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Posts Tagged ‘parenthood’

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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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In a seize-the-good-weather moment, we (my mom and I) took the Boo to a pumpkin patch for the first time. That’s right, I did not take him last year — don’t know if that makes me a lame mom or just wise with how I spend my energy, but there it is.

At first, he wandered hesitantly around the outside of the main pumpkin shed. My mom introduced him to the giant inflated scarecrow, which he liked very much. Eventually, we got him inside to look at the approximately 8,000,000 pumpkins, but he was far more interested in pointing out that the doors, propped with cement-filled buckets, needed to be closed.

I plunked him on a bale of straw and got a few really nice photos during the few minutes he was enjoying the novelty of being up there. He patted a few pumpkins and took a liking to one that was off to the side on its own next to a planter he decided was a trash can. My mom fetched a little red wagon, and Boo leaned against his pumpkin, a tiny man of leisure in a festive rolling Barcalounger.

But what he really went apeshit over was the ducks. Between the shed and the actual patch (which we did not ever get to because DUCKS!) they had a few large pens with the aforementioned ducks, chickens, bunnies, a turkey and a pig. He stood watching them, making the happiest noises I’ve ever heard come out of him. I didn’t even take pictures (one of my main motivations for the trip) because I was having such a good time watching the joy pour over his face. Also, I didn’t want to be the parent whose kid gets his finger gnawed by a farm animal while she’s busy taking photos.

The ducks were the epicenter of the rest of the visit. He would run around and put rocks in trash cans (a favorite pastime), but he kept wanting to circle back to those ducks. And his attentiveness was rewarded when a lady came by on a four-wheeler and threw a few heads of lettuce in the pen, causing a really cute feeding frenzy.

The first time we stated talking about going home, he looked up and sweetly asked, “ducks?” and we said sure, let’s go see the ducks again. The second time, he started crying a bit while semi-whining, “ducks!” We were able to placate him with (semi-true) promises of seeing Daddy at home and pointing out that his pumpkin was in the car. Most of the way home, he patted it happily and babbled about his “pop.”

The next day, I decorated it with a Sharpie (I plan to bake it):

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Some kind of miracle has occurred, i.e., the baby is still napping, so I’m going to try to crank out a quick post.

The Boo has begun to manufacture his own words for things. See if you can guess what each one means. (A great way to get an idea of what my days are like.)

Duck…

Chuck, our neighbor, much adored by the Boo.

Yeddah…

Yellow, his favorite color.

Mimi…

Music, duh.

Nay-nay….

Ned, his beloved bedtime buddy.

Yay-yay…

Raisins.
Yeah, I don’t get that one either, but that’s definitely what he means.

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It’s a classic piece of unsolicited advice: Babies change everything. But it’s actually true.

For example, shopping:

– Target used to be where I went for affordable work clothes and fun housewares. Now it’s where I dance a little jig if I leave for under $100.

– Baby Gap was a store I glanced at occasionally as I cruised into The Gap, thinking, “huh, cute.” Now it’s where I struggle to resist spending my kid’s college fund.

– Old Navy was my source for cheap jeans that actually fit me. Now it’s where I go to feel smart about dressing my child.

– The grocery store was an occasional necessity. Now it’s midday entertainment, and (sometimes) a twice-a-week necessity.

Time management…

– Ten free minutes used to mean making a few phone calls. Now it means showering, and maybe a phone call on speaker.

– Laundry used to happen on weekends, whenever I got up. Now it happens before the baby gets up and during naps on weekends. And weekdays.

– I used to unload the dishwasher as soon as it was finished. Now I wait for the baby to be around because he enjoys handing dishes to me. Sometimes I even wait until he’s a little cranky because seriously, he loves helping me.

And everyday objects…

– The couch was where I went to watch movies. Now it’s where I go to nap.

– Measuring cups and mixing bowls were for, well, measuring and mixing. Now they’re bath toys and hats and drums and…

– My iPad used to be the reason I was never bored. Now it’s the reason I’m able to cut the baby’s hair.

And trim his nails.

And brush his teeth.

