Peanut Is Winning

I’ve been working hard on not yelling. I’m not a patient person, I’ve found more patience than I ever though I possessed in my parenting journey, and I still occasionally lose it and bark at my children. Especially the older one. And I could sound all apologetic and acknowledge the damage I do when I raise my voice, but I have to tell you, I’m kind of over the judging myself thing. When I feel like a terrible parent I go to Target and watch other people parent. Then I pat myself on the back and go back to doing my best.

I don’t like yelling. And saying something gently three or four times in a row, then yelling, is not a pattern that’s working for us. So I don’t get to three and I don’t yell after four. I change my approach after the first try doesn’t work.

So I’ve worked hard on the rekindling the techniques I busted my ass to cleave to when Peanut was Two: making eye contact, getting down on his level, speaking softly in concise, simple sentences.

But this older Peanut is always on the move, and rarely wants to make eye contact with someone trying to tell him what to do.

So lately I’ve seen a lot of his back, to which I calmly say, “Peanut Cacahuete Naptime: look at my face.” When he’s looking I know he hears, I can use a quieter voice, and the process of getting him to turn around defuses my anger. As Mommy Mantras says, the pump is already primed. When pressed, if I can find a release valve for the top 20% of my frustration, I can get a restart on a tense situation and behave like the parent I want to be.

Yesterday before bath I needed him to hear me about a politeness issue. “Peanut,” I said to a hastily retreating boy. “Look at my face.”

He turned and looked in my eyes. “What is it, Too Serious Mother?”

He knew he had me. His eyes held mine and absolutely danced with his impression of his cleverness. I chuckled and told him quickly what I needed to say. He scooted off down the hall to do what I was going to ask anyway, because the little bugger *does* hear me. He just often doesn’t want to.

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Bio of a toddler

Meet Butter, our resident two-year-old.

His favorite activity is dumping things. Water, sand, popcorn, sun lotion, jars of pricey spices, salad dressing, rice milk, liquid soap…if it responds to gravity, he will watch it fall to the ground. Intermediary stops (such as a bucket, bowl, or sink) are tolerable for a few dumps, but then wholly unacceptable surrogates for the Mother of All Dumping Grounds: The Floor.

His idea of cleaning up is shoving things under the couch. He does this without being asked, but when prodded to help clean up he shoves fistfuls of anything he can reach under the nearest furniture.

His favorite place to sit is in gravel.

His favorite place to lie down is in gravel. Second place: sidewalk.

His favorite animal is a cow. He will gladly tell you about the time he was feeding a calf celery and forgot to let go and the calf bit his finger. Gently. But it hurt. But it got better. And now he likes big cows not baby cows.

His favorite color is yellow.

His favorite game is “Where’s Butter?”

His favorite snack is cream cheese. Right out of the tub. Thanks for the whipped organic option, Trader Joe’s, since regular cream cheese is hard to eat with a tiny Green Toys yellow spoon.

The only utensils he’ll use are tiny Green Toys yellow spoons and polka dot handled cheese spreaders.

The only comfort he wants when psychically wounded is draped on his mama with both hands entwined in her hair. Like an orangutan baby.

His favorite word is “no.” His favorite reply is “no.” His favorite shout is “NO!” His favorite question is “No?” And his favorite whisper is “no.”

His favorite outfit is naked. Gloves, hat, and oven mitt are optional.

He likes his food slightly colder than room temperature. Hot’s no good, warm’s no good, fresh from the fridge is no good. Even popsicles are asked to wait until they are two minutes shy of a puddle.

His favorite number is TWO!

Everything is two.

And now he is, too.

Happy birthday, you crazy delicious goofball love bug.

Can’t be sure

Because taking a woman out of her element and letting her parent two amazing baby humans is akin to stringing her up by her ankles and asking her to live with bats, I’m not always sure what I’m doing. It’s hardly my fault. I’m a diurnal, visual biped forced to hang upside down and fly around echo-locating by night.

So I was surprised when our two-year-old decided his outfit for the week would be just socks. On his hands. And nothing else.

I shouldn’t have been shocked. His brother did the same thing for one whole month, four years ago. Also in the winter. It’s as though winter nudity with impromptu mittens/puppets is in the toddler manual.

