Archive for November, 2013

Well, naturally I thought of a bunch more fun stuff that’s new in the past month as soon as I hit “publish.” That’s just how it works, y’all. So here we go…

You developed a terror of having your hair washed after a single incident of soapy water getting in your eyes. So now we all take turns wearing your new special bath hat:

You get such a big kick out of crossing the street that sometimes our walks consist almost entirely of crossing the street. You say “yay” every time we reach the other side.

You now have a running commentary while you play.

You enjoy sending people, animals and food on trips into space, and will say “bass” (“blastoff”) after Mama or Daddy says “3,2,1.” Then you sit and cackle while we fly the the ship around.

You deploy the word “funny” correctly. You use the word “have” to ask for things, then use “may” to say it’s okay for you to have whatever you were just given. You also use both words to say that someone else has something.

You like fire quite a bit.

You have begun throwing things, seemingly for fun. And so now we chat about why throwing is not always a good idea.

You watch video clips of songs while Mama brushes your teeth, and you want her to sing whatever song is newest at nap time and bedtime. Right now, it’s this.

You play with words, most notably turning later into laytay, tuna into tunoo, soon into soonoo. You also substitute “f” for “s,” making it tons of fun to listen to you talk about something being stuck.

You have a few new clear two-syllable words, most notably “coffee” and “photo.”

You expect everything to open, especially toy cars.

You can get into the bathtub all by yourself. Sometimes you try to do it before we get you naked.

You recognize the numbers 2, 4, 5 and 8. Credit for this is due entirely to your father.

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I’d never seen one like it. Petite and golden-haired and fluffy, the blue service dog vest seemed incongruous on his little back. As I brought the stroller even with his elderly mistress, I complimented his good looks. We chatted about him, and her disability, and then she remarked that I must be a fan of small people as well as dogs, nodding toward the stroller.

And then I was crying.

I suppose I could blame the full moon, or the first Santa sighting of the season, or the upcoming holidays and all the big historical feelings they dredge up combined with my sentimentality about the first Christmas my son is likely to remember. But I think what really happened was much simpler: I met a soul sister at the mall.

She talked to me about feeling my feelings to get to the reasons behind them instead of pushing them away, and encouraged me to take deep breaths. She spoke of emotional sensitivity as a gift to be shared with the world, which only made me cry more. She looked as deeply into my eyes as any dear friend would. When she reached for my hand, we naturally fell into a hug. It felt like being held by family. She thanked me for saying hello, and I thanked her for her words.

And then I went into Eddie Bauer to return a pair of pants.

All of this would be weird if it didn’t feel so right. I don’t routinely go around weeping in front of complete strangers, but this woman didn’t feel like a stranger. She felt like a gift plunked down in front of me. I’m just glad I had the good sense to open it. And glad I had the good sense to compliment her dog.

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Kinney the Cat


Sometime last summer, back when the Boo was so little I would take walks with him strapped to my chest, I saw them for the first time. A man walking a gorgeous chocolate lab, and trailing behind them by about ten feet, a smallish, fluffy orange tabby. As I kept watching, it became clear that he was following them, pausing to get cozy with the dog, roll in dirt or groom himself, then springing up again when they got too far ahead.

I approached the man and asked abut the cat. “Oh, that’s Kinney, he’s been following us like that since we lived near a golf course in Florida.” As we chatted, it turned out his wife was a few months from delivering their first child. I was ecstatic — even that early in my mom career, I was jazzed about the prospect of neighbors with babies.

These days, that couple has become our friends, that baby is a year old, and the Boo and I have ditched the Baby Bjorn in favor of the stroller. We almost always end up in the tiny park where we first met Kinney the cat so he can “run, run, run,” one of his favorite activities.

If you are a regular reader, you know that the Boo is obsessed with cats — demands that we draw them for him, points them out excitedly on bags of cat food, and identifies them correctly (which is not the case with most other animals). As soon as we enter the park, he starts up.


“Hm, let’s see. Oh cat, where are you?”

“Cat? Caaaaaaaat?”

About sixty percent of the time, the cat is there, or shows up before we leave. He’ll sometimes stroll toward us, fluffy tail up in greeting. Boo will ask, “pat?” And I will say yes, but be gentle, and guide his hand to show him what gentle means. Kinney will take pretty much whatever my toddler dishes out, even if my kid just interrupted a squirrel-stalking session with thundering feet and gleeful squeals.

And on the rare occasions when he dishes out a swat, we get to chat about being gentle.

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You Are 21 Months Old

You are 21 months old.

You kiss all the “boo boos” on the banisters:


You say “hi” as sweetly as possible after you get scolded.

You have met Santa a few times and you think it’s fun that he waves at you, but you are not inclined to get very close to him.