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When I was five or six I had a distinct thought that I still remember: “It’s hot, and I don’t like being hot. Sweat is gross.” I still remember because I think that thought every summer, all summer long. I knew I would have to adjust that attitude when the baby came. Kids need fresh air, and not just when the weather is perfect.

We’ve gotten off easy this summer, with a long stretch of mid-80s in August that blew everyone’s mind. But last week the temps climbed into the 90s again. And I had an outdoor play date coming up. I won’t lie, I kind of panicked for a bit.

The plan was to go to a splash pad that’s deep inside a botanical garden with a vast blacktop parking lot. There was no getting around the ick factor of sweating the whole time. Also, I have a weird thing where the sun gives me a rash even through SPF 30, so I tend to wear long sleeves to cut down on the itching.

So I was all, “Dammit, I’m going to have to wear sunscreen and long sleeves and people will think I’m a freak for wearing long sleeves, and on top of that, I’m going to be sweating the whole time.” I may have stomped my foot. A few times.

And then I thought, “Baboo’s first splash pad. He’s going to love it. Suck it up, Mama Dean. You’ve been to India. Several times. You grew up in a house without central air. You’ll live, and then you’ll have a nice cool shower afterwards.”

And he did love it. And I survived. And man, that was a great shower.

Ah, the things we do for love.

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One of Baboo’s clearest and most frequent words is No. This has sparked an ongoing debate in our house: Does he say it so much and so well because we say it to him so often, or is he merely learning to use language to assert his will?

I’m in the latter camp, because he uses it to get to “yes,” for example, telling me which book he wants to read by rejecting all the ones he doesn’t want. He does know the word “yes,” by the way. He just doesn’t always choose to use it. It’s baffling, and we’re saying “yes” to him more often now, but still, his default is “no.”

He also uses No to double-check that something he’s been told not to do is still off-limits. It’s really cute, actually: He’ll caress the trash can while pouring his soul out through his eyes and mournfully uttering a soft “No?”

Meanwhile, the aforementioned debate has created an awareness in my disciplinary language that I like, spawning a litany of phrases that mean No. These tend to be either strings of nonsense sounds like “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah,” or a positive casting of a negative request, like, “That’s Mama’s cup” instead of “Don’t touch that.” I have to admit to feeling a little funny about the latter approach because I have been known to mercilessly mock those who avoid saying No to their kids at all costs.

I’m not taking it that far, though — just reserving No for dangerous things like the oven and outlets (or when it just pops out of my mouth). Pretty much everything else I might use a No for falls into the category of limit-setting, and distraction tactics are often more effective for that. My favorite so far is “Where’s your baby?” closely followed by “Would you like this cup/spoon/yogurt tub?”

And then of course there are situations where neither a No nor distraction works. The best example is Baboo’s favorite new trick: Kicking like mad on the changing table. If I say No, he says it right back to me and goes back to kicking. My Stern Mama Face has zero effect. And he thinks it’s so fun that distracting him from it is nigh impossible. So now I’m trying a technique I used with my dogs: ignore the behavior you don’t want.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

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“Could be his molars coming in.”

With that simple sentence, I lost a bit of love for our pediatrician, which is okay because I have enough love for him that losing a bit is tolerable.

The baby had been waking up for a few nights running, and since he had an ear infection the last time that happened, we were there to rule out that possibility. With it ruled out, I was left with no simple answer to this maddening new trend in my baby’s behavior.

As the days went on, he did it over and over, waking between 2 and 4:30, upset but easily calmed, sometimes soaked through, sometimes dry. One night, for extra fun, he woke up an hour after the first time, just as I was drifting back to sleep.

Naturally I turned to the Internet and books for possible reasons. None of them seemed fun:

– Molars. Two-year molars coming in seven months early, could take a few months to fully erupt. Neato.

– Separation anxiety. Really? I’m with him ALL THE TIME.

– Overtiredness. The more tired you are, the worse you sleep. The worse you sleep, the more tired you are. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

– Night terrors. He’s a little young for this, but one of the hallmarks of this lovely phenomenon is a freaked-out kid who suddenly calms down and passes out again, which is pretty much what he was doing. He also paused during a crying jag to chirp, “hi!”

