Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Princess Poops-in-the-Tub*

Once upon a time there was a princess. Her name was Princess Poops-in-the-Tub for that is what she liked to do. Hardly a bath time went by without the princess pooping in the tub. One night, the king was giving Princess Poops-in-the-Tub her bath. The princess was playing with toy ducks and splashing about in the water. Suddenly, she squatted, grunted a most princessey grunt, and did what she likes to do best. Princess Poops-in-the-Tub had pooped out several very princessey poop balls. The poop balls floated and bobbed. The patient and noble king tried valiantly to scoop out the poop balls with the designated poop scooping device**. And although the king is good at many things, it seems that he needs some practice with poop scooping. Or so thought Queen Who-is-Almost-Always-Right. While the king concentrated on cornering a particularly princessey poop ball, another, rogue poop ball drifted closer and closer to the princess. Unbeknown to the King, the poop ball got a little too close to Princess Poops-in-the-Tub. She screamed. She stood up. She began to panic. More screaming. Some thrashing. An attempt to climb out of the tub. The king, in an effort to calm the princess down, said, "It's just poop. It came out of your butt." The princess's eyes got wide. Huge. She paused for a moment to suck down more air -- the calm before the storm. Then, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeee! Apparently, It came out of your butt was the wrong thing to say. That's right people, Princess Poops-in-the-Tub is afraid of her own poop.

* I happily dedicate this post to my cousin Lane (Hi Lane!) who does not have kids, enjoys this blog, and often comments, "Gosh you sure do write a lot about poop!"

** Yes, we have a designated poop scooping device. Welcome to our life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Which I am an Exceptional Parent

Inspired by this post by SWMama over at Adjustment [and] Disorder I am going to tell you about a moment yesterday when I was, in my estimation, an exceptional parent. For real. But first let me just say that I don't know why it is so hard to write about the good stuff -- the things I do well, the moments when I do feel competent. Maybe the the little mommy demons that chant "You're doing it wrong! You're doing it wrong!" have had too much say lately. So, to those pesky little doubting demons I say, You can suck it! and present to you a moment in exceptional parenting.

Zoey and I are walking Gilmore to a nearby pond. Zoey is in her stroller, clutching her naked doll in one hand and stick of string cheese in the other. Gilmore prances next to us, pleased and proud, I think, to be out walking next to the stroller. Zoey is giddy, anticipating my next question. "What sound does an owl make?" I ask. Zoey bangs her doll on the stroller tray in excitement. Her tiny voice breathes, "Hooo! Hoo!" I praise her and smile a big smile even though she can't see me. "What does a dog say?" I prompt. "fffff! ffff!" She answers. I love this answer. She can't quite make a 'w' sound yet so she leaves off the 'woo' part of 'woof'. "That's right," I tell her. "You are soooo smart!" We go through all the animal sounds -- cat, duck, monkey, snake. We stop and admire flowers, grass, trees. Even an old soda can someone left in their yard. "Oh!Oh!" says Zoey. She is so amazed.

We arrive at the pond. Gilmore is released from his leash and Zoey is unbuckled from the stroller. While Gilmore squirms around on his back and sneezes Zoey and I squat in the grass looking at ants. "Oh!" Zoey says again. Her mouth is perfectly round. "Ants", I say, "Ants." Zoey toddles over to a tree and gently touches the bark. I find a stick for Gilmore and throw it a little ways into the pond. He runs, jumps, and swims after it. Zoey starts. She shakes her head and waves her hands. She does not want him in the water. "It's OK" I sooth her and I rub her back, "It's a game." Gilmore drops the stick at my feet, triumphant. He shakes his yellow coat and silver beads of water land on our arms and face. Zoey giggles. I throw the stick again. Zoey shrieks, giggles some more. Again and again. Sometimes laughing so hard she topples over into the grass. Once, she falls right into my arms. I catch her perfectly.

On the walk home we sing. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Winnie the Pooh. Sittin' in my Highchair from Gymboree. Zoey bobs her head and waver her arms. She sings out, "La la la LAAA!" We get louder and louder. I don't care who hears. As we walk towards home, the sun, gentle for August, coats our hair and skin. I imagine that we all feel . . . full. Totally ourselves. Mother. Daughter. Dog.
So that's it. My parenting at it's best. It may not seem like a big deal. But to me, it was more than just a nice day. It was a series of moments when I was a good mother. And felt like a good mother. So I'm going to say it: I AM A GOOD MOTHER. *

I would LOVE IT if you would tell me about your good parenting in the comments. Pretty pretty please!

