Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This week: Not sucking as much as last week

Can I help you? Oh, yeah, these boots are made for sittin'. And looking at. NOT for touching!

It’s been a much, much better week, proving to me that the thoughts and prayers of my readers are effective. And that I must have a lot more readers than I thought. Oh, don’t get me wrong—there is still crying and angst at preschool dropoff (sometimes even on D’s part, poor fella), there’s still some pretty spotty at-school nap performance numbers (but 2 hours (!!) on Monday! A moral victory!) and there continue to be some neat new behaviors that make me grateful preschool exists at all (hitting? screaming? For the totality of the mere 3 hours a day I get with you, D? Seriously?) But now I feel I’m ready to join the ranks of those of you who are in loooove with your children.

[it’s not that I’m not always loving my kid and, despite said behaviors, enjoying him, but there have been some days—like most of last week—when the loving required more of, ah, a concentrated effort.]

For instance, taking the child to Alta on Sunday to see actual SNOW for the first time in his toddlerhood was awesome enough to make me take back the litanies of snow-hating vitriol that six winters in Central PA carved into my heart. This is fortuitous, as I now live in the state whose motto is “the Greatest Snow on Earth.” (One video below. More videos here.)

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Also, the advent of new and complicate words [refrigerator! humidifier! see below!] has been exponentialized by (drumroll, please) two- and three-word combos! Imagine the difference between our old, somewhat tired, list-style three-word combos like “mama-dada-lala!” and the sparkling new innovations like “Mama, bicycle UP!” (or its friends “Bicycle. Seat. Up!” and “Mama, bicycle please.”)

We’ve also added some new politeness conventions like “Skyoo-me” (usually addended to his proud announcement “BURP!”) and “Sah-ree,” though most apologies feature two parts devilish grin to one part actual contrition.

We also have a new favorite garage-sale acquisition, as the lead-off picture indicates: a pair of electric-blue, fleece-lined, “Sponge-bum” Squarepants moon boots, which, despite their being three sizes too big, are worn everywhere and at all times. With pajamas. When it’s 90 degrees out. In the bath. To bed. This is to our benefit, since the preschool has banned the orange crocs* from the classroom, but still, even my extremely blunted sense of fashion knows that this child doesn’t own an ensemble cute enough to compensate for the hideousness of the boots (again, pictures to follow). But I figure I’d need to start adding a disclaimer to most of his outfits one day anyway, so perhaps we’ll just get a jump on that now.

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** EDITED TO ADD: The crocs were banned because D kept taking them off all the time and the preschool peeps need to be able to move the kids tout suite if an emergency occurs, not because they're dangerous in any way. Please continue with your croc-wearing activities.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too gone for too long

So where was I? Oh, yes—the first week of preschool. It went okay, actually, except that apparently, naps do not hold the mystical sway at school that they hold for the Matic family at home, where they are coddled and catered to like the sanity-saving idols they, in fact, are. So Tuesday (his first day) was pretty good. Wednesday was harder, but on Thursday afternoon, D decided Dada was chopped liver, and he’d rather stay and flirt with Miss Lacey, thanks. Daddymatic said the look he got was along the lines of, “Listen, pal, I’ve been trying to get this yummy dish alone since nine this morning, so run along, won’t you?”

D doesn’t go to preschools on Fridays (yet), so he went to school with Daddymatic and took a nap in his office for almost 2 hours. The guys met me for the end of my company’s picnic at Thanksgiving Point where we rocked out at the “farm” exhibit with the goats, cows and chickens. He didn’t seem to be feeling well, but we were sure he’d be back in the swing by Monday.

Uh, no. Instead we got to stay home all week long with an extremely unhappy toddler. Out-freaking-standing. I actually had chafe marks from where he clung to my side like an oversized howling lemur for nearly all of his waking hours. Which, naturally, occurred some nights at regular 45-minute intervals.

The worst part about it is that as time wore on, I felt like I was going a little crazy. I felt less and less sorry for him and more and more general annoyance—not at him, of course, but at the whole situation. Nothing quite makes you feel like mother of the year like snapping at your toddler because he’s whining over feeling lousy and you, selfish jerk that you are, just. can’t. handle. any. more. whining. And then fighting with your spouse about, well, you know, everything. And worrying about your job, which is entering its second week but which may no longer be there if you don’t show up for it soon. Good times, people.

