Come, Mommy

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mommy Can't Read!

Well, in fact, she can. And that was the problem. Trying to get some quiet time out of my non-napping toddler this afternoon, I picked up a magazine while Liam was playing with a puzzle on the floor. And then Mr. Tired Guy lost it. He ran over to me crying, "Mommy can't read!"

Too tired to immediately grasp what he meant, I took the literal meaning of his words and responded, "Well, sure I can, honey!" At which point several puzzle pieces were tossed on my magazine, and a tired little boy climbed in my lap. He looked up with a smile and said, "Mommy can't read. Baby needs Mommy now."

Aw, now I get it, sweetie. And I definitely can't read, not when you need to cuddle.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Go Florida

Kevin's mom flew from New Jersey to Florida back in November when her brother was in an almost fatal car accident. She's been down there ever since, and Liam misses his Gran-Gran. When he sees a plane in the sky, he tells me that it's flying to Florida to see Gran-Gran. Yesterday he was watching the clouds scudding along above the trees, and he told me the clouds were flying to Florida. I asked him why they were going there, and he replied, "Clouds do need to see Gran-Gran."

Today he scooted around the corner of the kitchen, pushing a toy school bus with a plush giraffe, George, perched on top. As he zoomed past, I sensed that he was a little boy on a big mission.

Me: "Hey, kiddo, why is George driving the school bus?"

Liam: "George no drive. Baby drive! George is, um, um, passs, um, passager! George is passager!"

Me: "I see! So where are you all going?"

Liam: "Come, Mommy. Mommy must come, too."

Me: "OK, but where are we going?"

Liam: "Go Florida. Gran-Gran in Florida. Baby must see Gran-Gran! Mommy must join George and Baby. All get in 'chool bus. Then all go Florida! Then Baby see Gran-Gran!!"

At this point, Liam grabbed my jeans, pulled me towards the front door, and ran back to retrieve George and the school bus.

So, Mom, whenever you get a chance to stop and breathe, just remember that there is a very little boy here in New Jersey who misses you more than you know. And you know what? His Mommy misses you, too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Not My Best Parenting Decision

Liam and I were at the drugstore today, and at the checkout he made it clear he wasn't leaving until I bought him some chocolate. As in, "Baby 'tay in 'tore. THEN mommy buy chocolate for Baby. Baby NEEDS chocolate. THEN Baby go home wif Mommy." Well, the poor kid's sick, and what the heck, I understand NEEDING chocolate from time to time. So I bought him a couple of Hershey's Kisses, and he agreed to come home.

I got him in his carseat, and without thinking at all about the potential ramifications of my actions, unwrapped the candy and gave it to him. Not even halfway home, a very worried voice piped up from the back.

Liam: "Mommy does need to stop car now. Come, Mommy. Mommy does need to wipe Baby's hands and face."

Me: "OK, hon, we'll be home in two minutes, and I'll find you a wipe."

Liam: "Uh-oh. Come, Mommy. Mommy does need to COME NOW. Chocolate EVERYWHERE!"

By that time we were in our driveway, and chocolate was indeed everywhere. Who would of thunk two kisses could get spread that far during a four-minute car ride? I think we'll stick to crackers for car snacks from now on.

And does anyone happen to know if I could, perchance, throw the whole back seat of my Saturn in an industrial size washing machine?

Monday, January 23, 2006

And Now For Something New And Different

Some academic smarty-pants has apparently decreed that today is The Most Depressing Day of the Year. That's not news to me given the fact that Liam and I both have our umpteenth cold of the season and therefore spent a large part of the day in bed reading books. Rather than bore you with the icky details of runny noses and sneezing, I thought I'd try something new and different.

It seems that both Dana and Rebecca are in search of someone to tag in the Fours meme. Since I seem to be the only person on the net who's never participated in one of these memes, I thought I'd jump at the opportunity. So, without further ado, here goes nothing.

