Friday, July 27, 2007

Serial Cereal

Our kitchen cabinet looks like the set of Seinfeld. We have like six different boxes of cereal at any given time. And my son has a name for each one. And all I can say is kudos to General Mills for coming up with the brand name Cheerios because it's actually the way my son pronounces the word "Cereal". So now everything is some version of Cheerios. Way to create brand loyalty early. Here's the roster:

Yellow cheerios - Joe's O's from Trader joes
Mommy's cheerios - Fiber O's (yes, I need fiber)
Bue cheerios - frosted shredded wheat in a blue package from Trader Joes
Monkey - Gorrilla Crunch
Mighty Bites - Mighty Bites
This one - Kashi Crunch

And I'm not sure how I allowed this to happen, but every single morning my son wants every single cereal. And like a schmuck I pour a little of everything into a bowl for him. And he notices if I skimp out on any one of the six different cereals. I don't feel too bad because these aren't like fruity pebbles or cocoa crispies. I mean the kid likes fiber cereal. But I'm getting tired of this another in a series of ridiculous routines that we have indulged. Like when he insisted on turning off all of the lights in the house before he went to bed. That lasted about a year. Or how he insists to click the safety belt buckle on his car seat. Pity the grandparent who doesn't remember this little rule. FBT*. Well not anymore. He's slowly growing out of tantrums. Instead you'll get a lecture.

They tell you that kids need routines and it's true. My kid for sure does not like surprises and he thrives in a predictable environment. But try telling him that it's summer and he really doesn't need to wear socks to sleep or long pajamas or be tucked-in with a heavy fleece blanket. He'll be sweating his head off and still insist on the "tuck-in".

I pick my battles. This week it's cereal.
Next visit to the grocery store we're skipping the "cheerio" aisle.

* Full-blown tantrum

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's 103

I have a feeling that all toddlers suffer from a mild case of obsessive compulsive disorder. I think it's how they learn. My son asks me at least a hundred times a day if I have my cell phone. And my keys. And my wallet. And is my wallet in my bag. And did I call grandma. And is my phone charging. Over and over and over in a relentless pursuit of affirmation. On the one hand I know he's learning about the art of conversation. He hears us say this kind of stuff all the time. He's mimicking. But on the other hand sometimes I feel like I'm raising Rainman.

And it's not just the repetitive questions. He becomes inexplicably attached to the strangest objects. It's usually the stuff that I use all the time - like my phone, my wallet etc. The other night though he woke up nearly in tears because he wanted to sleep with my Crocs. (?!) This was at 4am. He was calling "I want to wear your Crocs" and wandering around his room half asleep. I brought him back to his bed and he promptly returned to sleep. An hour later he wanted the crocs again so I brought them and he slept with my shoes. I mean, that's weird right?

The crocs was just a one night thing thankfully. The item that seems to have captured his imagination for the longest duration is his ear thermometer. I started using it on him when he was about a year and a half because, frankly, no one is a fan of the rectal thermometer. The ear one is so easy. And he loved it. He liked to check his own temperature, check mine, check his stuffed cat, check Micky Mouse. Then he wanted to carry it around the house and put it in and take it out of its case a trillion times. He wanted to sleep with it. And bring it in the car and to the supermarket. I indulged this behavior for the short while that he was sick but then when he went back to daycare I told him that I had to bring the thermometer back to his doctor since we didn't need it any more. He was not happy about that but little boys should be playing with cars and dolls and play dough, not ear thermometers. He asked about it for the next week and cried a little at the thought of his beloved thermometer. More recently I had to pull it out again to check his temp. It was 103. He spent the next two hours checking his own temperature and reminding me that it was 103. Which it no longer was, but try telling him that. "It's 103" again and again and again.

Now when he sees the thermometer he reminds me that we have to give it back to the doctor. I don't have to hide it anymore which is nice. He's growing up. His magic number remains 103. He got a little soo close to the oven the other day and then quickly backed away.

Him: It's hot.
Me: Yes, you have to be careful sweety.
Him: Is it hot mommy?
Me: Yes, it's very hot in the oven.
Him: Is it 103?

Yes it is.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lessons from the Menlo Park Train Station

I have both kids at home with me on Mondays so I try to do fun activities to assuage my guilt for sending my son to preschool even though I've been home on maternity leave for the past five months and could have obviously had him home with me as well as the baby. This week's activity was riding the train four stops north to Menlo Park, eating lunch at a cafe, strolling up and down Santa Cruz Avenue and then taking the train home.