– 18-month sleep regression. This is where the kid starts waking up at night for no apparent reason, and you get to decide how to deal with it. Regardless of your course of action, you still end up with a tired baby and shredded sleep.

– Just a fun new limit-testing behavior. Because making Mommy get out of bed is fun!

– Full moon.

Go ahead and laugh at that last one. He stopped his wee-hours wakings the night after the full moon.

Apparently I’m raising a werewolf.

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You are 17 months old.

You have a new toy:

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You somehow know that the sound of an almost-empty ketchup bottle “farting” is funny.

You say “brr” when something is cold.

You had your first skinned knee last week.

You will sometimes put your hands on your hips and stick your belly out and look at Mama and start laughing.

You dip one index finger ever so daintily in something you want to taste and then bring it slowly up to your mouth. Your Grammie taught you this.

You’ve been doing this for a while, but: You will take someone’s hand and move it to indicate what you want them to do.

You’ve been introduced to a baby pool, and you’re getting along famously. But so far you mostly like to play with the hose (and drink from it).

You shake your head “no” to book after book when it’s time to read before a nap or bedtime. This is why there are messy stacks of books on the ottoman in your room, and a few on the floor.

You have absolutely zero fear of the garbage truck.

Your favorite kitchen toys at the moment are a tiny Tupperware container and a springform pan, but you still have great affection for the strainers.

You speed to the dishwasher to help Mama unload it, and you’re tall enough to reach things on the top rack.

You find the vacuum cleaner to be highly amusing and are desperate to touch it when it’s on.

You are more of a parrot every day, and this is why your next word may be “sugar.”

You spent 20 minutes playing with an empty 2-liter soda bottle the other day.

You’ve tried to go to sleep standing up a couple of times, once when Grammie was taking care of you. Boy, was she confused!

You can go down the stairs by sliding on your belly (feet first).

You have discovered slides, and giggle the best possible giggle when going down them. Then you try to climb back up them.

You can step up a small step if you’re holding Mama’s hand.

You still have no interest in ice cream or cake.

You are all about graham crackers.

You are not all about using a spoon, preferring instead to dip the wrong end in your yogurt.

You are 17 months old, and you seem to be teething again which is just ridiculous but whatever, we’ll work with it…

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The Overnight

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We had an overnight.

We said low-key goodbyes to Baboo as my mom took him for a walk, and then we drove away.

We arrived at a hotel less than ten minutes later.

We ordered room service within five minutes of walking through the door of our suite (we were upgraded, thank you very much Robert!). Later we figured out that we hadn’t had room service in over two years.

We loafed about and watched TV.

We made a dinner reservation.

I put on a dress that mostly still fits (someone rearranged my body, dangit!).

I put on mascara. Mascara!

We ate and chatted about life in general and our fellow diners. We also theorized about our server’s jumpy manner.

We had dessert.

We returned to the room tired but so full that we thought going to bed would be a bad idea. So naturally we headed back downstairs for a nightcap.

I was sure I heard the baby crying at 3:30 in the morning.

We woke without alarms (For me this was 5:30. I’m programmed, it seems.).

We ordered room service for breakfast.

I had one of the best pedicures of my life.

We checked out and headed home, excited to see the baby after 19 hours away from him.

We had an overnight for the first time since the baby was born, and we understand we need to do it again sooner than 17 months from now.

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Friends! Does your baby wake up wet and sad every morning? Are his formerly silky haunches covered in a nasty rash because of it? Are you at your wit’s end trying to think of ways to fix the problem after going up a diaper size, which has never failed to stop leaks in the past?

Well fear no more, because help is here in the form of an old friend:

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That’s right, your old pal the bulky, nasty maxi-pad is here to save the day! Just cut off the wings, slit the back so the pee can get through to the diaper, and voilĂ ! The baby may wake up slightly damp, but your days of flooding will be over!

By the way, they’re also great if your dog has had knee surgery. Super-absorbent and much cheaper than bandaging supplies.

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