I want a great big dumptruck. It has blocks in the back. Yes, I have been kind of good and kind of bad but I will be good so you can still bring it.Love,
I have a love-hate relationship with my TuesdayFreedays. I love dropping the boy off at school, getting a hug goodbye at the door. I love the quick walk back to the car. The key in the ignition sparks the beginning of a day full of endless options. Coffee on the couch with a paperback; grocery shopping without my focus on whats going into the basket being divided by what has to come back out. Two lists at war with each other -- what I Want to do vs. what I Need to do and no rhyme or reason as to what goes on which list.
I'm a list checker. A list maker. Sometimes in that order so that when it gets time to look at the list I can take comfort in all that has already been crossed off. The longer my list, the more vulnerable I am feeling. It's my little way of shouting at the world "Hey, I'm important! Look at all I have to do! Look at all that I've already accomplished!" Those are the days I need the world to shout back. Those are the days I need a pat on the back, an atta girl, a shiny gold star. Those are the days I need to stay busy, scurrying and scuttling, to and fro, checking, checking, checking. Those are the days when I duck my head between errands so that I don't have to see anyone, to talk to anyone, to slow down long enough for the swirl of doubt and guilt and recrimination to catch up with me. Puccini or Wagner or Verdi turned up so loud that the voice of someone I don't know singing words I don't understand drowns out all but the next item to be checked off. Old men with bad hair and the gift of coaxing pure emotion into a tangle of black and white scribbles for others to pull off a page of sheet music and out of my head so that for a brief moment those emotions aren't mine but theirs and I am crying, not for reasons I can't name but for the sheer ecstasy of the music.
Did you know that tears make for shiny floors and dishes? Not so good for the keyboard, but there is always scrubbing to be done when there are too many words jammed inside your head to figure out where one thought begins and another one ends. The chaos within balanced by order without. Lists and schedules and punctuality oh my! As long as someone else is holding me accountable, it all gets done. Done and done well. A job worth doing is worth doing right and worth doing right the first time. A stitch in time saves nine. No stone left unturned. No towel left unfolded.
Left to my own devices, I don't know where to begin. The voices begin to howl. They spin. I spin. Whirl, whirl, tilt-n-whirl. Two steps forward, two steps back, how did we get here again? Louder and louder, the throb of the timpani or is that just in my head? Radames torn by desire and responsibility. Which way? Which one? Ride, Valkyries, ride!
And then, time's up, silly Rodolfo. To much too little too late. Time to pick up the boy and the milk and don't forget to get some more bananas, please and what do you have to show for your time? A list too long to ever complete, every item starred Urgent! Immediate Attention Needed! Howl, howl, howl, howl! Cordelia is dead and you should have known better than to take a nap when there were socks to be mated!
posted by susan at Tuesday, December 08, 2009
My responses in bold.
On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 3:03 PM, PS
Questions I Believe Need Answers
1. Does man need someone or something greater than self to revere?
2. Are there moral truths (i.e. right / wrong) that transcend the ideas of man?
3. Is there any circumstance under which it is morally acceptable to
take a human life?
4. Is human life different in any respect from animal life?
If yes, what makes it different?
If not, why is it ok to slaughter animals for food? Isn’t that akin
5. Are plants ‘alive’ in the same sense as animals?
If not, what makes it different?
If so, why is it ok to eat vegetables?
I’d really value your ruminations on these questions, not to engage in
dispute or argument, but to promote thought, and to enhance my own
understanding. I’m sure there are other questions that need answers,
and I welcome yours. I promise to give thoughtful answers, but
reserve the right to engage in puns when appropriate. I will also
give my best shot at the above, if you want, but I wouldn’t need to
ask, if I knew THE answers.
posted by susan at Monday, November 30, 2009
I see you there, peeking around the corner. In a few short hours you'll be all settled in, ready to unleash all the special Fourishness you can muster... I just hope we're as ready for you as we are excited to see what you have up your sleeves!
I feel like I should warn you, though, that Three has left you some pretty big shoes to fill. Three has developed into quite the master of negotiation and has recently begun perfecting his manipulation skills. Wrap all that up in a burgeoning sense of humor and timing, and, as Three has discovered, you've got a nearly indefensible weapon at your disposal. Top it off with a carefully aimed lower lip quiver or a flash of that mischievous smile and the combination is practically guaranteed to procure a bedtime that is 10 minutes later than "normal". Watching Three grow has been equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.
We're looking forward to getting to know you, Four. We hope you are planning to carry on where Three is leaving off -- filling our days with endless questions and forever pushing the boundaries of can and should waaaay out past where can't and shouldn't used to exist. Three certainly dragged us outside of our comfort zones and although the going was, at times, rocky and frightening, there is something very freeing about standing out here on the edge of what we know with the wind of possibility tossing us about. Each new experience has strengthened us against the misconception of your fragility; bolstering our belief that you are and will, whatever that might wind up being.
I hate to cut this short, but Three just got up from his nap (a habit I would strongly encourage you to continue, by the by) and I'm feeling an overwhelming need to soak up what little time we have left together. Not so much because I need to hold onto Three. No, no, we've had our fun. Mostly I'm just hoping to see a glimmer of things to come, a glimpse of YOU, in those moments. In the meantime, please feel free to poke around and figure out where you will take us next. We can't wait for the ride to start!
posted by susan at Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thankfully, while I was
pulling out my hair wringing my hands muttering incoherently looking for it we had friends visiting who were wise enough to suggest getting a card reader which made Josh remember that his computer already has a card reader so I was able to upload these pictures and post them after downloading Picasa to his computer and making a few minor tweaks. *take breath here* Anybody know how to upload a video to Blogger once it has been saved to Google Photos?