On the way home the train was delayed. Another mother was there with her six year old daughter and three year old son. The two kids wer annoying each other and annoying their mother and the train was delayed and mom was becoming undone. She, like me, kept leaning toward the tracks and looking north to see if the train was coming. She did this every few seconds until her daughter piped up:

Girl: If you keep doing that the train will never come.
Mom: Not true because the train is moving very fast.

And I had to laugh to myself. The girl was getting annoyed at her mother's impatience and the mom was basically employing the reasoning skills of a five year old. A momentary role reversal. It happens to me all the time now. Not necessarily role reversal but I let my frustrations get the better of me and I come up with remarks like "I don't want to change your pull-up. You do it!" Very mature. Classic inner toddler.

MAC happy

Is it wrong that I'd rather be playing with my new 20 inch iMac than hanging out with my kids? I haven't used a Mac since I was a sophomore in college15 years ago. The first computer I ever used was a Mac. Actually it was an Apple 2e and I remember that I wrote a paper for 12th grade english on it. Before that I basically wrote everything by hand. I have nice handwriting. But I digress...

The computer belonged to my friend Andrea's mom. Then she upgraded to the little grayish beige box called a Mac and it had a little floppy disc drive which I always thought was so odd since the disc that went in their was not at all floppy. But it wasn't until I went to college that I had to start writing a lot of papers. Totally clueless I asked my Rhetoric professor (who was SOOO cute and named Noah) where the computer lab was and he gave me directions and gave me a diskette and sent me on my way. At that time there were only ten Mac stations and about 30 PC stations in all of the labs. There was always a line for the Macs. So one day I just bit the bullet and hopped on a PC, where I stayed for the next 15 years.

The Mac has changed a lot since the days of black and white screens in a little beige box. This thing is BEAUTIFUL. I'm basically in love. There are a few things I miss - my right click for one. And the photo program, iPhoto, is a little idiosyncratic. But I'm adjusting.

And while I do obviously enjoy spending time with my kids, these last few days what I wouldn't have given for a babysitter. Instead I do everything in my power to make them nap at the same time so I'll have a few precious hours playing with my new toy. My son is on to me I thnk.

Him: Why is baby crying?
Me: She's taking her nap.
Him: But she's crying.
Me: She'll stop soon and take her nap.
Him: Is she ti-yud?
Me: Yes.
Him: Then why is she screaming?
Me: She doesn't know that she needs to sleep but she does and so do you.
Him: So you can use your big, white computer?


Friday, July 20, 2007

Confessions from a crappy daughter-in-law

I called my husband today at around 3:00pm and when he answered I started singing happy birthday to me because I just bought myself a new iMac for my birthday (which isn't until September, but never mind) and in the middle he says, "Oh shit!" And it's then that we realize that it's his mom's birthday. And since she lives ten time zones away, we are totally screwed.

In my defense, my watch actually says it's the 19th. That's a fact. It's an analog watch and it goes to the 31st every month no matter how many days. So it's been a day behind since June. What's worse is that I'm actually creating a family calendar for my husband's family reunion in September so everyone, including my mother-in-law, has, as recently as two days ago, sent me their birthdays and anniversaries. But the worst of the worse is that she actually emailed both of us this morning having heard that there was an earthquake an hour north of us and were we okay. WE BOTH REPLIED WITH NO MENTION OF THE BIRTHDAY. Oh the shame of it.

Had we not BOTH replied that we were fine we could have surely used the earthquake as our excuse. We were trapped under the rubble of our house so we couldn't call or email! Alas, foiled by our own honesty and oblivion.

And now that I am a mom too I would be pissed if any of my kids forgot my birthday. I cut them some slack now because they're only five months and 2+ years old, but that free pass expires pretty soon and if I don't get lavish birthday greetings and presents on the actual day of my birth in the time zone that I currently reside (but mom, it's still your birthday in Western Samoa...), well they will both be grounded. I mean the years of sacrifice my mother-in-law endured to raise her three kids (okay it wasn't THAT painful, I'm sure. Especially in retrospect. It was actually probably pretty worthwhile, by her account) to then have your middle son and his poor excuse for a wife FORGET and then try to back pedal by sending a video of their son singing happy birthday on the porch (cheap shot, I know). Well it's a disgrace.

We'll find a way to make it up to her. If it means making her one more grandchild, well I'm willing to make that happen to rectify this terrible transgression. But first I need to change the date on my watch.