You have a toy phone, but you use the TV remote to call your grandma in India.

You are cutting at least one molar. We know because you are gnawing on everything, including your fingers, like you’re four months old again.

You understand that sheet music is to songs as books are to reading. Luckily, the music we have out is at the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” level, so Mama can play it for you.

You are happy to mix up a pretend drink for yourself while Mama cooks, though you sometimes require her assistance with pouring in some pretend salt or honey (two of your favorite taste treats).

You are trying like hell to draw a circle so you can draw a cat. Which explains why you scribble over every cat we draw for you — you’re teaching yourself to draw. Duh.

You occasionally claw at Mama’s face, usually when you’re tired or scared. But we still have chats about why that’s not okay.

You will now eat hard-boiled egg whites if there’s enough seasoning on them. You will also eat cheese crackers because Elmo is on them.

You demand music during car rides.

You adore your play food and are particularly fond of making sandwiches. Cheese-lettuce-whole cucumber-and-pretzel sandwiches. You also like to send the lemon, ear of corn, and tangerine on short trips into space.

You are also really into some soft play tunnels we just brought out, and the few new books we’ve gotten you recently.

You want to run all the time: Before diaper changes, after diaper changes, freshly out of the car, as soon as you finish your morning bottle. But most interestingly, when you are a little uncertain or shy about a social situation.

You encountered your first train table last week. We more or less had to rip you away from it when the train store closed. Now we’re figuring out how to fit one on our main level.

You are 21 months old. How did that happen?

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Parenting takes you to some weird places, most of which you had no idea existed. It’s all part of the fun when you’re aiming to make it through a day with a toddler with a minimum of trauma and a maximum of amusement.

For example: I am a college-educated woman living a happy middle-class life. I am (generally speaking) mentally stable. I do not believe in fairies. Why, then, did I start talking to my son’s feet a week ago?

I don’t recall a considered decision-making process, but it probably had something to do with a fussy kid on a changing table, because that’s where it always happens. See, the feet get restless, so they kick, and that kind of gets in the way of things like wiping and diaper cream and putting on pants. But if you talk to the feet and tell them, individually, what’s coming, they listen and chill out and let you do what you need to do.

The interesting thing is that the feet have different personalities. Right Foot is more outgoing and confident, quick to answer that yes, he’s ready for the sock. Left Foot (a/k/a Friend of Right Foot) is so shy as to be inaudible. You must press your ear to his big toe in order to hear his response.

Like I said, no mental illness that I’m aware of. But I’m not the only one who’s into it — the Boo will thoughtfully speak up for the recalcitrant foot if he (the foot) is feeling particularly shy. He will also request that I speak to the feet, chirping a plaintive “please” while holding his feet aloft over his bare bottom. And that, my friends, is about as high as you can get on both the Humor and Cuteness scales.

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News flash: Not only can babies not tell time, they don’t give a crap about time changes. Thus my little bundle of joy was up at 5. And because he’d also been up at 2, he was a bit less of a joy than usual.

And so I deployed one of my failsafes: I took the crabby baby to the grocery store. Between all the stuff to look at and all the people to say hi to, it never fails to buy me an hour of happy baby time. This time, it also brought unexpected boons.

On the drive there, I pass the second-largest urban park in the country: Forest Park, currently drenched in full-on postcard-level fall color. This morning around 6:30, it was also frosted and foggy and an utter work of art.

As much as I cringe at the amount of money we spend at Schnucks, I adore several of the checkout people, and one in particular. He was working one of the two lanes that were open, so I headed for his register. He noticed that the baby was not in top form (he’s given us enough stickers to know) and made a remark about how parents can always tell then their kids aren’t feeling well. Then he leaned in and said something so softly I couldn’t hear it. The second time, I got it. “I used to smoke pot.” He looked to both sides. “My mom always knew, and I never understood how she knew. Then when I had my own kids, I could always tell by their eyes when they weren’t right. I finally figured out how she did it!”

That story had me chuckling all the way home. And I took the long way home, through the park, since it was still very pretty. Supertramp’s “Long Way Home” came on the radio (the baby demands music in the car, and I am happy to comply). I had my hazards on because I was dilly-dallying, and I passed a car pulled over, with its passenger door open and three of the four passengers out of the car, running across a meadow with actual cameras in pursuit of the best remaining shots of the frost and mist. And I swear I am not making this up: They were all Asian.

Just before I made the turn away from the park I passed a few enormous trees with rays of misty sun filtering through to the ground. I was gobsmacked enough and tired enough to cry just a bit, and then I thought, wow, I would have missed all these amazing, funny, gorgeous things if not for the time change. And a baby who doesn’t give a crap about it.

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