1.30.2008

Motherhood Ain't No Place for Control Freaks

Right on cue, Bee has become a fully-immersed citizen of Make-Believe Land. Imaginative play, role playing and an almost non-stop narrative of the most charming variety now take up the hours where colouring, shape-sorting and driving Mummy crazy once ruled. (I kid, of course. She still spends plenty of time driving Mummy crazy.)

I can’t tell you the kick I am getting out of all of this. I have been moved to tears by the sweetness she exhibits while pretending that she is the midwife and must give her baby an examination using all the implements of her medical kit, mimicking the many appointments she accompanied me on: Let’s measure you baby; how is your tummy feeling? Don’t cry baby, this won’t hurt. Poke, poke, poke.

And I have been moved to tears of laughter watching her act out her favourite Dora episode while she watches herself in the mirror: Climb, little monkey, climb! Sube! Sube!

Her dance moves seriously slay me; she will run/hop/skip/jump/kick from one side of the room to the other while prompting: Watch me ballerina! I’m a good dancer!

And often I will find her sitting in her emptied toy bin, conversing with my bff, her ‘auntie’, on her toy phone: Hi Auntie! You bring Princess [ed's note - chihuahua] to see me? Well, Daddy’s at work right now. I’m so proud of Daddy! You take me bowling? Well, Mummy’s making dinner and Dove is pooping AGAIN! She’s a poop machine!

So, good parents that we are, we decided to help foster this very important, very entertaining part of Bee’s life by buying her a dollhouse. We have watched her, thoroughly engaged, play with dollhouses at friends’ homes and at various stores, so we felt it was worth the investment. (Especially since these good parents never bought her a single Christmas/Hanukkah present.)

Also, I see many boring winter afternoons trapped spent inside, and I needed something to take the pressure off. My (mostly one-handed) creativity can only be stretched over so many winter afternoons spent indoors.

So off we go this morning to a nearby mega-bookstore for a little train-table play, a little coffee for mama, and a little dollhouse buying. We eventually make it home, and after nursing Dove, getting Bee a snack and calling Chris but before going pee myself, I put together Bee’s adorable new dollhouse.

And OHMYGOODGOD I LOVE THIS THING!

Seriously, this dollhouse is da bomb shiznit. It’s got three floors, cute, practical furniture, and shrubs! And an adorably raggedy, if not homogenous, family of five, including a baby that looks like an old wooden clothes pin. You know, the kind with the round head. Too cute.

Bee goes straight to work, putting little wooden bowls on the little wooden table, and little wooden canisters in the little wooden bowls.

I try to convince her that the canisters look better on a top shelf where the mice and the baby can’t get at them, but no dice. Back into the bowls they go.

And then she makes up the little twin beds for Brother and Sister, blue and red bedding respectively, and uses the cute little area rug as a quilt.

I try to convince her that it looks way better at the foot of the bed than on the bed, but nope. Poor Sister is going to be shvitzing tonight.

And then Bee takes all the furniture and puts it on the top floor, and puts her bowl of apple slices in the living room.

And then she puts the baby in her cup of water, y’know, to give it a bath, and then dries her off and puts her to sleep in the toy box.

And then she puts the bowls in the dresser drawers and puts her apple slices on the kitchen chairs.

And then she puts her panda finger puppet in the cradle and stands on Brother’s skateboard.

And then Bee goes to find her Spiderman stickers and I rearrange everything in the dollhouse so that everything is where it is intended to go.

And then Dove needs to nurse again, or maybe she poops again, and anyway, Bee comes back and messes up my floorplan.

So this time I decide to back off, and just watch. Brother and Sister have a discussion about Rice Krispies; baby goes back in the ‘bath’ a second, third, fourth time; Mum and Dad don’t seem to do much at all, and Bee’s design sense is coming into its own. I would never have thought of putting a stove in the bedroom, or a bookshelf in the garden, but you know, it could work. And Bee thinks that the lamp is a vacuum cleaner, and gets to it.

And I don’t try to correct, coerce, convince or gently nudge her to do a thing differently. Because this is her space, and her time, and her childhood, and her imagination. And it cracks me up and makes me love Bee in even more ways than I already do – and who would have thought that was possible?