I love the smell of urine in the morning

I knew it was a bad idea. My husband was putting my son's pajamas on and asked if he could wear his elmo undies tonight. He'd been dry for the last five mornings so I figured, what the hell right? But then when I asked Mr. Underwear if he would sit on the potty for me before going to bed he started to whine.

Noooooo....I'm ti-yud. I want to go to sleep.

He had that pouty puss look and I was certain he'd wet his bed but I just could not be hassled to:
A). Wrestle with him onto the potty
B). Wrestle him out of his elmos and into a pull-up

Plus, he's always wiggly at bedtime so the idea that he might actually just go to sleep without a big production because he was, as he claimed, "ti-yud", well I just couldn't pass it up.

Indeed he was tired and went to sleep without a peep. Until 5am.

The horror. The horror.

I hear him bellowing, "I don't want it. I don't want it." The IT in this case referring to the liter of urine that he is now lying in. So I get annoyed and start lecturing him about how he needs to listen to mommy and go pee pee before he goes to sleep as I'm peeling off his wet pajamas and stripping his bed. Of course it was obviously my fault for not putting him back in his pull-up, but in the fuzziness that is 5am everything is his fault, or my husband's fault or god's fault.

One thing I know for sure, tonight is a pull-up night.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Milk brain

My maternity leave is quickly coming to an end. I'm actually very grateful for the extended leave (six months!) and I'm only going back three days a week which is delightful. But I'm sad to leave my baby girl. That, in addition to the fact that I detest pumping, my daughter won't take a bottle from anyone but me, or tolerate being held by anyone but me, and there are seven other runny-nosed germy kids at the family daycare where she's enrolled. How I hate snot...

But I'm especially nervous about being a professional again with responsibilities outside of the domestic domain. Because I tell you my brain is mush. And it's not so obvious at first glance. I don't say things like, "I'll be in the meeting in a second; I have to make poopy." I just can't remember anything and the wiring in my brain is a little wacko.

An example:
I took the baby to my mom's house in southern California for a long weekend a few weeks ago. I knew that my flight home was at 8:00 pm so we got to the airport at 6:45 but San Jose (my destination) is not on the monitor so I ask the curbside guy to go inside and see when the San Jose flight is leaving. He comes out and says it’s been delayed until 7:20. This makes PERFECT sense to me for some reason. I figure I have a little extra time. Baby is screaming and now I've leaked through my bra and shirt so I need to change in my mom’s car. By now it’s 7:00 and I bring her inside to nurse her before we check in, knowing the plane is leaving at 7:20 (!) but also knowing that my flight is at 8:00 (?!). At 7:18 I jump up panicked with the baby hanging off my boob and run up to the counter blabbering about having probably missed my flight to San Jose. They look up my name and I’m not even on the flight, which is currently taxiing down the runway. This makes no sense. Then they take my credit card number and look me up and apparently I am scheduled to leave at 8:00, as I thought, but to Phoenix! I booked my return flight to Phoenix! So they put me on the flight to San Jose for the 8:00 am the next morning and my mom comes back to get me at the airport. We get in the car and drive to a Chinese restaurant for dinner (15 minutes from the airport) and I realize my suitcase is not in the trunk. I left it outside the airport on the sidewalk. Praying that they haven't called in the bomb squad to blow up this "suspicious item" we drive back and it’s waiting for me at the Southwest desk. The woman there was about to send it off to Phoenix.

I asked my mom, did it make sense to YOU that my 8:00 pm flight had been DELAYED to 7:20? She said of course not, but apparently so much of what I say makes no sense to her that she just decided to go with it.

There was a study once which showed a statistically significant correlation between lactation and loss of brain functioning. I'd quote from it right now if I could remember where I put it...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

He's not Levy, he's my brother

They say that having kids close together in age is painful for the parents but great for the kids. The jury is still out on that one but I can say for sure that it is exhausting to constantly be engaging one and holding the other. And I am the queen of multi-tasking. I can turn on the DVD, tie a shoe and hold a reasonably coherent phone conversation all at once. But nursing my baby while supervising my toddler on the potty is frankly unpleasant. For everyone.

Now that baby is five months old and toddler is approaching three years, I've noticed a change in their relationship. They actually play together. I had to send a quick email the other day so I put the baby down on her play gym and asked my son to "watch" her while I did some work on the computer. Within a minute, he's laughing because she's rolled under the crib and she's giggling because he's laughing. And then I'm laughing. And suddenly it's such a pleasure to be with them together.

