Individuality

All of a sudden, Bowie is full of all of these feelings and ideas and opinions, and he will come up to me and say something and I have one of those mom moments where you realize, “I did actually create another human being.”

“I want to wear my glasses.” (Points to my sunglasses.) “Like mommy’s glasses, but Bowie’s glasses. It’s too sunny.”

“No mommy, I don’t want to try it. I don’t think I like.”

“Mommy, is time for school? I like school. I like to see [names of 10 kids from school].”

And he remembers stuff! It’s amazing. For example, at his swim class, we always sing this fun song at the end, and then the teacher gives everyone a high five. It’s pretty routine, so when we come home and tell Daddy how swim class went, I never even talk about it. While telling bedtime stories last night, I asked him about swim class.

Me: You climbed out of the pool all by yourself, right?

Bowie: Yes.

Me: And you went under the water two times, right?

Bowie: Yes. But hurts my eyes.

Me: Yeah, it hurts your eyes. We will wear the goggles next time, okay?

Bowie: Ok.

Me: What else did we do?

Bowie: Sing songs and high fives!

Just like that, he remembered that his eyes hurt under water and that we sing and do high fives. If you don’t have kids and you are reading this right now, you probably think I’m a total nut job but trust me, watching your kid come into his own in simple ways like this is mind-blowing.

When we started preschool last December, I took solace in the fact that he was one of the youngest kids there. My little 2 1/2 year old. How old is he? “2 1/2…” I’d say over and over again. Then just the other day it dawned on me that he’s ALMOST THREE. Almost 3. Good lord. What’s next, his driver’s license?

Stuff They Don’t Tell You About Being a Mom

I’m going to lay it all out there. Because I love you.

1. Your kiddo will poop in the bathtub. More than once. Put a bottle of bleach on that baby registry, just so you’re all set.

2. You will cough/sneeze/laugh/bend over in public and, WHOOPS a little pee will sneak out. It sucks. Try to remind yourself that other women go through this too. Though, that never seems to help me.

3. Just because your baby has started sleeping through the night doesn’t mean you have endless nights of peaceful slumber ahead of you. Every new stage of development seems to bring its fair share of kiddo sleeping difficulties. You’ll get a good night’s sleep when they ship off to college. Oh, wait…

4. There WILL be a picky eating phase. Ok, some women do get to bypass this. But they are the LUCKY MINORITY.

5. Get the washable crayons, and thank me later.

6. Television is not the devil (in moderation, of course). I swear, that’s how my son knows his alphabet at age 2 1/2. Keep it educational, keep it to just a few shows a day, and let yourself off the hook.

7. Travel when they are 0-6 months, and travel after they are 4 (this is a full assumption, as my son is only going on 3). Between these ages is PURE TRAVEL HELL, be it car, airplane or even walking a few blocks. This is where bribery with candy suddenly becomes a perfectly acceptable modern parenting method.

8. If you will be a SAHM, get a hobby. And some mom friends. For your sanity. No, seriously.

9. In the first few years of life, it is completely unnecessary to purchase anything for birthdays or holidays. The grandparents will take care of that.

1o. Every other mom you meet will judge your parenting methods in some way, shape or form. It’s the ones that verbosely call you out on it that you want to give the finger to. The other ones are just human. And you will judge other moms too, trust me. Just remember: they are a mom, just like you are a mom, and (almost) all of us love our little ones to bits and are doing everything we think is right.

11. Keep the fridge stocked with wine. Or beer. Or vodka, whatever your poison. There WILL be days that you WILL be thankful for this. Especially between the ages of 2 and 4. And it’s no coincidence that potty training happens during these years.

12. Be prepared to clean food and/or juice off of every surface of your home. EVERY surface. I don’t know how they do it, I don’t know why they do it, but yes, you may just find a pile of dried up/moldy applesauce inside of your living room subwoofer. Just sayin’.

13. On that note, put all disc slots and video game systems out of reach. They learn REALLY quickly how to insert just about anything (except the discs or games themselves) into those slots. Once we pulled not only a game, but a coaster and a rock from our Wii. At the same time.

