Geekamama


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No! Sleep! Till–oh heck, I don’t know when

This was supposed to be written yesterday, but I was exhausted. My husband is out of town for a couple of days, and I’m finding I need an awful lot of energy to keep up with the very active Toddler Force One.

It doesn’t help that we had three days this past workweek where we had to get up much earlier than usual. By Friday afternoon I was already in sleep debt. After I got Kiddo tucked in that night, I went straight to bed myself. Usually on weekends, my husband and I sleep in until Kiddo wakes up, and then alternate taking showers while the other plays with Kiddo. Yesterday, though, I didn’t get that shower until my sister came over that afternoon. Oh, and this morning? Forget that extra hour of sleep that usually comes with the switch back to Standard Time. Someone in this house didn’t get the memo.

We’ve had plenty of afternoons and evenings where Kiddo and I were on our own while my husband worked. And I often take care of Kiddo myself every weekday morning. I figured I had this weekend in the bag. Turns out, without the ability to get away for just five or ten minutes, it’s more of a challenge than I expected.

This morning when I woke up (or more accurately, was woken up) I thought, I don’t know how single parents do it. Do they have more strictly scheduled days? Are they better at squeezing in housework while their child entertains herself? I don’t think I could ever really know unless I had to live through that myself–something I hope never happens–and not just for a weekend, but day in and day out, managing child and household and job, very likely having to sacrifice personal time and interests to do it. I have new respect for anyone in that position.

Before my husband left, we made a picture calendar for the days he would be gone. It shows who’s home each day and what we’re doing that day, whether it’s school or a visit from Kiddo’s aunt, or watching football. The idea was that Kiddo could cross off each day and understand how long it would be until Dad comes home. Honestly though? I’m not quite sure which of us is counting the days more eagerly.

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Conversations with my son

I have drop-off duty every morning, taking Kiddo to daycare before going to my own job. It’s about a 25-minute commute. When Kiddo was small, I looked forward to when he could talk, envisioning how we’d have conversations about his day and other important topics. Instead, our conversations these days go something like this.


“I get in driver side!”

OK, hop in!

“I need boost.”

Oh, I think you can do it yourself–

“I need boost!”  I boost him into the car. He crawls halfway across and sits on the back bench. “I sit here.”

No, you’re not big enough yet to sit there. In the carseat.

He gets in the carseat. “Mommy sit here?” pointing to the seat next to him.

Yes, I sit there when we ride in the minivan. (his grandparents’ car)

I buckle him in, then get in the driver’s seat. As I get settled, I cough to clear my throat.

“You have a coughing.”

Yeah, I’m coughing.

“You need drink of water.”

You’re right, I should get a drink of water!

We go down the driveway and stop at the mailbox.

“My mailbox! It has a blue dot! I want a mail.”

I hand him a single-sheet election flyer. Moments later, he starts fussing.

What’s up, Kiddo? What do you need?

“I need this open!”

Aha. He’s used to getting folded flyers or BB&B catalogs that he can open up. He doesn’t get the idea that this one doesn’t open.

Oh, I see, that one is already open. Let me stop and I’ll fix it. I take the flyer, fold it in half and hand it back. Fixed. Here you go.

“Thank you.”

You’re welcome.

[Unintelligible babbling as we drive down the road – something about the water and boats pictured on the flyer.]

Are there letters on your mail?

“W. O. Bang bang bang boom boom boom.”

We get to a T intersection. I can go either way from here. I turn right. “We go this way?”

Yep, we’re going this way.

“My [unintelligible].”

Your eyes?

“My YEGS.” He’s pulled his pant legs up a few inches and is looking at his legs. “I found an orange!” pointing to the orange dinosaur on his sock.

I want my football mail.” This is a Comcast flyer with a picture of a football player on it. It’s been in the car for weeks. At the next stop I reach back and find it for him.

“Five. Nine. Four. One. I have my mail!”

Hey, look at the big truck next to us.

“That’s a big truck. A big bus! Minivan! I dropped my mail.”