I remember that while I was in the hospital after my daughter was born and my son had been to visit once and left sobbing because he saw a nurse take my blood pressure, I wondered how he would ever adapt to this new member of our family. And my midwife said, "in two months he won't remember there was life before his sister." And it's true. It's as if she's always been here. Plying him with candy also helped the transition.

But besides being a big help to me to have my son occupy my daughter for ten minute spurts here and there, he is better than any teething toy or pacifier for calming my daughter. She's really an easy baby but she hates to be in the car. So my son has taken to singing to her to calm her. If I sing she continues to cry. If he sings she stares at him and grins. When he comes in the room, she stops nursing (by far her most favorite activity) to watch him.

And I wish I could take credit for their delightful rapport, but it was none of my doing. They have a natural affinity for which I am grateful.

Now, if only my son could nurse by daughter while sitting on the potty - take me out of the equation altogether - now THAT would be something.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Toddler Remorse

I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology which I feel entitles me to coin psychological phenomena as I see fit. My toddler suffers from what I like to call "Toddler Remorse", a quizzical little syndrome whereby the afflicted chooses option A and the very next second regrets this choice with every fiber in his/her being wishing only for option B. Until option B is granted and then suddenly A becomes the favored option. This scenario has played out several thousand times in our household.

For a while, between age 24 months and 30 months, this back and forth was a regular part of every single day. Every action or choice was wrought with indecision, regret, remorse, and frustration. Something as simple as taking off pajamas turned into a heated exchange and finally an FBT (full blown tantrum).

Me: okay sweetie, please take off your pajamas
Him: No, mommy do it.
(I go to unzip)
Him: (hysterically) No, I do it!
Him: No, mommy do it!
Him: No, I do it!
Me: (leaving the room)
Him: (hysterically crying) MOMMY!!!!

Nighttime is the worst. He wanted a bath, he didn't want the bath. He wanted mommy to sing him songs, he wanted aba. He didn't want to go pee pee on the potty, he wanted to go pee pee but only with aba, ONLY WITH MOMMY, ONLY IN MY PULL-UP, WAAHHHHHHH!! You get the idea. The condition is worsened by sleepiness.

Even this evening, he asked me to take him to the bathroom to go pee pee but then he didn't want to go back to his room. I said he had to back so he insisted I carry him. I said he could hold my hand and walk with me. He insisted on being carried so I gave in. I carried him back to bed and then he said, "No I want to hold your hand!" So I had to then carry him back to the bathroom, specifically to the bath mat (you stand there mommy) so we could reenact the transaction that had occurred only one minute before. It's unnerving!

This pattern had gone on for many months (decision, remorse, reenactment) until I finally decided that the "do over" was fueling his remorse. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. And I was his enabler. I actually made it possible for him to have it both ways. So I stopped giving into the "do over". And over the past few weeks I've seen a significant improvement in his "condition". Of course, today I acquiesced his need to reenact, because I was tired and it was late so naturally tomorrow he'll be filled with Toddler Remorse and I'll have only myself to blame. I tell you though it is a powerful tool, to be able to go back and set the record straight. Unfortunately it's not something that gets to happen a lot in the adult world. Better to learn that lesson early. Sometimes I could use a parenting "do over". I would have nipped this little behavior in the bud months ago - save my son and myself a lot of future therapy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Luggage creep

We went to my mom's house this weekend for the wedding of a very old and dear friend. My mom always spends time scrubbing the house before we arrive and sometimes even gets the carpet professionally serviced so that the baby can roll around without fear of inhaling a stray cheerio or paperclip (I haven't cleaned my own carpets in about a year...)

And no matter how organized I am, no matter how many ziplocks I've used to separate my daughter's onesies from my son's elmo underwear and my bras from my kids' pajamas, invariably, five minutes after we've arrived, our crap is strewn all over the house.

It's not as though we open the suitcases and then parade around dropping articles of clothing and accessories in every room. It just happens spontaneously, literally within minutes of our arrival. Bottles and sippy cups, shoes and cell phones, blankets, toys and diapers. Just piles of our crap everywhere. I used to try to straighten up each morning, repack whatever had crept out of the luggage, make the bed, organize the toys...but I've given up. Because by the end of the day the place looks like an Old Navy after a holiday sale. Crap everywhere.

So I'm working on letting it go. This is not easy for me as I am a true virgo and I can't stand clutter. I hate knick knacks, curios, collections of porcelain cherubs, smurfs, even too many ratty paperback books. In my world everything has it's home and must reside there when not in use. And sometimes home is a box in the attic or Goodwill and that's okay.

