Sunday, February 27, 2011

Running Commentary

I love two year olds.
Or maybe just mine, since I'm not around a lot of other two year olds.

In the last few weeks his vocabulary has skyrocketed and mixed with his new found imagination, hilarity ensues. Or maybe it's just me that finds his babble funny.

He's always been good with words. He had over 50 at a year and a half plus he was doing sign language. He's always been good as communicating, but it was always few-word sentences. Now the sentences don't seem to stop before he's on to the next point.

A few of these I've posted on facebook already, but this is a collection of the things he's said to me in the last week.

Toby:"You hear the full moon coming up!"
Me:"You can hear the moon Toby?"
Toby:"Yeah. You heard it coming up at night time and then maybe the the maybe the sun comes out and then you can't see it anymore because the moon goes down and then you can see better in the sun and we go outside and shovel out our snow castle maybe..."

This was accompanied by a lot of nose wrinkling and shrugging the way I do when I say 'I dont know' or 'maybe'.

We have a baby pine plantation in our once open fields and the tops of the trees are just visible above the snow. Since the snow is now hard enough to walk on we've been  inspecting the trees lately. When we were out a few days ago he was walking behind me with a running commentary and part of it included:
"Maybe we can go shovel up the snow in the field and put it on top of the pine trees like *plomp plomp plomp* and to help them grow a bit and then they can get flowers on them and then they can turn into jets"


He seems to have this new fascination with jets. We saw two in a row fly over our house on a really clear day and since I was trying to convince him to go for a walk with me I said we might see some jets if we were out in the field and away from all the trees. We did end up seeing another jet. So now he thinks the live in the field.

Last night he had a fixation with the cats running outside.
"Chaos running by, no actually Squeak and Moses running by and Opa out there too running with them and shoveling the path!"

...Toby it's 9:30 at night, I think Opa is at home since it's really dark outside...

"*gasp* what you hear? I hear.. I hear...I hear...OOOHH Squeak swishing her tail to shoo away the butterflies! Like.. excuse me butterflies...excuse me butterflies... excuse me butterflies..."

He also names birds out our window and there's usually a daily commentary about how many blue jays came and if we saw the yellow-bellied sap sucker that day and that the evening grosbeaks were chasing each other.
My mom rolls her eyes and says he's as nauseating as I was at that age. There's videos of me walking through the bush at almost 3 years and naming every plant we saw without being prompted.

That night he was drawing me pictures with great gusto while I watched.

-"One big wheeeeel. Other big wheeeel. Tractor engiiiiine. Monkey on it..."
"There's a monkey driving your tractor?"
"Yeah there's one leeeeeg and the other leeeeeg hanging down in the snow! And here's the dirt and grass he mowing up!"

-"Airplane! There one wing... and it goes BBBRRRMM in the sky. and here's the grass and OH stairs going up! Stairs up so Toby can see the plane better! And them some of that heeeere..."
"Is that the exhaust from the plane?"
"Actually those are milkweed seeds. THIS is exhaust...*scribbles*"

But the best part of my week, was this morning. When he first wakes up is usually when the most entertaining things happen. All the non-talking that happened while he was sleeping comes out in a huge verbal explosion.

At first, I was still exhausted so I nodded and 'mmhmmed' while he muttered and then he crawled over top of me to get to the basket of books we have sitting on our bed. He flipped through them and finally went "oooooh art books..."

We have two Petit Connoisseur books called Fashion and Art.
They are funny little visual puns geared for babies. Toby knows them off by heart but we havn't read them in a while so it was funny the be lying there with my eyes closed and hear:

"Sooooo Stylish... ooo chic....Slide shoe! And it's like a slide!......oooh elephant trunk show...and the little diapers... they not for Toby though, just for little boys. Not for Toby.. just little boys... mommy?"
"Toby, you ARE a boy.. those could be trunks for you..."
"No, not Toby... OTHER little boys... and girls... but not Toby's"
"Oh ok, if they're someone else's thats fine"
"....OOOOHHHH Cubism!!"