Wait, is it?

The week of rain at the end of a rainless winter did not surprise me. Neither did the frenetic and borderline sociopathic cabin-fever behavior during the same time. What did shock me was how planned activities totally took care of everything. One part dance party, one part playdough party, one part playdate, one part role playing goodness. Who knew? (I did. I had just forgotten. We’ve had a dry winter and I haven’t had to do this for over a year.)

And I was taken aback when the six-year-old decided it was time to use his words, react calmly, and speak in a normal tone of voice.

For the first time in six years.

Who knew that there was a phase during which children were reasonable, interesting, and fun to be with?

Oh, yeah: Me. Because it happens at least once an hour.

For Kristin

Our regular reader Kristin at Going Country asked me a question I hear a lot:
I know you wore both your babies, in various carriers, approximately 14 hours each day. So what baby carrier do you recommend?

Ooooh, that’s a good question. With wonderful, cuddly answers. BABIES! Kiss them and cuddle them. And eat their cheeks. And fingers. Their sweet little chubbsy fingers!

Where was I? Yes. Advice. Photos and videos at the bottom of the post. I make no links to stores because I don’t have strong feelings about where you buy. Check craigslist (not for Kristin, though, whose neighbors are sheep and horses and goats and can I move there soon?) Or search the name of the carrier with “clearance” and see what you get. Some of the best deals I got were from the manufacturer on their “sale” or “outlet” sections.

For an infant and newborn, I love love love Moby Wrap. Did I mention I love it?


It’s soft, it’s comfy, and it’s the only way you can nestle baby where they prefer: high or low, upright, diagonal, or almost sideways. It holds them in firmly without squishing them, it allows nursing, it fits regardless of how swollen your belly or breasts are. It’s cooler than other carriers in summer because it’s a light, stretchy cotton fabric) and warmer (because it covers so much) in winter. Babies don’t really outgrow the Moby because you can wrap it so many ways. As newborns, they cuddle in little lumps on your front, feet tucked under them like they’re still inside. As they age they can be more upright or face out (carriers like the Bjorn do this, but put too much weight on baby’s tailbone and are too structured for my taste). You can carry an older baby on your back with the Moby, but my kids are so active I could never get it wrapped before they ran into the next room, cleared the shelves, emptied the cabinets, stripped naked, and peed on the cat.

The only problem with the Moby Wrap is it takes a good minute to get on. Practice now, with a doll, and it’s easy as pie. There are videos and diagrams to help (see end of this post). It’s really easy once you’ve done it even one time. But with a toddler or older child (Kristin’s is Two-ish and will be under-Three-ish when baby comes), you can’t be putting it on and taking it off several times a day. The Moby is a “put on once and leave it on all day” kind of carrier. Put it on at home before you go anywhere. Baby can be strapped safely and securely to you all day if you want (comfortably without any pressure on shoulders or neck) and taken out easily for diaper changes. Baby can be in and out several times an hour if you need, once you get that thing on. But you need two hands free for a full minute to wrap it properly. And with a toddler that’s hard.

I cannot say enough how valuable the Moby is. I’d send mine if a desperately loved baby cooking RIGHT NOW in New York wasn’t getting our Moby this week. Ooooh, she’s gonna love it.

Ahem.

Also for newborns and infants is my favorite all-’round-until-they-hit-20-pounds carrier: the Hotsling. With baby in your arms you can pop it over your head and gently place baby into it. They can hang out in the Hotsling for HOURS as newborns or get in and out as needed when you need your hands for sandwiches and toys and plows and whatnot. If you bend over, as with potty learning tasks, put one hand on baby. They won’t fall out, but pouch slings aren’t as secure as the delicious Moby is. With the Hotsling, they can graduate to sitting and face out as infants (my favorite is this Buddha sit from about 4 months on), and it can hold them securely on your hip beyond seven months or so. I love these pouch carriers *if* you can get the right size. Ideally, try a few on. (Kristin, I guess you check to see if the chickens have a spare for you to try?) We bought two: one in a smaller size for infant and Mama and larger size for Papa and baby and Mama and toddler.




[Photos courtesy of HotSling and SlingStation; totally not photos of me.]