But luggage creep is unavoidable. I thought it was bad with just the one kid. Now it's taken on a life of it's own. It's like a living, breathing organism, molting as it moves through the rooms of the house, shedding 3T feety pajamas, 0-6 month booties, Aquafor and bathings suits.

Thankfully, within a half hour it's all contained again and we're off to the airport after another wonderful weekend at Grandma's. However, as I write this from my home, with our luggage unzipped and sitting in the living room, a trail of our belongings has already taken form reminding me to accept the things I cannot change and embrace the crap and clutter that comes with family.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Boom

My son slept through the night when he was two months old but it was relatively short lived. So at four months we sleep trained him using a combo Ferber/Weissbluth method since he'd already proven he could physically do it and, frankly, I was really freaking tired of feeding him at night. It was only mildly traumatic and mostly for me. He cried his head off for ten minutes, went to sleep, woke up at 2 am, cried his head off for twenty minutes, went to sleep and that was about it. He is a champion sleeper. Or was, I should say.

About six months ago, after he had just turned two but before the baby was born, he started waking up at night. It was right about when we transitioned him to his toddler bed, perhaps too soon. We'd put him to bed and ten minutes later he'd come running out crying that he heard a boom.

Him: The boom!!
Me: There's no boom, honey. You need to go to sleep.
Him: I heard the boom.
Me: Sweetie it's the water pipes expanding when the water runs through them in the ceiling.
Him: -
Me: It's the water.
Him: It's the water.

Then he started waking up in the middle of the night, something he hadn't done since he was an infant. The first time he padded into our room and refused to go back to his room so we let him sleep with us. Kiss of death. You give a toddler an inch...

Next night, he wanted to sleep with us again. I told him he had to sleep on the floor.

Next night I played hardball. I walked him back to his bed. He wasn't thrilled about that.
He came back an hour later. I walked him back. We did this about five times. My husband continued snoring.

As an aside: What is it about being a man that makes you biologically deaf when sleeping? From discussing this with girlfriends it seems universal.

The fourth night was better but he was still having trouble falling asleep. He'd come out three or four times after the evening ritual complaining of the boom at which point I'd ask if he wanted to sleep in his crib and he'd say yes. Love the crib.

So we've gone back and forth between the bed and the crib over the last six months. Now he's mostly in his bed. He still talks about the boom but he says, "the boom from the water."

One day, curious to know if nightmares were causing this night waking, I asked him if he sees pictures in his head while he's sleeping and he said yes.

Him: Of aba.
Me: You see aba when you're asleep.
Him: Ya, in the window.
Me: What's he doing?
Him: He has the knife...

Cue: scary music. Now, my son calls several things knives. A pair of scissors. The weed-whacker. Garden clippers... But it was definitely a Stephan King moment. Is my husband a knife-wielding psychopath? Probably not since he's sleeping and deaf in the next room.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Super Nanny and Elmo Undies RULE!

I'm not too self righteous or embarrassed for that matter to admit that on occasion my husband and I watch Super Nanny. Watching television is about the only thing I want to do at 9:00 pm after my kids are finally in bed. Plus watching Super Nanny in particular makes me feel like it could all be worse (I could have two sets of twin boys under the age of five with a husband in Iraq, for example). My husband is a big fan, mostly for the reassurance that his son isn't the only impossible kid out there.

Yesterday's episode featured a lovely couple - both professors in Hawaii - and their two boys age three and one. And the areas for improvement were in potty training and time-outs.

She made it look so easy. Just tell him he's a big boy, put him in underwear and miraculously he'll be able to stay dry. We'd once been that naive and our boy defiled every corner of the house. So we bribed him with chocolate raisins which worked for a time until the lavatory incident on a recent trip to New York. Over the last six months he'd been in underwear, pull-ups, back to diapers, back to pull-ups. He didn't know if he was coming or going (and when he was going, it wasn't in the potty).

And of course the Super Nanny is famous for the "naughty spot" - the place to go for time outs. We're not the best at time-out. If he won't stay in his room, I usually put my son in his crib (he doesn't climb out) but then he shrieks like a mermaid and slobbers all over himself and puts his whole fist in his mouth until he gags. Once he even threw up. It's not pleasant.