14. Set aside a good amount of money to repair the small electronics that your child destroys. We’ve had to fix cameras and cell phones and computer screens and computer mice and there’s no telling what’s to come.

15. If your little boy loves Dora, you will go to the store and realize that everything Dora-related comes in girl colors. Get it for him anyway. Life is too short.

16. Don’t watch the news. It will overwhelm you with the urge to squeeze your children back into the womb, where they are safe.

17. Don’t swear in front of children older than 18 months. We are big swearers. And don’t really care when our son swears. But, when they say, “Stupid F@#$ing car!” at preschool, trust me, you will care.

18. Develop your patience level. “I want to put on my sweater by myself!” and “I want to go down the stairs by myself!” can take up a full hour of your day, easy.

19. You’re going to have that moment where you say something that your mom or dad said that you always hated, and you’re going to be all, “Damn, I’m just like them.” But, then you will have that moment where you you will think, “they had do go through this crap with me” and you will realize that they were amazing parents, and you will be an amazing parent too.

20. Just because you’ve done a ton of research, and have a ton of parenting books on your shelf, and have raised X number of kids already and you write a parenting blog…well, none of that means that you will have all the answers all the time. We raise and nurture and teach and form and create HUMAN BEINGS. It’s tough work. Seriously, give yourself a break.

Yes, we let him.

Funny thing happened at preschool today. Funny in that I feel like a moron.

We were singing this fun song at music time: “Wake me, shake me, don’t let me sleep too long. In the morning I …. ” and then the teacher calls on a child and they fill in the blank. I eat breakfast. I put on clothes. I brush my teeth. I say good-bye to my dad. Whatever.

Teacher calls on Bowie. Who is 2 1/2 and off in his own entire universe when this is happening. Teacher says, “What does Bowie do in the morning, mom?”

I say, “Uuuuuuuummmmmmmmmm he watches Curious George.”

The pause in the room was palpable. I mean, GOD LOVE ‘EM but most San Francisco parents are not hip to the half hour of peace you can get from plopping your kiddo in front of a nice television program. (Or, at least they’d never admit to it in the very public manner that I chose.)

The song went on as normal, but LORD, the PAUSE.

I’m here today to admit, yes, I let my son watch television.

At least I said Curious George, he’s on PBS. I could have said Fresh Beat Band or something AMIRITE.

Remember When

Bowie has been making me so crazy lately. No, seriously, I mean CRAZY. If he’s not screaming at top volume because one of his toys is stuck under the couch, then he’s biting me because I won’t let him completely rip apart the detailed model train set at the Conservatory of Flowers. Or perhaps screaming so loudly in the car that, even though we have all our windows up, and the car next to us has all their windows up, they all still turn to see what creature is emitting that horrific noise. Repeat, day after day, hour after hour, except the blessed 7 hours he sleeps at night.

But, the other day, to make some space for piling wrapped presents in preparation for Christmas Eve, I had to move around all of our framed pictures on the mantle, of family and friends and whatnot. And one of those framed pics is Bowie’s ultrasound picture.

I remember when I was pregnant, right after we came home with that picture, I could not stop staring at it. I felt like I had gotten to meet him that day, and I couldn’t wait for him to come out and be with us. And I would imagine the kind of baby he would be, and the kind of man he would grow up to be. I was completely smitten, and all I had was that grainy picture.

I’m trying to remember how I felt back then, how grateful I was to have a healthy baby growing inside me. Before he was yelling and screaming and hitting and biting and throwing toys. Their childhood is so fleeting, I want to try to enjoy every single second. It is so tough, you all know that it is. But I can do it. I think.

This is where I blink and then he’s in college.

Bowie has started preschool! We got in late in the year and were able to fill the spot of a family that left (this is a gigantic positive twist of fate, as it is nearly impossible to get your kiddo into a San Francisco preschool so easily). It was a totally last-second deal and we are all still adjusting, but I think it’s going to be a great move for our family.

