"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the kid

This will not be a sentimental post. I'll save that for the First Birthday post coming in a few weeks. That said, here's how you know that your Baby is becoming a Kid:

He walks over to the shoe basket, finds his shoes (yeah, they're leather, slip-on booties with giraffe appliques on them, but they're SHOES, nonetheless), walks to the door, and starts banging his shoes against it while looking at you and shouting, "Owwwwww!"

He WALKS. Period.

He can hold his own against his Big Brother in a fight over toys, sippy cups, snacks, or mom's lap.

He enjoys a blanket-and-cushion fort for the hide-and-seek and play value, not just for the destruction and pulling-apart-of-blankets-and-cushions value. (And the Big Brother is most thankful for this development.)

You have completed, ordered, received, and watched a million times his First Year of Life photo montage. And it makes you cry Every Time.

He "drives" cars around the kitchen making motor noises and narrowly avoiding your feet.

You let him play with Play-Doh! And he plays with Play-Doh for almost five whole minutes before eating it!

The 8-year-old at the table next to yours at Rita's looks at your "baby," who is wearing an adorable onesie, and says, "Hey mom, why isn't that Kid wearing pants?"

Lesson Learned:
I'll bet that 8-year-old's mom was thinking, "But that was YOU, wearing a onesie, bouncing on my lap, just last week, right?"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

pet shop boys, remix

We had fish. Two of them. For four days. Then, one day we went in to feed them: Sharky was floating, upside down at the top of the bowl and Training Pants was at the bottom of the bowl, vertical, pointing directly up at Sharky. It was very weird.

Evan asked what happened and I explained it like this: "Well, they died. When animals are at the end of their lives, they die. Goldfish usually have very short lives. Animals like cats and dogs live for a much longer time than goldfish."

"But all animals die?"

Moose is our chocolate lab. He has already lived for a long time. The inevitable is near. We have not yet discussed this with Evan, and I saw an opportunity to broach the subject. So I said, "Well, yes, sweetie. All animals die someday."

Evan became very quiet and thoughtful. I was waiting for the questions to follow about Moose. Instead, Evan said, "Well, I guess we'll have to go to the pet store and get some more fish."

So we did!

I'd like you to meet Scrufty the Betta.

When I told the girl at the pet store that our goldfish lived for only four days, she said, "You need a Betta. They're the ultimate no-maintenence pet." We're on Day 3 and Scrufty is looking good.

Lesson Learned:

"Scrufty," for those taking notes, is the name of Farmer Pickle's dog on Bob the Builder.

Friday, September 24, 2010

preschool diaries: mommy assignment FAIL

I really don't want to write this post.

I'm embarrassed to write this post.

I always have it all together. I don't forget things. I'm never late. I keep a calendar and make notes to myself, but I don't need to: It's all in my head and it's all under control.

So on Thursday afternoon, when I opened Evan's Communication Folder from school, imagine my horror when I saw The Note.

"To the parents of Evan: It is imperative that we receive the following forms immediately to complete your child's Information Folder." Followed by a list of documents, four of which had a checkmark by them indicating that they had not yet been received.

Um, excuse me? Me, ME, not return school forms? I don't think so. Not only do I Always Have It All Together, but I'm a former teacher. I know how annoying it is to have to track down missing forms from parents weeks after they were due. I know what teachers think about the parents that can't seem to even get their act together to complete school forms--they must live in a state of chaos....they don't value education.....there is no organization or order in that home. That is not me. That is not my household. This must be some sort of mistake.

So we got home and I threw some lunch together for the starving monkeys. Then, I immediately went to the filing cabinet and found the file, neatly marked "Evan: Preschool," in exactly the place I knew it would be (see? Order. ORGANIZATION!). I opened it and saw.....the forms. With a post-it note attached that said, "To be mailed once medical form is signed by ped."

Oh, god.

I had filed prematurely.

The forms are now in their rightful place: in Evan's Communication Folder, with a note attached that expresses my apologies for my lameness as a preschool mommy.

