Quantcast

Parenting Archive

It’s like Russian Roulette with Play-Doh

Raising your kid is just like that. You try to mold them and shape them to the type of person you want them to be, but at the same time who they are and who they become is really a crapshoot. You can influence them, but they pull the trigger. Am I who I am because of my parents? Yes, because they walked me through the first part of my life and taught me things while holding me to a higher standard than some other parents. But also no, because I am my own person with my own personality and opinions. They are proud of me for my education and decisions I’ve made in my life, but also my mom comments constantly that she has no clue how the heck she ended up with such a crunchy treehugging daughter.

I think about this a lot when it comes to Liam and it’s kind of scary. There are all these things I want him to do, see, and be, but I know there are going to be tons of hard times and pain in his life too. Things out of my control. Situations where I won’t be there to help him. Situations where he will have to make his own decision based on what he thinks is right and good. And I hope I lay a sturdy enough foundation that he can build on to make those decisions. Problem is, I’ve always been a very shoddy handyperson and my organization skills suck. I remember when he was smaller, at night I would lay in the pitch black, on my side with my knees drawn up, with him balled up against my stomach, one hand under his cheek and the other thrown over me in a sleepy hug while he nursed in his sleep. My hand was always on the same spot of his back, and I would always think to myself how perfect it all is and how I wish we could just stay there forever before I drifted back into unconsciousness and he rolled away into his little space to sleep sprawled out with his butt in the air.

What do I want for him? I can’t even think of it all. And I can’t find right words for most of the things.

I want him to be happy, obviously. But not the ignorant, blissful kind of happy. I want the happiness that is a rarity when a person KNOWS all the negatives and sadness and awfulness, but also knows all the goodness and beauty in life and chooses to be happy because of it. I struggle with this a lot and I wish I knew how to raise him so he won’t have to. That it will just come naturally.

I want him to give. I figured this out early on, and I wish I knew how I did. That nothing is more important in this world than reaching out for other people and holding them. Giving them what they need. That is the only way we will survive anything, and I believe it’s the purpose of life. To give. The earth is constantly giving to us. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here. There is no need to worry about yourself because if others are giving and have the same mentality as you, then you will be taken care of. I want him to feel the joy of taking what you have and giving it to someone else. How it really does come back to you tenfold. I want him to reach out not with rose colored glasses, but with clear ones so he can see things for what they are but choose to give anyway. And I want others to give to him.

I want him to be humble. I want him to look at a leaf and see the tiny veins and intricacies that no one notices unless they study it. I want him to feel wind blowing onto his face and marvel that his body knows to breathe it in even when he’s not thinking about it. I want him to look at an elderly person’s hand and see the withering and thin skin. Feel awe and wonder at the fact that it has touched things in the past that he will never know, and that it is nature’s jacket housing a soul that will never be duplicated. I want him to look into a baby’s eyes and see how wide open and unmarred they are. That the pure newness is a gift to humanity and enough to make you cry with gratefulness. I want him to know he is special and loved and unique in every way and that he is the only one on the entire planet that is HIM. But I also want him to know that goes for everyone else as well. That we are all that way. And sometimes we look at another person with disgust and forget that. That we were all nonexistent at some point, but then were put together and now are here. I want him to feel pure awe that I made something from nothing, knit him together inside my own body. Every capillary and hair follicle was grown from nothing at all, and made into the most perfect baby boy I have ever seen in my life. That in and of itself should make anyone humble, because we all know it happens without us doing anything. We don’t actively build that life. And I want him to wonder who or what does. I don’t care whether he calls it God/Goddess, Nature, Evolution, or Bill Nye the Science Guy. I just want him to feel that awe and that belonging and that feeling that there is something bigger than we are happening all around us every day.

I want him to understand how much I love him. I want him to experience that same ferocity that makes you say, “screw all the niceness and the fact that everyone is special and equal and all that junk. You hurt my baby and I will rip out your throat with my bare hands”. The joy that makes your chest ache when you see their smile. The tears that fall either out of feeling physical pain when they do, or out of feeling awestruck at their existence. The urge to keep them balled up against your stomach in the dark, wishing time would stop so you never have to leave that safe place.

I want him to laugh. All the time. Because life happens regardless of whether you are cracking up or scowling. And it’s much easier to get through if you laugh.