After 20 pounds, the pouch slings just hurt too much on your shoulder and neck. The weight is on one side only, and 20 pounds for one mile is my limit. Spouse can still use the pouch with a 25 pound toddler going two miles. But he has a higher pain tolerance than I do. Or rougher neck skin. Or something.

[NB: In *my* day pouch slings were not adjustable. I didn’t know until I searched for images for you that apparently enough people whined about this that Hotslings has an adjustable pouch. Meh. I like the sized version because there’s no adjusting and less material. I’d find an old school “classic” Hotsling if I were you. Their old sizing included special instructions for larger breast sizes, too. The new adjustable hotslings look as annoying as the models wearing them (Sorry, attractive teenage models. I’m a “judge Moms by their appearance” kind of Mom, and you look rested, showered, fit, and made up. In other words, like no mom I know.)]

For babies five months and older, I like a mei tai or an ErgoBaby. With a mei tai you can carry baby front or back, facing in or out.



Photos courtesy of meitaibaby.com
Wrapping is pretty easy, but as with the Moby, you need two hands free for at least thirty seconds, and you might never have that when you need it. Plus, the straps are long and dangle on the ground if you’re putting it on again) outside. Near the chicken coops, this will be an issue.

With the ErgoBaby, you have clips for your waist and shoulder straps (think more conventional backpack).


Both mei tais and ErgoBaby carriers easier on baby’s spine than a Bjorn. Ergo makes an infant insert so baby can cuddle in close (with knees up and feet tucked against you) to make it extra safe. WHY, though, when there are Moby wraps that are perfect for everything including nursing, hiking, and tractor rides? Mei tai has a slight edge with the 5-12 month baby because baby can face out while riding in front, which the Ergo does not accommodate. But Moby gives you that feature up to 12 months. ErgoBaby has an edge past 12 months, because toddlers want to get up then down then up then down then up again, and a mei tai’s shoulder straps are not fun after the third time. Mei tai is more versatile for baby is you don’t have a Moby; Ergo is more versatile for you.

If I had to choose, I’d get a Moby Wrap and probably, later, an ErgoBaby carrier. If you’re not going to have the Moby on all day every day for quick tasks. Get a pouch sling, too. I know that’s a lot. But all three on sale will cost less than a stroller and will be useful for every moment inside and outside. Plus no parking them or fighting to get them into the car.

Now. For the most awesome hot dad video instructional video I’ve seen. (Sadly, it’s not a video on how to be a hot dad. It teaches humans to put on a Moby. But “hot dad instructional video” has a nice ring to it.) This is only one way to wear a baby in the Moby. Since he’s not worried about nursing he can put the teeny bean a bit highter…search for more videos. But I love this one. I posted it on facebook long ago and my babywearing posse loved it. Now you can, too!

[Spouse wore Peanut in a Moby everywhere we went. He’d pace the back of the breastfeeding support group while I cried to strangers about thrush and Reynaud’s of the nipple and nerve damage and sleep loss and pumping and…and every one of those women ignored me and watched Spouse pace with a sweet lump nestled on his chest.]

Nauseating

I had no idea how stomach churning it would be to get a letter from the teacher saying my kid was being rough with another kid. Repeatedly. Playing the chase-and-grab game with someone who really didn’t like it.

Last week he told me about the game and said he tried it on this other child and decided to stop when she didn’t like it.

I just heard today it happened at least four other times. In the past two days.

Each day, when I pick him up, I let him get settled then ask, “what part of your day was fun,” and “what part of your day was sad,” and “what part of your day was exciting,” and “what part of your say was frustrating,” and “what part of your day was boring?” Today he told me there was something really fun that he couldn’t tell me. I asked if he couldn’t tell me because it was so good or because it was bad.

Bad.

But it was fun?

Yes.

Oh, dear child, are you a sociopath? Are you normal? Are you going to be a bully? Are you reacting to our bad parenting? Are you just a bad person out of the box? Are you going to learn when I tell you things that should be obvious but seem missing from the Child 1.0 programming? If you haven’t yet, when will you?

Where did we go wrong? And which, of those, was the worst? And is it reversible?

Little boy, no matter how a person says it, stop it means STOP IT! It doesn’t matter if you like someone; you have to respect them and listen to their words. Always. Not just because you expect that of other people. Because it’s the decent thing to do.

