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Posts Tagged ‘baby’

Did you know that new moms today can get a digital timer to remind them to feed the baby? Is it just me, or is this the most ridiculous item ever put in front of pregnant women? These poor women are distraught, tired and distracted by their own swollen feet, so they’re vulnerable to absurd and manipulative marketing. Your baby will die if you forget to feed it. Better put that timer on the registry!

In case you have the kind of baby who doesn't cry when hungry, or smell when poopy.

People! You do not need a timer to remind you to feed your baby. Your baby will remind you. Your baby is programmed to do just that. Basically, it is the only thing your baby can do for a long, long time.

Anyway, as I was smugly making fun of this timer, I suddenly remembered an episode from my own crazy first-time-mom past. I somehow blocked this out, preferring to remember a fictional history of myself as a non-panic-stricken individual who did not go over the top with her first baby. But I did. Boy, did I ever.

When I was pregnant with L, T and I wanted to take a baby first aid and CPR class. Not unreasonable, right? Well, we were both full-time students with no money or time to spare for such courses. No worries, because I found the perfect solution! A way we could become baby saving experts on our own time for even less money than a course! I found this:

Maybe the scariest thing I've ever received in a box in the mail.

That’s right. I got my very own plastic baby. (This was a few years ago and ours looked a lot less like a blow up doll and a lot more like a dead baby. A totally freaky thing to live with.) What a great thing to have! We could always freshen up our skills. Just pop in the DVD, inflate the baby and compress to our hearts’ content!

If you think this is where the crazy ends, wait, there’s more.

Then I had my precious baby. He actually did choke once and I had to quickly turn him upside down and pound on his back until he vomited his body weight on the rug. Thanks plastic baby for the practice! (You might have mentioned the vomit and suggested doing it over tile or hard wood.)

Fast forward about 8 months when I’m ready to leave baby L with a babysitter. A random girl (who I grew to love) who I found on a university job board. This made me nervous. These days I’ll leave my kids with anyone willing to take them, but this first time I was so anxious about it! Guess what I made her do?

Yup. I made her come about 1/2 an hour before I was scheduled to leave so she could watch the video and practice on the dummy baby. And she did it graciously, as if it was a perfectly normal and not at all neurotic request, and she didn’t tell me I was a crazy lunatic. God, I love that girl.

I completely forgot all of this, like I said, and was so embarrassed for myself when I remembered. So, if any of you were ever under the impression that I’m at all cool, I give you this story as incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. *Takes bow.*
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Baby Haters?

Actual Facebook status of a college (clearly childless) friend:

Note to all you parents out there: if you can’t get your baby to stop crying for more than 30 seconds at a time throughout a 2 1/2 hour flight, maybe you should hold off on flying because people like me hate people like you. On an unrelated note, I think it’s about time for a vasectomy.

After a mix of comments, none of which were a hand reaching out of his screen and smacking him, he followed up with:

Listen, I’m not anti child, I am anti shitty parent. If you can’t shut your kid up for more than 30 seconds on a 3 hour flight, I guarantee you that all 20 people sitting within earshot from you think you aren’t trying hard enough.

Am I naive to be shocked by this? Am I so far gone into parenthood that I’ve forgotten how people without kids think and feel? Did I feel this way? Is it normal?

My question to him was, “How exactly should these shitty parents make their baby shut up?” I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

Do childless people really think parents can make our kids and babies do anything? Or is it just a matter of not thinking it through? Obviously we can’t make them do anything. If we could, parenting would be easy. We could make them eat what they’re served, make them go on the potty, make them behave in public places, make them go to sleep and make them stop crying. If only!

Then again, that would mean that our children had no wills of their own, that they were not their own people, that they were not capable of exerting themselves or having independent thought. I’m the first to raise my hand to tell you that my kids’ will and independent thought are often entirely frustrating to me, but I’m still happy that they have them!

As for the crying baby on the plane, I hope that before I had kids I was smart enough to know that despite how entirely annoying to me a crying baby might be, there’s nothing that the parents could do about it. Those poor parents were surely trying all they could think of, and certainly felt the judgement of all the people around them. I’m positive that the parents were more stressed and unhappy about the whole ordeal than anyone else, baby included.

As for my college friend, not sure if I want him to get that vasectomy immediately, or to have a baby of his own!

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Dear S,

It’s hard for me to write a letter to you because most of my thoughts and feelings about you aren’t really expressible as words, only as sickeningly saccharine pet names, squeezes and snuggles. I can’t figure out how to describe the sentiment behind nuzzling your belly, play-eating your haunches, and tickling your toes. How do I express your giggles as I toss you into the air, flip you upside down and spin you around? Or what it’s like just walking with your tiny hand in mine? It’s impossible. You are not a thing of words; you are a thing of visceral, devastating, hopeless love and attachment. It’s all I can do on a daily basis not to eat you. (I know that sounds weird. When you have a baby of your own, you’ll get it.)

