s mouth with my other hand.  I did that twice before my son gave in and demonstrated dramatic “gentle hands” with every object he selected from the floor.  Not soon enough we are able to leave.  I tried to be quick, but my Mr. Man completely lost whatever miniscule cool he had.

Ten or so minutes from home we drive past a pretty good playground.  I had been feeling bad that on such a beautiful day I chose to take the cherubs somewhere inside.  It was still early, so we stopped.  My son doesn’t last all that long on playgrounds, but it’s always more than ten minutes.  Little Man enjoyed the swings and wanted to leave much sooner than the typical thirty minutes he usually indulges before running cattywampus on every structure he can manage.  Sounded good to me though.  I was schvitzing up a storm.  But, on my son’s lead, we enter a grocery store and proceeded to roam aimlessly like crazy people before he fell and slammed his face on some part of the cart with a car front stores started getting in solidarity with parents…kind of, have you tried maneuvering these things?  Maybe the real reason for fleets of them is so at the end of a long shift employees can watch and amuse themselves even if they have to perpetually fix displays.  Regardless, my son could sport a shiner badge of honor for his clumsiness…

Everyone buckled in the car for our journey home, the drive surprisingly quiet.  Both kids wanted to be fed almost immediately upon entering our homestead…because they always want to eat at the same time.  Some day that will be sweet, but not this day.  Little Man finishes his meal, my daughter lagging.  My son was tired exhibiting his telltale impulsiveness.  He climbed on the table winging his unfinished and half chewed food everywhere.  I ignore him and continued to feed his sister.  The only indication of my annoyance was the vein about to rupture in my forehead.  Mr. Man either realized his commotion wasn’t working or he developed a last ditch appreciation for my mental state, climbed down from the table and in a sleepy daze snuggled into me while I sat uncomfortably in a mild contortionist pose at the kitchen table.  I couldn’t resist giving him smooches.  After all, everyone is a douche when cranky…pretty sure I’m not an exception, but I’m hesitant to ask my husband.  Maybe I can’t avoid dumb shit from happening now that we are a troop of three, but at least I earn my sofa time.

Dreams, Fantasies, and a Mommy with Game

I vividly imagined today for years, almost salivating over it, but the first month it is best to keep my fierce girl home and away from people as much as possible.  My husband returned to work from his paternity leave today, and my parents will remain in town to help for the next two weeks.  But, this girl is a reckless one living life on the edge.  Consequently, Mr. Man, the Warrior Queen, and I  were out and about all morning and afternoon just as I’ve dreamed for so long.

I don’t picture extravagances with my life visions.  Sure, I cultivate possibilities with my career type things; some goal or ambition.  But, my day-to-day life fantasies are usually mundane with all of their imperfections.  So, when thinking of growing my family, I don’t imagine grandiose relationships and activities.  I crave the common interactions and experiences; the tantrums, the laughter, the harried diaper change when I’ve forgotten a replacement for an empty wipes container.  I envision a life in all of its imperfections and joy; I think of my life as full of all the pieces that allow me to look back knowing something will not be missed because I wasn’t brave enough to take a risk.

So, while my daughter will be with my half of her grandparent sets for a couple more weeks until our routine begins, the temptation of an uncommitted today was too much for me to keep my twosome home for the day.  I contacted a couple of friends I’ve been unable to see since I blew past second trimester in the rearview mirror, and soaked a taste of my future humdrum life.

Surreal butterflies after my husband left for work.  The Warrior Queen slept in her swing.  I read book after book to my son who cuddled next to me under a ratty blanket I’ve had since college.  He insisted on carrying his sister’s bottle from the fridge to the sofa as he usually does, helped me feed her by gingerly touching the end of the bottle while I hold the bulk of the weight, and we were off to the races…Sounds perfect and touching, right?  Ah, but this is life, so how can I leave off my son not quite ready to eat breakfast and deciding to demonstrate this very day that he can, in fact, open the gate we trust will protect a portion of our downstairs from the reign of toddler terror?  It wasn’t a fumbling by chance accomplishment.  Nope, he was more successful on his first real attempt than I was when it was first installed.  Mr. Man had a plan too.  My husband removed my daughter’s play mat to our dining room/living room area because Little Man was doing what he does best with toys, ensuring they comply with rugged quality control standards.  So, this morning I’m preparing breakfast for the two of us, and hear the gate rattle open and his pitter-patter of feet on the way to retrieve this latest delight, dragging it back to where it belongs next to his sister’s swing, but not before raking it along our walls.  My son, however, knows that the gate should remain shut, so he made sure to close it behind him as he passed through each time…so conscientious of him.

