Otterly adorable

Last night was Halloween, and as tradition dictates, we dressed Kiddo up and sheparded him around to collect candy. Not for him, of course; he’s still young enough that we limit the amount of straight-up sugar that he gets. That three-quarters of a pound that he picked up will mostly be consumed by Mom and Dad. I don’t think he’ll mind, though. Heck, I don’t think he’ll even notice.

Halloween around here is different from what I remember as a kid. I had the stereotypical small-town experience, dressing up in a costume roomy enough to fit over my winter coat and going door to door with my friends and someone’s parent. In the Seattle area, it seems like most of the trick-or-treating happens indoors. Kids still go door to door, but it’s office door to office door. I’m not sure whether this is due to increasing parental paranoia or just a nod to the often-unfriendly weather.

We took Kiddo around in my husband’s office building at Microsoft. The weekend before, I’d coaxed him into trying on his costume by telling him that if he wore it, people would give him candy. Frankly, I don’t know whether he understood what this “candy” meant, but he thought it sounded good enough to give it a shot. And once he discovered his tail and the whiskers tickling his forehead, he was sold. 

At first, Kiddo wasn’t quite sure how trick-or-treating worked , but he learned quickly. Then he really had fun wandering around the halls with his little pumpkin, stopping occasionally to make sure the whiskers on his hood were still there. His selectiveness surprised me. He’d skip three or four offices, and then take two treats from the same bowl–often the same kind that he’d passed up just minutes before. I was happy to see that he picked up a couple Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, one of my favorites. Less pleased to discover the banana Laffy Taffy when I was sorting the candy later. Someone’s going to have to take care of that one, and I’m officially declaring Not It.

It’s too bad the otter costume won’t fit next year, because he’s so cute and snuggly in it. Next year he’ll probably want more of a say in what he wears, and before long he’ll be running through the halls snagging something from every bowl, whether he likes it or not. And we’ll be doing our traditional parental duty, rationing out his stash only one or two pieces a night , and hoping he doesn’t notice how certain kinds mysteriously vanish from his collection. Butterfingers? No, I don’t think you got any of those this year, sweetie…



An oink oink here, a moo moo there…

Kiddo has long been a fan of farm animals.  The book Moo, Baa, La La La was one of his first favorites, and he’s been pointing out tractors since before he could walk.  For Christmas, Santa brought him the Fisher-Price Little People Farm and Kiddo went straight for it as soon as he laid eyes on it.

Kiddo plays with his new farm

Now his love of all things Barnyard has spilled into his musical taste.  I don’t know when he first heard the song “Old McDonald Had a Farm” but he’s been requesting it by name–or rather, by chorus–every time the opportunity for a song arises.  No matter which other tune I start singing, I can barely get a line in before he interrupts with a stern “NO NO NO.”  If I pretend I don’t know which one he’s really after, he will eventually tell me “yah-yah-yo,”  which is his version of “E-I-E-I-O.”  Heaven help me if I try to get away with just one verse, because unless something really nifty distracts him, he’ll keep requesting it until either my voice or my collection of animals is exhausted.

This, I’m told, is normal for toddlers.  In a world that’s still very unpredictable to them, putting a familiar story or song on repeat is comforting for them because they know what’s coming next.  They feel confident when they can predict what’s on the next page.  (Which mean, I suppose, that I should pick a canonical order for those barn animals and their sounds.)

So I’ve been singing a lot of Old McDonald lately.  In the car on the way to and from daycare.  At night, to help him fall asleep.  On the weekends when we’re playing with his new See ‘n Say.  Here, there, everywhere.  But just when it was starting to get tedious, I figured out how to leverage it.  Yep, I’m not above bribing my son with a rendition of his favorite song.  “Sit down in your car seat, Kiddo, and we’ll sing Old McDonald!”  It works almost as well as goldfish crackers.


Back away from the bubble wrap

One thing that’s been really hard for me as a new parent is trying not to be overprotective of my Precious Little Angelkins.  He’s still a little unstable on his feet, he’s young enough that he doesn’t really know how to share or play cooperatively with other kids, and all his emotions are right there on the surface barely under control.  All developmentally normal for a one-year-old, but something that seems ripe for disaster when slightly older kids get into the mix.

The first time we visited the play area at the mall, I followed Kiddo around, teetering between wanting to protect him from danger and wanting him to explore at his own pace.  To me it felt like the older kids were running around with no regard for smaller or slower kids.  I was sure he’d get pushed or trampled or picked on, or worse.  But none of that happened.  Sure, he got bumped a couple times, and he fell down once or twice, and I did have to assert when it was our turn on the slide.  I had a few moments of alarm, but Kiddo?  He had a great time.  He couldn’t wait to go back.

I had similar feelings of trepidation as we prepared for a week with relatives in California.  We would be spending most of our time at the home of Kiddo’s three older cousins, and all I could picture was a four-year-old and a pair of two-year-olds zooming around excitedly, not realizing that Kiddo wasn’t as agile as them, not understanding that he doesn’t understand all the social niceties yet.

Boy, was I mistaken!  There were only a couple incidents where a parent had to step in, and in general all the kids got along well and had fun together.  Kiddo was happy to toddle around after them and play with all their toys, and they were great about sharing them.  I’d definitely underestimated how the interactions would go.

Being around the older kids helped both Kiddo and I learn some new things.  He learned how to get up on his feet all by himself, he picked up several new words, and he’s gotten much better at eating with a spoon.  I discovered that reading bedtime stories is even more fun when the recipient can talk about the pictures with you, and that you never get too big for snuggles (thank goodness!)  And I might have learned to relax a bit and tone down the hovering.

My niece and nephews are living proof that kids can and do survive the falls and pushes and knocks on the head.  They’re also a reminder to me that the majority of the world really isn’t out to harm my little boy.  I may not be ready for total free-range motherhood, but I can at least stop trying to cushion every blow and smooth out every anticipated frustration.