* I don't now what the heck is going on with the font in the last part but I can't seem to fix it so I'm just gonna post . . .

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Running Partner is Better Than Yours

A few nights ago I was out running with Kate. We were in the midst of a great run. We had both finally settled in (meaning our bodies had resigned to the fact that, yes, in fact, we are running) and the evening was just starting to cool off. Then, 'it' happened. 'It' being what we now refer to as The Fall.

Kate hit her toe on a section of raised sidewalk and everything slowed down. I saw my running partner do a layout onto the aggregate while my hand reached out and clutched empty air: "Kaaaaaaaaaaaaatttteeeeeeeeeee. Nooooooooooooo!" It should be noted that Kate was graceful in her fall. Very very graceful. She looked like this:

Except without the trapeze. As I watched her body slide against rocks and concrete I thought, Please don't hit your chin. Please don't hit your chin. Then, she hit her chin. And there was blood. Lots and lots of blood. A van pulled over and offered us a ride back to my house. Kate's exact words were, "No thanks! I'm just going to run back!" She smiled and waved. WHILE BLOOD WAS DRIPPING OFF HER CHIN.

I made her get in the van. Kate gets in and begins to chat amicably with the driver (an older man with a white beard and a Yankees cap). WHILE BLOOD CONTINUED TO DRIP OFF HER CHIN. The driver then says, "I saw you girls running past my house about a block back. Then I saw you fall and I thought you had a heart attack." This was perhaps maybe not the best thing he could have said. It was nice of him to stop and all but we both wondered, Geeze, did we look that bad running? Plus, he was saying this to two hypochondriacts who both have a very healthy psychosomatic connection. (i.e. -While still in the van we both began to contemplate our imminent heart conditions and how our partners would fare in the world without us.) Kate just smiled and started making jokes. If I HAD BLOOD DRIPPING OFF MY CHIN I a) would have been bawling and b) would not have been so nice about the heart attack comment. Kate did a joke about the Yankees and Red Sox (we are both Sox fans) and she did a few others which I can't quite remember now. Mostly because I was concerned about THE BLOOD STILL DRIPPING DOWN HER CHIN.

The jokes continued at the walk-in clinic (which, by the way, Kate wasn't even going to go to. Nope. She was going to just driver herself home.). The lady at the check-in desk asked Kate what was hurting her. She gestured to her chin and said, "Well, you know, this. And, oh, my pride." Then a nurse practitioner GLUED HER CHIN BACK TOGETHER. Like with glue. Like to keep her chin skin from flapping around.

I don't do that well in hospitals. Or with skin being glued back together. Which is why my running life flashed before me at the clinic instead of while Kate was falling. I remember us singing American pie to get through mile 7. I remember us jumping like maniacs through an invisible finish line when we completed a 10 mile training run. I remember our many running wardrobe malfunctions. I remember when we could barely run 3 miles. I remember during The Half when I was dieing, barely able to still run. Kate ran just ahead of me so I was in her shadow; she kept the sun off me. I remember how I have not finished one of our long runs recently. Fibromyalgia is having it's way with me and each time I need to walk, Kate walks too. She says, "There is no 'I' in running. Only 'We'." I remember when Kate first said she was thinking of trying to run the Country Music Marathon." My initial response was something about hating running. I may have even used the word loathe. But, the thing is, I don't hate running with Kate. Running with Kate doesn't drag me down. I reach our for it like a lifeline.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Either Or

Someone told me that all kids are either a biter or a hitter. Not both. Never ever both. As we know, Zoey is a biter. And said person may have been telling me the above just to make me feel better. But whatever the reason, I bought it. Whenever Zoey attempts to feast on my flesh I console myself by thinking, Well, at least she's not a hitter. Which is what I did this morning after an attempted biting. Then, Zoey smashed me in the head with a plastic duck. Which I think counts as hitting. So I now have a biter and a hitter. And a poops-in-the-tub-er (as discovered last night). Well, at least she's not a ______. PLEASE, help me fill in the blank.

Note: check out The Grandparent pics in the previous post! They're finally up!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Great Expectations*

We are just back from a week with The Grandparents in South Carolina. I've noticed, in the mere 40 hours we have been home, that Zoey seems to have a different set of expectations than before we left. For example, she expected vanilla French toast or blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Which, just so you know, has never once occurred here in our home. She also seems to expect applause for everything she does -- like walking, grunting, pointing, eating, drinking, pooping. In short: existing. And while I won't say that her existence isn't applause worthy (it is), I will say that we, as jaded parents, have only been applauding the newish things. Like when she says 'uh-oh' or successfully stabs something other than herself with her fork. I love my daughter, but I just don't have the will to make french toast every day (or any day thus far in my life) or the energy to be constantly amazed by her every movement.