Jelly Belly Factory:
posted by susan at Monday, October 19, 2009
Per normal, I pissed the entire morning away, alternating between trying to get into a more relaxed frame of mind and freaking out over what I might have forgotten to pack/say/do that would result in my unexpected allotment of freedom being cut all too short. Kinda like thinking you won the lottery only to discover at the last minute that you were actually 1 number off. Completely unnecessary, as it turns out. By 2:45pm on Tuesday, I was so strung out I almost blew it all. Rather than wait for the other shoe to drop, I reached for the phone to call the whole thing off. Somehow my finger betrayed me and I wound up turning the phone off instead. Sorry, Jolene, Leslie, and Kim for the missed calls!
I marched my junkie self up the stairs for a shower-n-brainstorm session. I do all my best thinking in the shower. Seriously. If there were a waterproof thought recording device (editable and with a 7 sec delay, of course), you wouldn't have to plow through the drivel on here to get to those hidden nuggets of literary gold. You know those nuggets I'm talking about. Just nod your head. My blog, my fantasy.
Anyways, as it often does, clarity struck in the fog of my (way too hot) shower: My number one fear during pregnancy/Aaron's infancy was that I would somehow become one of Those Mothers. You know the ones, right? The ones who can't take a breath away from their little ones for fear that the world will stop turning? The ones who take the idea of attachment parenting* to the next level and then continue on to a level beyond that and then suddenly find themselves so absorbed in their children that they stop to exist separately? The ones who wake up 20 years later and realize that they don't know who they are or what they like to do or where they like to be because they haven't had a break from Laurie Berkner and (organic) mac-n-cheese for decades? That, my friends, was the one thing that kept me up in between night feedings.
We did pretty well while we were in Philadelphia, getting a babysitter here and there, taking time to get out and explore both with and without the stroller. It was never regular, nothing routine, but it happened. And then the move happened.
Series of choices and circumstances formed into new habits and expectations and suddenly I found myself uncomfortable talking with anyone about anything outside of the Realm of Motherhood. Babysitters were called, only to be canceled. Dates planned, then put off. Self got sucked into the vortex, lost amongst whirl of playdates and lessons and storyhours. Somewhere along the way it just became easier to stop treading, to stop fighting. Suffocation isn't really that horrible if you can just convince yourself that you don't need to breath. The darkness isn't so bad once you get used to it.
But, oh! That first ray of light? That beam of something else that shakes you from your monotony? It slices through you like fire. It stabs and burns. It beckons. It pulls. And although you want nothing more than to reach out and grab it and cling to it for dear life, you cringe back further and further into the sodden recesses of what you know now, a victim of a Stockholm of your making. Predator and prey.
I refuse to become a victim.
So I toweled off, pulled on my non-Mom jeans and a pair of impractical shoes (with heels!) (well, sort of heels!) (not tennis shoes!) and an equally impractical top, loaded myself into the Jeep and headed out for some long overdue shopping! At Wal*Mart**! Babysteps, babysteps.
As much as I hate the mecca of all evil and cheapness, there comes that point in every girl's year when she simply cannot put off the trip to Wal*Mart any longer. In this case it was because apparently Wal*Mart has a strong hold on the Rit Dye remover market in this area and my favorite, impractical, make-me-feel-like-a-million-bucks, just-a-little-bit-sexy-but-still-professional, used-to-be-white top was in that load.
So, necessity coupled with the possibility of getting in and out of there in less than 5 minutes because there would be no need for a cart/trip to the bathroom/temper tantrum because dammit, I can't ever remember where the toy section is quick enough to avoid it so we don't have to look at all the cheap plastic crap that will be played with for exactly 2 seconds before it either 1)breaks, 2)is dropped and breaks, or 3)is forgotten, gets stepped on and breaks; well, the stars were aligned as closely as possible to make for a
perfect good pleasant stressfree reasonable shopping experience.
In and back out, product in hand; a quick stop at Sonic for the sweet, sweet nectar of a Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade and I was on my way, sanity intact, not yet 4:30pm. My next stop was Kohls for some much needed support scouting.
Taking an almost 4 year old into the bras-n-panties section is not my idea of fun, no matter how cute he is peeking out from under the thong laden rack. Why does he always find the thongs? Wouldn't that round display of sensible cotton pajama bottoms be a better hiding place? But I digress. My full attention could be on the task at hand. Giddy with the freedom, I perused the newest, the brightest, the I'm-still-not-sure-how-that-could-be-attractive-much-less-comfortable and walked out of there drunk on the knowledge that I wouldn't have to try out the fit in my closet and come back with the losers, praying that the winner hadn't been sold out/discontinued.
Next stop: Costco. Again, in and out. I made eyes at somebody else's baby, blowing raspberries back at him while his mother blanched with embarrassment as he pulled books off the tables and tossed them willynilly into the back of the cart. An honest giggle found its way to the surface as I helped her sort out his choices from hers and told her conspiratorially how many times I've found myself doing the exact same thing. We shared an eye roll and that no-touching hug that mothers of small children have figured out how to do because sometimes you just need a hug but there's a certain amount of stigma attached to really hugging a complete stranger.
