Category Archives: Motherhood

Home Sick: The Difference Between Kids and Adults

When I’m home sick: Sleep in as long as possible. Wear PJs all day. Sprawl on couch, catching up with bad TV and junky magazines. Feel guilty about not being at work and/or being home and not getting anything done all day. Doze off a bit on couch. Shuffle to kitchen to make chicken and stars soup and eat with Saltines and think it tastes amazing. Think about running to store for some medicine and more soup but fear running into someone who will then think I wasn’t really sick. Get a little stir crazy and attempt to brush hair for possible walk around the block. Find another good show on TV and watch that instead with some tea on couch. Greet husband with excitement when he comes home because I am not used to a full day with no one talking to me.

When my 5-year-old is home sick: Opens eyes earlier than expected and pops out of bed with more energy than on any normal weekday. Drags me into room to start building Legos. It is barely 8 a.m. Builds Legos, finds forgotten toys, races cars and protests loudly when I sneak away to make coffee. Exhausts all toy options by 8:30 and insists on breakfast and a TV show. Sits like a king during show while everyone waits on him. Perks up (more) from food and starts jumping on furniture. Climbs up my back and tries to wrestle. Protests more when I escape to shower (because we clearly are going to have to leave the house to burn off some energy). Welcomes me back with more ideas for games, all of which involve much activity and some sweating, rejecting all of my calm, “sick day” activities like cards and drawing. By 11 a.m. there are zero signs of being sick (this may occur earlier if you go to the pediatrician. They’re like cars at the mechanic). Accompanies me to the store, asking for everything on the shelves. I cave because the poor guy is sick (!). Falls asleep for a blissful nap on the way home and sleeps while I move him to the house. I then skulk away to log on and answer e-mail and get some writing done. Nap ends, energy is back, playtime resumes. Greet husband with enthusiasm because it is his turn now.

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Car Seats and Emerging Independence

First, the car seat was a baffling contraption that soon became our most-relied-on baby necessity. Besides the obvious reasons, the infant seat won us over for how easily it snapped in and out of the base. You just buckled the baby in and could go in and out of the car — and stroller — with ease. Napping was a breeze. He conked out in the car, and we carried his seat wherever we needed to go (or not go) and he slept peacefully. Uninterrupted dinners. Bliss!

Then he wised up — hey, I can move! — and the car seat turned into stress city. Back arching, thrashing, howling, any way he could resist getting into that seat, he tried. Flop sweat ran down my face as I fought him. So what if I was running late to work. We weren’t going anywhere until he cooperated, and I struggled to get him buckled.

Which resulted in the bribery phase. Also the phase of never going anywhere without goldfish or animal crackers. I doled it out for his cooperation, praying the need would pass and I wouldn’t have to bribe for the rest of his childhood.

It passed. I moved on to bribing him for other reasons. That’s the kind of parent I am, I guess.

He got more cooperative with the car seat, procrastinating but not fighting, which was easier to deal with. He learned to talk and entertained me on our drives with questions and stories and songs.

And then recently, we have entered another phase. The “I can do it myself” phase where he successfully buckles and (mostly) unbuckles himself, and woe to the parent who steps on his independence. It takes a long time, I am still running late for everything, but when he is done, he looks up and pauses for approval. With pride on his face.

So I wait, nod enthusiastically and praise him, regretting how time has flown. But at least I don’t have to pack goldfish and animal crackers any more.

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A Letter to Grandma

I don’t know where my son learned about writing letters (day care? TV?), but I’d say for his first attempt, he nailed it.

We just returned from a weekend with the grandparents where he was spoiled beyond belief. To try to balance out the expectations of get-get-getting, I suggested we write thank you notes. He started dictating. This is what he said to write to grandma:

Dear Grandma,
I hope I will see you soon.
I miss you a lot.
I like all the presents you hide around the house.

(Nate: age almost-4)

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Bad Parenting With Good Intentions

I don’t believe in having a parenting philosophy, because if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that children are not consistent and no matter how many books (or blogs or message boards) you read, they will find ways to surprise you.

But one semi-philosophy I have, one guiding belief, is in disappointment. It’s OK to experience disappointment on occasion. It’s good to not get everything you want. You’re not going to be the best at all you attempt, and learning how to respond to to that graciously will serve you well.

I blew this lesson last week.