But, this initial time passed, and I readied my children for our first stop to grab a snack.  I rocked the house with my organization and efficiency.  The diaper bag was arranged to perfection.  I situated the baby carrier on my person in preparation for the day’s events.  My daughter was fed and changed…Little Man was wearing a clean diaper, and waited patiently in the car for me and his sister.  I secured my fierce girl into her bucket and lifted her travel apparatus handle.  Warrior Queen spits up just enough for me to have to change her outfit and clean the bucket with water and a rag.  Exit the house attempt, take two…

Our first destination passed without incident.  Little Man didn’t break or suckle random drink bottles that I would have to purchase and subsequently throw away.  He even held my hand entering and exiting our favorite local coffee shop.  There is a first time for everything…

The second stop began just a strong, a music class at a local library.  We arrived at just the right amount of time before the program began.  One friend joined us, and I ran into a couple more.  My little girl was snuggled in the carrier; my sweet boy was having a grand time exploring the toys until the activity began.  Mr. Man continued to enjoy himself until the remaining five minutes of the program, then he wanted out of the room despite the arrival of a parachute.  My prodding to remain for an activity he loves yielded him diving onto his belly and initiating an impressive tantrum in the doorway that he managed to open…I guess gate mastering is not be his only skill achievement today.

I’d like to say that taking him  up in the elevator diffused a temperamental demeanor.  It didn’t…because my son is a toddler and periodically becomes a possessed bridge to the demonic afterworld.  I spent what felt like hours, but really was ten minutes chasing Mr. Man around attempting to have him relinquish toys he was schlepping like a nomadic hoarder, as well as just trying to contain him in an area that would cause minimal disruption.  In the process, the Warrior Queen mostly fell out of the carrier, so I was herding my son one handed.  Somehow I managed to hold my sleeping girl and both carry my son screaming down two flights of stairs and finally lift him into his car seat, but not before he unbuckled the car seat buckle that affixes his seat to the car.  But, despite the drizzle that was beginning to pick-up during the five minutes we were outside, and my son who decided to become persnickety at this specific juncture, we were off to the third and final location to meet another friend I hadn’t been able to see for months; an extra bonus, I would get to meet her two-month-old son.  Both of us having two cherubs with a similar age gap are now in the same boat.

The mall I brought my lovelies to has various things for children, which compensates for the general yuckiness of the environment.  To be fair, it’s gotten better over the last couple years, and it’s free…  My daughter continued to sleep in the carrier that I freshly adjusted.  My son had a fantastic time running around, and I mostly had the opportunity to chat with my friend.  It was only when our rhythm was halted feeding my fierce girl that things started to unravel a bit.  My son discovered the junk jewelry store I’m sure has special meaning for girls in middle school…and toddlers apparently…  He entered and started pulling cheap sparkly things off the jammed display racks.  Eventually, I apologized to the salesgirl and left the articles on the floor because trying to restore the items was creating more havoc than it was worth.  I ultimately lifted Mr. Man and dragged him kicking and whining from the store.  But, don’t feel too bad for Little Man; he became distracted by other things once the shiny trance was in his peripheral.  This pattern repeated itself in the electronics store and almost at a pastry shop…so glad I didn’t have to buy a box of cinnamon rolls…not sure I’d have the strength to toss those…

The morning and afternoon flew, and, before I realized it, nap time approached, so we took our leave.  My sweet boy allowed me to lift him in his stroller, and we made it home uneventfully.  Mr. Man gave me no argument about his sleepy time.  My daughter settled into her swing and slept after another of her bottled meals.  The day was everything I hoped and could have possibly asked for.

