jump!jump!jump!jump!

Just a little something I've been working on...

From our trip to Tucson in January:



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19

Yesterday, technically, marked my 19th month of faking it. And while I know that 19 months is a strange milestone to celebrate, I was so caught up in me and my stuff that I let the 18th month come and go without so much as a sentence. Sorry, LG, Momma got all narcissistic. Not to mention that you've been giving me a run for my money. And my cell phone, the car/house keys, my wallet, the cat food, the stairs, Daddy's inhaler, the remotes, the telephone, the mail, the front door, the cats....

LG's 18 month weigh-in found him at 26.7 pounds, 33.5 inches of pure energy. He wakes up in the morning as if someone just filled his veins full of Screamin Energy. Before I even manage to fully open his bedroom door, the jumping has commenced, syncopated by his demand that we go for a walk ("gwak"). Diaper changes and breakfast be dammed, it's time to get up and get going!!! The promise of a banana ("dedada") or a smoothie ("moodee") is enough of a distraction to allow time for getting dressed, then it's a race down the stairs with a hopeful Mommy wondering which level we're going to stop on today. We head off to the gym ("mim") after breakfast or to the playroom or to the park and go, go, go until lunchtime.

At the gym, Miss Kim ("Mim!") and Miss Dahlia ("Da-ya") inform me that he organizes races from one end to the other (regardless of whether or not there are any other kiddos there to participate). He puts one size 5 1/2 foot out, says "okaaaaaaaaaaay..... go" and shoots across the floor like a shot from a cannon, yelling "Go!Go!Go!Go!Go!" the entire way. At the park he runs to the steps, climbs up the steps, across the bridge to the big twirly slide, hoots at me from the top, then yells "Go!" and slides down to the bottom. His hair barely has time to recover from the static before he's at the top hooting again. Then he'll run over to the bench/steps/bears/swings and climb up, occasionally requesting "Help, Mom" ("Mep, Ma") if he can't quite get his knee up high enough. For a split second he might lean his head back and relax ("ax") but if you blink, you'll miss it. He hasn't quite figured out the rock wall yet, but checks it out every time -- front to back, top to bottom, like a little anthropologist studying his own personal Rosetta stone. It's the only thing that slows him down at the park and I shudder to think that someday he's going to decode that damn thing.

On the way home he makes sure that I see all the "wildlife" -- pointing and calling to them in their native tongues. In LG's world, animals are distinguished by the sound they make. If you ask him to say "puppy", he'll tell you "woof". "Bird" is pronounced "teeet-teeeet-teeet", and "horse" is pronounced "eeeeeigh" with a shake of the head and the occasional bob up and down at the end. And if you call him on it? Tell him, "yes, that's what the horse says, but can you say "horse"?"? You might get his special look of disdain (eyebrow raised ever-so-=slightly) before he either pops blankie ("dee-dee") back into his mouth or uses his pointy-finger to inquire "dat?". Or he might just ignore you all together. His shouts of "Keys! Keys!" ("Tees! Tees!") begin to echo through the neighborhood blocks before we get home and he hums under his breath ("hmm-hmmm") as he clicks through the keys on the ring before he selects the one for the deadbolt. I learned quickly that it's not a good idea to let him take the keys in with him as his fascination with the locks quickly developed into a need to lock the door as soon as it closes. Thank goodness for the lockbox on the outermost door!

We race up the stairs (unless he has decided he'd much rather sit on this stair or that one. Or move back and forth between the two. Or get to the top of the stairs and turn around and go back down. Or write on the stairs/walls/door with sidewalk chalk.) for lunch. Thankfully, he'll eat just about anything, so I don't have to go to much trouble to scrounge up a sandwich or leftovers. Pasta ("sas-dah")is his favorite thing in all the world, right behind bananas, pineapple ("pie-bo-po"), peas ("dees"), blueberries ("boobrees") and mango ("mayco"). Apples ("bo-pos") with peanut butter and raisins ("rayins") will do in a pinch, but if you can catch Mr. Rogers, he'll eat whatever you put in his mouth.

He runs, crawls, climbs, jumps, kicks, slides, and scoots over, under, in, out, behind, between, on, around, and past, then turns around and does it all again in reverse, just to make sure he didn't miss anything. His curiosity is insatiable and on the verge of obsessive. And, no, I don't need anyone to point out where he might possibly get that from, thank you very much.