S sitting in a chair 2 days old. I had so much fun in the hospital with her. Best 4 days of my life.

You’ve become such a big girl in so many ways and I’ve been lucky enough to witness you grow. You are easily the most affectionate person I’ve ever known in my life. And for the most part, you are unflappably happy. Unless you’re not. And when you’re not you let us know. For a person so small in stature, your volume is alarming.

Mmmmm, puzzle....

Your vocabulary grows by the day, but it’s still quite limited. You have some of the important words, and several words I wouldn’t have pegged as obvious first words:

Your best words are the 2-year-old trifecta: no, mine and me.

You can’t say L’s name, so you just call him “Unna,” which is the same word you use for “other.” As in, he’s the other one. (Trust me, you’re not saying brother. You can say that too, but it sounds more like “budda.”)

Many of your words are only meaningful to me, like “boo” for “shoe” and “boop” for “milk,” but some other words are said with perfect clarity. These are a surprising bunch like “money,” “elbow,” “hot cocoa,” and “goggles.”

Except when you use that tone of voice which is the exact perfect pitch to reverberate in my head and drive me clinically insane, you are seriously the most adorable thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. (Except L when he was your age, who was also impossibly cute, but harder to see because he was always a blur of motion.) It takes all of my restraint to stop myself from constantly picking you up, squeezing you, and smothering you in kisses, tickles and nuzzles.

I love that you are happy to play by yourself. I love that you are happy to play with me. I love that you are laid back about transitions from one activity to another. I love that you smile and say hello to everyone you see. I love the way you giggle. I love the way you run. I love the way you jump.

I do not love that you still hate the car and spend most of your time in it screaming.

I love that you go to bed so easily. I love that you wake up happy. I love that you eat just about anything I put in front of you. I love how much you love your big brother. You find him hilarious and you try to copy everything he does. Most of the time, I wish you wouldn’t.

Fashionista

S, my sweet 2-year-old, I’ve said a thousand times over the last two years that I want to stop time to freeze you where you are because you are at the height of your cuteness and sweetness. But you just keep getting better. (I am aware that the age of 3 looms ahead of me, but I prefer to live in denial.)

I love love love love love you impossibly much.

Love,

Mommy

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I may be a genius. Or maybe I’m just emerging from the rock I’ve been under. Either I just figured out a great little trick, or I’ve been unaware that every other parent out there already knows this, and how could I not?

Some background:

L is happy to have a bucket of water dumped on his head pretty much anytime, anywhere. The upside to this penchant is that he’s been happy in the bath since he was a baby. (Although he was decidedly unhappy in his first bath, if memory serves.) Washing his face and hair was never a problem. Then came S, who is quite delighted to be in the water. Is happy as anything playing with the toys and bubbles and washcloths. But woe be to the person who tries to touch her! And may the person who pours water over her head be forever damned!

I’m the meaner parent, so pouring water over S’s head is my job. My wanting-to-complete-the-task impulse is stronger than my feel-bad-for-miserable-toddler impulse. (This is not a surprise.) Luckily, S has had barely any hair until pretty recently. Not sure if you remember or not, but not long ago I made the comparison between S’s hair and that of a certain celebrity:

I'm not kidding. S was a dead-ringer for the Captain.

Good thing for S, her hair has since grown out a bit, into a toddler-chic shag do. Suddenly she needs conditioner. This involves so many more cups of water poured over S’s head. So much more misery. My Efficient v. Empathetic scale started to move.

Here comes the stroke of genius (or my personal discovery that the sky is blue):

I use leave in conditioner in my hair, why not use it in S’s?

This has changed my life. Well, my evenings. Well, the evenings in which I bathe my children. If you don’t do it already, try it!

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Kate from Kate Takes 5 has a weekly link up where she provides a topic for a top 5 list. I always mean to participate in her listography, but for some reason I don’t seem to make it in time. Last week’s topic was Decisions and I’ve been ruminating on the topic for days, and naturally missed my chance to link up to it before the new topic for this week was posted. But it got me thinking a lot about some of the decisions that have shaped my life.

Like everyone else, I’ve made good decisions and bad decisions, hard decisions and easy decisions. Here are a few of the most  influential decisions I’ve made, the good and the bad.