Off to Target. Time to mull over the cards. I remember a time when I had time to make my own. I miss that time. I don't know how many of my recipients miss those cards, but I miss the creativity and focus of laying out tiny pieces of paper and putting them together just so. I miss it to my core. Moving on, checking items off the list, one after the other. Smile on my face as I mentally smack myself for forgetting something back in that last section, a stark contrast from the thunder cloud that looms threateningly when I have somewhere else to be by someone else's time.
8:30pm: grocery store. Milk, vanilla, ramen noodles. On a whim I checked out one of those DVD rental boxes at the front of the store. Three chick-flicks and a bag of Pirates Booty later, I was on my way home.
No bedtime. No secondthirdfourth drink of water. No unbidden predictions of what tomorrow might bring because he Won't. Go. To. Sleep. No Sports Center. No I'd better get the dishes done now because if I don't then I won't have time to check my email in the morning. Feet on the couch, remote in hand. Watched Chick Flick #1 in it's entirety without having to pause to redirect back to bed or check the weather or click over for scores.
In bed by 11.
The cat finally woke me up at 9:30 Wednesday morning. She was thirsty. Poor baby. Brewed a double pot of coffee (for me. Kitty doesn't care much for the java. I did fill her water bowl, just in case you were wondering.), found NPR on the cable line-up and sat down with my laptop and a book. Therapy at 11:30, lunch at 1. Poked about the house, getting it ready for WeSchool / WedSpag. Got first pick of the veggie boxes, then back home for with enough time to put out some tea to brew for dinner. Friends started arriving about 4:30; Laurie and Aaron showed up just a bit after.
Play, eat, chat, redirect, intervene, terminate, restart. All with an underlying sense of control. Peace. Ease.
Aaron chattered excitedly about everything: What he did, what she said, how that worked, how it tasted and "oh! Mommy! When I am at Miss Laurie's at night? I am not scared. I am happy and excited! And a little bit sad because I missed you and I think you might be lonely but at Miss Laurie's house? In my room there is a FAN!" and passed out the moment his head met the pillow.
Chick-flick number 2, in bed at 10:30pm.
"Mommy, I want to sleep with you". Roll over to check the clock: 7:30am. Time to get up, but who can resist a snuggle with a tousle headed, sleepy-eyed boy? 7:45 -- time to get up for real. Gotta get dressed, get breakfast, pack lunch, pack into the car and get to school. Back into the routine.
Glance in the mirror on the way out the door. I think I see a glimmer of me in there.
I think I like what I'm beginning to see.
*This is not a knock on attachment parenting. I've got nothing against the babywearing, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, Dr. Sears reading types. I've got some beautiful nephews and nieces who are flourishing quite nicely in an attached environment. When it becomes extreme, in either direction, however, then yes, you may consider me a knocker. And a doorbell ringer. Also, I might open up the mail slot and holler if I'm not getting a response.
**Spelling stolen from Lora. She starts everything!
posted by susan at Thursday, October 08, 2009
posted by susan at Tuesday, October 06, 2009
So let's say that you are feeling all super-mommish whilst your only boy child is watching a particularly riveting episode of Sid (he's in your house often enough (along with Mom, Dad, Grandma, Zeke, Teacher Susie, Gabriela, May, and oh yes, let's not forget Gerald) for you to be on a first name basis) and you decide to take the "Hey, you're a scientist! You can do this too!" challenge personally. A stack of construction paper, some scissors, a few broken crayons, a nearly dried out gluestick, and a squeeze bottle of sunblock later, and you're standing in your own hastily constructed Super (fairly)Fab Lab, pausing the TiVo and beckoning said child to "Come on over! Let's explore this together!"
You have a plan! You have the tools! You postulate thought provoking theories on "What Might Happen"! The sun is shining! The birds are singing! A squeeze of the sunblock into two little dishes, a paintbrush and a piece of paper apiece and off you go, postulating and painting to your hearts content.
Pictures complete, out in the sun to "dry"; you even remembered to tape them down so they don't fly away. With the boy child riding merrily around the patio table on his tricycle, happy happy joy joy, you toss the dishes and paintbrushes into the sink along with the other dishes waiting to be washed. You fiddle with this, straighten up that, check an item or two off your daily list. The boy child is still content, so why wait? you think. Dishes done now = nap potential later, so you swagger over to the sink, drunk on productivity.
And that is when you realize you just might have a wee snag. A bit of a pickle, if you will, a minor complication. And that is this: WTF do you use to wash off waterproof sunblock? Because, my friend, that icky, sticky, slimy filmy goo appears to be living up to it's water-resistant billing and, while good for your tender boy child's skin, is not so good for your dish-washing intentions.