Lesson Learned:
I think we can all agree that this slip-up can be attributed to Stress Of Unusual Amounts brought on by the start of preschool. But now it's time to get it all BACK together....or to start faking it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

pet shop boys

We adopted two new pets today. Goldfish. From our neighbor. She won them at the fair but was willing to part with them. We were happy to become their new owners. But before we did, they died. Because she had already promised them to Evan, however, she went to Petco and bought us two new ones. It was just about the sweetest 26 cents ever spent.


This is not our first Pet Experience. We do, of course, have Moose, our chocolate lab. But he was part of Sam's family long before the boys were around, and before me, even. So these two goldfish were the first pets that Evan had the opportunity to name. We threw him a bunch of options and ideas to get the creative naming juices flowing: "How about Bubbles?" "Sir Swims-a-lot?" "Fishy?"

After much deliberation:

I would like to introduce you to: Sharky (with the black on its tail) and Training Pants.

I swear I am not making this up. I don't even know where he got the phrase "training pants." It's not like we use that term in this house. We don't even HAVE training pants in our house. (We still use diapers at night--I know, I know.) I really don't know where he heard it, and when I asked, his response was, "You know: training pants. Like training wheels but pants."

Oooooooookay.

We tried to convince him to choose a more conventional fish name: Goldy? Swimmy? But Training Pants it was because, "When someone gives you a pet as a present you get to pick the name." Makes sense.

Max likes them, too. In fact, I'm pretty sure "fishy" was his first word. We were at the library last Monday and, as we were approaching the fish tank he started to say, "Shishy! Shishy!" I looked at him and said, "Fishy?" and he got all excited. What a smart baby.


Lesson Learned:
Turns out I AM a pet person. Just not a hairy, licky, slobbery, shedding, 90-lb. pet person.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

preschool diaries: the big day

You know when you think about/plan for/worry about something for so long that the thinking/planning/worrying becomes a Part Of Your Life, and then, the Something happens so you no longer need to think about/plan for/worry about it anymore? So you find yourself on the other side of the Something with all this free time on your hands? It's like your wedding day. After months of planning, it's over in a day and you find yourself sitting on a beach on your honeymoon with your newly-wedded husband with nothing to think about/plan for/worry about, and you can't imagine life getting any better.

That was me this morning.

Except, instead of sitting on a beach on my honeymoon, I was wandering around a nearly-deserted mall 40 minutes before any of the stores opened. And, although I was with a really, really, ridiculously good-looking guy, it was Max, not Sam. And instead of being blissfully happy, I was crying.

But all in all, Preschool Drop-off went GREAT!

And now I'll never have to think about/plan for/worry about dropping Evan off for his Very First Day of Preschool ever again. What WILL I do with my time?

Evan was full of nervous chatter all the way to school today. This stopped abruptly when we arrived at the school and made our way to the front doors. We were a few minutes early so we waited outside with the rest of the kids and mommies. Most of the kids were pretty quiet, like Evan. There was one girl, though, who looked to be in the 2s class, and announced to the crowd that she already ate her apple that she had packed for snack. Evan looked at me as if to say, "OMG, Mom, did you HEAR that?!" SOMEBODY wasn't following directions this morning.

When it was time, we walked down the hall to his classroom. I bent down to give hugs and kisses goodbye, but by this time, Evan was wise to what was really about to happen. He got wacky a bit when his teacher greeted us at the door. She said, "Evan, I hear you got a boo-boo on your knee!" I smiled a Big Cheery Smile and said, in my best sing-song voice, "We're not really talking about it!" And she smiled an Even Bigger Cheerier Smile and said in a sing-song voice that only a preschool teacher can pull off, "Oh! Of course not! I love those trucks on your school bag, Evan!"

Evan leaned over to give Max a kiss and said, "Oh, no! I see monkeys in those ears, little baby!"

So I take that as my cue to leave. Mrs. G positions herself between Evan and me and shuffles him into the classroom.

And that was it.

For three years I have thought about That Moment. And there it was. And the world continued to spin and life, as we know it, continued on as per usual.

So. I took Max back to the van, buckled him into his seat, and burst into tears. Yup. I was that mom. I watched as the other moms exited the building laughing and chatting with one another. Some were more solemn, and I'd like to think there were watery eyes behind those Jackie O sunglasses, but I felt pretty alone in my lack of self-control.