We have been 4 days now, and he’s not quite with the routine yet, however the teachers are telling me most kids his age take some time to get the schedule.

I can’t believe I am the mama of a preschooler. My goodness. Most cliche line ever, but I’m going to use it anyway because seriously: they grow up way too fast.

Activities

Lately, due to the heavy SAHM and mom blogger influence on my Twitter account, I have been feeling somewhat guilty for not doing more activities with Bowie. That’s a big, blanket word, activities. But what I mean is, stuff at home like craft projects and baking and planting seeds, that kind of stuff.

But, the thing is, whenever I go to do stuff like that with him, I realize he’s too young. Or is he? I mean, I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough. We color pictures together and we search for flowers on walks together. But, baking? Using glue on something? I just think he’s too young! And last time I pulled out the Play-Doh–he feasted upon it. Really. He had pink poop.

Two questions: 1) When did you start doing fun little crafty/exploring activities with your kids? How old were they?  2) What were those projects? Are there good ones for a 2 1/2 year old that I’m forgetting?

Of course I want to have fun and make memories and be interactive with my kiddo while he’s still little. But, I’m out of ideas. And maybe I am just feeling pressure from the uber-involved online community members?

The comment on Twitter that prompted this post ended with the hashtag “family centered”. Which made me wonder, am I less family centered than this mother?

Ground Control to Major Tom

So, you know what I’m totally tired of already (even though I have like 16 years of this  parenting thing left) (well, really forever because they’re always our kids) (and make that forever and a day if we have more kids)?

I’m tired of the whole not listening thing. Like, you know they hear you, you know they understand you, yet they do not respond and/or do not react accordingly!

I remember my own mother complaining about this phenomenon, the selective hearing. Why, just this afternoon, I repeated one of her favorites, “Why don’t you ever listen to me?!”

Ok, so I didn’t listen, and probably kids before me didn’t, and I should take comfort in that and therefore be able to deal with it when Bowie pulls the I’m-not-listening card. But, no, people. Really, no. It still sucks.

I often apologize to new moms or expecting moms for scaring them about the toddler years, but I won’t apologize here, you must be warned. Be prepared to repeat yourself approximately 75 times when you want them to do something or stop doing something or whatever it is.

You will be calm at first. You will think I am the coolest, calmest most collected mama on earth. I’ll just ask him nicely to not put the fork in the socket and everything will be awesome.

Gradually, the volume of your voice will increase, and the language will change (for instance, you may even begin to throw a threat or two in there) until finally you are MAMA, HELLBEAST OF THE APOCALYPSE.

Just do this for me though: don’t be too hard on yourself. Know that you are not the only mama to yell. And take comfort in the fact that you had the patience to ask nicely as many times as you did.

I have a friend who theorizes that a little yelling when they are young makes them think twice as teens. Now, who knows what our kids will do when they are teens, we were all loose cannons back then AM I RIGHT? But, use her theory to make yourself feel better, haha.

p.s. like the Bowie reference? yes, I’m super witty like that, thanks.

The Potty Process

Potty training has been going….well….not really going. We are hitting a lot of road blocks, including Bowie not seeming to care when he as a giant steamer in his pants or is standing ankle deep in his own urine. We had heard a lot of theories that letting them have accidents will help teach them to be uncomfortable in the mess and will speed up the self-awareness process.

But, having cleaned up more underpants poo messes than I ever thought humanly possible and cleaning up about twice that amount in pee puddles (probably because my child ingests almost nothing but juice and fresh fruit) made me rethink that approach. Clearly, he wasn’t ready for that level yet.

I didn’t want to go the Pull-Ups route. I was already sick with myself for using disposable diapers for 2 years, and adding more to the landfills wasn’t all that attractive of an option. We had gotten a bunch of them secondhand from a coworker of my husband’s, but I doubted I’d ever use them. However, in a recent mommy error I allowed our diaper supply to hover dangerously low and then also ran out of clean underpants. So, alas, I tried out the Pull-Ups.