It's probably just as well that he has school tomorrow. Sigh.
posted by susan at Tuesday, October 06, 2009
< bury post > Can't live with the raw, unedited feelings on the front page anymore. Not ashamed of them, trying very hard to not feel guilty about them or to somehow make excuses for the circumstances that brought them out, but not yet ready to face them every time I come to my space. Somehow, I think most of you get that. Thank you. Throwing a temper tantrum never felt so good. < /bury post >
posted by susan at Saturday, October 03, 2009
Thank you so much for your letter. What a surprise to hear from you. My initial response, my ONLY response, is this:
Thank you for (inadvertently, of course) confirming that our decision to have only one child is truly "for our good". Slipping into the habits and "norms" from my childhood would be all too seductive otherwise. This way? My choices are MY choices, rightwrongindifferent. This unfamiliar path keeps me alert, non-complacent.
posted by susan at Wednesday, September 30, 2009
On 9/8/09 11:21 AM, "s.sandngmail.com" (dictated to me and I) wrote:
At the end of the show when you were the school teacher, that man put on a sign that said "no dogs". I would like to know what might happen if you didn't follow the rules?
(age 3, CA)
Thank you so much for writing! What a stupendous question! I think the “no dogs allowed” rule is pretty unfair rule, don’t you think? Most of the time when I try to not follow that rule I get caught and I’m told to leave, usually by the school Janitor. He lives to keep me out of the school building. One time I won a trip to the Come-On-Inn, but the problem was that dogs were forbidden, which means against the rules. So Helen and I came up with a great solution, I showed up as Granny Martha! When everyone eventually found out that I was really a dog, they realized how much they missed their pets, and the Come-On-Inn decided to change the rule to allow all pets to join their families on vacation. Great huh?!
Thanks again for writing! We hope you’ll continue to watch and enjoy Martha Speaks!
posted by susan at Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Last night Aaron asked me to "sing something we never sang before" for his bedtime song. Of course, the only songs I could come up with were our old standbys -- Twinkle Star, I See the Moon, Little Boy Blue... and then I suddenly remembered a song that Granny Nina used to sing to us. As I started humming the tune, I momentarily wondered why I had never sung this song before, feeling almost guilty for neglecting that bit of my past. The words flooded back to me as I quietly began to sing:
Oh, don't you remember
A long time ago
Two poor little babes
Their names I don't know
Were strolling along
One bright summer day
Got lost in the woods
I've heard people say
They wandered around
Until it grew night
The sun went down
And the stars gave no light...
Dey sah an dey siii (They sobbed and they sighed)
An dey bi-er-ee crii (And they bitterly cried)
De da poe li ings (Then the poor little things)
De lay dow an ie (They laid down and died.)
La-la-la-di-la (And when they were dead)
La-la-la-di-la (The robins so red)
La-la-la-di-la (Brought strawberry leaves)
La-la-la-di-la (And over them spread)
La-la-la-di-la (And sang them a song)
La-laaa-di-la (The whole day long)
La-la-di-la-la (Two poor little babes)
La-laaa-di-la (All dead and gone.)
posted by susan at Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Just in case you were wondering:
We have had several conversations since last week re:teeth are for food and blankie and not people. Some matter of fact (there are lots of germs in our mouths and when we put our mouths on other people, we pass along our germs), some stern (people don't like to be around people who hurt them), some silly (wouldn't you rather eat spaghetti than arm?). We hadn't talked about it in a few days, though. So you can imagine how floored I was when he brought it up on the way to school this morning.
"Mommy? We should use our words, not our teeth. Even when we are very, very, very, VERY angry and frustrated." (That's right, baby.) "An if that doesn't work? We should tell an adult or a mommy or sumpin like that." (Yep, that's true, too.) "Because if we use our teeth and then people don't like to be with us then they might make it a rule that we can't go to places with them. And then, and then, well, then how will I do all my learning if I am not going to my new school? Because I need to do my learning so I can grow my muscles big and strong and do stuff with them. So I think that is why the plan is to use words and not teeth."
posted by susan at Wednesday, September 09, 2009
My little brother
will soon be deploying deployed for Afghanistan last weekend.
Though a self-proclaimed pacifist at heart, I respect that his chosen field is honorable and, yes, even necessary. I am proud, proud, proud, PROUD of him -- he seems to have found something that he is passionate about and has worked very hard to get to where he is. He is (usually) a level headed kind of guy, quick to collar his hot-Italian emotions. He is excited to learn, eager to experience, willing to explore. He is thorough, dependable, respectful and respectable. He is exactly the kind of ambassador that I believe we need when dealing with cultures and traditions and viewpoints not our own.
I recognize that there is an element of danger to what he does/will do. He is a long way away from "home". There is the possibility that I hugged him for the last time at my sister's wedding in June. And yet, I sit here, struggling to figure out what is wrong with me because I'm not all verklempt about it. There is no wailing and gnashing of teeth for him in my soul. No wearing of sackcloth, no dabbling in ashes. I am excited for him, perhaps even a little envious of this amazing opportunity he has to go LIVE life, to go roll around in the dust and life breath of others, to embrace and swallow and digest and scoop up and spit out all those incredible many differences and similarities. My toes tingle in false anticipation, as if it's ME on this journey, somehow living vicariously through emails and Facebook posts. I think of him at odd times during the day, wanting to know what he's seen, what he's done. How does it smell? How does it sound? How does it taste?
And if he doesn't come back on his own? If he DOES come back, changed, wounded? My heart will be broken, of that there is no doubt. But my stomach will dance, knowing that he took his chance, grabbed it with both hands, held it high above his head and ran with it.