And then when I started to wake up and he got bored of reading and realized I was actually awake...:

"Go outside and feed the birds maybe. Go outside and feed the birds and take the feeder down and put seed in it because so the birds can eat their lunch and then we hang it back up because it's...empty" He shrugged and wrinkled his nose.
"I don't think we would hang it up if it was empty Toby, that's why we took it down to put seed in it"
"But THEN because the birds eat their lunch and we go out and give them the seeds and then it's ampty and we have to go put more in"
"Well, yes when the birds eat it all we put more seed in, but I think we actually did that yesterday so we don't need to feed them today."
"Huh...hmmm...*squints out the window* OH! An oak tree! There's an oak tree way back there! Look mommy!"
"Yeah I think most of the trees out there are maple trees Toby"
"There was an oak tree waaaaaaaay back in the field and that's where the jet was I mean that's where the jet lived and sometimes when we go in the field then they can fly over our house"
  He paused at this point and got the 'poop look' on his face.
"Are you pooping Toby?"
Another pause.
"Nope. You not pooping you have a bit of gas in your diaper and the pee. Just pee and gas in your diaper because you a bit gassy but not pooping."

I nearly died laughing. He's looking at me like... what....And I'm turning blue in the face trying not laugh to hard at him.

So what is it that makes one kid 'tick' differently than another? People say that boys are slower at vocabulary than girls, but Toby never had trouble with words. People say that their two year old speaks maybe 10 words and poor sentences, so how does their brain develop differently than Toby's? Is it mostly genetic? Is it mostly the daily conversation babies hear until they can talk?

Well, whatever has clicked inside Toby's head has clicked full gear and he seems to be spilling forth all the streams of consciousness that have been in his head for the last year.
Sometimes life is fun with a little running commentary.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Positive Party #3

Ok.... It's time...... *takes deep breath*....

Why Winter Is Awesome

- Snowmen

- Snow forts

- Stores smell like cinnamon. In the summer they smell like dusty air conditioning and B.O.

- Curling up in front of a fire place or a movie with a large glass of wine is somehow not the same in the summer.

- Irish Coffee and any other chocolaty hot-toddy type thing is only truly appreciated when there is two feet of snow on the ground.

- If you're into it - ski/snowboard/hockey season.

- The winter Olympics

- Walking through falling snow at night + quiet downtown street + two weeks til Christmas = Awesome.

- Christmas dinner.

- Christmas chocolate.

- Christmas craft sales.

- New Years is a way better excuse for a party than May 2-4.

- You don't have to rush home with frozen groceries

- If your freezer gets too full, just leave stuff in the porch or garage.

- Not needing to shave your legs all the freakin time.

- No one is going to notice your 'winter gut' under that fantastic new sweater you just bought with a Christmas gift card.

- No smog warnings, extreme skin cancer risks or asthma.

- The town dump doesn't smell so.. dumpy

- No bugs

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jealousy and Acceptance

The relationship between Toby and my dad sometimes makes me jealous.
When Toby was smaller we had a hard time with my dad even walking through a room without Toby attaching himself to his leg or something and screaming blue murder when he was just passing through. I felt bad that my dad couldn't get anything done and felt bad that Toby didn't understand why the world didn't revolve around him.
I had to limit their time together because certain disciplinary things or behavioral things I was trying to do didn't always get upheld. And yes, there's the cheeky shirts you can get that state "What happens at Grampa's stays at Grampa's" but when this is our home too and it's daily, not just once on a weekend visit, I try to keep things as consistent as possible. 
Toby is better now with the separation and so they play together more.
But now Toby has decided that Grampa is hero, and mom sucks.
When I'm in the middle of explaining why we cant watch anymore TV and Grampa walks through the room, Toby runs to him and Grampa picks him up and they have happy talk.
When I'm trying to convince Toby to go to bed and he's in tears in protest, clearly indicating he's overtired, Grampa walks in and Toby runs to him and they happily go brush teeth.
I have become Mom. I have become the bringer of bedtime and the washer of hair.
I'm not the cool rescuer.
And all of this has made me realize... glad I am to be doing this single.
I can avoid my dad if I wanted to... I wouldn't be able to avoid a partner.
The only thing keeping me from opening my mouth sometimes is that ultimately I have the control and the last word on things.
And maybe in a relationship things would have been fine and blah blah blah, but now I don't HAVE to share Toby. I'm not sitting in a corner being jealous that Toby is better behaved for my partner, because it's excusable to be angelic for a grandparent.
I'm allowed to be mildly annoyed at my dad, but I wouldnt want to feel that way towards someone I was with.