A Stranger is Home

Even as a two-year-old, My son is exceptional when it comes to sharing.  He takes turns with ease, and is generally considerate of other people.  He certainly has his moments, but mostly he acknowledges the needs of other people.

Little Man did not visit me in the hospital, and I missed him profoundly.  Hearing him uttering his “Yeah” to my questions on the phone the night before returning home had me virtually weeping with a surging and longing heart…but that may have been the hormones.

I finally walk into our home, my husband carrying our tiny fierce one.  My son looked at her a bit and walked off…quite anticlimactic.  But, I know Mr. Man.  He needs time to be left alone and consider things, so my husband and I allowed him his space regarding our new family member even if my parents did not.

The first evening was rough for my little man.  It didn’t appear that he was particularly unhappy having a sister or unwilling to share me.  While I held my fierce girl, I interacted with my first born, and he was content.  There were no tantrums when I asserted that I needed to stop a book or game to feed the Warrior Queen.

But, during dinner I saw a flood of emotions emanate suddenly from his sweet, beautiful, tortured face.  The entire day I focused on my son, giving him all the attention I was craving over the few days in the hospital.  The sudden acute distress puzzled me.  My son barrels off of his chair and runs weeping into our family room.  I follow him and sit on the floor unsure of what he needs.  He finally manages to sign “music,” and I ask if he would like me to sing a certain song.  Calming he asserts, “Yeah,” and sits between my legs.  My poor uncertain boy wanted me to sing the same tune I uttered to his sister during her last bottle two hours prior.  Once I finished, he trotted off to rejoin my husband and parents at the kitchen table, smiles abound.

After that instance and through the next day or so, it became increasingly clearer that my son is willing to share me, but required the reassurance that there continues to be a unique place for him in my thoughts and heart.  Little by little I’m providing him security that he, in turn, expresses with interest toward his sister.

It started with my daughter sleeping in her swing.  My son plucks a baby blanket off our sofa, and places it over her, walking away to play.

The next day my son was the first to rise.  He finished his breakfast but remained at the table when I heard the Warrior Queen stirring upstairs.  I excused myself, telling Little Man that I would be back with his sister.  While I was upstairs, he ventured over to the gate, waiting for us to make our entrance.  He pointed and smiled, following us as I grabbed a bottle out of the refrigerator.  Mr. Man clutched his milk cup, and joined his sister for her breakfast, handing me a cloth to wipe her mouth when I requested it.

Each day there is another effort of care he expresses toward his little sister.  He continues to keep her company drinking his milk while she enjoys her bottled meal.  He still lightly lays a blanket over her when he worries she is cold.  He continually checks on her in her swing, ensuring her well being.  If she isn’t wearing a hat, he will stand in front of her holding it waiting for me to walk over.  Little Man is afraid to hurt her, so even the lightest touch is something he avoids.  My son wants her to be happy, and enjoying pushes in a swing, is quick to do the same for his sister.  Redirected the first time for too strong a force, he is content with light, gentle nudges.

Transitions have never been particularly easy for him; probably a trait inherited from me, but he is a wonderful big brother.  In time he will see it too.

Catastrophic Atrocities and the End of the World as We Know It!

A typical morning in the life of experiencing a toddler with the number of personalities that would make Sybil cower in shame.  My little man is very sweet and loving so much of the time, but then there are moments, and they are moments, peppered throughout the day when all happiness grinds to a halt and ruination overcomes his beautiful face.

This morning he ate breakfast as he normally does…simultaneously shoving multiple chunks of strawberries in his mouth and grinning at me while making it rain cereal all over the floor.  He eats what he eats and scampers off to play.  I want to hurry us out the door, so the cereal explosion will wait until later.  I bide my time until he is distracted before clearing his breakfast plate, but it seldom works.  Mr. Man glances up and spies me covering the plate of remaining strawberries he proclaimed he no longer wants, as well as restoring his milk cup to the fridge.  Well, apparently what actually happened is I kicked a puppy and urinated on a kitten because a screaming blur of two-year-old runs at me, tugging my shirt and pleading with me.  If he had the vocabulary I’m sure he would be making the case that the milk should spoil and I should leave the pieces of strawberries on the table to turn into potpourri.  But, it isn’t just that he is upset with my actions that is always astounding, but the instantaneous waterworks and abhorrence expressed so acutely on his face.  If I returned the warming milk and fruit to the table, his devastation would immediately lift.  Mind you, he wouldn’t return to the table to eat the food he fought so nobly to protect; he would resume his play that consisted of launching all of his toys across the rug as though he were an Athenian Olympian.