So needless to say, when my sweet little boy reappeared on Sunday afternoon, I felt reborn. Every smile he offered, every bite of food he ate, every step he took in pursuit of something fun, every word he spoke felt like a huge victory over the depression and anxiety of the previous week. It was like getting a wonderful present you did absolutely nothing to earn, and I have been trying to remember to be grateful for it.

I did remember to be grateful for this gift yesterday when Daddymatic was late coming to meet us at the preschool (like Miles’s parents, we are also a two-car but one-car-seat family right now). We were waiting almost a half hour out in the parking lot because they were trying to clean up the preschool, but I tried to shelve my annoyance and enjoy this amazing, wonderful kid, this kid who was so happy just exploring the inside of the car, playing peekaboo, and endlessly locking and unlocking the doors. I was so grateful for his health, certainly, but more so for his joy—and for my own joy which he so effortlessly resurrected.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tom Petty was wrong

It's not the waiting that's the hardest part--it's the letting go. Don't get me wrong, waiting sucks, but it's got nothing on the letting go.

So my baby is in preschool today. Because the people who run the preschool are smarter than, say, me, they are stagger-starting the kids, so D is there with 3 of his new classmates and they have both teachers all to themselves. I forced Daddymatic to take him in because I thought I might cry and/or throw up and thus become the preschool mommy version of the dad who faints while his wife gives birth, thus distracting everyone from, ah, the events at hand.

I lost another “baby” this weekend—a cat-baby. Well, actually, she was 11 years old, but still—losing one of my pre-child “kids” was tough. She was not a nice or affectionate kitty—she hid most of the time, never let me hold or snuggle her and needed an entire defensive special team to hold her down during vet visits. Over the past few years, she had lost the ability to clean herself well and had earned herself the undignified nickname “Smudge,” for reasons which, while probably obvious, are too gross to explain in further detail here. She had also decided that our new leather, as-yet-unpaid-for sofa was The Enemy and release a fair amount of Delta Force action on it. This, for us, was the last straw, because it demonstrated just how unhappy she had become to be living in a new place where the toddler’s increased volume and mobility were stressing her to her limits.

After looking around for a new home for her (you would be SHOCKED at the lack of interest people have in a neurotic, skid-mark-leaving, reclusive, furniture-destroying cat of advanced age and substance), a vet and a person from a local group of animal lovers and experts recommended I let her try living outside, since she was a 3-month-old outdoor feral cat when I got her, and that maybe her goal has always been to get back outside. So I put her in the shed out back with food, water, a litter box and her favorite smelly sleeping bag and left the door open a wee crack. For a day and a half, she didn’t move, didn’t explore, and probably didn’t eat or pee. I had all but decided to bring her back in on Monday and try to find another alternative when the dog next door started barking like CRAZY on Sunday night. I won’t go into details, but our girl—who had probably fallen from the fence—came out the loser in a fight with said dog. The ER vet gave her virtually no hope, and so I told her she was a good girl, explained to her how sorry I was and how much I loved her, and kissed her—for the first, and, ironically, the last time. I said goodbye, and she was gone by 1 AM.

I know it seems there is little to no segue between my loss of a pet and my child entering preschool, but they are both goodbyes in a fashion, and they are not easy. The hardest part of goodbyes is, as I said, the letting go, the knowledge that, as much as you want, you cannot be there forever for the ones you love. You can’t fix everything; you can’t stop life from happening. I have tried to tell myself that despite the terror and pain she endured for the last hour of her life, my cat was as happy as she was capable of being for the preceding 11 years, and now, at least, she’s not scared anymore. I have tried to tell myself that even if D does decide preschool sucks (which, at last check, he had not), the experience of meeting other kids and getting more stimulation than schlepping around the grocery store with me as well as getting a routine and developmentally-appropriate guidance is worth a little discomfort on his part and on my part. It’s not wise to not try new things because they’re scary—change is always scary. Sometimes the best you can do when things like this happen is to try and be a sort of spiritual midwife, to be there and hold someone’s hands when tough stuff comes and to hope that out of pain, something wonderful is trying to be born.