...I'm searching for a 'poetic' way to end this but it's late and my bran is mush... so here is how I spent my Valentines day:

Made chocolates

 Hung out with a turtle and some horses

 Built a snow castle 

 With the love of my life

Friday, February 11, 2011

Toby: 1, Mom: not so much

There are a lot of things Toby does well.
He's a good eater. He sits with us at the table and eats all kinds of food.
He helps me bake and make dinner.
He vacuums.
He's good at wielding a hammer (even if a lot of the time the blows are directed at my furniture)
He's great with words.
He can draw things that actually almost look like things.

But Toby has never been good at sleeping.
He's never been able to put himself to sleep and thus has gotten used to nursing to sleep because it's the only thing that will keep him from screaming to the point of being sick.

But now he's starting to get to the point where he doesnt think he needs a nap and is also getting bored of nursing but doesnt know how to stop.
So naptime is a nightmare.
He doesn't want me to rub his back.
He lets me read books while he plays with his toes and kicks around his bed.
Yesterday he started kicking my head so I left and he screamed for half an hour and threw everything off his bed and almost broke the gate at our door.

Today he very pleasantly went up to bed, picked some books, and lay down with me to nurse. I turned his Sleep Sheep on and we read and he had his eyes closed and it was fine.
Then he suddenly un-latches and starts talking to himself.
So fine, he does that a lot, I ignored him and kept humming lullabies.
Then he crawls over top of me and sits in his pile of books and reads to himself.
So fine, I closed my eyes and tried sleeping. Sometimes he gets bored and comes back.
I opened my eyes after who knows how long and hes turning my flashlight off and on right in his eyes.
I took that away and asked him to come have a nap.
He laughed.
I closed my eyes again and ignored him.
I opened my eyes again after who knows how ling and realized we'd been lying in bed for an hour.

"Toby this is stupid, you need to have a nap please I have stuff to do"
"...Stupid..." *wild laughter*


He finally came back to nurse and has his eyes closed and was curled up in blankets.
And then he started pinching me, which seems to be his favourite falling asleep passtime.
I removed his hand.
He did it again.
I removed his hand.
He groaned really loudly.
I asked him not to pinch me.
He sat up and picked his nose.
I rolled over.
He started jumping on his bed.

"Ok whatever Toby, I have stuff to do, you can play by yourself"
"Ok enough"
*wild giggles*

So now he's got a plate of yellow pepper and cold potato and playing duplo while I"m trying to get work done but and now distracted by venting through my blog lol.

Some battles just aren't worth half a day of misery.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February Blahs

First of all, I want to say thank for all the feedback I've been getting about the book chapter I posted.
It was kind of a 'forgotten' project and I had written it off as a therapy project, but now I want to finish it. Writer's block sucks lol. I also know it's insanely hard to get anything published if you are a 'nobody', so I've been getting discouraged by that too..

So yeah... It's February... and I feel blah.