Over the course of an hour while I prepared snacks and such for our outing, my son intermittently played independently among sudden, more enduring tantrums that included launching plush and paper-based toys into our kitchen sink until I gave him the stink-eye stare down that I can’t believe worked, or him pulling on whatever appendage that was convenient before passionately slamming child proofed cabinets and attempting to dislodge the oven door from its frame.  I’m not daft; I understand this behavior was prompted by justifiable grievances…like not allowing him to gnaw on the random cords in our pantry or suckle the assortment of brooms we have hanging in the very same closet.  I completely understand that I’m a terrible, terrible Mommy for not permitting him to horde the glass jar of gefilte fish that we have no choice but to house on a refrigerator shelf he can easily reach.  Even more evil is that I won’t hold him at that very moment because I’ve learned that his true desire is to scout the top of the island for stuff he can pull down, forcing me to lumber after him pregnant or not.

But, alas, he is a toddler.  When I sit down for a moment he’ll cuddle me or try to cover my feet in my favorite soft, fuzzy socks.  He loves little more than endless renditions of his current Dr. Seuss favorite or burrowing in the blanket I’m crocheting for his sister.  It’s in those moments that I’ll happily oblige him…until I realize he’s soiled his diaper.  During those very instances he perceives I’ve come to such a conclusion and dashes off in mischievous giggles, and the chase is on.

All’s Well that Ends Well…

I’m beginning this post with the end result because it is exciting for me and I fully haven’t exhausted innocent bystanders yet…You’re welcome…

My Department of Corrections literacy class application proposal approval has been up in the air since the summer.  For a long stretch the outcome was promising, then it wasn’t until this week when I learned that only a few administrative details needed adjusting before I would receive my final coveted signature.  In the meantime, I’ve been sitting in limbo soup that was left in the back of the fridge.  The same soup experience when after several moments of contemplation, the contents of the container are remembered.  The limbo was in part this class I desperately want to teach, but the other part is my role coordinating a tutoring preparatory program for a new and different high school equivalency exam.  Without the approval for the class I designed, I would funnel into coordinating and participating in this specific tutoring opportunity.  But, in true bureaucratic system fashion with new endeavors, the tutoring program generated by the DOC has been vague for months, leaving me to speculate on every aspect of the program and implementation.  Granted I was likely accurate with my ponderings, but no confirmation either way.

That was the back story; I hope sufficiently brief.  No information for months prompted a shortish notice of an orientation for the DOC education and vocation programs…It was two hours beginning at 6.30 and ending at 8.30…in theory…  My assumptions were confirmed regarding the rationale behind the uncertain path, as well as what would be necessary to coordinate such an endeavor.  Gotta say, I’m PSYCHED!  The general outcome from the months of toil is that I am designing a pilot program and supporting tutors that, if successful, will likely be implemented throughout DOC institutions…pretty cool.  I love this kind of stuff…plus I get to teach my dream class.  If only I were paid, I could support my chocolate and tea habit, and this would be perfect…

But, that is not how my day began…

Little man woke up in a fabulous mood in the morning.  We were having oodles of fun, but then I noticed he was beginning to look ill an hour or two before his nap.  Of course, I was in denial because he’s been sick twice in the last six weeks.  I aggressively tried to convince myself he just needed to sleep…And, I oh so desperately wanted to believe it…

Fortune, however, urinated in my Cheerios because Little Man woke up after an hour into his nap exhausted and in a terrible mood, and it was only one ‘o’ clock.  I was so, so foolishly hopeful he would sleep the two-and-a-half to three hours he had been for the last week.  Major bummer doesn’t even come close to my devastation when I heard the tell tale yelps of a grumpy Little Man waking from the monitor knowing full well he wouldn’t sleep again the rest of the day.