He wrote a sorry note. He drew a sorry picture. He promised.

And I’m sick to my stomach. I emailed the child’s parent and the teacher, explaining how I’m dealing with the issue and how I wish I could apologize for my child.

We can’t apologize for our children, world. It’s beginning to seem that all the modeling and talk are totally wasted…is this true for all kids or just mine?

From my toddler to yours

Today we have a guest post from our almost-two-year-old, Butter. He was inspired this morning to start composing this. And since I started this blog when his brother was just a bit older than Butter is now, I thought it would be a nice beginning to The Years That Require Some Coping Mechanism.

Take it away, Butterbean.

***

Want to know what’s fun about being almost Two? Everything. Except when they try to do things for you. Blech. They don’t know anything. Why would I want shoes or socks or pants? If you don’t want shoes or socks or pants, just tell them. Loudly. They’ll give up. And then, guess what? No shoes or socks or pants!

Want to know what’s fun about being almost Two? Dumping. And Throwing. Today I asked the Cuddle Lady to get me a game so I could dump out all the plastic disks into the box, then dump the box into my truck, then dump my truck into another truck, then dump all the disks on the floor. When I asked her to put them back in the bags so I could dump again she said “yes.” I like “yes.” I also like “uh-oh.” Uh-oh means people pay attention and say gentle words and clean up for you.

I don’t like shoes or socks or pants.

Want to know what’s fun about being almost Two? Chalk. Today the Cuddle Lady game me some chalk and I dumped it on the floor. Guess what? Chalk makes More Chalk if you dump it. I took my More Chalk and put it in the cup thing that goes with other cup things in my drawer of cup things. Then I poured the More Chalk into a different cup thing. Then I dumped it on the floor. Guess what? Even More Chalk. Back into the cup thing and into the other cup thing and onto a table and onto the floor and into the cup thing and then guess what? Some of the Even More Chalk was dirt! Lello dirt and purpu dirt and boo dirt and orja dirt! I pinched that into the dirtpan then dumped it on the table. Then I put stickers on it. Stickers with BEES! Then the Cuddle Lady said it was time for pants. Boy, was she wrong. Uh-oh, Cuddle Lady. Time to clean Even More Chalk.

Know what’s fun about being almost Two? Lunch! The Cuddle Lady calls not-quite-bathtime food at the table “dinner” and morning food at the table “breakfast” but food walking around the kitchen or in the yard is “lunch.” Lunch means no shoes or socks or pants. Lunch is yay!

The most yay is potty. Being almost Two means taking off your pants, and sometimes taking off your pants and sitting on the potty. If you tell your Cuddle Lady or Poky Face to stay away while you’re on the potty, then when you’re done you can throw the potty. And guess what? Throwing the potty is even more fun than dumping the potty! Everything flies out of the potty.

Flying out of the potty is yay!

Uh-oh. Cuddle Lady says pants. And dinner. Pants and dinner are not yay. Time to make more uh-ohs so Cuddle Lady will talk gently and forget about pants. While she’s cleaning the potty throwing, I’ll climb up to the table and dump dinner.

Bye-bye!

No.

No? No.

The 18-month-through-3-year phase (the “No NO NO!” era) is getting funnier. Butter has been saying “no” a lot since 9 months, but it’s the most popular choice in his limited vocabulary. (Thank goodness for ASL.) It would be easy to get irritated with our little throw-everything, scream-in-frustration, answer-every-single-statement-or-question-with-NO Butterbean, but it’s just too funny to predict his every answer. Sad, for him, that powerlessness and frustration. But funny for us. (Sorry Butternut. I know it’s wrong to laugh at your tiny personhood, as real and important as it is to you. But if I take everything as seriously as I should, I’d go bloomin’ insane.)

***

Me: Isn’t this a good lunch, Butter?
B: [shoveling down the food; nods]
Me: Yup, this is lunch. “Lunch” is what we call it when we eat in the middle of the day.
B: NO!

It’s almost as though he’s a member of Congress, albeit a little more straightforward when he just barks “NO!” every time someone talks.