BUT HE'S MY BABY. WHO COULD BLAME ME?

So Max and I drove to the mall looking for skinny jeans. Only the mall wasn't open yet and I couldn't find any skinny jeans even when it did open and can I really pull that look off anyway? I've got toothpicks for legs and no butt.

ANYWAY....
Somehow, the time passed and the day was done. Time for me to pick up my big boy. I arrived just as his teacher was leading his class to the front hallway to await pick up. I saw him, Walking In Line. Just like a real student. He was carrying his tote bag and listening to the teacher give the class directions. He saw me and froze just a little, as if to say, "Oh, yeah! I remember you!" and I just melted. His teacher called his name to meet him mommy at the door and I had to restrain myself from running to him and scooping him up. We got out of the building and I couldn't resist, "Baby! I'm so happy to see you! Give me a kiss!"

He held up his hand.

"You can kiss my hand."

"What? You've only been in preschool for two hours and already you're too grown up to kiss your mommy?!"

"I'll give you a kiss in the car."

!!!

Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I found out quite a few details about his day. He was, according to his teacher's note, slow to get started and a little unsure at first. (No surprise there.) He was also "teary" at rest time because he didn't want to rest. (I don't blame him. It wasn't even 11am! And there were toys to be played with!) But all in all, it was a good day.

And from his mouth directly:

"I found the yellow phone, but not the red one. I just can't figure out where the red one went. Maybe it's getting fixed at the phone store."

"Lydia got to be the weather man. I mean....the weather lady."

"I played with the front-loader on the playground. You're allowed to dump the sand here and here [gesturing], but not there."

"You can go to the rice table but only if it's three kids. I went and it was only all boys. And only one kid can be at music. It can be boys or girls."

"Two boys went to painting but I don't know who. I can't remember ALL the kids' names."

"Sometimes some kids will say, 'No you can't play with this,' but then you'll make friends again." (I asked if he learned about this when his teacher was talking about friends at circle time and he promptly fell asleep.)

I asked him what he ate for snack, "I didn't eat anything." Why not? "Because I told my teachers that we have snacks at my house." And did you drink water? "No, because I told my teachers we have water at our house already."

"I didn't go to the reading corner because it was time for me to go home. Next time I go to school I want to go to the reading corner."

Lesson Learned:
He wants to go back! And I want him to, too. I can tell, by the number of stories he told me about his day, and the details that he's able to remember, that he's ready for this new adventure. It's good for him. And I'll get used to it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

a full and complete recovery

Evan is fine.

And he's not wearing a splint, despite the phone call I received from Ortho-On-Call while en route to the appointment with the Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. The phone call during which I was made to feel like a negligent mother by the Physician's Assistant's nurse who informed me, "Ma'am," that "the doctor on duty this morning agrees 100% with Jeff's recommendation. This child should be in a splint." So, freaking out about the condition of my child's knee and, moreso, the utter lack of confidence I now had in my Mommy Gut that had been telling me that he was probably just fine, I drove to the Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. And, because I was freaking out, I got lost. So I called Sam, [crying], and he informs me that I have a navigation system in my car.

Ooooooo-kay.

But Evan's fine. Dr. K had him move around a bit, he examined his leg, knee, and hip. He barely glanced at the x-ray saying "You really just can't tell a whole lot about a 3-year-old's knee from an x-ray. Their bones and joints are still forming and developing. A lot of 'typical' x-rays will appear to have abnormal spots or shadows. It's just the way it is with these little guys." He went on to say that he wouldn't hesitate to put a splint on a child who could use one, but in Evan's case it would do more harm than good. Why limit mobility in a healthy child? He said that if there WERE something that needed to be looked at; unexplained pain, prolonged pain, inability to bear weight, etc., the only way to see what was REALLY going on would be with an MRI. Evan would have to be sedated. Dr. K wasn't about to put Evan through that. He said to keep an eye on it and come back if the pain lasts a week.

And then Evan told him about the volcano that we saw in our neighborhood. Because, you know, volcanoes have a lot of smoke that come out? We saw a lot of smoke. Turned out to be a barn fire. Then Evan went on to say that, if you need a really long ditch, maybe two backhoes could work together at the same time.