He collapses sometime between noon and 1 to recharge and resumes his frenetic pace until 7:30 pm when we put him to bed. Not so much because he's tired as because by that point we need a chance to recover from the smoky haze of burning shoe rubber that results from trying to keep up with him all day. His nightly bath is more of a Survivor-esque challenge to see which contestant can successfully keep the water on the other side of the bathtub wall. He wins at least half the time. Storytime is about as relaxed as he gets and even then he likes to help turn the pages and point to all the pictures on the page. One by one. In order. And we must touch every single one before the page is turned or suffer the wrath of the 19-month-old.

His doctor was quite impressed with his gross and small motor coordination -- apparently his early mastery of kicking was just the one of the first signs that he got a healthy dose in the brawn department. She was also pleased with his cognitive development -- he was able to accurately pick out the pictures of the bird, the horse, the dog, and the monkey on the little sheet of paper that she showed him. His language, however, lags a bit. Which we're still trying to fathom. If his first pictures didn't clearly show his birthmark just minutes after he was born, I'd start to consider the possibility of a mix up at the hospital. Maybe he's just taking after his father? Waiting until he has all the words he needs before he starts sharing them with us? Doesn't get a chance to get a word in edgewise? Whatever the case may be, his doctor wasn't alarmed. (Um, yeah, of course I'm alarmed. Did you really even have to ask that question? I'm intensely aware of the fact that since he spends 90% of his time with me, the bad stuff will always be my fault. The good stuff? Good genetic material. But I get to claim the rest!) So we'll keep our fingers crossed for the "language explosion" to hit before his 2-year visit and in the meantime I'll annoy the hell out of him my stepping up my ceaseless prattle. Game on, little boy... either you tell Mommy "That's it! Please don't say another work for at least 45 seconds!" or suffer the barrage. We'll both be dying for Mommy to go back to work before this is all over!!!!!

There's probably a ton more to report on, but don't worry. I'd have to go back up and re-read what I've already written, remember what I've already written after I've re-read it, and not get distracted by, say, the piece of paper on the floor, just inches from the trashcan. Wonder how that happened. Did it fall out when I was emptying the trash this morning? Did I toss it over there and not realize I had missed? Is it important? I should probably save it. I'll put it up here on the desk, right beside this can of Coke. Hey! I don't remember opening a can of Coke today! Wait, wait, so THAT's where my soda disappeared to yesterday. I remember now, I came up here to get BG's mother's birthday card ready... oh, crap. I didn't get that birthday card ready yet...


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hmmmm

Quote of the Month:

"What I don't understand is this: If no one else can make him happy, why is it that he can make everyone else miserable?"
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Best New Pick-Up Line:
"Could I interest you in a completely free book? It's nothing religious or freaky, just real literature that I saved from a library near my place when they decided to throw out all these great books. I just couldn't stand the thought of them being destroyed. But I'm moving to Denver and just can't figure out how to take them with me. Oh, is this kid yours? Well, I don't think I have anything in my backpack that would be appropriate for him. Come to think of it, all I really have to share with you right now is this [much abused] copy of Oedipus Rex. Have a great day!"*

Translation: "Look at me, I'm literate! And I have time to walk around the park, striking up conversation as I go! Not in a overly zealous or stalkerish sort of way, but in a way that says "Wheee! I'm so sensitive! I'm so noble! That's me, Mr. Sensitive-Noble- Wispy-Curls-That-Float-So-Delicately-In-My-Face-So-That-I-Must- Brush-Them-From-My-Sensitive-Noble-Eyes! Look at my eyes! Sensitive! And Noble!" And, by the way, I'm single. I have no girlfriend, no significant other to share this windfall of written word with. But don't get any ideas, baby, because I'm not looking for a long term thing. We can sit on this green, green grass and peruse the tomes that I have so thoughtfully stuffed into my backpack and we can discuss the meaning of life and how many dates it will take for me to get into your pants, but don't get too attached, baby. I'm like the wind that ruffles through my curls, here one instant, then quick as a whisper, gone. Off to explore the world! To see the wonders of nature! In such exotic climes as Denver! Colorado! What's that? You have a kid? Well, now that I really look at you, I see that you must be at least, well, I hate to be cruel, but wow! Are you 30? Whoa. Yeah, that's just a bit too cougar for my tastes. Tell you what, I'll give you this book. I'm sure you'll remember it. It was probably at the height of it's popularity when you were a kid. You wouldn't happen to have an original copy with Sophocles' autograph, would you? No? Okay, well, I don't really have anything else to say to you. At least not that you would understand. I'm sure glad that the basics of flirting have changed so much since you were my age or you'd totally know that I walked over here intending to hit on you. That is until I realized how old you are! God, I hope 30 isn't contagious. But just in case, I'm going to back off ever so quickly now. No, no, don't get up. Don't put any strain on your back. I'll just go over here and see if these much younger girls are interested in any literature..."