Sorry, we’re driving now, I can’t get it for you.

“Ten nine eight seven six five four three two one, ZERO!”

Very good!

Slurping sounds from the backseat. He’s sucking on the collar of his sweatshirt. Shirt out of your mouth, please.

“No, shirt IN my mouth please!”

Shirt out of your mouth.

“Shirt IN my mouth.” I give up on this battle.

“In my eyes.”

There’s something in your eye? What’s in your eye?

Something else about his eyes.

OH! Is the sun in your eyes? We’ll turn soon.

I change lanes, catching the end of the rumble strips on the lane marker. “What’s that?”

That’s the edge of the road. (I tell him this every single time. He still asks every single time.)

“My PRESCHOOL!”

Yep, we’re here!


Not exactly quantum physics. I guess we’ll save that topic for kindergarten.


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Chill, baby

I’ve discovered an amazing fact that I’m sure will revolutionize the lives of parents everywhere. It’s so obvious that I’m surprised no one’s ever mentioned it before. And now, dear readers, I share it with you!

Kids, like some adults, get cold at night. When this happens, children often fuss until the situation has been remedied.

…what?

Yeah. I really, truly, forget that my son can get cold at night. I don’t know why he would. It’s not like we’re still putting him in summer-weight pajamas, or covering him with a small blanket that he kicks off every time he turns over. Except that it is.

For the past week or two, Kiddo was waking up whimpering between 5:30 and 6:30, which is about an hour before I want to wake up for the day. I’d get him settled, and then half an hour later we’d hear him again. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but at Way Too Early o’clock, I wasn’t awake enough to figure it out.

Then, a couple nights ago, we had a power outage. No electricity–and for us, that means no heat–for seven hours overnight. My husband and I huddled under our blankets. I had to go in and comfort Kiddo a few times, and I thought it was because he was bothered by the lack of night noises or that he didn’t like the makeshift nightlight I’d made out of a flashlight and cardboard box.

Around 7 a.m., when we got power back, I got up to take my shower. I heard Kiddo still fussing, so I brought him into our bed and tried to get him to fall asleep again next to my husband.

He slept soundly for two more hours. I had to wake him up to get ready for preschool. And something in my now-awake brain clicked: the poor boy was waking up because he was cold.

We’ve been putting him in toddler-size sleep sacks for the past few days, and he’s been sleeping more soundly. Last night, though, he was fussing again. This time I was aware enough to realize his bare feet were probably freezing. He keeps pulling off his sleep socks before I put him to bed, and I thought he just didn’t like them. Now, I think the reason he does it is because they’ve gotten too small. So tonight we’ll try putting him in regular socks just before bed. Maybe we’ll all finally get the sleep we need.

Astonishingly, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. When Kiddo was about eight months old, my mom visited for a couple days. Kiddo had been fussy at night, which I figured was normal for an eight-month old. One day my mom said in passing, “He was fussing, so I put a blanket on him and that seemed to help.” While one part of my brain was saying Nooooooo all the books say we can’t put blankets in his crib! the other part was saying DUH, JESSICA. You’d think I’d have learned from that. Apparently not.

I think the reason I overlook such an obvious thing is because I’m cold all the time. Most mornings when I wake up, my temperature is somewhere near 97.5. A temp of 98.6, the commonly-accepted average human body temperature, is a low-grade fever for me. Infrared cameras that show most people’s faces as red and yellow, like this one, only show yellow and green for me. So I’ve gotten used to the fact that most people don’t need as many layers of clothing and blankets as I like. In Kiddo’s case, I may have assumed a little too much about his tolerance for cold nights.

At any rate, we think we’ve solved this problem. Stay tuned for more exciting tidbits that are totally obvious to everyone except me.


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Sorry, Kiddo.

Before Kiddo was born, I vowed that I would never put anything online about his diaper or toilet habits. I will now bend that vow slightly, but (I hope) in a way that will not embarrass him ten years down the road.

(What kind of fool am I being? Ten years from now, anything we do or will have done is going to embarrass him.)