Ooooooooooo-kay.

And Evan is fine. So fine, in fact, that he played in his first soccer practice on Saturday! He had so much fun warming up before practice started:



And then once practice did start, he stood perfectly still, watching. listening, but NOT participating.

Turns out, he was "learning." As we drove home, he said, "I didn't know how to play soccer so I learned. And now I know how to play soccer so I can play next time." We'll see.

Max had fun at soccer practice, too.


Lesson Learned:

Thank goodness for second opinions.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

preschool diaries: POSTPONED

Okay. Well....I've been pretty interested in the field of Noetic Sciences ever since reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Noetic Science is basically the science of mind over matter. It's seeking to discover how powerful the mind truly is, and why, when many minds together are focused on the same thing, they can seemingly change the world. It's the science behind The Secret and Prayer Circles. I've never put much stock in the "power of prayer," for reasons too lengthy to get into here, but I do believe in science. And Noetic Science helps me to bridge the gap between what I do believe and what I want to believe. I want to believe that I am responsible for what comes my way. That I get what I wish for....good or bad, it's mine.

It looks as though I've been running a little Noetic Science Experiment here and I would like to take a moment now to declare to the Universe: I TAKE IT BACK. EVERYTHING I'VE SAID ABOUT ANXIETY AND ANGST ABOUT SENDING MY BABY AWAY: I TAKE IT ALL BACK. I DO WANT EVAN TO GO TO PRESCHOOL. AND I'LL BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. I PROMISE.

Here's the story:
Yesterday afternoon we were playing upstairs and Evan was climbing on his little toddler slide/climbing thing. He climbed over the side wall and landed on the slide platform right on his knee. He was pretty broken up about it. He whimpered and cried for a little bit, but was also unusually clingy...typically he refuses attention post-injury, afraid we'll stick a band-aid on him or worse, an ice pack. And most alarming, he couldn't straighten his leg or put any weight on it. So we had a quiet afternoon and by dinnertime he was up running around like usual. While playing outside before bath, though, he somehow re-injured his knee...we're not sure what happened, but it was the same thing all over again--curled up, knee to chest...this time, with screaming...not like yelling screaming, but I'm In Pain screaming. This lasted until he was in bed, at which point he curled up into a little ball and slept right through the night.

This morning, he seemed fine. He even announced over breakfast, "You know something? My knee is feeling a whole lot better this morning," just like an Old Man would say. We went to playgroup and he played with the other kids without a hint of discomfort.

And then this afternoon, he was crawling around on the floor playing with Max. Mid-crawl, he collapsed to the floor, hugging his knee, and sobbing. He sobbed, and yelled out in pain when I tried to touch his knee, for half-an-hour. I called the pediatrician's office, who recommended that we take him to Ortho-On-Call. We did. They x-ray'd his knee. Evan did great.

But......
The x-ray revealed that he has no kneecap!!!

Just kidding. Well, he doesn't have a kneecap, not a real one, anyway, but that's normal. Three-year-olds have a flexible, cartiledgey thing like a kneecap, but it hasn't ossified yet. You learn something new everyday.

ANYWAY....
There's a small grayish blurry spot on the inside of his knee joint that the Physician's Assistant wasn't too happy to see. He recommended an immobilizing splint and a referral to a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. We said No Thank You to the immobilizing splint (because we can't even get this kid to wear a hat, much less an immobilizing splint the length of his leg), but "Okay, yes we suppose we should" to the referral.

So..........
There will be no highly-anticipated and fretted-over Preschool Drop-Off tomorrow. We'll be at the Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist.

Are my anxieties, worries, and subconscious desires for Evan to stay home with me forever to blame for this turn of events?!

No, because above all, what I TRULY and WHOLE-HEARTEDLY want, more than my own life itself, is for my children to be happy, fulfilled, and without pain for the duration of theirs.

But just to be on the safe side:
I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY want Evan to have a WONDERFUL first day of school on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2010.

Lesson Learned:
Be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

preschool diaries: open house

Evan, sly-winking, on the unofficial First Day of Preschool.

So remember when Evan used to suffer from self-inflicted narcolepsy? Well, the darnedest thing happened when his teacher greeted him at today's Open House. Yup. He's relapsed.