Living life on your own terms. To me, that's heroic.
posted by susan at Friday, September 04, 2009
When he's not biting me (which, to be fair, is like 98% of the time. I guess the 2% just seems like a lot more because, oh, I don't know, IT HURTS.), Aaron is transforming into a pretty neat kid. I'm stunned, STUNNED on a minute by minute basis by how much stuff this kid knows and sees and retains and applies. I try to keep up, but somehow I managed to birth a gear head and damned if that stuff doesn't bore me to tears. Stuff works because it works, in my book, but no, we need to know more and why and why not this instead and where does that connect to and what if it connected here too? Between Google, my little brother, and YouTube, I'm learning more about the internal combustion engine than I ever cared to know, yet somehow I'm still failing to keep up with the rapid fire of questions shot at me from the backseat on the way to go get groceries.
We got him an Erector set (best purchase EVER) and he's put together all manner of moving/rolling/driving creations, talking to himself about drive-trains and crankshafts and motors and axles all the while. This morning he informed me that the reason his latest "car" wouldn't climb up the slope of our leather ottoman was because "I think it's maybe an issue with the traction or torque or stuff like that. Because it's too slippery up here." I don't know how much of this is just repeating back the words we've encountered on the HowStuffWorks.com diagrams/videos and how much of this is actual mastery of the language of
nerds mechanical engineering, but it scares me more than a little bit. I'm thankful on a daily basis that we don't have the proverbial chemistry set in the basement.
We're trying to step up his levels of responsibility to keep up with his growing awareness of the world around him. Or, said another way, to keep him busy, we're giving him chores. He doesn't like being told what to do (duh),though, so we were butting heads on an almost hourly basis because I don't like having my authority challenged/ignored. We've both got issues. I finally assigned a significant portion of my brain to the task of coming up with ways to get him to do what I want him to do without telling him what needs to be done.
Bedtime was the worst.
Naggingpleadingbeggingthreateningcryingwhiningscreaming to get out of the bathtub, brush teeth, put on pj's and GET INTO BED was just not working as well as you might think. In a rare flash of brilliance (read: 2 neurons firing simultaneously) I came up with the idea of introducing him to the concept of time being finite and guess what? the natural consequences of wasting time now is not having it later. Or, in boy-ese, if you [choose to throw water out of the bathtub], you will need to [take the time to clean it up] which means you will only have time for [2 bedtime stories instead of 3]. Insert any variety of [actions] and [consequences] and all the sudden it's not mean ole mommy making arbitrarily mean decisions because she hates little precious.
Except that it was still mean ole mommy glancing sternly at her watch and issuing "Well, I guess you don't want 3 stories tonight" warnings ad infinitum , so really in the end it wasn't at all about natural consequences, but a game of "how many chances can I get Mommy to give me by whining and wheedling?". So, yeah. Not so effective.
Then it hit me that maybe he needed to SEE it. He needed to literally see that time was not waiting around for him to finish his hop-on-one-leg-athon.
And then, it really hit me. As in "fell off the shelf while I was cleaning my closet and hit me on the shoulder". I'm not sure if I saw stars or if it was those two renegade neurons flashing again, but three overhead projector markers, some poorly drawn pictures, and 15 minutes later and viola! The bedtime clock was born:
So now our evenings are carefully segmented off and it is the clock, not Mommy, controlling our Storytime destiny.
Since that picture was taken, we've further divided the time between Bath and Story1 time to include a "chore card" segment. In a nutshell: I took pictures of 5 tasks that Aaron (should) completes on a regular basis, glued the pictures to index cards, and then made "banks" out of clear plastic cups (see picture). We go through the cards each night at chore card time, talk about whether or not he earned his nickle for said chore and then pop the earned nickles into the appropriate cup bank. First nickle is "saved", second nickle is "shared", and he gets to choose whether to save, share, or spend whatever remains.
That, too, is working very well, though we're at a wiggly point where we're trying to decide whether or not the "Good Attitude" card should stay in there. Are we, as we initially hoped, encouraging him to go about his day thoughtfully, considering the consequences (positive and negative) of his behavior on himself and others? Or are we teaching him that he doesn't have to do anything unless there is a reward in it for himself? I go back and forth. Input?
posted by susan at Thursday, September 03, 2009
Guess who bit another kid at school yesterday?
"I was just too frustrated to use my words and decided I should use my teeth, Mommy," he told me. Apparently he had been building a block tower and someone else decided to knock it over.
"Oh, I understand. That makes sense," he told the teacher when she pulled him aside and told him in no uncertain terms that biting was never, ever, ever appropriate. "I think I can use my words, now."
posted by susan at Wednesday, September 02, 2009
My child is a biter.
You know that list of despicable human qualities that you carry around in your head? The one that helps you decide if the person standing in line behind you is worthy of a smile and possibly bumping ahead of you because he's only got two things and you've got a whole basket full
of chocolate covered shame that he hopefully won't notice because he will be so surprised and thankful that you allowed waved him ahead or very much NOT despite his impatiently tapping too-shiny, too tappy, too self-important tappy shiny shoes, you may just stand there Mr. Impatient Tap-n-Shine, and consider for a moment if you are really as important as you seem to think you are because I do not, no sir, I DO NOT... that list? Yeah. "Biter" ranks number 2 on mine. Which is hilarious because Haha! Universe, I have a Biter! And, Hoho! He's almost 4! And, Heehee! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT! Isn't that a riot? *snorts, wipes tears from eyes*
I have spoken to him sternly. "Teeth are for food and blankie." "Teeth hurt! I don't like to be hurt!" "You are not allowed to hurt other people." "Use your words! I don't understand teeth - I understand words!"