I try to like winter, I do. I try to not imprint on Toby that winter is the time of year that we stay inside and be miserable. But lately he keeps asking to do things that we can't do in the winter. He wants to hoe in the garden, he wants to ride on his truck outside, he wants me to throw the ball up in the roof so he can catch it when it comes off, he wants to stop at every playground we see...
All those things we COULD do in the winter, but he barely likes walking in his snowsuit, let alone climbing around in it. He won't even climb our front step when he has his snow gear on.
So to avoid tantrums and i-told-you-sos, i just say no before we're all miserable.
Yesterday there were 6 instances where my answer was "Well... that may be a better thing to do when the snow melts"
I feel like i'm turning winter into a non-fun time of year for him.
I"m hoping when he's older and he can move around better it will be easier.

I like a white Christmas but once this time of year comes I'm just done.

And then comes Valentine's Day.

I've never expressed much like for the holiday.
Even in relationships I complain that one shouldn't need a holiday to tell someone they love them.
And so I've never really had any big epic Valentine's story.
And now that I'm older I'm starting to wish I did.

I've become a hopeless hopeless romantic. I don't know if it was always there and I just suppressed it, or if me 'growing up' while I was at college turned me into a girly girl.
When I say 'No, don't bother, it's  just a stupid holiday", I really mean "I hope like heck that when I get home there are rose petals strewn everywhere with an outfit laid on my bed with a note reading 'Get dressed and meet me at 'such-and-such-a-place'' and then a big romantic dinner and a big romantic movie night filled with chocolate and ice cream"

And so now I find myself looking at my son and thinking that I can't wait for him to be school age so he can draw me surprise Valentine's at school and bring them home to me.

Doesn't mean I like the holiday... just I'm more a sucker for it now.

More blahs: February is one of the coldest months of the year because the sun has been off this hemisphere for so long that even though the days are getting longer, the surface temperature is still freezing. So it snows, and freezes, and we get ice storms, and I"m just sick of being cold.
Seriously this is what we look like in winter from space
Our entire country is white.
I need to take up snowboarding or something.

I feel like I need to have a positive party for winter....We'll see if i can think up enough things to make a decent list lol.

I also feel like I have no real news or stories to share at the moment.
Another 'blah'.

That's all for now!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chapter 7

In light of hearing several mommies I know complain about dealing with tantrums and crying and anger and frustration (myself included), I've caved and decided to post a chapter from my book I'm writing.
The book is called Some Assembly Required and spans the time from pre-pregnancy to Toby's first birthday... it might go on longer but I haven't decided where to end it yet.

I've changed the name of a certain ex because he said he'd prefer that if this were to ever get published someday. So don't get thrown off by a random guy's name that you don't recognize lol.
Anyway, here it is... The chapter that shares the same name as the book..

7. Some Assembly Required

            Nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for having a baby. I've heard of people getting a dog or something cause they think it will be like looking after a child and then they will know if they are ready or not.
No book you read, or parent or friend you talk to will even come close to getting you to comprehend the true experience. Everything I read assured me that within the first few days, or hours even, I would feel an undeniable bond to my child. That breast-feeding would help to speed up the boding process. That the feeling of creating and nurturing a new part of the family unit would be incomparable to any joy I've felt before.
Yes, well, I didn't have a family.
I had a baby that didn't feel like mine that I was impatiently waiting for the real mother to come and claim with a So sorry I'm late, here's a giant tip, now you can get back to your life.
I had stressful sleepless nights and painful swollen breasts and hadn't had a shower in a week.
I was not 'joyful'.

            The congratulatory messages trickled in via email and cards send to my parent's house. People left endless comments on the handful of photos I'd somehow managed to upload to Facebook over the first month or so.

            'He's so cute Erin!!'
'What beautiful eyes, you guys must be so proud!'
            'I'm so happy for you, congrats!'