My husband and I decided to heed Super Nanny's advice and this morning I told my son that he would be wearing underwear from now on. After breakfast he peed on the potty, said bye bye to his diaper, picked out the Elmo undies for this auspicious occasion (the ones with the giant Elmo face on the tush) and got dressed without a fuss. I told his teachers at school that we were done with diapers and I apologized in advance if he peed all over the school. They were supportive having witnessed his previous potty prowess. And I'm proud to tell you right now that he was dry all day. Well, almost all day.

This evening he decided he wanted to color in my checkbook. When I told him to put the check book away he refused. I counted to three and he stood his ground. So I put him in the corner in the hallway and told him it was the naughty spot. He screamed and flailed himself at me and tried to escape for about twenty minutes. He also peed in his pants which made him even more upset (I made a pee pee on Elmo!). But this time I stood my ground. Eventually he was able to stand in the corner for a full two minutes without saying a word. Then he said he was sorry and I gave him a hug. We picked out Thomas the Tank Engine undies, got changed and moved on with our lives.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Trouble with S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G

Parents have been spelling in front of their toddlers since forever. It used to be you could speak your native language in front of your kids so they wouldn't understand (although they always did) but now we all want our kids to be polyglots so we try really hard to get them to learn Mandarin from mom, Danish from dad, Nepalese from the nanny and English at school. Or in our case it's just Hebrew and English. So my husband and I are spellers, or at least we try to be. The problem is we each stink at spelling in the other language.

Yesterday we were at the park across from our house with the kids and I said to my husband, "Do you mind if we just give him C-H-E-E-S-Y P-A-S-T-A tonight?" That's our word for Mac and Cheese. My sister-in-law started saying that for some reason and it stuck in our family too. Anyway, we usually try to make him real food but sometimes it's a cheesy pasta night because we can't be bothered cooking.

So he looked at me sort of weird and here I am thinking, spare me your moral opposition to feeding our son a frozen entree, and as I'm formulating my retort - all five legitimating points and my closing argument - I can sort of hear some squeaking and clanking coming from the direction of my Israeli husband. And then I realize it's his brain trying to put those letters together and coming up short.

So he cracks a smile and I have a giggle. And then I see him actually spelling out the letters in the sand at the playground. At this point we are both hysterical.

Me: Are you KIDDING me?
Him: Wait, what was it? T-H-E-E...
Me: No, C!
Him: T-H-E-C-Y? What the hell is that? A sauce?

We can't even finish our conversation because neither of us is breathing from all of the laughing and snorting. The truth is I can't even ridicule him too much (even though it's entertaining) because I'm even worse. When he spells in Hebrew I literally have to sound out each letter which of course totally defeats the purpose.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Oedipus stress

I've been wondering for a while now when I should stop letting my toddler son see me naked. And before I googled "when is it inappropriate to be nude in front of your kid" I thought I would put it out there for the fans to write in about. But since really only my mom and my mother in law read this thing (shout out to Rosalee and Shirley!) I may not get much discussion. Until recently I hadn't even really thought about it. We're still training for Potty Bowl 2007 so half the time I'm on the toilet, my son is in there doing the play by play:

Him: You're making a pee pee?
Me: Yes, sweetie.
Him: You use the paper?
Me: Yep
Him: You make the flush?
Me: You betcha
Him: You're washing your hands mommy?
Me: I am!

You get the idea. He's in there when I take a shower, get out of the shower, get dressed, undressed, re-dressed (after baby sister has barfed on me...). I mean, we're not constantly naked in my house but there's a fair amount of the usual disrobing and he's always around and in our business so he sees it all.

Ever since the baby was born and I've been nursing (around the clock) he's taken a keen interest in my boobs. The other day he asked, "Is that your bra?" I started to wonder if maybe he was being over "exposed". Then he asked, "Did you do the clicks?" by which he meant had I fastened the strap since it's a nursing bra. And I thought, this kid pays A LOT of attention to detail. I guess at some point we need to teach him about privacy and private parts and all that so he doesn't start wagging his pee pee up and down the street. But for now it still seems pretty normal. Right?

I guess if he starts asking when I'm due for my next bikini wax it might be time to cover up.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tag Team

I swear I don't know how single parents do it. Well I sort of know how because I once had to watch my son for a week while my husband went biking for with his friends in Greece (I know - wife of the year medal, right?) and while it was totally exhausting (I was also five months pregnant), at least I knew that everything was my responsibility. I didn't have the additional exhaustion of resenting my partner for not sharing the load. Nothing against my husband, but the man can fall asleep on the floor DURING the bedtime stories that HE'S reading.