*Yes, this really happened. To me. Today. Come on, you can't make this stuff up.


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resigned

I've been phoning it in. I've been waiting around, formulating post after post, editing and finally deleting everything that I've written simply because I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE THIS POST! (And the stuff that I HAVE posted recently? Well, "sorry" is appallingly inadequate.) I don't want to see what I'm about to share in black and white. It feels too final, too absolute, to irreversible. But the fact of the matter is (deep breath, now):

I am a stay-at-home-mom.
No duh, you say. See, everyone else is fine with that statement. But I'm having trouble with it. For the longest time I've been able to live under the canopy of "waiting on/working towards my teaching credential in [insert state we happen to be in currently]". I even joked about being a "kept woman" before LG was part of the picture. But it was always a choice. It was always my choice. I was the one responsible for whether or not I had taken the tests / turned in the paperwork / filed the applications, etc. I was fully in control of my state of employment. And for the most part I was okay with that. I was frustrated with myself when deadlines came and went, delaying my re-entry into the classroom, but ultimately, I knew where the blame lay.

That's all changed. I suppose the choice is still mine, but suddenly I've come face to face with the dark truth that the career I've chosen ranks only slightly higher than horse-shit-scooper (seriously! The Teacher of the Year picture? Three up from the bottom of the page. Scroll past the Motorcycle Club, the Cheerleaders on ATV's, the clowns, the giant tub-o-corn. Keep going. Riiiiiiiiiight there. And the Pooper Scoopers on Parade? Clear at the bottom. In your face, Scoopers!). A quick search on PayScale.com shows that after 20 years of service the median salary that an elementary school teacher can expect is slightly higher than 50K. Apparently this nation truly values the education of it's future. A 1-4 year veteran like myself (thanks, [insert your choice of state] for requiring fully licensed, credentialed, degreed, [whatever-the-heck-term-you- choose-to-give-to-the-worthless-piece-of-paper-that-I-spent-6+- years-of-my-life-and-I-don't-even-want-to-think-about-how-much- money-to-get] teachers to spend additional hours and money to prove themselves worthy to teach in your state. Because obviously the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are so extremely different once you cross state lines.) can expect to earn less than 35K per year. Subtract from that the cost of re-licensing tests, application fees to the state, fees for providing college transcripts to each and every school district applied to in addition to whatever application fee might be applicable, child-care costs, transportation, etc., and there's just not much left to take home at the end of the pay period. Oh, and in many cases, those fancy schmancy art projects and the cheerful decor of the classroom? That comes straight out of the teacher's pocket, too. Check out the classroom library. Chances are good that most of those titles are on semi-permanent loan from the teacher as well. And we won't even begin to consider all the hours put into planning lessons, creating worksheets, binders, projects, and portfolios that don't even begin until well after the hours that the pittance salary applies to.

Bottom line is this: I can't afford to go back to work. No matter which way I crunch the numbers, by the time I take care of Uncle Sam and daycare, I'm left with less than $500 profit per month. What's that? I need to go to work? Edmunds.com advises that I should plan on looking (on average) at another 14K for a used car. And I'm supposed to dress professionally? Target track pants aren't suitable? I could rant on and on and on (and probably have already gone on too long already).

Please don't misunderstand. I love the time that I spend with LG. Well, most of it. (And if you can't understand/relate to that, well, go read someone else's blog, please. I'm just not inclined to explain/justify myself right now.) I'm excited that I can use the skills that I've worked long and hard to hone to benefit my own little darling. But it pisses me off that I don't get to make that choice (Again, if you want to discuss things like whether or not I'm truly able to make that choice? Piss off. I know that there are always choices and that it all comes down to what I'm willing to sacrifice, blah-de-blah-de-fucking-blah.) That I have to feel pushed into a corner, resigned to the idea of staying at home. That in the process I relinquish all rights to referring to myself as something other than "so-and-so's wife" or so-and-so's mom". That I'm no longer a separate entity to be identified on my own.

I'm guessing I'll make my peace with it. I'll figure out how to make my hours fulfilling. I'll find tasks and events and opportunities to round out my days. But right now? I'm a stay at home mom. And this place is giving me cabin fever.


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note to self: re note to self

Upon reaching the conclusion that it is reasonable to go ahead and post something obscure and meaningless to the internet at large, please label it as such or at least provide some background. Making others read and re-read and re-re-read is not generally considered "best practice" when one is striving to maintain readership.

(Sorry, Curmy... previous post has been edited to give you a brief glimpse into the madness that I call life!)


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