***

Me: Thanks for peeing in the potty, Butterbug. Now Mommy has to pee.
B: No!
M: Yes. I need to pee.
B: No-o!
M: [proceeding with the necessary steps] Buttercookie, I have to listen to my body, and my body says time to pee.
B: No! NO!
M: Honey, I’m right here. You can see me, you can hug me. I need to pee.
B: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! [throws himself to the floor a few feet from me, intentionally bangs head on tile, twice, and cries a bit harder]

This won’t last. He’ll get more words, he’ll decide that some things should get a “yes,” and he’ll learn that nothing is permanent except our love for him.

Plus, he’ll get to the Age of “No. Wait, Yes! Wait, No! Wait! YES! NOOOOO! [sobs]”

But dang, it’s a laugh-until-you-cry kind of world, life with a toddler. If an intense and highly spirited Three Year Old hadn’t killed my memory, coping skills, and patience reserves, maybe I would have remembered how much fun Two really can be, as long I can spare some respect and empathy for the Two-er.

Which I, thankfully, can. Right Butterbutt?

Wait. Don’t answer that.

Saturday Night Fever

This weekend I ran away from home.

Okay, I’m way too responsible and uptight to run away from home, but I negotiated a LOT of free time so Spouse could hang out with the boys. (See how I am now choosing to see that? Good for me! Good for them! Bonding time, not escaping time. Win-win-win-win.)

I got up before dawn with my little tornadoes, frolicked, cooked, attended, and mediated battles big and small for a couple of hours until Spouse tumbled out of bed. Then I left. I walked, I wrote, I surfed the Internet, and I had grownup food.

I came home after four hours alone and had a date with almost-six-year-old Peanut while Spouse and almost-two-year-old Butter slept. My sweet, highly spirited boy and I did some science, some art, some reading, and some side-by-side napping. More importantly, we smiled, we laughed, we cuddled.

When the little guy woke up from his nap I heard him, but Spouse played with him for almost an hour before they discovered us. Eight hours after I kissed them goodbye.

Eight hours. I was so giddy with freedom I danced and skipped (yes, literally) through dinner and bathtime.

(NB: I observed that no amount of battery recharge can make dinnertime with my particular small children easy. Nice to know it’s not the end of my patience-reserves that makes dinner so vision-dimmingly fraught. Quite simply, the nightly, two-hour adrenaline-pumping-fest that is dinner, bath, and bed, is spread heavily across the fragile skeleton of their utterly depleted, frenetic little bodies. So: witching hour is their fault. I did not know that before. I had continually criticized myself for not finding joy in hours 11-13 of my all-child-all-the-time days. Now I’m just going to drink through them, since I’m not the problem.)

(Kidding.)

(No, I’m totally not kidding.)

But back to my colossal Saturday of Joy break…

Oh, Interwebz, how I love operating at my own speed, to my rhythms, in whatever directions I want to go. Good Gravy, freedom feels like warm salted caramel sauce on chocolate and marshmallow ice cream. Why did I not know this? Why have I not worked harder to get this? Is the sweetness relative to the preceeding batshit insane-iness?

And how delightful, delicious, and delectable my adorable and silly children are when I am not running on fumes. My, but I enjoyed my time with Peanut, my reunion with Butter, my gratitude toward Spouse. Amazing, yummy creatures, my guys are.

I hope all parents, working inside and outside the home, get a chance to experience the glory that is solitude. After we get running water to all the world and health care to everyone and stability to the world’s violent regions and food and safety to children and adults alike, maybe we could get all humankind some breathing room and a vegan reuben.

This day has been a long time coming. And I so enjoyed the peace, quiet, and space to complete my own thoughts while doing a novel thing called blinking, that I am willing to proclaim my Saturday break intoxicating.

Drunk on mental health day awesomeness! Woo-hoo! Get yourself some of this!

Cheers!

Conundrum

A post in which I tell the story of 2012: prioritize, realign, whine, pout, self-chasten, turn to gratitude journaling, feel grateful *and* defeated.

***

December was a month in which I made list upon list of priorities and goals and dreams so that I could begin 2012 realigned, making choices I could fee good about and avoiding the detritus I had been mired in for too long.

Because I chose to stay home to raise my kids, my life got shoved into a closet, where it sat unused, unexamined, and devalued. Each time we moved, my hopes, dreams, goals, and interests got pushed further and further into the dark, cobwebby spots of our lives. Any time the old me called out from the dank recesses of the attic, the utilitarian me shouted her down.