Four Jobs You've Had:
1. Pet shop manager
2. Chemist
3. Paper Carrier (7th grade. I lasted for only one northwestern PA winter)
4. Short order cook at the college snack shop

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:
1. The Hunt for Red October
2. The Sound of Music (I know, I know, especially given my name and all)
3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the new one with Johnny Depp)
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Four Places You've Lived:
1. Edinboro, PA (the site of the ill-fated paper route)
2. Interlochen, MI (my favorite of all the places I've lived)
3. Aberdeen, Scotland
4. Bartlesville, OK

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch:
1. ER
2. Law and Order (the original or any of the spin-offs)
3. Megastructures (yes, I'm a geek)
4. Untold Stories of the ER

Four of Your Favorite Books:
Aw, heck, I do read. A lot. It's just that nothing sticks in my brain these days. Honestly, I had to reread (twice)the directions on a box of Annie's Mac and Cheese the other day. So, if memory serves:
1. Under the Tuscan Sun
2. The Way Baseball Works
3. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
4. The Kalahari Typing School for Men

Four Places You've Been on Vacation:
1. Outer Banks of NC
2. Disneyworld
3. Grenada
4. St. Kitts

Four Websites You Visit Everyday:
1. Weather Underground (I'm a meteorology junkie.)
2. Accuweather (see above.)
3. My Yahoo groups
4. My favorite blogs

Four of Your Favorite Foods:
1. Baked ziti
2. German chocolate cake
3. Shoofly Pie
4. Anything involving fresh fruit

Four Places You'd Rather be Right Now:
1. Disneyworld
2. A warm beach anywhere
3. Yosemite National Park
4. Northwestern Michigan

Four Bloggers You are Tagging:
1. Kathleen
2. Chili
3. Suzanne
4. Um, I'm plumb out of names.

Yup, that was definitely more fun than relating goopy nose stories. And now I have to run, since Liam has succeeded in coughing himself awake. Again.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Parental Competition vs. Parental Values

So this is a topic that's been in the back, and sometimes, the front of my brain since Liam was born. There are a lot of different ways to raise a child, and there seems to be a lot of competition between parents concerning what way is the best way. CIO or co-sleeping? Weaning at 12 months or child-led weaning? Wooden toys or plastic ones? Baby Einstein videos or PBS or no TV at all? To vaccinate the child, or not? The list goes on and on and on and....anyway.

I was on a list for November '03 babies for a while after Liam was born, and got a little sick of all the arguing back and forth about one method or the other being wrong, and the alternative being absolutely right. I also realized there's at least a bit of lying going on between parents regarding their children's abilities, since clearly one or two of these babies may have been walking at nine months, but seemingly 80% of them were, at least to read this list. So I muddled through doing what seemed to work for the three of us, and let everyone else do their own thing.

Fast-forward two years, and now I have a toddler who is clearly healthy and happy. He nurses, he sleeps with us, and he has never been left to cry it out. His toys are a mix of wooden toys and plastic ones, and these days he is quite attached to his plastic Disney figures and a collection of plastic kitty cats. We eat nutritious food at home, but I'm not cringing if Liam scarfs down french fries when we go out to eat. Although Liam watches little TV, he knows a lot of the toddler characters by name since we have some books and toys featuring them. His favorite shirt at the moment has Pooh on it. So clearly my parenting philosophy is of the "do whatever works to keep child happy and parents sane" school. Not completely AP, not completely mainstream, and pragmatic to the core.

All of this leads to my current issue. We're interested in sending Liam to elementary school at the local Waldorf school. Essentially, the pedagogy makes sense to me on many levels. The problem I'm having is that there are a number of lifestyle issues associated with Waldorf families that, to me, have merit, but which can be carried way too far for my taste. The idea of limited to no TV for young kids makes sense to me. The idea of encouraging nutritious food is a no-brainer. Unstructured play is good in my book. So we signed on for the parent-child program this year just to get a taste of the community.

In Liam's classroom you'll find wooden and fabric toys. Nothing plastic, and certainly nothing with batteries. You will find friendly adults, nutritious snacks, and song. What's the problem, you ask? Well, the problem is that I'm not sure I fit in as a parent. I'm fairly sure I'm not crunchy enough. Liam is fully vaccinated; many of his classmates are not. We're vegetarian, but we shop at Super-Fresh, and not everything we buy is organic, mostly because we are not made of money. We don't have a compost heap in our yard. We drive cars that get good gas mileage, but they are not hybrids. We use a lot of Dr. Bronner's for cleaning, but we still use Ajax and Tide as well. I treat Liam's sore, teething gums with Motrin, not homeopathic teething remedies. I just don't have the zeal, and I definitely lack the courage to live so far out of the mainstream. And I don't dare breathe a word of this to anyone in the class for fear of, well, peer pressure. Didn't like it in high school, don't like it now. And I'd bet there are other parents with the same issues, but I don't know for sure since no one talks about it.