1. Leaving High School

I don’t actually like to admit this often, but I went to boarding school. It was the norm for kids from my middle school to go away to boarding school for high school. (Did that sentence have “school” in it a lot or what?) Anyway, it was not for me. I hated it vehemently. I hated the culture of my school where the hockey team ruled and even the teachers seemed to be divided into cliques. During my junior year we had a parents’ day and I was in a sour mood. My parents asked what was the matter and I rashly lashed out that I hated my school and was miserable. “So what are you going to do about it?” my dad asked me. Huh?

This was the first time I was handed the reigns of my life. I could do something about this? I decided to apply directly to college as a junior, and skip my 4th year of high school entirely. I did not have enough credits and did not take any kind of equivalency exam. I was like any other high school junior. Several of my top choice schools firmly let me know that I need not apply until I graduated like a normal person, but some were open to my application and I was accepted into a handful. Then I had a difficult choice to make: leave my friends and the comfort of the familiar? Separate myself from everyone else on the planet by not having a senior year of high school? I did it. That decision empowered me and at 17 I learned that I was in charge of myself and could drive my own life.

2. Giving Up

I found myself as a previously sheltered 17-year-old in the bigger than big world of Giant University. My dorm my freshman year had over 1600 students. Believing I was a uniquely talented and bright individual, like I had always been told, I applied to a competitive writing course. I submitted my short stories, full of teen angst and trite drama (this was waaaay before Twilight). I was not accepted. I received a letter explaining that I should work on my writing and reapply as an upperclassman.

Devastated, I concluded that I actually had no talent for writing whatsoever. Too humiliated to sign up for any other kind of writing course, I hung up my pen. I decided that my parents were right, writing is a hobby, and I should take a bunch of science courses so I could be employable some day instead. Easy decision to make. Giving it up was so easy. But what if I hadn’t? I could potentially have some fulfilling career instead of a history of random jobs, a Master’s degree I don’t care about, and no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

3. Studying Abroad

Most people consider taking one semester to study abroad or at another university, for a change of pace and fun opportunity. I did it 3 times. I knew that college provided me the unique chance to do this. That one day when I was a grown up saddled with a grown up life I would not be able to spend 3 months in exotic places like Nepal and Kenya, or living outside in snow caves in the Rocky Mountains. I was so fortunate to have these opportunities at my fingertips and I could not pass them up. Each of these experiences left indelible impressions on me and shaped me into the adult I would eventually become. The only hard thing about these decisions was where to go and what to do. Palau or Kenya? That was a tough one.

In my current life as a SAHM to two little kids, it refreshes me to remember my younger self roaming through the streets of Kathmandu; living with a family in a mud and thatch hut in rural Kenya and speaking Swahili expertly; or how strong and hard my exhausted muscles were after digging out another snow cave to spend the night in. These memories are a world apart from my current reality, but it was me, I did it. It reminds me that life is a series of events and stages, that this one is just another stage, and that one day I’ll be looking back on all of this. I had better try to appreciate all it has to offer.

4. Marrying T

This was maybe the easiest decision ever. I’ve suffered more indecision over shoe purchases than whether or not to marry T. From the moment I met him I felt connected to him. We actually almost got hitched after only knowing each other for several months. We faced some inconvenient visa laws and the fact that he’s an alien from far far away land. We had 3 choices: get married, move out of the US, or break up. We call that day “stress day 2000.” In the end we decided to both up and move to far far away land rather than get married for the wrong reasons. So we did. 3 years later, we were back in the US (legally!) and he proposed. Of course I would marry him! I never had cold feet.

5. Kids

Another easy decision to make despite how huge it was. Suddenly one day I felt ready to have a kid. T and I had been married a few years. Our life was fun. But I felt kind of done with it and ready for something new, the next phase. Luckily T was on board and soon we had our gigantic baby L. (He was 10 lbs 3 oz.)

Nothing in the universe was cuter than L when he was 1.5 years old. This was a lucky thing because he was not easy. At all. But he was a bouncing boy full of exuberance, energy and serious cuteness. So cute that I just had to have another. Again, an easy decision that T agreed with. The time was right and having L be an only child was never really in consideration. It amazes me how easy these huge, life changing decisions were to make.

It’s been a fun exercise to look back and think of the biggest decisions I made which brought me to where I am today – steadfastly ignoring my children while they wreck the house so I can selfishly reflect and blog about it.

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I spend most of my time here talking about L. Once in a while I write about S’s adorable-ness, but she definitely takes a backseat in terms of the percentage of my angst she causes compared to her brother. So here’s something you may not know about her: she doesn’t really talk yet. At 21 months old, she is waaaaaaaaaaay behind her peers. While they are putting together simple phrases and consistently naming the objects around them, S says only a small handful of single words. Words like up, mama, dada, more, bye-bye, boo-boo. It was nearly a year ago when I was told to worry that she didn’t know a cow says moo. Guess what? She still doesn’t know.