I have reacted loudly, strongly. "OUCH! THAT HURTS ME!" Pulled arm/leg/hand away quickly, allowing those gnashing chompers to come in contact with whatever else they might, hopefully something hard and immediately painful; left the room/vicinity immediately, even locking him in his bedroom so that maybe just maybe he will begin to associate BITING=ISOLATION; smacked him (don't judge. Those effers HURT.); maneuvered his hands/arms/whatever so that HE is on the receiving end.
I have tried reason. "When you choose to hurt me, I choose to defend myself. I don't like to be around you when you hurt me. When you hurt me, I am going to leave the room." "Do you remember how much it hurt when [neighbor's MUCH younger, TEETHING (and therefore COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE) child] bit you? That really hurt, didn't it? That's how it feels when you bite me. Can you understand why I don't like it when you try to bite me?"
And on Friday? On Friday I decided to summon every ounce of my inner Zen and let him get it out of his system. I was loading him into the car. He did not want to be loaded. He chose to indicate this by launching his teeth at me. I chose to respond by letting him bite me. There we stood: car door flung wide open, my right arm pinning his body into his carseat, his mouth firmly clamped onto my left forearm. Stalemate.
"You're LETTING him bite you?"
I'm pretty sure that what Josh really wanted to say was more along the lines of WHAT THE F-CK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I'm equally confident that my response of "If you don't run, you can't be chased" made exactly zero sense to him. But that's what we tell the kids on the playground: You give something, SOMEONE, power by your reaction. If you choose not to react, you take away all the power. And that, my friends, is what this all boils down to -- classic power struggle, redefined to include teeth.
At that very moment, my thinking was along the lines of "Go ahead and bite me, you little sh*t. Bite me with all your might. I will not flinch. I will not struggle. I will not step away. And when your little jaw has grown tired, your rage subdued, I will calmly finish securing your seatbelt so that we may safely journey home
and I will think of all the reasons that they should bring back the practice of beating small children." I just hope this m-effer on my arm bruises up nicely so that I can take a picture of it for his 3 year memory book.
On a positive note: I decided to follow through with my spiel of "I choose not to be around people who choose to hurt me" and pretty much
ignored "distanced myself" from him for the rest of the night. At one point during the car ride home I poured the little bit of water from his dinner cup into my water bottle (much to his dismay... I truly didn't start doing it to piss him off. No, pissing him off was just a happy, unexpected side effect of being thirsty coupled with my neurotic need to only drink from my own drinking vessel) to which he then announced "Now Mommy and I are both sad. Mommy is sad because I bited her and hurted her and I am sad because she took my water." I didn't apologize. I didn't try to soften it, didn't try to explain to him how that even though I was sad about his behavior, I still loved him very much. Didn't console him, didn't make it okay. Didn't give HIM the chance to make it okay. Mean, mean, mean.
I also skipped out on the bedtime routine (which K-I-L-L-E-D me. I almost broke 3 times in the 15 minutes it took Josh to put him to bed), which seemed to have an additional lasting effect on him: He came into our room Saturday morning to ask me "Mommy, how do you feel? Are you still sad?" Also? Has not so much as chewed with his mouth open in my direction. So while I'm (twice) shy of feeling like we can put that one in the "lesson learned" column, dinnertime is aesthetically more enjoyable. So there's that.
W(TF)WJ(or Dr. Sears)(or Freud)(or you)(or your mother)D in this situation?
posted by susan at Monday, August 24, 2009
Part 1 in a multi-part series because I can't stand looking at all the unfinished drafts anymore.
Let the Hodgepodge begin!
We finally made the decision to euthanize Annabelle. I keep telling myself it came down to a matter of choosing Quality of life over Quantity of days. I keep questioning exactly whose quality of life was really declining, but that's a guilt trip to take on another post. After two years of a rigid diet, insulin shots twice daily, so many vet visits (between trying to regulate the insulin levels and the sporadic flare ups of her EG condition) that we lost count, and the scoopage OH.MY.GAWD. THE.SCOOPAGE -- twice, sometimes thrice, even four(frice?) times per day. Are litter boxes even made to withstand that much scooping?--, well, even the vet suggested that we had probably made all the progress we were ever going to make. Making her comfortable would have involved anesthetizing her to extract 8 of her teeth (due to severe gingivitus due to poorly controlled diabetes and poor oral hygene because, hello? Have you ever tried to brush a cat's teeth? Nevermind the whole "what do you mean it's not appropriate to lick the floor or the other cat's ass" mindset.) which
posted by susan at Tuesday, August 18, 2009
When Amy took on the task of Theme Thursday several months back, I thought "Ah! The perfect opportunity to reintroduce myself to my camera on a regular basis!" and promptly forgot that I was going to join in all the fun. Week after week I've watched the themes go up, followed by an amazing array of photographic interpretations and personal recriminations for yet again not getting my act together in time to participate. This week, I am breaking free of that rut. True, my entry is late (I sort of forgot the posting portion until I began seeing all the other pics go up), but I am pleased that I
posted by susan at Friday, August 07, 2009
Perhaps it is the term "Stay-At-Home-Mom" that is throwing you off. So let me clarify this for you: I do NOT, in fact, simply stay at home all day. A good bit of my time is spent at home and, yes, I do tend to be responsible for the more traditional tasks often associated with motherhood -- laundry, cooking, cleaning. But my responsibilities, my job description, if you will, entails far more than simply staying at home all day everyday would allow for. And, given the location of our residence, those responsibilities require extended mobility. Extended mobility such as you might expect public transportation or a car to provide. And, since reliable public transportation is a completely foreign concept around here, we've chosen to rely on what so many others around us rely on: the family car. Which is why we've put over 45,000 miles on it, more than half of those in the last two years since we moved here. You will have to forgive my frustration, then when you blithely suggest that I might be without said reliable means of transportation for an undefined period of time.