            I scowled at them. How dare there be happy people in the world. It was a strange feeling knowing that everyone I knew was carrying on as usual. They got up, went to work, came home, ate, and went to sleep whenever they felt like it for however long they wanted to. While I, meanwhile, was sitting on the couch in my apartment wondering what the hell I did with my time before I had a baby. My old life didn't exist anymore. And I would never get it back. This was my life now. My entire existence now revolved around this baby that was a constant reminder of my failed marriage and all the happy memories therein that now had a giant black cloud painted over them. I didn't just want a kid. I wanted our kid. OUR life. Now I had to start all over. I had to take years of daydreams and scrap them.  I wanted someone with an official looking notepad to show up at my door and hand me the new layout for my life. I would smile and nod and pretend that I understood and just take comfort in the fact that SOMEBODY had my life under control.
The problem was that no one like that existed. You can check the yellow pages. I was the one who had to re-build everything. And I had no idea where to start.

                                    *                      *                      *

            My mom was now living with me and helping where she could. Mostly it was making food. Sometimes she took Toby for a walk or held him while he slept so I could pee or wash my hair uninterrupted.

            I was so greedy for this time alone. I immersed myself in scalding hot bath water (because you weren't supposed to take hot baths when you were pregnant and I missed them) and I would just lay there and stare at the faucet dripping slowly above my toes.
Four seconds between each drip.
Now five.
I could hear Toby whimper on the other side of the door. My mom started humming Beatles songs.
I sank deeper into the tub so my ears were covered. I closed my eyes and tried to will myself back in time so this would never be where my life ended up.
I opened my eyes and was still staring at the dripping faucet. With a sigh I got out of the tub and made my way out to my now crying child.
I felt like a horrible parent. I would get angry if he woke up with ten minutes left to a TV show I had started watching. I'd feel trapped and annoyed when showers or baths were interrupted with whining. I would ignore his cries 'just two more minutes' when I was in the middle of checking my email.
Loving mothers from loving families didn’t do this. Loving mothers would unsubscribe their cable so there was less to distract them from their babies. Loving mothers would not spend every minute of the day wishing their kid would learn to sleep on their own so they wouldn't be stuck carrying them around all day. Loving mothers would relish doing this and stroke their child's face and re-count their toes and sing songs over and over and over because there would be no TV or computer to substitute for music.

A friend of my mom's came over to see Toby when he was just over a month old. She loves kids. Toby had a history for not liking new people, but she picked him up and danced around the apartment and he didn't complain once.
She pointed out the window to the snow covered cars driving by.
She sang to him.
“Turkey in the straw, ha, ha, ha! Turkey in the straw, ha, ha, ha!”
Toby was staring at her, not blinking. I think if he knew how to smile, he would have been doing it. I was one breath away from asking her to move in with me.
"Oh, Toby, you like music? I bet your mommy sings to you all the time!"
I smiled a bit and nodded. 
Actually no, I did not sing to him all the time. In fact, I couldn't remember any time in the last month where I had sung to him at all. Me, the woman who had planned to hold up headphones to her pregnant belly and pump out the Mozart and Beethoven so her kid would be smart and musically inclined, had only hummed a few lines from ‘Three Blind Mice’ once or twice while trying to get him to sleep in the rocking chair. I was too caught up in being pissed off at Carter and feeling sorry for myself and agonizing over the mastitis setting into my right breast to even sing to my baby.

I tried being calm. I tried humming Toby to sleep. Sometimes it worked. But I was getting sick of being woken up every hour, and there's only so much 'calm' I can fake on lack of sleep.