S can understand anything that is said to her. She can follow a series of directions and will point to the correct object when I name it. Her problem is clearly not cognitive. Is she just lazy? She is actually quite able to tell me a whole story with a combination of charades and simple words. She can, for example, convey that she has a boo-boo on her head because she was on the couch and L pushed her off causing her head to hit the coffee table. Since she’s so good at communicating this way, why bother talking?

Whatever the reason for her delayed speech, my it-will-work-itself-out approach hasn’t been effective (yet). So today I’m having her evaluated to see if she’s eligible for early intervention. I imagine that she’s going to fall just to the normal side of the upper limit of what would qualify. Meaning that she’s speaking at the bottom-most possible level of what is considered normal. And this will be fine with me, because I do still believe it will work itself out. It’s just taking longer than I anticipated.

Funny thing is that when L was about 19 months old I had him evaluated for the very same reason. He had 3 words, which only I could understand: “ma-em” for milk. “cheese” for please, and “do-do” for thank you. (So polite!) I set up the appointment and by the time the team of evaluators arrived at my door a few weeks later, L was totally talking. And hasn’t stopped since. (rim-shot) I attributed L’s lateness to the fact that he’s a boy, and that he was too busy figuring out how to run, jump, climb, and break dance to bother learning to talk. But not only is S a girl, she also spends a lot less time break dancing. Anyway, I fully expected her to start talking before the evaluation date, but it’s in an hour, and she wasn’t talking this morning and she’s sleeping now, so I think that’s not happening.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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I think it’s hard to appreciate kids who are older than your oldest. Just like the mom who is expecting her first really has no idea what’s coming, I have no idea what comes after 4. When I see a group of 10-year-old boys running around on the playground I feel like I’m witnessing a gang of bad kids. Chances are these kids are anything but. I’m sure they’re well-loved, totally normal 10-year-olds and not a group of thugs at all. But they think it’s funny to get L to repeat things like “fart-butt” and therefore I see hardened criminal kids. I’m certain they have tattoos and carry weapons.

This under-appreciation starts well before having kids. It’s the same feeling that causes non-parents to think things like “my kids would never do that,” or “my car will never look like that,” or “those people are doing it all wrong and I will be a better mom than that, easily!” I thought I outgrew this ridiculous sentiment when I had a baby of my own and he did those things, my car looked like that, and I was clearly doing it all wrong. But I didn’t. My no-clue-ness just shifted, and continues to shift to children just slightly older than my own.

When L was born we lived downstairs from a family who had a 1.5-year-old boy. He was an adorable blur of a thing, always on the run, wearing mischievous dimples and leaving a wake of destruction behind him. He was the most wild thing I had ever known. His parents came down to meet our new baby, with him in tow. Did I mind if he came in? YES! I totally minded the germy wild thing in my house with my precious new baby, but I said no, of course not.

This was before our house was taken over and redecorated care of Playschool and Mattel. The bookcase in the living room still had our books on it, even on the bottom shelves. The coffee table was still a safe place to put a cup of coffee. We had no idea what a 1.5-year-old boy was capable of in such a setting. They were in the house for maybe 3 minutes. He ran past our legs at the door and Tasmanian-deviled the place.

This “terrible child” went straight into the nursery, still perfect and new, and ripped every brand new board book off the shelves, threw every brand new toy out of the toy box. His “negligent parents” didn’t even bat an eyelash. They didn’t apologize profusely and catch him and leave immediately. Of course they didn’t, I realize now. They were happy he was ripping apart playing with actual kid’s toys and not destroying our living room. Not yet anyway. When they left, I remember thinking how out of control he was. I seriously under-appreciated that toddler. 10 months later, when L started walking, running actually, I realized how wrong I was.

Now that I really understand this older-than-my-oldest under-appreciation phenomenon, I try to avoid putting L and myself into that situation. S doesn’t have any friends, unless she’s lucky enough that some other kid has a younger sibling. I can’t really bring L around moms who just have a toddler. I see their thoughts written all over their faces. They see L as wild, out of control, a little hoodlum. And even though I might think the same things sometimes, it’s not OK for other people to think it.

One day when L is 10 and he’s actually playing with a 4-year-old on the playground, I’m sure I’ll think that he’s being sweet and inclusive. I probably won’t notice that he’s laughing at this little kid repeating bad words. And I certainly won’t notice the dirty looks I’m getting from the young mom hovering nearby, thinking I’m negligent because I’m sitting and chatting to another grown-up rather than intervening and parenting my little thug. But for now, even though my car looks like that, I still foster the delusion that my sweet little L will never run with a gang like those boys.

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