There, however, are a couple of people that excel at the above. Enter: my parents. My parents were/are excellent parents. Just to give you an idea, growing up I played soccer for at least two seasons a year kindergarten until college. Collectively they only missed 3 games. Three. They were involved. They were supportive. They were perhaps a little too strict with curfew. Their super power as parents was the ability to always make me feel safe, loved, and valued. Their power as The Grandparents is magnified by a thousand. My dad will drop anything he is doing to read to Zoey. He'll be chopping veggies for dinner and Zoey will toddle over, tug on his pant leg, grunt, and wave around the book she picked out. Dinner can wait. Off they go to read Duck on a Bike. My dad even does the voices. My only complaint: whenever a cow is featured in a story my dad will point out the utters and say, 'That's where the milk comes from.' I don't know why this bothers me. Somehow it seems like TMI -- especially since Zoey can't say 'cow' yet. And is still somewhat ambivalent about milk.

My mom (aka Gramme)? Well, she is a total goddess. There is no other way to describe her parenting and grandparenting abilities. Endless patience? Um . . . yeeeah. The woman can sit with Zoey for 45 minutes while Zoey forks one pea at a time and only gets said pea in her mouth about half the time. One pea at a time, people! One. Pea. At. A. Time. My mom is also always talking to Zoey. Which is exactly what a good parent/grandparent is supposed to do. It's kind of unfortunate that Zoey has two introverts as parents. Having to speak constantly is like the 10th circle of hell for Demetri or me. My mom makes up for our poor parenting in the talking department. My mom tells Zoey how smart she is. How wonderful she is. And how much she is loved. They have conversations about politics. About books. About the weather. Every day we were in South Carolina my mom also wore different bracelets. Bracelets specifically picked out to entertain Zoey in the car or at restaurants. My mom is Super Gramme. Which may explain why whenever I would try and lift Zoey out of my mom's arms, or even remove her from the same room as my mom, Zoey would shake her head and gesture wildly with her arms: No way! No way! Are you crazy? I don't want to go with you. I want to stay with Gramme! This lady knows what she's doing. Unlike some people I could mention.

So here we are back at home. Madly trying to lower Zoey's expectations. This morning she had a frozen blueberry waffle for breakfast. I mean, it wasn't frozen when I gave it to her. I did take the time to stick in the toaster. But it was not from scratch. Last night Zoey had peas. A tactical error on our part as she did want to fork them one at a time. Demetri and I lasted 7 minutes. Demetri got up, filled the fork with peas, and did The Airplane Game. I applauded wildly. Not so much because she was eating peas, or using a fork, but because she was eating quickly. We had important things to do. Like check Facebook and sleep. Maybe I need to be a little less 'jaded parent' and more 'The Grandparent'. Although not with forking peas. That is just beyond my abilities.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Little Trip

Tomorrow morning Zoey and I are off to South Carolina for a week . Posting will be light while we are gone. As in non-existent. But don't take it personally. We'll miss you!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pick Me!

We are smack in the middle of Demetri's busiest time at work. He's been staying late and sometimes bringing work home. The other night he brought home a stack of index cards with names on them. The cards needed to be sorted into 4 groups according to a list and then alphabetized. Demetri sighed, threw the cards and list on the table, and said, "I'll have to do this later . . .". I literally jumped out of my chair, leaving my dinner unfinished. "I'll do it! I'll do it! Pick me!" I said, waving my hand in the air. No one else was clamoring for the job so my kind husband gave it to me. And yes, he did have a you-are-a-crazy-wackadoo look on his face.

I didn't even clear the table or wait for Demetri to finish his dinner. I started on my task. I had a system and everything. I planned to set the cards for each list under that list and then alphabetize once the lists were sorted out. Brilliant, no? FINALLY I was using all the valuable knowledge I got (and am still in debt for) from my 'advanced degree'! Well, maybe more like my 3rd grade education. What-ever. The point is, I did the job and I did it well. I even cross checked all the names without being asked to and found several names that did not have cards. When I was done I made Demetri tell me that I was a model employee: efficient, thorough, someone who takes initiative. True, I did shush Demetri when he tried to talk to me saying, Shhhh! I'm working here! but that just proves I have the ability to focus. Demetri said he would hire me. Well, until I insinuated that I would expect certain perks for being both an employee and the boss's wife. You know, like occasional make-out sessions over lunch. My offer of employment was quickly rescinded.