Thinking I had longer, I didn’t eat much, so I’m already hungry, and we aren’t talking normal hungry.  This is pregnant hungry, which takes on a demonic life of its own.  Do you know why all zombie movies are so similar?  It’s because most people have met a hungry pregnant lady by the time they’ve reached adulthood…not even an exaggeration…

Suffice it to say, I’m in a bad mood and pouting as I trudge up the stairs that leave me winded at the top because I’m harboring a parasite.  Once I’m finished wheezing, I brace myself for the mucusy onslaught I was all too familiar with, and I was still woefully unprepared.

To say cranky and needy really doesn’t quite capture the expanse of the hours until my husband arrived home from work, and I’m not even describing myself.  The highlight of the afternoon was forty-five back aching minutes I sat in an unsupported pike position singing off-key repetitions of Mary had a Little Lamb, bouncing my son as he rested on the expanse of my legs, looking up at me, and insisting that I rest my hands on his chest.  He held them there just to make sure I didn’t try anything funny.  So cute, right?  Sure it is.  I absolutely love a good cuddle monster, but not when I’m hungry and forced to continue like I’m single-handedly rowing a Grecian war ship.

My son had oozing, shrieking fits when I wasn’t holding him.  Eating did nothing to abate the needy torture I found myself entrenched in for hours.  He ate half of my hallowed everything bagel slim with butter, keeping me from eating my half because Little Man was determined to have me hug him tightly as he ate…so not cool…Every part of me wanted to punt my son across the room and steal back his half of the bagel and devour mine.  The kid seriously kept me hostage with bawling that escaped a glossy wet face in contorted expressions necessary to completely capture comprehensive misery of both of us until my husband appeared like the apparition of a holy angel designed to relieve the suffering of the natural world.

At that point, however, I was already running late.  I still needed to eat some semblance of a dinner; fortunately I had the foresight to stay in jammies until just before…I learned that lesson the hard way…  Nevertheless, I needed to change, and I had maybe fifteen minutes to do everything.

To top off the events, I was brushing my teeth in the downstairs bathroom, and even though I know Little Man must cause mischief and mayhem every time I enter this small closet of a room, I didn’t close the door behind me.  With a foamy mouth I learned that my son not only lifts up the toilet lid, but now has the desire to dabble his fingers in the water…lovely…Now try to picture a mom foaming at the mouth from a baking soda toothpaste and the initiation of a full freak-out as my son is dancing his fingers in our toilet bowl water like a creek insect.  I call for my husband…maybe shriek is more apt.  He enters, and highlights his frustrated ambitions as a comedian, “Hey, people pay good money for toilet water.”  So. Not. Funny.  But,  it’s his problem now.  I rinse and wipe my mouth, and head out the door hoping I didn’t forget anything in my mad last minute scramble to collect the items I’ll need for the orientation.

I’d like to say it was an easy drive.  It would have been if every pokey idiot wasn’t leading the way the entire route, but I arrived at a reasonable time.  By the end of the evening the preceding event traumas evaporated, but I can feel confident that new ones are just around the corner to give me comfort in my times of need.

Is It Nap Time Yet?

It began as a good morning, which any parent can tell you is a strong indication that shit is goin’ to get real and fast.  I was reading to my son on the sofa.  We were snoodled in tight.  It was lovely.  I had my feet up, and was bundled under the covers.  I almost forgot that my son is a toddler and predisposed to changes necessary of an exorcism, which would explain why he is so partial to the goat figurine from the farm animal collection my in-laws purchased.  One moment he was flipping through Llama Llama Red Pajama for the eighth time, and the next a colossal meltdown that I should have seen coming from my ample experience, yet chose to remain delusional until forced to see the error of my ways.