“QUIET back there! You have no right to raise your voice to me! You chose this, so you have to do it really, really well 100% of the time!”

I wasn’t allowing myself time or space for my mind or body because I harbored this secret belief that, if I decided to do my best to raise my kids, there was absolutely no room for doing what I wanted. My job, 24 hours a day, is my little boys. Putting myself first, even for an hour, meant compromising and giving them less.

And it was driving me mad. Seriously. Both the insane and angry connotations applied. I have been losing it and just barely hanging on for almost six years. But this winter has been hard core. I’ve been climbing out of my skin, wasting time berating myself for every poor decision I made pre-kids because now I have nothing to show for my life. Oh, sure, those, but they’ll leave me and hate me and tell their therapist about how I was an empty shell of a zombie Mom. Or, rather, and empty shell of a zombie Mom who’s trying strenuously hard yet seemed to be failing miserably at just about everything, from personhood to motherhood.

So I reevaluated. I decided to find a sitter for the toddler a few hours a week so I could blink. I finished some client work and turned down new projects to focus on my own work. I convinced Spouse to be with the kids at 6am so I could start running again. I made manageable lists of short and long term goals with small steps to get to each one. I put one foot in front of the other. And I ditched facebook.

So far so good. On paper.

But I didn’t find the sitter. I checked out a few home-based daycare centers and read ads for sitters and remembered why we didn’t have anyone stay with Peanut (except my parents, and only a few times a year) until he was 4: I don’t want someone else raising my children. Until the boys can speak for themselves and express their needs and feelings, I don’t think someone else can do the best job with my itty bitty people. That’s just me, but it’s how I feel. Yes, I want to be with them because I want to see and hear everything in their day. Yes, I don’t always sound as though I do want to be with them. Yes, I think being a full time parent is important but I also feel it’s necessary to prove I’m not a freeloader absconding from my other jobs to do this job. I’ve already mentioned, I believe, my borderline insanity and obvious tendencies toward perfectionism that are ill-suited to my current role as Court Jester of Chaos, right? Okay then. Now I can mention that I don’t think I deserve to hire help when this is my job. The battle of the boxed goals and the utilitarian judgement are at it again, deeming who is worthy and who doesn’t deserve.

Good times.

So I’ve been whining about how hard it is to have a toddler and a kindergartener and a Spouse who works long hours. How very, very difficult it is to not blink for 13 hours straight. Boo hoo, big deal, people seem to parent with debilitating diseases and in the midst of trauma and major depressions, so I can take my withering hopes and dreams and shove them up my unfulfilled goals, right?

And someone offered to help me. Sweet Mary, Mother of my Cousins, someone offered to help me.

Normal people might sigh with relief and take a friend up on a sweet offer of help.

Ah, but I’m not normal. Instead, I felt chagrined that I’d complained so loudly. I vowed to start a gratitude journal and practice saying thank you for all the great things in my life. I promised myself I would focus on hopes and dreams and goals in my spare time but would refocus on my current, unpaid, disrespected, thankless, maddening, amazing, exhausting, important job.

And I heard this interview on KQED’s Forum, in which Chip Conley explained that more important than having what you want (oh, how I want and want and want) is wanting what you have. Appreciating all that is rather than longing for what might be.

So I spent the day being present and mindful and grateful. And by 7 p.m. I was in tears because I still don’t like being with my kids all day every day forever and ever amen without cease or break or freaking showers. I don’t want to make or serve or clean up food ever again. Ever. Ever ever ever again.

So I’m torn. I want to be happy with what I have. But I need. I have hopes and dreams and goals that are not well suited to tightly wrapped boxes in the back of the closet.

How do you balance being grateful for your life and still want desperately to change at least 12 things right now?

Blerg.

http://www.kqed.org/assets/flash/kqedplayer.swf

Open Letter to My Toddler

Dearest Butterbean,

Thank you. You’re right.

I say that because all of the delightful, delicious, maddening, exhausting things you do teach me something. All of them. In a tasty, hilarious, infuriating, depleting way. Did I mention adorable? And exhausting, did I mention that?