My son is drawn to a boy at his day care who (on good days) is a bit bossy and (on bad days) a bit of a bully. We hear stories of bad language, roughhousing and more from my son, all of which we take with a grain of salt because, well, he’s not even 4 yet. But Friday, as we pulled away from day care, my son told me this kid had taken my son’s show-and-tell, a beloved toy helicopter, and chucked it over the fence.

Day care was closed, son was snapped into his car seat, and I started to drive away, thinking the lesson here was that it stinks to lose a toy but you need to learn responsibility. Go through the disappointment and stop letting certain kids take advantage of you at show and tell.

But. The crying.

I made a U-turn, returned to the scene of the crime and tried to grill my son on where exactly they were standing when the copter took flight. This did not help (something about a tunnel, a door, not that door and a guess). I tried. I drove slowly, turned around, drove by again, scanned the ground and nothing.

We drove away. There were whimpers this time, and I felt awful. Felt like all I was doing was punishing my kid for something a bully did.

Before I knew it, we were at Target and I was looking through all the bins and racks for a similar helicopter. Which I found. Not the same one, but close enough, the last helicopter surely in the whole freaking Target.

I bought it. He was happy. Three days later, he was even happier because daddy managed to track down the original lost helicopter and return it to him.

And now he has two helicopters. And no lessons.

I’m OK with that.

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Gratitude

A friend of mine currently has two amazing, beautiful children (one the same age as my son) who are recovering from a weekend in the ICU. Both are doing better, but it has been on my mind all the time.

So when my son dragged out his bedtime last night, when he insisted on extra kisses and another glass of water, when he crawled into my bed and demanded I rub his back, when he made farting noises with his mouth instead of laying still and trying to sleep, when he told me my face wash smelled yummy and tried to lick it — I didn’t protest. I didn’t think about the bad habits we were getting into. I didn’t think about how I really needed to implement a firm bedtime routine.

I thought about gratitude.

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First-Time Mom Worries

I didn’t realize parenting would involve quite so much worrying.

Early on, we were regulars at the pediatrician’s office — not unusual for first-time parents, I know. Some of it was routine stuff, some was us being overly cautious, some was because everything was so new we had no idea what was normal for him.

(I remember getting his first prescription filled — Zantac for reflux — and the pharmacist asked me what flavors he liked. I was like, um, I don’t know, we just met.)

Gradually we stopped calling the doctor all the time. His immune system strengthened thanks to day care (ha), and he outgrew the reflux. But the worrying and the immediate assumption of doom and gloom? Still there.

He bumps his head? I’m running all the tests for concussions.
Doesn’t eat much at dinner? Might be the flu.
Runny nose? Why is it going on forever?
Cough? Pneumonia and/or collapsed lung.
Mosquito bite? Looks unnaturally large, might be a severe allergic reaction or possibly a poisonous spider bite.
Sleepy? Flu.
Fever? Meningitis.
Mole I don’t remember seeing? Oh, god, skin cancer.
Bruise? Oh, god, leukemia.
Rash? Measles.

I probably need to think less about symptoms and worst-case scenarios and more about how lucky I am to have such an active, smart, engaging kid. I have seen parents handle news far worse than I have gotten with grace and determination. I hope to never have to find out for myself how I would react. And maybe I’ll outgrow the constant worrying?

Except, oh God, he is going to be in elementary school before I know it and eventually he will be driving and going to parties and meeting girls and all kinds of bad things can happen. And I don’t even want to hear about college.

Outgrow worrying, ha. Not likely.

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A lesson in timing

Last week, my friend posted this adorable face on her Facebook page, and I couldn’t resist.

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Our cat of a dozen years had passed away in December, and we always knew we would get another one. We just didn’t know when.
But this little guy, a rescued stray, had something that put him over the edge — extra toes. He’s a Hemingway cat. I’ve wanted one since the first time I visited Key West. He’s also about three years old, calm, friendly and affectionate. A great combo for our family. We arranged to pick him up in a week.
And then I messed up.
I told my son we were getting! a! kitty! and he predictably got excited and wanted to know when. Um, next week, I told him.
Next week means nothing when you are 3.
After show-and-tell day, I tried.
“But I want the kitty to come home now!” he cried. And he cried some more. And every day since then, he has asked me when the kitty is coming, why we can’t get him now, where is the kitty, when is it and “but I want the kitty now!” Today after school he had one of those meltdowns where he just sinks to the floor in the middle of everything and cries.
I have learned my lesson. No more promises and building anticipation. Next announcement I have is going to be made the day of the event. Whew.
(But I can’t wait for kitty either)

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