Liam and I went on a playdate to the house of one of his classmates, Z. There was not a piece of plastic in that house that I could see. All of Z's toys are carefully crafted, unstructured, wooden and woolen items. Liam and Z quite like each other, and I like Z's mom, so it would be nice to have them come over to visit. However, does that mean I need to hide the Pooh and Mickey balloons before they arrive? Do I hide the Legos? Do I hide the Sesame Street books? Do I clean all traces of Danimals yogurt and whole-wheat Fig Newtons from the kitchen? Or do I just leave things as they are, figuring that hiding our true selves is just as wrong as complying to standards I don't fully support, nor even believe are attainable? And also, I wonder, does Z perhaps have a stuffed Pooh or some other verboten toy that was conveniently picked up just before our arrival?

I think there's a lot to be said for crunchy living, and we in fact are viewed as a crunchy family by our neighbors. Still, I would really like to know how many of these other Waldorf parents really live that way-out-there lifestyle, and how many do as much as makes sense to them, and just let the rest go. In essence, is a lot of what I see a competition to prove who's crunchiest?

And then there's the flip side, where, chatting with local moms at the playground, I get the distinct feeling that some of them think I'm disadvantaging my son by not enrolling him in every toddler enrichment class that comes along. How many of these parents are stressed to the hilt trying to teach their kids everything up to and including trigonometry by age 5? And even if they manage to accomplish that goal, will it really increase their kids' chances of happiness or success (however one defines success) in life? I dunno. And again, how many parents are really doing all these activities, and how many are in a Developmental Derby with each other?

So, after a few months of Waldorf, it seems to be a good fit so far for Liam. I'm not sure it's such a good fit for me, but I guess the day is still young, school-wise. I may have to sit back with a decidedly non-crunchy Diet Coke and mull the issue over a bit more. If I still feel this discomfort in a couple of years, I may become the founder of Pragmatic Parenting International. Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Adventures in Dental Hygiene

Liam has never been a fan of toothbrushing. It was always a bit of a struggle until a few days ago, when he somehow got some of Casey's fur in his mouth. I suggested that we use a toothbrush to get it out, and then the game started:

Me: "OK, Casey fur all gone!"
Liam: "Now, Mommy does need to get Casey out."
Me: "Casey? Out of where, hon?"
Liam: "Mommy does need to brush Casey out of Baby's mouf."
Me: "Casey's in your mouth?"
Liam: "Casey inside Baby's mouf!"

So I "scrubbed" Casey out of Liam's mouth, which may have been the most thorough toothbrushing Liam's had in a while. Since then, other characters have been brushed out of Liam's mouth. Tonight took the cake with a 15 minute toothbrushing session during which we "removed" Casey, Bobo, Stormy, Houdini, Jeremy, Dudley (our neighbors' Boston terrier), Pooh, Tigger, Elmo, Piglet, a train, a red balloon, and some peas. That's both literally and figuratively in the case of the peas.

For a time I was sure Liam would have cavities at his first dental visit. Now I'm fearing we'll have to cap his teeth after scouring them down this much.

Next mission? Get the boy to realize baths are not a form of torture.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Things I Like About My Life

In an effort to dispel some of my recent funk, I got to thinking about the things that I enjoy about day-to-day life. Counting my blessings, in essence. To wit:

1. That Liam has such a vivid imagination. There's a spider who has been living up in a far corner of our family room for weeks now. I was concerned he wouldn't find anything to eat, but according to Liam, when spiders feel peckish they simply call the local pizza shop and order "a large pie wif muffrooms and bwoccoli." And to think I didn't know that before.

2. That Casey and Liam are attached at the hip. Toddler too close to the street? Casey will heard him back to safety. Stranger too close to child? Casey will politely insert himself between Liam and the newcomer. Crying child? Casey licks Liam's face until he laughs. And perhaps best of all, Casey will allow Liam to finger-paint his fur, and then apply Mickey Mouse stickers. I'd insert of picture of that here, but I have yet to figure out how to successfully photograph a solid black dog.

And, yes, my son is enrolled in a Waldorf parent-child program and therefore, at least in theory, should not be playing with anything that involves cartoon characters, but I dare you to rain on my parade today. I double dare ya.

3. That ferrets are the world's best antidepressant. I love watching Stormy, Bobo, Houdini, and Jeremy wind themselves up during a big game of tag, dooking and war-dancing away.