Thank you for dragging the step stool over to the kitchen counter to help me. Every single time I try to do anything. You’re right that I was foolish to think I could do something without you. You’re right that your job is to learn, especially from me. You’re right that I need to find better horizontal surfaces to cover with all the stuff I don’t want you touching. Thank you for that reminder.

Thank you for reminding me about yoga. And manners. You’re right that yoga is fun, Butter Curl. You may not do yoga while you’re nursing, sweetie. Bridge and fish pose and chatturanga are all very nice except when you’re attached to someone else’s nipple. Then they are not nice. Please stop the milk-yoga. You may nurse or you may do yoga. Not together. Thank you for making me ponder our house rules on that one. I hadn’t thought of it before. What a gift.

Thank you for demanding your independence. You’re right that I don’t have to open that cheese or tie your shoes or zip your jacket or cut the bread by myself. Of course you need to learn by trying. I know it makes you happy to try and you’re willingly to let me finish if your sweet little hands can’t complete the task. Thank you for reminding me what the whole 18 month to 3 year process is about. You. Not me.

Thank you for headbutting me in the nose when I refused you something. You’re right that angry feels like hitting. We don’t hit, Bug Butt. Good thing I know that or your tiny little face would have a handprint on it. Thank you for the reminder that I need to take a break when someone makes me so mad I see black. Good job, monkey. You’re the best.

Thank you for delighting in playing with simple things. You’re right that we should pour water back and forth from cup to pot for a long, long time. You’re right that it’s fun to open and close doors dozens of times. Thank you for finally slowing down for two seconds to do these things, Butterpat. You’ve been whirling around for so long without stopping that I wasn’t sure I’d blink before you turned Two. Thanks for your new love of repetition (and for setting up my ability to share that love by running me ragged for a year.) Let’s go get the pots and the water, shall we?

Thank you for pointing out that, whatever I give you leaves one of your hands empty. You’re right. You have two hands. So of course you need two chips. Yes. Two bananas. Two sticks. Two halves of the sandwich. Thank you for noticing both halves of your body, Butterbug. Thank you for making me see all functional units in pairs.

Kind of like us, right?

Love you, sweet little man.
—Mama.

Boxing Day

This year, Boxing Day might be my favorite holiday. (It always creeped me out before, hearing the inaccurate history of the day as based in a tradition of boxing children’s ears so they’d remember the day. Terrible. And, as I said, inaccurate. Sticks with you, though.)

Christmas was delightful. Morning at home in a slow frenzy of buckwheat pancakes, unwrapping, and play. Afternoon with family. And evening with more family, pausing, as we chased after a Tasmanian Devil toddler, to chat with dear people we haven’t seen in longer than we’d like. Kids were wiped and went to sleep easily.

Today, though, was heaven. The kids had enough newness in the living room that they played without tormenting each other. The bigger one was so involved in projects that he didn’t scream when the little one drew near. The little one had so many things to investigate that he didn’t tail the bigger one. And they both left me alone to do my thing: cooking and Internonsense. When they wanted me, it was for play. And it was every 10 minutes instead of every single minute of thirteen straight hours.

I didn’t even care that the toddler didn’t nap.

The day went by at regular pace, a shocking rarity in life with two small, energetic, opinionated, frenetic little destructive forces.

Regular pace. Like, recognizable as an actual day. Not sped up in hyperdrive, nor tortuously slow. No freakish stops and starts, the likes of which dominate my at-the-whims-of-everyone-else life.

I barely knew what to do with myself.

Mmmmmmm. Regular speed. It’s been years, but you feel like home.

‘Tis the Season

We’ve been consumed with the giving spirit around here, and Peanut has been making presents and giving to those in need and those he loves. He’s been practicing some holiday greetings, too.

A partial list of today’s favorites:

“I don’t have to if I don’t want to!”

“It’s my body and you can’t make me!”

“I might, but I’m not going to tell you so stop talking!”

“You can’t make that a rule because it’s my body and you don’t know my feelings!”

“Either you let me or I’ll punch your eye!”

“Either you let me or I’ll kick you!”

And the perennial, Jimmy Stewart-esque reminder of all we’re thankful for:

“You can’t have that; it’s mine! Don’t touch anything that’s mine!”