But I digress...
My husband and I have become very alert to when parent number two needs to step in. This evening, for example, we got home from our friends and I needed to put our baby to sleep. She'd been whimpering and/or bellowing for the last three hours, unable to settle down enough to sleep - which was the thing she needed most. Our son knows the evening routine: Aba bathes him, puts him in his pajamas, brushes his teeth and reads him stories before mommy comes in for the ni-ni songs. This gives me time to nurse and put down the baby before second shift.

But we walked in the door and he only wanted mommy. So after what was essentially a tantrum-free day, we were suddenly up against the most annoying tantrum of all - the mommy sob fest.


Enter: Super Husband, stage left.

Super Husband put on his happy toddler voice (animated and high pitched) and managed to suppress our sons cries from an FBT (Full-Blown Tantrum) to something of a kvetch and harrumph. And when I emerged from putting our daughter to sleep, I heard my husband in our son's room singing ni-ni songs without protest. And as I write this they are both asleep - my son in his bed, my husband on the floor near his bed. (Did I mention his propensity for sleeping?)

We try so hard to stay rational and calm when our son is having, as my friend Ali would say, a "major come-apart", but when one of us gets sucked into toddler drama, it's nice to know the other is usually available to quickly divert and diffuse.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day

It's independence day and I'm thinking about independence. The other day my son was angry with me for whatever reason and went into his room and told me to go away. He actually told me to leave his room and don't talk to him. At first I was distraught. What do you mean? I do everything for you, you little rat. I wipe your ass for god's sake. I painted this room and bought all the furniture and hung the art so you can kiss my tushy, I'm stayin'. I tell YOU what to do and not the other way around.

But I respected his wishes and left him alone with his thoughts and his kitty cat. And after a moment I was actually delighted. You want to be alone? You got it pally. I'm going to Tahiti actually. I'm stopping for coffee at Starbucks, then I'm getting a pedicure, then I'm going shopping without you annoying the crap out of me, then I'm going to watch four movies back to back in the cinema and then I'm going out to dinner where they don't allow kids and then I'm going to Tahiti.

Independence is tricky. A blessing and a curse. I so desperately want him to be able to put on his clothes, and use the bathroom, and play in his room without me, and walk across the street to the park, and drive himself to preschool (okay that one's a little far fetched), but the minute he wants his space, I sort of want to be the center of his universe again. That's my own inner toddler at work. I look like a 33 year old woman but really I'm only two and a half and I want it both ways.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I need my phone for work

We thought it was cute when my son was eleven months old and started to hold things up to his ears and say "hello?". First it was the remote control and we laughed. Then a banana. My wallet. His shoe. Then he went for the real deal. And we made the biggest mistake of our lives - we laughed. And so began an 18 month spiral into behavior verging on obsession with cell phones and all things electronic. We joked that he would be an engineer like his dad and his granddad, but we feared he was turning into a sociopath. That kid who never makes eye contact, only plays video games and is secretly hacking into the CIA's information system.

I admit there are some areas of parenting where I am totally consistent and we get great results. My kid sleeps like a polar bear. Heavy and easily. I made sure of that. But unfortunately I was never really consistent with the cell phone thing and so for more than a year our son had tantrum after tantrum wanting to use our phones. It then grew to encompass my mom's cell phone, my wallet, my mom's wallet, my husband's laptop, my mom's handbag, my keys and my iPod. He was relentless. We forbade him to use the cell phone so he would get around that by just "bringing" me the phone. He would actually derive joy from holding the phone - as if the phone was actually a part of me and this was how he could be closer to me. Or from spying it in my pocket. Or seeing it on the charger. We would tell him that the phone was only for work. But then he would ask to call grandma, which I could never resist, so he would get to use it. And then he'd get all quiet, pre-tantrum mopey when he'd have to give it back to me.

We tried giving him toy phones, some of which are super cool and look like phones and have all kinds of buttons and noises. No thank you, says he. We tried giving him my mom's old phone which actually still worked but just didn't have service. At first he was thrilled but then when we wouldn't let him take it to the park, he started foregoing jaunts to the park. And his general mood was worsening as he spent more and more time obsessing about his phone. So we took that one away too. And the tantrums continued. Until yesterday.