Before Kiddo was born, before our midpoint ultrasound where all the parts were inspected and displayed, I wasn’t sure which sex I wanted our child to be. I had only two concerns about having a boy, and one of them was around toilet training.

(Oh, sorry. I’m informed by the Supermommies Of The Internet that it’s “potty learning.” Whatever.)

I am delighted that he turned out to be a boy. I am excited watching him grow and learn new things. But I’ve known that one day, we’d reach the point that I was dreading, and we’d have to start with the potty training. And it looks like that distant train is much closer than we thought.

Most of the unpleasantness of toilet training applies to both sexes – the wet and messy pants, soggy imprints on the floor and furniture, mad rushes to find public bathrooms when someone has to go “now, Mommy, right now!”

Boys, however, come with an additional challenge. Very few of them are born with perfect aim.

 

And that’s enough said about that.


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Keeping it together

Last night after Kiddo went to bed, I was picking up his toys and tidying the living room and dining room. He’d been playing with a bunch of wooden tray puzzles in the dining room but hadn’t finished putting them all together so I took a shot at it. To my chagrin, I ended up with this.

Twenty-five letters were snugly tucked into their spaces. One was AWOL. (Well actually, four of them were A, W, O and L, but none of those four was missing.) I glanced around and didn’t find it. Picked up the rest of the toys. Looked inside things, under tables, even shook out the playmats. Nothing. And the more I didn’t find it, the greater significance it took on.

After a lot of krawling on the floor and reaching into the krevices of the kouch kushions,  I went downstairs to where my husband was watching TV. “The K is missing,” I komplained.

“OK?” he said, klearly not seeing the koncern. I was not komforted.

“You kan’t spell Kiddo without a K,” I said krabbily. At least I had the meager konsolation that it kouldn’t have left the house.


I don’t like losing things. I know it’s inevitable with a young child in the household, but we’ve made it this far with the loss of only one toy, and a few crib sheets that went in to daycare and never came home. Not one tiny-foot sock lost to the washing machine yet–or if they have been, at least they had the courtesy to run off in pairs.

And I especially don’t like losing pieces that are noticeable parts of sets. I have no doubt that scores of LEGO pieces were lost to the carpet and the vacuum cleaner while my sisters and I were growing up. But as long as their loss wasn’t obvious–a red brick here, a flower there–it didn’t bother me too much.

But a K? That’s an omission that’s obvious at a glance. I know my house will never be worthy of a magazine photo spread, but I like to have it as tidy and put-together as we can manage. Puzzles with missing pieces or trucks that have lost a wheel or two don’t feel put-together to me. It’s like a constant reminder of my inability to keep track of all the things that have been entrusted to my child (and by proxy, to me) over the years. Of course he’s going to lose things; he’s only two. But as one of the adults in the household, I’m supposed to be watching out for that sort of thing, and recovering stray items. If it’s in my power to keep things in playable condition, then I want to do it. It’s this sort of thing that led to me taking Kiddo’s carseat almost completely apart at a rest stop on our road trip after he pulled two of the little rubber wheels off his toy school bus. How could he drive his bus around without a full set of tires?


This morning, Kiddo woke up while I was still picking out my klothes. My husband went in to help Kiddo out of his krib. “Ask him about the K!” I kalled from the bedroom. Husband wisely ignored me. I finished kombing my hair and komparing kardigans, and joined them in the living room, where Kiddo was playing with his kars. I gave him a hug, then pulled out the alphabet puzzle and said, “Do you know where the K is?”

“Hah!” said Kiddo (his kurrent word for yes). He ran all the way into the kitchen and then kame back. Konfused, I followed his tracks. I looked on the floor but saw nothing. Then I looked up higher and spotted the missing puzzle piece.

In the Kitchen.

On the Kounter.

In between the Knife bloK and the miKrowave.

And farther back than Kiddo should have been able to reach. I’m still not sure how it got there. I guess it’ll remain a mystery konnundrum.