Aaaaaahhhh. So much merriness and brightness.

Happy Not-Quite-a-Holiday-Yet-but-It-Sure-Feels-Like-It-for-All-the-Work to you all!

Bullying

I found this on A Magical Childhood‘s pinterest. She found it at The Hermit on a Hill’s Tumblr. I wanted to share.

***
A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform.

She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it, and really mess it up but to not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out, and look at how scarred and dirty is was.

She then told them to tell it they’re sorry.

Even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. They might fade a bit, but they’re permanent.

That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever.

The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Pass it on or better yet, if you’re a parent or a teacher, do it with your child/children.

****

Yes. Do. Stick and stones may break my bones, but words leave scars.

End of Rope Found

Today was a day to go with the flow. I’m down to one client project, Butter has spent so long resisting nap that I just give up, and all the things I need to do are “wait until after bedtime” things. So I vowed to follow Butter and just be with him all day. No timing naps or tasks or emails. I don’t even pull out my phone for most of the day.

After we drop off Peanut at school, Butter asks to go see the construction site. Sure. It’s a block past the coffee I like and the cheese rolls we both like. So we grab a cuppa, a muffin, and a cheese roll and head to…oh, he wants to get down.

Sure.

He then proceeds to walk all over the neighborhood, closely supervised, touching every single rock and leaf and dog and flower and bee. (Yes, bee; he has this uncanny ability to pick them up and have them walk all over his arm and blow them off and they never sting him. Weird.) We traveled every inch of a one block radius several times. We used the bathroom in CheeseBoard Pizza five times. We got water from CheeseBoard seven times. We watched construction for what might have been two million years. He dug in the dirt and put rocks in his cup and carried them ten feet and dumped them out and started over. All unmolested but safe and loved. Awesome sauce.

For three hours. For the record, I started getting a little twitchy at two and a half.

He finally asked to be held and fell instantly asleep on my back. And I knew I couldn’t take him out or he’d refuse a nap. So I took him home and edited with him asleep on my back.

And when he woke just as Peanut got out of school, I willingly followed them both as they giggled off toward home.

It took two hours to travel one mile. I let them do their thing except for safety and kindness issues. For the first 90 minutes. And then I found my limit.

Children, I cannot go slower than 1/3 mile an hour. I can’t do it. I know I hurried you along a bit toward the end, and kept saying, “I know their yard looks fun but we have to go home.” I was cold. And tired. And Type A. Yes, we can sort through all these rocks and choose our favorites and compare them and leave them for the homeowners who paid for them. Yes, we can crunch through leaves. Yes, we can throw them and laugh and play and rake them all back in a pile with a big stick to start all over again. But we have to get moving after 30 minutes because…because…well, because I guess I just don’t love you enough. I know play is important. I know unfettered and undirected and spontaneous is great. I know adult pace isn’t right for kids.

But I will stab myself in the eye if I ever again spend 5 hours moving at tiny scientist pace.

So. Lesson learned. Never, ever, ever, ever spend more than four hours doing what the children want. Ever. Ever.

Never.

Ever.

A few of my favorite things

Butter loves sitting in Peanut’s lap. Any time the older brother sits on the floor, the little guy wanders over, turns around, and plops down. They read books, eat snacks, and play games this way.

After four months, Butterbean is finally telling us when he needs to pee. Over the past week he has gone from starting to go, then stopping and telling us and holding it on the way to the toilet, to telling us in advance. We hit a major milestone this weekend when he figured out he can sit down by himself, when he wants. Apparently he wants to sit every two minutes.

Holidays this year will include some of my favorite people. It’s nice to be home and have family and friends around us. Thanksgiving was wonderfully nice. I anticipate more of the same for the Apathy Party, Solstice, Hanukkah, and Christmas.

Every pound I gained last week was worth it. And now I really mean the “mindful choices and more water and vegetables” efforts I have been flirting with.

Since the antibiotics, Butter’s ear infection has subsided. Now we need four weeks without illness to clear them.

He has a few more words this week.

Sleep is a bit better.

Client work has dwindled to one nice project.

Commitment to attachment parenting has been renewed and both children seem pleased.

Boot and Cape Weather has arrived.

I dare not hope for more.