The whimper-grunt of an infant met my ears for the sixth time that night. I had stopped putting him back into his cradle and left him in the bed beside me when he fell asleep because I was using all of my energy just to sit up and was sick of rolling out of bed, picking him up, rolling back into bed, and then doing it all again. Maybe I should have just let him 'cry it out'. It didn't feel right to just sit there and listen to him though.
I turned my bedside light on and squinted into the room. Toby wiggled beside me, rooting around for food with his eyes still closed. I sighed and did the routine: wiggled into a sitting position; dragged the nursing pillow on to my lap; dragged Toby onto the nursing pillow; reached around for the nipple shield; attempted to make nursing work.
From 3 AM to 4 AM I sat there with my shirt tucked up under my chin, one hand keeping the shield from slipping and the other keeping Toby's head in one place. Tears of frustration began dripping out of my eyes before I had a chance to stop them. I stared off into space and my vision went in and out of focus – partly from the tears, partly from exhaustion. I had only been doing this a little over a month. How in the world was I supposed to last the rest of my life? Or even this next year? Or even this next month?
Toby finally fell asleep and I shimmied him off the nursing pillow and onto the bed.
Tonight's the night he'll sleep through 'til morning. I kept telling myself. Tonight's the night you'll get some sleep.
When fifteen minutes later he woke up screaming, I cried for real. I wanted him to go away. I wanted to go away.
"Why are you being such a little shit?!" I spat through gritted teeth as I flicked on the light again. I couldn't believe I just said that. In the 'parenting plan' I had been the coddling, nurturing mother who hugged instead of hit and always understood her children. And now I was swearing at him.
My mom was sleeping in the living room, I could call her. She told me to. But I felt like that meant I was giving up. Like I was a weak parent. I wanted to prove that I could do this on my own. I wanted to prove that I was stronger than everyone so people would stop feeling sorry for me.

As I was pulling Toby onto my lap again my mom came into the room.
"Want me to take him so you can sleep?"
            "Mom, It's four in the morning. You work today. Go back to bed" I growled.
"Yeah, but I've been sleeping all night, you haven't. And because I'm working you won't have any help during the day."
"Fine." I gave in, I knew she was right even though I still felt guilty for keeping her awake. She took Crying Baby out to the rocking chair and I slumped down into my pillow. The worst part of this was that when I needed to sleep most, my mind wouldn’t let me. It raced and bounced along while my body begged for it to just shut up and sit still for a while. My whole body refluxed when I heard Toby cry from the next room. I kept startling myself awake. Curse you, 'mother reflex', I grumbled angrily to myself as I finally drifted off.

                        *                      *                      *

When I was in college we constantly passed posters on bulletin boards in the halls and the library featuring a hunky shirtless guy, with a guitar in one hand and a sleeping baby cradled in the other, standing under the caption "Rock. Don't Shake."
"Are you serious?" We would say. "They have to make posters for that now? God, every one knows not to shake a baby. You just have to be patient with them."

Quite clearly none of us had ever looked after a two-month-old. I have never ever wanted to hit a child so much in my life until I had one.

Toby's new pass-time was screaming uncontrollably in the evenings. I held him in the rocking chair. I paced up and down the hallway. I sang songs. I bounced him. I changed him. I laid him in bed. My emotions were still on thin ice from dealing with everything over the last several months, and lack of sleep and a screaming baby weren't helping to soothe me. I stood over the bed and watched him wiggle around. If possible, he was crying louder now that he was on his back.
Toby did not answer, because Toby was two months old. Toby could not tell me why he was screaming even if he wanted to. I held my hands over my ears.
He didn't stop.
I reached down and put my hands on either side of his head.
“What is your damn problem?!!” My arms quivered. I could feel my fingers tensing and tightening around his tiny squishy head. I will kill him. I thought to myself. I will snap his neck and open the window and throw him into that snow bank and leave town. I felt a growl reverberating out of my chest and into my throat. And then a new voice popped into my head.
Rock. Don't Shake.
I was surprised and frightened at how hard I had to fight myself to not squeeze. Not to shake. Not to slap. Toby fumbled over a scream, hiccuped, and opened his eyes. He looked at me, his lip trembled and he began crying again. He was looking at me for help. He was looking at me because I was his mom and I was supposed to know what to do. He's not screaming to be a brat, he's screaming because something is wrong. I picked him up and slowly swayed back and forth. He burped. He stopped screaming. He fell asleep in my arms. I felt the tears on my face before I knew I was crying.