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Uncentered

I’ve been busy with my new job, and haven’t had much time to write here lately. And in the meantime, my little guy has been up to so much. Over the past several weeks, he has continually amazed me with the way in which he learns things, and how quickly he picks up little tricks. He speaks in sentences and phrases now, repeats back what we’ve told him, sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and counts past twenty with a look-what-I-can-do lilt in his voice.

He’s growing up so fast, and last weekend really brought it home. My husband and I were involved with an all-day puzzle event that we needed to be able to focus on, so we had to find an alternate plan for Kiddo. Our sitter that day was the son of a couple friends of ours; he’s taken care of Kiddo before at their house, with occasional oversight from his mom, and Kiddo has usually enjoyed his time there, once he gets past being upset with us for leaving him behind.

I was expecting the usual tears and clinging when I dropped him off, but this time was different. As I stood in the driveway chatting with my friend, her daughter came outside to talk to Kiddo, and then led him inside by the hand to find a toy. He didn’t even look back.

I was a little taken aback. When I realized what had just happened, and Kiddo didn’t immediately come running back out. I turned to my friend. “I feel bad about leaving without saying goodbye, but it might be easier on him if I just go,” I said uncertainly. She agreed, and I hopped back in my car.

Usually as I drive away from a drop-off, I feel a tiny bit of regret. How could I knowingly upset him, even knowing that he’d be fine again as soon as I was out of sight? Last weekend I felt a different kind of regret. As much as I’d looked forward to the day when I could walk away without the tears and drama, I suddenly missed it a little bit. It was no longer a big deal that Mom was leaving him behind, and my ego wasn’t sure how to handle that.

Objectively I know that this means we’ve done something right. We’ve helped him build his independence and confidence that it’s OK for Mom and Dad to leave him with someone else for a while. He knows we’ll come back and we still love him. Emotionally, though, it was a little bit of a hit to see him casually go off with someone else, as though he was saying “Oh, you’re leaving? Whatever, see you later.”

I’m proud of the big boy he’s becoming. Outwardly I’ll give him all the support he needs to grow into a confident, independent adult. And if I get a lump in my throat now and again missing the little baby whose universe revolved around me, well, I guess that’s just part of growing as a parent.


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Words mean things, I think

Kiddo’s turned into quite the chatterbox recently. One article I read a while back about speech milestones said that right around 2, they’ll start talking a lot and you’ll be convinced they’re speaking another language. I laughed at the time. Now I see what they meant.

He tells us his observations of everything: Mom’s coat is green, his own coat is blue and yellow, Dad’s car goes vroom vroom. He can usually articulate his needs and wants: more meat please, water please, Dad read book, light on. He’s started offering his opinions too: cheese mmm, no Mom no sing!

All of these, of course, in his own dialect of toddler-ese. I’m reasonably adept at translating it, my husband nearly as much, and I have to assume his daycare teachers are too. I think he meets the developmental milestone guideline that says by this age, strangers can understand about half of what Kiddo says. But even I have trouble parsing some of the garbled words and phrases. Our smattering of sign language helped for a while but we haven’t really kept it up, other than the basics.

When he says something that we can understand, we usually repeat it back to him so that he can hear (and hopefully pick up) the correct pronounciation. In the car this morning Kiddo said “Gar doh o-peh” and I said yep, I’m going to open the garage door. As we started down the driveway he cheerfully exclaimed “Doin don hih!” and I confirmed that’s right, we’re going down the hill! I can’t always do this–sometimes I’m occupied with things like driving or cooking, other times I simply can’t make it out.

This morning I wondered whether I was overdoing it. Imagine how you’d feel if someone was correcting ninety percent of what you said. Some might find it helpful, but I know if it were me, I might start to feel like I couldn’t do any darn thing right, and might even lose the confidence to keep trying at all. In my attempts to build up the correct use of language, am I actually tearing him down? Am I modeling, or just invalidating?

Then I said to myself, Self, you’ve been spending too much time in online parenting forums. Stop being a dork.