Now he's a little older - 2 and 9 months - and he's able to spend more time in pretend play. Yesterday was a major turning point. He spent about two hours after preschool playing with the handbag I gave him (not the one I actually use), an old wallet (not my current wallet), an old cell phone, plastic teething keys, a broken camera and his sunglasses. He put all of these things in his bag, "called" grandma, told her he's on his way to work, opened the front door and then "locked" it, walked down the walkway, turned around, opened the front door, announced he just went to the store and that he bought chocolate raisins, cheerios and broccoli. Then he called grandma to tell her. Then he "charged" his phone. Then called grandma to tell her that he's charging his phone. "Hi Grandma. I'm charging my phone. No, Aba can't touch my phone. Yes. I'm going to the store. I need my phone for work....okay. Bye Grandma". He did ten or eleven variations on this drama for literally the entire evening. It was awesome. He was actually playing. And likely breaking my phone charger, but he was playing.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The kindness of strangers

Mornings are always hectic. My husband and I have a schedule where he takes our son to preschool on certain days and I take him the other days along with our baby daughter. And if the stars have aligned in my favor, the baby will wake up just as we are leaving. I put her in the car seat and we're off and I've had all morning to get my son ready, make lunch (how much do I hate making lunch), pack his bag and exit. With no help from hubby because on these mornings he leaves at 6:30 am so he can pick up early from school to go swimming. It's a nice little schedule.

Unfortunately for me, most mornings are not so smooth because the baby's up at 7:30 and my son refuses to take off his pajamas, and there's no bread for his pbj, and he wants to brush his teeth himself, and he'll only wear his blue shoes, which we can't find.

Today was a good morning though, for him at least. No tantrums. No battles. We were out of the house by 8:30 at which time I noticed the car was on empty. We have a VW and it actually tells you approximately how many miles you have left before you're out of gas. We had 5.

At this point I remember that my wallet is in the trunk of our car in the backpack carrier from the hike we went on the day before. So we leave and my son is singing in the back and my daughter is staring at him (she's usually screaming because she can't stand the car - anyone with some insight on that one has a personal invitation to write in). We get to the gas station and I look in the trunk to find that the backpack is not there and thus no wallet. My husband had apparently unloaded the car which makes perfect sense now but had not crossed my mind at the time. I like to blame it on the fact that I'm lactating and all of my brain cells are slowly leaking out of my boobs.

Now I'm on 0 miles. I can't go home. I can't buy gas. So I walk into the station and explain to the man that I need a $5 favor and I'll bring the money right back and I just need to drop my son at preschool. He's looking at me like I've lost my mind when the guy behind me says he'll give me five bucks.

It is, as my friend Heidi would say, an iconic Torah moment. I told him I'd pay him back and please give me his email blah blah. But he refused (I also probably wouldn't give my email address to a nutty woman who leaves her two kids in the car at the gas station). I gave the guy a hug which I'm sure freaked him out and then after I put in a gallon and a half, I drove past him and gave him a little hands together namaste sign and he smiled.

It's so refreshing to find there are really good people in the world. And to know they fill up at the Valero on the corner of San Antonio and California.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I can't believe you just peed on me

I came to understand a new feature of the male anatomy this evening. We've been potty training my son for the last few months and are currently in a set back period after a stressful experience with an airplane lavatory. We're basically back to square one after having weeks of successful potty encounters. One look at the lavatory and all of our hard work went, literally, down the toilet. Now I can't even get my son to go near the potty. And he has the nerve to demand to be changed the minute he's finished his business.

Tonight, after a long fun day in Santa Cruz with friends, he had a bath with his aba (dad) and asked mommy to put on his pajamas. As I was putting on his pull-up (don't even get me started on pull-ups), he started to pee into the pull-up. The rest of the conversation goes like this:

Me: Are you kidding me?
Him: I made a pee pee.
Me: Do you still have more pee pee?
Him: No, change me mommy!
Me: Are you done making pee pee?
Him: Change me mommy!

I take off the now wet pull-up and notice that his penis is sort of dripping so I try to cover it with the wet pull-up. It stops dripping. I go to get another pull-up and come back and he's now peeing on the carpet. So I put the pull-up to his crotch and tell him to stop (genius, I know). He stops and keeps dripping. So I get closer to put the new pull-up on him and he pees all over me.

Me: I can't believe you just peed on me!
Him: Where's the red spray cleaner?

Who knew that penises drip when there's still pee pee in there? And how would I know that? Why do I even bother with potty training? He'll figure it out eventually right? I mean, there were no kids in my high school class who didn't know how to use a potty. A big toilet even. We ALL figured it out. I'm sure my son will figure this one out too. He figured out the red spray bottle was carpet cleaner. He's no dummy right? My husband doesn't even know that...and HE makes pee pee on the potty all the time.

I need a shower.