I want him to have a connection with animals. There is something about staying connected to that raw innocence and purity that keeps you from getting swept up in humankind and all it’s crap. I want him to realize that sometimes just laying on your stomach in the dirt next to a dog and watching the sky is more worthwhile than shopping or driving around or buying things. That they will teach you things if you let them. They have no flaws, and people mistake their meekness for inferiority. I want him to learn respect, devotion, loyalty, and humbleness and I can think of no better way than to spend time with animals.

But mostly I want him to stay little. Every milestone makes me smile and breaks my heart at the same time. I remember clapping my hands for him while smiling and telling him how good he was when he pulled himself to his feet for the first time while holding onto the couch. As his toes curled into the carpet for balance, I thought about how his grip on life will take him away from me and out on his own little by little. And how he is my little ball of play doh, so I’ll do my best to not make him too lumpy and uneven. Then I took his picture and smiled because I’m so lucky to be the chosen one for him.

The Great Escape.

Well, it finally happened. The moment I’ve been dreading for 2.5 years. I’m actually watching it unfold for the millionth time over the baby monitor as I type this.

He learned to climb out of his crib.

It just happened out of the blue one morning. I woke up around 8 (Liam usually wakes up between 8 and 8:30) and went out to the living room. His bedroom door was closed like it always is when he sleeps, so I didn’t think a thing of it. I entered the living room and had a cross between a heart attack and a reflex to kick some arse, because some man was sitting on our couch.

Except that man was 37 inches tall, wearing firetruck pajamas, and playing some cop game on the iPad, totally ignoring me.

With no prior practice or warning, he had climbed out of his bed, shut the door behind him and gone out to play games by himself. That afternoon he climbed out of his crib 4 times and after the fourth time of me saying “No. Go to sleep.” he finally gave in and took a nap. That was a month or so ago and he didn’t try to climb out again after that till Saturday. Saturday he was napping as usual and a couple came by to buy a stroller I had listed on Craigslist. Liam came walking out of his room like it was no big deal, handed the guy his sock, and climbed up in the kitchen chair demanding a snack. From that day on, it has been a battle of the wills. Last night he climbed out of his crib twice at bedtime, the first time catching me eating cake and freaking out that I had kept it a secret and waited till he was in his cage to eat it. This morning I woke up in bed, opened my eyes, and noticed that I had his pillow, Elmo, and 7 cloth diapers piled on my back. Apparently the Escape Artist Fairy had visited me in my sleep before heading to the living room to catch bad guys on the iPad.

As I write this he is standing in his crib, one leg flung over the side, yelling “I WILL get out Mama! I WILL!!”.

I know the solution is to buy him a big boy bed. Which we are, in a few weeks when our tax return comes through. He’s getting the Kura bed from Ikea so I’m hoping the cool factor will help him stay in it. But basically my heart sinks because I know a bed is just going to increase our battles. His crib has been my haven for 2 years. A place I can put him where he can’t get me. He is the most demanding, loud, intense child I have ever met, and the idea of no longer having a place where he lays down quietly and goes to sleep frightens me. Yes, I could put a gate in his doorway but he will just scream on the other side of it and that doesn’t grant me any breaks. It just fries my nerves.

So to the next milestone we go. Bye Bye Crib, Hello Big Boy Bed. Transitions. It’s all about transitions. This whole thing reminds me of car seats. You know the whole, “Each step forward is a step back in safety”? For us it’s, “Each transition forward is a step back in my sanity.”

Just wait. As soon as my eyes open, I will make a break for it.

 

He’s not mine, I swear.

You know how when your kids get older, they want you to stay away from them in public so you don’t embarrass them? I distinctly remember wanting my mom to park at the VERY end of the pick up line when I was a freshman in high school because she was always singing and dancing in the car while waiting and I was paranoid someone would see. Because obviously your life is ruined if you mom sings Hootie and the Blowfish, right? Well the more experience I have with raising a kid, the more gung ho I am about making your kids deal with your embarrassing habits and suck it up, because guess what? It is sweet sweet revenge. Revenge for the millions of times they embarrassed you in public when they were younger. Unfortunately you don’t have the option of telling your two year old to go to the opposite end of the check out line so no one will know he is yours. Therefore, when he turns 16, he can’t pretend you are not his.