Mrs. G: Hi, Evan! I'm so glad to see you here today!

Evan [eyes closed, head resting on his shoulder]: honk-shooooooooooooo

Mrs. G [to me]: Okay, then! Why don't you two just make yourselves at home and go explore the room!

Um, yeah.

He was able to turn it around a bit, though, after we put his school bag away in his cubby. We turned to the room to decide which center to check out first. I look down at him to see him looking through binoculars. No, not actual binoculars, but his hands....formed into Os...in front of his eyes.

He spent the next 5 minutes like this.

And then, he spied the Play-Doh!

He played and made Play-Doh cars with the cookie cutter and talked about his Play-Doh car with his teacher. He created a whole story about his Play-Doh car....that it had to drive to the top of the mountain to rescue the helicopter that had broken down....and then he was off!

Off to the Discovery Table, where he played with magnets and sorting objects.

Off to the Reading Center, when he tried out the rocking chair that was Just Right.

Off to the Sand Table, where he scooped and dumped the Coffee Sand (Yup, coffee and sand. Really cool and fragrant. Great idea.) with the cups and funnels.

Off to the Music Center, where he banged on some drums, rang some bells, and clacked some clacky things.

Off to Housekeeping, where he called me on the phone 15 times in a row to say, "Hello? Mom? It's me. I'm at preschool. What's the job today?"

He *kinda* interacted with some of the other kids!
He used the potty!
He was a good helper at clean-up time!
He let Mrs. G give him a good-bye hug!
He did great.
...
Until he got home. Then he fell apart--pitiful, dramatic sobbing--about the horse that Max was playing with that he "was just thinking about going to get"......about the guacamole on his plate and the salsa on his chicken.....about the fact that he just wants to drive a backhoe Right Now.

Lesson Learned:
My little guy. Trying so hard, using every defense mechanism in his repertoire, to just make it through the morning that I know was stressful for him. But he did it! He held it together until he could just let it all out at home. Optimistic about Drop-Off Thursday!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

preschool diaries: orientation

On Tuesday morning, we were to go to school so Evan could meet the teachers, I could drop off the Epi-pens and train the teachers on their usage, and we could all take our first little baby step into Preschool. Monday afternoon, I was casually talking about our plans for the next day. "So we'll drop Max off at Aunt Katie's house and then you and Mommy will go see your teachers!" Evan's eyes dropped and started to fill. His bottom lip quivered.

"Honey? What? What's the matter?"

"It's just....."

"Baby, what? It's going to be wonderful! We'll get to see your teachers and, AND!, see your classroom! We'll get to see all of the really cool toys and games that you'll get to play with this year!"

".....it's just that it's really important to me that my baby brother can come with us."

?

"You want Max to come to meet your teachers?"

[sniff] "It's really important to me."

Well, okay....SIR. I didn't realize it was REALLY IMPORTANT to you that we bring the baby. Fine.

So, Tuesday morning, the THREE of us pack up and head to school. Evan was quiet on the way over, but pleasant. We arrived at the classroom and his teachers were wonderful and smiley and happy and just right. While I chatted with Mrs. D, Evan and Mrs. G took a tour of the classroom. (Max sat in his stroller, thinking that since it was SO IMPORTANT that he be there, it would have been nice for someone to include him in the tour.) I kept one ear on Evan, wondering what he would be like during this first interaction with his teacher. He was unusually quiet. This kid can talk a blue streak about anything. He's got a great vocabulary and loves to use it. I thought it was interesting, but sweet, that he was acting shy.

It was a quick visit, and after about 10 minutes we were wrapping up our conversation. By this time, Evan was standing right next to me, and for lack of anything better to do, started to lapse into his slightly-nervous-default. He got wacky. Not, like, telling jokes wacky....he took one arm out of it's sleeve and put it through the neckhole of his shirt. He bent his wrist and rotated his hand, palm down, around the room.....you know, like a submarine's periscope. NATURALLY. Then, he opened his mouth into a big O and pointed his eyes down...like he was trying to look into his own mouth. WHY NOT? So, I said, "Yeah, so Evan's Nervous Default is to get a little wacky." Not apologizing for him or anything, in fact, I sort of like when he gets like that. Makes me wonder what the heck is going on in that head of his. But his teachers were really funny about it...sharing stories of the weird little quirks their own kids had at his age. Or....in the case of Mrs. G's son....at the age of 13. Just the way they instantly Got It made me feel like they're really going to Get Him. And that the WILL see all of those bright and funny and interesting sides to Evan that make him so.....Evan. Phew.