“Are you hungry?”  Little Man lumbers off the sofa in such a way that I imagine would have been the inspiration for The Blob.  Once firmly footed on the ground, he makes haste toward the fridge.  I know what you are thinking, “Easy enough, the kid knows what he wants,” but I’m here to tell you that you are a silly, silly person.  While in fact he is the holder of such information, my son thinks I enjoy puzzles amidst the soundtrack of shrieks and wails.  First he reaches for the large bottle of lemon juice, which practice has trained me to be quite deft in blocking such an effort…I was rewarded by louder cries of indignation…lovely…nothing helps a clear thought process more…

Then he just starts reaching for things I know he couldn’t possibly want before fixing his eyes on the leftover chili and pasta in his special blue plastic bowl…Well, it’s not quite ten in the morning, but okay.  I’m rewarded with the halted laughter of a wise choice.  I select a small plate to remove a portion of the bowl’s contents because I don’t quite trust this is what he wants to eat.  As I’m scooping a small mass he begins wailing in tones that must have called a congregation of dogs to sit on our front lawn.

He kept pointing to the chili but wouldn’t eat it, and I tried every manipulative tactic I could think of…nada…  I retreat and regroup while my son relentlessly screams in stomping fits, begging to be held; but I had been holding him, and he was still crying.  I hold him again and try to clean up.  Balancing the bowl in one hand, Little Man points…Maybe he wants to eat from the bowl?  Yup, I give him his monkey fork and he digs in…perfect…

Without issue he sits in his high chair, I place the bowl and fork in front of him, and affix a bib.  Little Man doesn’t waste a moment, but, of course, I’m dubious…it’s only a matter of time before it will be all over the floor…My son’s preferred dining surface…  Regardless, I’m very hungry and the meal of grits and beans I was in the process of preparing was in its final stages.  I walk back to the kitchen for a time span that would be endorsed by Star Trek travel, but it didn’t matter.  I heard the familiar splat…chili all over the floor and wall…awesome…  So, that phase is done.  I wash up Mr. Man…again, and lower him to the floor…again.

The howling recommences.  My food is ready, finding my rhythm among the noise to reserve a portion for the harpie doing everything vocally in his power to attract attention.  Then in a sudden truce that must be similar to the end of the Korean War, my son is silent, glued to my bowl of, now, lukewarm Midwestern charm.  I carry both bowls to the table like the pied piper.

He goes back into his high chair, this time with his special red bowl.  We both eat in comatose silence.  But, here is the rub with feeding my son grits:  the stuff is like sand.  I’ll be finding it up my nose, in my ears and nether regions a month from now.  Usually I try to limit the destruction by at least setting up his spoon, but, nope, Little Man is independent now and one step removed from joining the workforce and paying us rent.  He’s happily eating; food is all over him, but this time when he is finished, Little Man is ready to go off and play.  But, mark my words, it’s nap time soon and I plan to be extra careful on our stairs…

February is the best month of the year…

My son is a two-foot-tall gremlin when it comes to chocolate, as evidenced by his first bonafide tantrum that is certain to be foreshadowing for his second year.  At fifteen months he most definitely understands quite a bit more than I would expect him to, and I’m convinced most of the time he pretends that I’m speaking some archaic language that only imbeciles utter just so he has an excuse to ignore me.

It began as an afternoon like any other.  My son was staggering around our family room aimlessly before taking a sharp turn past our sofa and proceeded to pound on our pantry door.  I could be mistaken, but I’m fairly certain he was not in search of the canned goods and grits we house behind the door.  I recognized his emotional rendering of need, for if I too did not have the ability to manipulate door knobs keeping me from a tasty bag of chocolate, I would have the very same reaction.  I give him a definitive negation thereby thwarting his plans.  What began as a gentle cry of disbelief quickly transformed into an impressive full-out wail of sorrow and despair at my cruelty.  I walked away, and he followed me into every downstairs room before I attempted distraction with a book and puzzle.

The technique worked until I glanced in the general vicinity of the pantry, to which I was greeted with the shrieks of a boy whose manhood has not yet dropped.  Even after the ringing in my ears subsided, I’m fairly certain I can no longer hear certain octaves.  With jerky movements of a poorly executed zombie flick, he returned to the pantry door.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  But, the prize goes to me, as my will is stronger than a fifteen-month-old chocoholic, so perhaps we will both survive until his next birthday.

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