In the last month alone I can count three times I wanted to do a combination of melting into an invisible puddle and laughing hysterically. Two instances happened today. The first was a few months ago. We were strolling through the mall and an older lady was walking towards us dressed head to toe in yellow. I’m talking BRIGHT yellow. A complete pants suit. With yellow heels and a yellow hat. She was also very, uh, sturdy, and easily towered over me. For one reason or another, she decided to say hi to Liam. Liam is usually very outgoing and will immediately put his hand on his chest and say, “Me Liam”, caveman style. This time he started screaming, clinging to my leg and yelling, “Wook! Help mama! Big bad banana!!!”. People were staring, because he was screaming like someone was pinching him. The Bad Banana Lady gave us the dirtiest look I’ve seen in awhile and stormed past us. Liam, relieved, let go of my leg and said, “Whew, all gone.”

The next two were today at Costco. We were walking to get eggs when a woman on one of those motorized scooter things whizzed by us. Liam yelled very loudly, “Wook! It’s the big sick lady on Wall-E!”. Apparently she very much resembled one of the boneless meal drinking people on the hovercraft things on Wall-E. He would NOT stop talking about it and of course she happened to be on every aisle we needed to go down. I was very relieved when we finally got to the check out line. Liam likes to push the cart onto one side of the register while I stand on the other to pay. The woman boxing things up was talking to him and he was chattering away. Suddenly, I hear him go “Wook! HAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!” in his crazy little laugh. My heart sank because I know that laugh. That is the laugh of his latest and greatest joke he’s picked up since potty training. I’ve been doing my best to ignore it in hopes he would stop and never do it in public but obviously that didn’t work. I meekly peered over the register to find my son standing with his hands on his hips, front of his waistband pulled down and tucked so he was dangling out for all to see. “Wook! Peeking!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!”. I  silently vowed to kill Shaun for laughing the first time he ever did that, because if he hadn’t, maybe this public display of two year old glory wouldn’t be happening. I don’t think I’ve ever moved around a register so fast, but I’m pretty sure he was only exposed to air for maybe 5 seconds before I grabbed him. Fortunately the bagger had two boys of her own and didn’t seem too traumatized, but I’d be lying if I’m not considering making my kid wear diapers again.

Wish me luck because when he wakes up, we have to go to Target. Sigh.

Maybe if I disguise him enough, someone will just think he’s a random awkward man?

Happy 13th Birthday, Son! Now Get Back in the Back Seat.

My son just had his 13th birthday on December 31st. Yep, a New Year’s Eve baby. We tried to get him to hold off to be the first baby born in Y2K, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with that, so the 31st it was. He’s always been a big kid: he came 3 weeks early and was 8 lbs. 5 oz., and was 40 lbs. at 3 years old, which back then was a big deal. He was never squishy fat, though (mmmm, except for his baby thighs); he was solid as a rock. Eventually J started thinning out and we actually worried about him being too thin, lol. He’s now 5’5.5″ (no, I’m not allowing him to catch up to my 5’6″ just yet) and around 92 lbs. So he’s big enough finally to sit in the front seat, right?

I guess so. The warnings in cars and on visors say that kids 12 and under should sit in the back and he *is* over 12 now. He had a couple of rides to school from his dad this past semester in the front seat because it was the only open seat; we carpool younger kiddos to school. It was a poorly kept secret from me: Giggle giggle giggle. “Guess how I got to school today, mom?” Giggle giggle giggle. But what could I do? It was raining and I wasn’t pulling my sorry butt out of my soft, warm bed at 7:15a to give him a ride when there was a car conveniently going right by his school ;). I know, bad CPS Tech. So slap me.

A day before his birthday, I wanted to get him off his computer, so I bribed J to go to the store with me. In a sing-song voice, I called to him, “Want to go to the store with me?”

“No!”

“I’ll let you ride in the front seat.”

Next thing I hear is a teen’s large feet clomping down the stairs. Glad I know what makes him tick! The whole 5 minute ride to the store was awkward at best. It was just weird having my son sitting next to me, hearing his voice from *next* to me, instead of coming from behind me. He rode home in the front seat, but I told him that was the last time for a while that he’s sitting in the front. *I’m* not ready for it. He knows the statistics—that he’s 40% more likely to be injured in the front seat—and he’s my safety kid so he tends to do what’s safest anyway. He’s still going to ride in the front seat when he’s alone with dh because he wants to be like dad, but I’m not going to sweat that. He’s old enough now, he’s big enough, and he’s less likely to be leaning out of position in the front. It’s just another sign that my kids are growing up way too fast.