So we were leaving the classroom and Evan noticed the two posters hanging on the wall in the hallway, which are, inexplicably, of a herd of cows and a bull. Evan pointed to the bull poster and said, "What's that animal called, mommy?"

"What does it look like to you, hon?"

"I'd better go get my teachers."

(And it starts: No, Mommy you're wrong, Mrs. D said......)

So he runs into his classroom calling for his teachers, who follow him to the hall.

"I was looking at this poster but I don't know what that guy is called." (I love that everything's a guy.)

Mrs. D: "Hmmmm. Well, what do you think it might be?"

Evan, tapping his chin, thoughtfully, with one finger: "Well, I was thinking that it might be a buffalo. But I know that a buffalo has middle-sized horns, and that guy has REALLY big horns. And....well, it's not a yak because yaks are hairy......hmmmmm.....I....jus'.....don'......know......"

Me: "See how it kinda looks like a cow, but with horns? It's a daddy cow, called a bull."

Evan, looking right past me to his teachers: "I think it's called a bull."

And there it is. There's my boy. He'll be just fine.

***
Tuesday night was Parent Orientation. I wanted to cry during the director's speech to parents when she said, "Parents: You are the KEY to your child's success in school. This is the BEGINNING of a LIFE of learning." The beginning, yes, to his preschool teacher. I heard: "This is the END of mommy and Evan time FOREVER. There is NO going back from here." But I held it together.

All the parents' dispersed into the classrooms for a little Open House. While wandering around the room, still struggling to keep it together as I imagined Evan at the Handwriting Center and the Discovery Table and Housekeeping. A mom approached me as if we knew each other from, you know, Way Back.

"Hey!" she said, "So are you looking forward to the start of school as much as I am?! Talk about an endless summer, right?!"

Um. Yeah, no. I'm pretty sure you're not my new Preschool Mommy BFF.

Lesson Learned:
So far, Evan is handling this way better than I am. And that's no bull.

preschool diaries: entry #1

To say that I am having some Preschool Anxiety is a bit of an understatement. More accurate would be: That Crazy Overprotective Mommy is Having Really Ridiculous Preschool Anxieties. Plural.

Anxiety #1: With the exception of the 2 days that I was in the hospital, having just GIVEN BIRTH TO HIS BROTHER, I have never spent three consecutive hours away from Evan. Preschool will demand this of me two times a week.

Anxiety #2: My biggest goal is to NOT make Evan's food allergies his defining characteristic, yet, it's all I think about when I think of sending him to school. What if his teacher forgets and lets an unsafe treat get into his hands? What if the kids don't wash their hands well enough after slurping down GoGurt on the way to school? What if some Big Bully from the 4-year old class slips Evan a Goldfish cracker on the playground? What if, someday, Evan feels left out because of his allergies? What if, someday, Evan, in an effort to fit in, eats it anyway?

Anxiety #3: My little boy is many things. He can be stubborn as all hell. He can be demanding and rigid and incapable of compromise or change. But he is sweet. He is loving and compassionate and thoughtful. He is SMART. He is creative and imaginitive and curious. He knows facts about trucks and animals and the ways of the world that would surprise you. He asks "Why?" altogether too much, but the other questions he asks are brilliant. He is funny. What if the teachers don't get to see all of these sides of him? What if he isn't able to let his true self shine while in the company of classmates or teachers?

There are more. But these are the biggies. And the closer we're getting to the First Day, the louder the voices in my head are getting. So I'll be writing about preschool here for awhile. It will be therapeutic. And we can all applaud my progress as a Preschool Mommy, or laugh at my failure to deal, by the number of "sessions" it takes me to get a grip on this new reality.

Here goes....

Lesson Learned:
Okay, if I'm still therapy-blogging about this in October, it's time to call in the reinforcements.