You guys, there really is something to these things. Not only does it corral the mess and keep it off of your floors (and clothes and towels and furniture and rugs and car seats and strollers) but it also helps the child to feel soiled in a way that neither diapers nor underpants can. They are learning how it feels to go in their pants, learning how to tell when they need to go, and um, keeping the house a little cleaner.

We know we have a long road ahead of us, and will trudge forth patiently. But I’m starting to realize that no matter how many books and articles we read or how many experts and fellow parents we consult, we still have to figure out what the process is for our family, and for Bowie specifically, if we ever want to achieve any kind of success. And it could mean more junk in the old landfill. Woe is me.

It could be a total coincidence, but in the last 24 hours, we’ve seen a huge difference in how he’s handling the potty situation. Now, the only problem is—that case of diapers I ordered. Probably should have been a case of Pull-Ups.

Bumps and Bruises

Lately Bowie is covered with bumps, bruises, scratches and cuts. And every single one makes me feel so guilty! Like I had something to do with it. I have to start to accept that he’s his own little person and stuff will happen to him and he will (most likely) heal back up and be fine.

But, if he’s this rough and tumble now, what’s to become of him when he’s a bigger boy, trying newer and scarier things? I recall my brother having stitches 3 times before he turned 8. If he had been the first child and not the third, I’m sure my mother would be in a padded cell to this day.

I have a friend with a child a few years older than Bowie who recently fell at the park, hit his forehead on a cement embankment and cut it open to the tune of 100 stitches. The grisly pictures were of course posted to Facebook, and it has me a bit worried about how I would react to a situation like that with Bowie.

I’m sure I’d faint at the site of the blood. Then, when I came to, I’d more than likely vomit at the site of the blood. Then, I would freak out for a few minutes, just running around yelling, “OH MY GOOD GOD!” before finally having the wherewithal to dial 911.

And may the good lord help me if he decides to become a rodeo cowboy or a BMX racer or a crocodile hunter or a sword swallower or something. That would put me in my own padded cell for sure.

Two

Yesterday my baby boy turned two. All I can say lately is, “WOW. TWO. WOW.”

We returned yesterday evening from another whirlwind family visit in Wisconsin, and we drove past the hospital he was born in. It does not feel like two whole years have passed!

Partially, I think that is because we are still total noob parents, and Bowie reminds us every day. After all the poop blow outs, all the public tantrums, all the sugar crashes, all the day trips with no diapers, we are still making mistakes daily. But my mom says that never stops. So I feel better. I think.

Bowie, what can I say about you at age two? You are a CHATTERBOX. You walk around all day long, trying out your new words, your new phrases, and some of that gibberish you’ve always been saying. When mama lets you park your tuckus in front of the TV, you’re really enjoying Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba, Dinosaur Train, Curious George, Thomas the Tank Engine and, oddly, Super Readers.

But if you had to pick just one, I’m positive it would be Thomas. You love trains and planes and bikes and cars and basically anything else with wheels. Also, dinosaurs, balls, rocks, mud, hammers, you are ALL BOY ALL THE TIME. Which I am learning to love.

Your picky eating habits are on their way out the door. (Well, now I’ve jinxed it.) Lately you’ve been enjoying some new things, and even eat what we do for dinner occasionally. I have to get out of the habit of making two different things for meals before you figure out that you have me completely wrapped around your little finger.

Your sleeping habits leave something to be desired, as I have been chronicling here lately. But, mommy and daddy still have a few tricks up their sleeves, and things are improving. It could have a lot to do with the whole cutting of the two year molars, and the fact that I haven’t, for almost two months now, been able to find a decent disposable diaper, and you often wake up soaked in your own pee pee. Sorry about that.

This is a fun age. I would say that I wish you could stay this age, but I have said that a lot in the past, and it always turns out that the next stage is always even more fun. I’m looking forward to watching you grow up day by day.

Happy second birthday, sweet pea! Here’s to a whole bunch more!

Love,

Mommy