But here's the thing: I got a level of satisfaction and accomplishment from organizing those cards that I normally don't get in my daily life as a mom. The task was specific. There were no variables. There was a clear end to the task. It allowed me to use my brain (albeit on a 3rd grade level). It was clear if I had succeeded or failed. The cards allowed me to feel competent. I was told I did a good job and I was told I was valuable.

Most of this stuff doesn't happen in my job as a mom. Sure, there are specific tasks: feed, clothe, keep baby alive. Most with multiple variables: will she eat peas today? will she try and climb the baby gate or the dog first?. And an end to my tasks as mom? (pause for hysterical laughing). I will feed and clothe and keep my daughter safe FOREVER. Just try and stop me. I am hopeful that there will be an end to diaper changing, but the end is no where in sight so it might as well be for-evaaaaaaah. Many of the tasks I do everyday don't require that much brain power. But raising a toddler is still exhaustingly hard work. The constant neediness. The 'more mobility than brains' (on the part of Zoey) factor.

Sometimes I do have to make split seconds decisions that require some intelligent thought: Is it worse for her to stick her hands in the toilet or to potentially reach the outlet next to the toilet? Personally, I think it would be worse for her to get to the outlet so, well, the hands go in the toilet. That's a choice no one is really happy about. It does not leave one feeling competent and accomplished. It actually leaves me cursing my substandard parenting skills. Why wasn't the bathroom door closed? Why wasn't the toilet lid down? Where are the outlet covers?

I do get support and compliments as a parent. Mostly from Demetri and my parents. Sometimes it's just so hard for me to believe them. I mean, Demetri has a vested interest in me sticking around as The Mom. And my parents? Well, they've been giving me undeserved compliments since birth. Except for the one Christmas where 'Santa' wrote me a letter saying I hadn't been "good enough" that year to get the Barbie dream mansion. And it's hard for me to compliment myself. Especially when I'm around for all the stuff I do wrong: Zoey falls off a chair when my back is turned for 2 seconds. I forget to brush her teeth. I don't serve her vegetables at every dinner. I can't possibly read "Are You My Mommy?" one more time so I hide it. I don't put oil in her hair. She eats dog food. The list could go on. And on. And Zoey isn't even 18 months yet.

Why is it so hard to be an accomplished parent? A competent parent? What do those terms even mean in the parenting world? Maybe what's hard it to feel those things. I know I do some good things. I play with Zoey. I read to her. We color. Those things make me feel happy. But accomplished? Not so much. Maybe the real question is: would Zoey hire me as The Mom again? Since she can't talk yet, I think I am going to take the way she throws her arms around my neck and the way she kisses me with her little open-mouth 'O' as a yes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

About Frickin' Time!

We had a house guest arrive on Monday. So over the weekend we needed to do just a tad bit of cleaning. Like de-scuzing the guest bathroom. Vacuuming up all the dog hair. Sweeping the hardwood floors so one can go barefoot without getting a bunch of half eaten goldfish stuck to one's foot. Just basic stuff.

I was not looking forward to hours of cleaning. Then it hit us. It hit us like exorcist baby spit up* -- the kind that slams into the opposite wall. Only what hit us was better. Much, much better: Zoey is now 15 months. She can do things like hold her head up and walk. Welcome to our finest moment as parents: we put the kid to work.

First we had her sweep the floor. I mean, let's be honest. Who drops the most stuff on the floor? I won't say names but she enjoys wearing pink footy pajamas. It's about responsibility people! You drop it, you clean it up.

Then we had her vacuum. Same principles apply as above. Who trashes the play room? It's not me.

Next were the windows. They were suspiciously clean above a certain person's reach and rather . . . smeary on the bottom half. Since I didn't have to do the windows I was able to do some important work (practice Bejeweled).

Demetri had Zoey do some furniture repairs. It's practically a requirement to be in Demetri's family -- you have to be able to build things and fix things. They made a special exception for me. But we don't want Zoey to get kicked out or anything . . .

Next up: yard work. Zoey started with watering the lawn. After several hours, she moved on to . . .

Bathing Gilmore.

Then, so as not to break any labor laws, we let her take a break. She had a few goldfish and some juice. We're not completely terrible parents.

*Term stolen from my BFF, Tyffany.