4. That Liam can't pronounce the "s" at the beginning of many words. This morning everyone in the neighborhood has been "'cooping 'now." And the kids have been "building 'nowmen."

5. That Uncle Bob has made it out of the ICU and can now talk and feed himself. He's still facing months in rehab once he leaves the hospital, but progress is progress, and I'll take what I can get.

6. That my wonderful husband is willing to go in late to work on Tuesdays. That way, I can go to choir practice every Monday night, and not be exhausted come Tuesday morning.

7. That it's only 60-odd days until the first day of spring.

Wow. I'm feeling better already. I may have to start counting my blessings on a regular basis.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Good Morning, Mommy!

I'm here to tell you that nothing says morning quite like having one's eyelids peeled open by a wide awake 25-month-old. I was sound asleep when I realized Liam was bouncing on the bed next to me. I heard him ask, "Mommy? Oh, Mommy not awake yet?" Bounce, bounce, bounce. Bounce. "Hhhhmmmm. Baby need Mommy awake. Hhhhmmmm. Okey-dokey, Baby open Mommy's eyes for Mommy. Then...Mommy awake!"

Next thing I knew, tiny hands were forcing my eyes open, and a certain kid's blue eyes were staring hopefully into mine. "YAY! Mommy's eyes open! Mommy does need to get up! Mommy does need to play wif Baby! MORNING, MOMMY!!!"

Good morning, sweet pea. And to think that until you arrived, I didn't do mornings well. Now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Yawn, Mommy's Tired

Liam has the most endearing habit of bringing various items to Kevin and me whenever he feels we need assistance. In the bathroom, he'll hand over toilet paper saying, "Mommy does need paper." In the kitchen, he'll hand Kevin a spoon saying, "Daddy does need 'poon." Or he'll hand me the syringe for Bobo's prednisone (our elderly ferret recently developed insulinoma, in case you're wondering), saying, "Bobo does need 'quirty thing."

So, at any rate, this afternoon Liam tried to engage me in a game of tag. Casey was quite excited about the game, but Mommy, not so much. I told Liam, "Mommy's too tired to play tag right now. How about you pick some books and we'll read together?" Liam shuffled over to the bookshelf and halfheartedly picked through a few titles. Then, apparently, inspiration struck. He ran over to me saying, "Come, Mommy. Baby has BIG IDEA. COME, MOMMY! Baby show Mommy!" And with that he disappeared into the kitchen. I arrived to find him equipped with a coffee filter and a scoop. He looked up at me, eyes wide with excitement, and said, "Baby make coffee for Mommy! Mommy does need coffee!! Then, Mommy not tired! Then....Mommy play tag with Baby!"

While I find myself marvelling at his problem-solving ability, I also find myself wondering what other bad habits Liam's going to pick up from me over the years.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's Winter

At least the calendar says so, even if it is in the 50's outside today. In honor of that fact, here are some cute pictures of Liam in the snow.

OK, OK, so there's obviously no snow here right now. It's January; it could be snowing, right? Besides, I spent much of this morning cleaning up what happens when Casey eats a small azalea bush. But hey, I've been wanting to post these pictures for a month now, ever since our December snowstorm. Also, our downstairs floors are cleaner than I've ever seen them, so it's all good. I think.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Post-Holiday Funk

I've been in a bit of a funk recently. Post-holiday blahs and post holiday exhaustion make for a bad combination, I guess.

And things aren't much better for Liam these days. This was the first year he could really have a clue about Christmas, and he looked forward to seeing the "Flashy 'Nowman" (a light-up snowman) at the Target Christmas display, and the decorated trees at Agway and Home Depot. We were in Target a couple of day ago, and Liam chatted all the way there. "Come, Mommy, Baby might see Flashy 'Nowman!" Uuummmm. "Hey, sweetie, I think Flashy Snowman went back the North Pole with Santa and Rudolph."

Yup, you guessed it, there was great sadness upon the confirmation of Flashy 'Nowman's departure. Then, today, we went to Home Depot, and all the trees had been taken down. Liam stared at the gaping open spot that will soon showcase mowers. With a quivering lip, he whispered, "Come, Mommy...trees gone. Christmas trees gone. Where's Christmas?" And then, "Come back, Christmas. Mommy, help Christmas come back."

Just tugged at my heart, this conversation. Mommy's sad, too, kiddo, and if I could make Christmas come for you tomorrow, I would.