Imagine for a moment what it would mean to your life to be confined to your home and the few places within walking distance from your home. Imagine, now, how you might feel if you were told that the term of your confinement could range from "as little as a couple of hours to as long as a week, or possibly more, I can't make any promises as we don't know what we are looking at." Further imagine that this confinement comes not as a result of any action on your part, but rather is because of action on the part of those now restricting your movements. Finally, add to that confinement the inexhaustible energy levels of a 3-year-old boy who could no more wrap his mind around the idea that the avenues that used to provide outlet for said energy are no longer viable than you could shove a lightbulb up your ass, pull it out your nose, twist it in your ear and light it up by humming the first three bars of Dixie.
Do you begin to see how this might be an inconvenience?
posted by susan at Saturday, August 01, 2009
Don't you wish you had done it this way?
-from a FB post of a friend
who was there*... Thanks, Sean, for sharing this! I'm still smiling, thinking of what a good start those two are off to.
EDIT: *oops, my bad. I misread his post to say "This is how we make an entrance at a wedding..." when in fact he posted "This is how you make an entrance at a wedding." And to think for a second I truly believed I was this close to Youtube Viral Video fame... Sigh.
posted by susan at Saturday, July 25, 2009
Lora tagged me and then (AND THEN!) gifted me with a fabulous new button which I posted here for your viewing pleasure (once I was sufficiently done squealing with delight and reflecting that the 2,500 mile buffer between us might be for the best since my first inclination upon seeing her post was to run down the street and tongue-kiss her. That might have made future interactions, how do you say, awkward.). Is it not a thing of beauty?
-Curiosity (even though I know this isn't really your kind of thing. But if you decide to open up another blog where this kind of stuff fits, here's some fodder for starter...)
-Amy (my first blog-crush, my real-life friend, and one of the main reasons I'm going to figure out that whole camera thing. Also, she makes beautiful babies and is the very definition of the kind of mama I wish I were. If you aren't also in love with her, there's something wrong with you.)
posted by susan at Tuesday, July 21, 2009
posted by susan at Tuesday, July 14, 2009
posted by susan at Saturday, July 11, 2009
So since I last left you I've alternated posting furiously over here, waiting anxiously by the phone/computer for the next update, packing for Aaron's and my little trip, repacking what Aaron just unpacked, freaking out because the packing still isn't done yet (although, as of 10:45pm tonight it is offically as done as it is going to get), and running back to the computer to make sure that I haven't missed an update that needs to be furiously posted... lather, rinse, repeat.
We leave sometime tomorrow morningish for parts where the internet and cable TV don't quite reach. I'm hopeful that I will have cell reception... if so, I will continue to update over there but not over here (Um, Blogger, the whole "you can only mobile blog to one blog per mobile device" is rather limiting. Can't someone do something about that?). If there is any late breaking news in the mud-digging, bug-poking, stick-throwing, fish-chasing, nap-taking fun, you'll be the first to know!
posted by susan at Thursday, July 09, 2009
Found this gem over at the newly renamed Everybody Cares. Two things about writing this post make me smile: (1)who doesn't love a good story about inter-special cooperation when a determined squirrel is the protagonist, and (2) on June 25th, 2009 at 2:03 pm, Curiosity posted the following comment on the then named Emotional Umbrella
Someday I’m bound and determined to start up a site detailing what I had for lunch and somehow make it a witty and insightful instant favorite.
Maybe I’ll title it “Everybody Cares.”
posted by susan at Saturday, June 27, 2009
Has it already been a week? Oops. I've been trying so hard to think of my
Freedays Tuesdays as RememberThatBlogYouUsedToWritedays, but I think there are just too many syllables for that to ever really catch on. Not to mention all the ungainly capital letters in the middle of the word. But, it's either that or the ever-so-over-used hyphen to get my runallmywordstogether point across and I get confused when I have to hit that key up there with my pinkie finger instead of the one down there with my thumb. On the keyboard. Sicko.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Tuesdays. I'll blame my lack of posting last week on the fact that daycare was closed last week so the proprietress could go on vacation. I know. The NERVE. Not that you were really looking for an excuse or were really all that surprised that I hadn't thrown anything new your way in the first place. But it gives me the opportunity to whine about how I had to take care of my boy all by myself! All day! For a whole week in a row! And do stuff with him! Like talk to him! And fix him food instead of blogging! Whaaa! Anyways, what are you complaining about? I gave you back to back to back posts the week before.
It's not that I didn't get out there in the blogosphere. I read all of your posts and then I got all excited and all "I should totally post all about that hi-larry-us time when I took Aaron to Costco and he got all mad at me because I insisted that he ride in the cart and then he was screaming at me while I pretended not to hear him and to look for the milk and then he had to go potty but I wasn't completely sure that he really needed or if he was just using that because he knows that is the one thing I will stop whatever I am doing to take care of so I wound up taking him to the bathroom and he did actually have to go and I was so glad that I had listened to him and I realized that he's a pretty good kid until he refused to leave the door alone while I was peeing and then I was frustrated with him again and didn't feel like letting him play with the hand dryer and that pissed him off so we had to go back out of the bathroom with him screaming and then I couldn't remember where I had parked the cart and was just about to scream "eff it" at the top of my lungs but then I found it and when we got to the checkout line the guy actually asked me how my day was going and I just gestured at my wailing brat and glared at him but then I felt bad so I forced myself to make small talk with him and he was actually quite funny which put me in enough better mood to jokingly ask the lady at the exit if I could just leave Aaron with her and she did that thing where you raise your eyebrows and look all shocked and pretend yourself into believing that you would never EVER talk that way about an innocent child, especially when the little angel was so obviously upset which pissed me off and then I took it out on the sweet little old lady who put her effing blinker on for my spot before I even got the damn thing unlocked by u-n-l-o-a-d-i-n-g e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g o-n-e p-i-e-c-e a-t a t-i-m-e and then walking the cart back to the cart holding area before I strapped my screaming hellion into his seat and headed back home the end." I never read that book about all the things that you shouldn't post on your blog, but I'm guessing that reading that kind of drivel day in and day out would drive the limited readership that I have into deep hiding if not therapy. My filter says "You're welcome."
Meanwhile, my life is filled with very unbloggy things. Summer is upon us (finally), so we have joined the thronging minions at the local pool for the ritualistic "throw your young children into highly treated water and trust that the preening teenagers will react before they reach the bottom" swimming lessons. Aaron loves the water. Aaron loves his coach. Aaron loves his classmates. Aaron loves splashing water on his coach and his classmates. The floating and kicking and flailing his arms in any kind of regular order is not so much his thing. Unless said floating and kicking and flailing results in his coach or classmates getting splashed. Every day we talk about being a "good listener" and "following instructions" and "waiting turns" on the way to lessons. We talk about good alternatives to splashing and spraying others while he waits for his turn. We talk about being kind and respectful and responsible and imaginative. He gets it, he really does. He sang his "ABCD's" no less than 6 times today, hanging onto the side of the pool, changing things up with the occasional "bob" or spurt of bubble blowing. And then there were still 10 minutes of class left to go, so he let go of the side of the pool just to see what would happen. He has no fear. No common sense, but no fear. I'm trying really hard to keep focused on the positives.
So he's in the pool MTWTh, 30 minutes each morning, for two weeks. Friday mornings he goes to gymnastics. We'll take the following two weeks off while Josh is in Ecuador. Did I tell you that Josh is going to Ecuador? No? Oh. Josh is going to Ecuador. To climb some mountains. Because they are there. We are going to sit home, pining for him for exactly 4 days and then we are going to go to the mountains ourselves. Somewhere in this vicinity. I have directions, I just haven't really looked at them. We are going to a cabin in the woods with sticks and rocks and a creek to throw sticks and rocks into and probably no internet service and maybe no cell phone service and possibly no cable tv. We are going to live on crap cereal in tiny boxes, PBJ's, and frozen pizza. Up with the sun (unless the trees block it), to bed when the crickets start chirping. Naps will be mandatory. If you can follow these rules, you can come, too.
We're signed up for two more sessions of swimming after we get back and expect Josh to come back sometime around then. I am trying not to think of all the possible ways he could come back, trying to stifle the sudden panic that strikes when I realize that I don't know how he pays the Comcast bill. It's silly, really, these roles we've fallen into -- he is no more equipped for the task of bill paying than I am, yet he does and I don't. Unless there is a check to be written. The ancient art of check writing is mine alone. We will take the next week-and-a-halfish to put our limited affairs in order, to transfer usage of our PA account to our CA account so that I don't run out of checks. Life insurance is paid up but no matter as climbingagoddamnedmountain is considered a high risk activity. Still, I want him to go. Selfishly, it means one less soul for me to nurture, one less account of the day to catch up on over dinner. Selflessly, it means two less souls for him to nurture, two less accounts of the day to catch up on when he gets home from work. We both need the break, some time alone to spend some alone time with our respective selves. Some time alone to refresh our desire for some time together. Some space to grow independently in order to catch up with our recent shared growth. Oddly enough, it is just when we are at a place where our relationship has never been better that we are both yearning to be apart. Maybe that isn't so odd. Maybe it is the stability, the confidence of knowing where we are headed together that gives us the courage to strike out on our own. Ha! Who needs therapy now?
Why are you still looking at me? That's all you're going to get for now. Unless you're looking for details on how I'm going to squish daycare, swim lessons, back to daycare, and a dental appointment into the time before nap. Then again, if I can't get that figured out, I might decide to stay up and make cookies. You're always welcome to lick the bowl. And then we can paint our toenails and play truth or dare except we're much too old for the dare part, so it will really just be more of us sharing our most heartfelt secrets until
11 we can't stay awake anymore and then we'll stumble up the stairs to wash our faces and brush our teeth and floss because damn if I don't know how to party.
posted by susan at Tuesday, June 23, 2009