Plus, I’ll have at it once she goes to sleep.


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1.23.2008

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday




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p.s. frequency of posting directly corresponds with frequency of both children napping at the same time. pray for me.


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1.15.2008

Look Ma, No Ears

Bee, can you come here please?

Come here please, Bee.

Are you listening to me, Bee?

Bee, can you please listen to me?


Has anybody seen my toddler’s ears? They seem to have fallen off the sides of her head.

I’d love to say that my voice is so soft that she’s just not hearing me say the same thing to her twenty thousand times. I’d love to say that she’s so engrossed in learning to potty train herself or make my coffee that she just isn’t able to answer me right now.

I’d love to say any of those things, but the truth is, she’s just ignoring me. You know it’s the truth, because you have toddlers too. Either that or your toddler’s ears have fallen off as well, so of course she can’t do as you ask.

I’m getting bored of hearing myself plead with my earless child to stop ignoring me. Luckily, Bee eventually acknowledges my presence and is ready to negotiate. Literally negotiate, and she is better at it than I am. Honestly, my father-in-law, a retired auto exec, could have used Bee for labour negotiations. She is relentless. She would have had those union workers back on the line in no time.

She manages to canoodle special treats out of me for behaviour I vowed never to reward, like moving far enough out from under the bed that I can finally reach her to just pick her up and forcibly do the thing that I had been pleading with her to do for half an hour. We have even negotiated for special treats to get her into her coat and out of the house so that we can go to the zoo. Wtf? Now I have to dole out special treats just to get ready to go enjoy a special treat?

No, not always. Sometimes I refuse to hand out the two chocolate chips, or new sheet of stickers, or baby orange. (Ha! Sucker. I managed to make her think that a healthy Clementine is a special treat. Who’s in charge now?!)

Does that mean that she’s listening to me? No way, jose. That means that I just threatened to throw the tv in the garbage. Our threat du jour is quite effective, as Bee’s affection for Diego is greater than her affection for me, and she’ll do just about anything for him, like put on pajamas or stop running down the street.

I’m so sick of this, this trifecta of pleading, negotiating and threatening. Where is my good, sweet, attentive little girl who sticks close to my side and never gives me a moment’s frustration?

Oh wait, there she is, sitting on the couch, watching a Diego video and eating two chocolate chips.

Truly, it’s not always like this. Hell, it’s not even often like this. But we have our moments. Usually they come when I am stuck on the couch nursing Dove while folding laundry, or holding Dove while making dinner and answering the phone. You get the picture. I know that eventually, Bee will discover that she has clearly defined how far the boundaries can stretch and will chill out with the driving Mummy crazy routine. Either that or I will learn how to run faster than a two year old while holding a screaming infant and trying to steer the stroller away from oncoming traffic.

In the meantime, if you see her ears lying around, give me a call. And yes, there’s a special treat in it for you.




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1.10.2008

Okra Doesn't Impress Me

Today, to celebrate Bee’s very successful first day of nursery school, I took my girls to her favourite lunch spot, the deli counter at our local health food store.

We loaded up our plates with savoury goodness, and sat down at one of the long tables to talk about school and gobble up our lunch. Miracle of miracles, Dove remained asleep in the stroller so Bee and I were able to really enjoy our date.

That is, until another mom with a toddler of her own showed up and joined us.

Normally I would welcome anyone who asked to join our table with open arms, and then, after the perfunctory small talk (I live in a very friendly neighbourhood), go about the business of eating with my girl because my neighbourhood is actually friendlier than I am.

But this lunch would be different. Not only was my new neighbour another mother with another toddler, which would always open up the chatting, but it was clear from her opening that she was one of THEM.

The competition had begun.

‘How old is your daughter?’

See, it wasn’t what she asked, but how she asked it. Bee sits nicely, uses grown-up cutlery like a pro, and says please. But she is also tiny, which throws people off.

‘I’m two and a half!’ Bee happily answered. I glanced at her own cute little daughter, stomping up and down on her chair while her mother fed her with a spoon and told her that it was ok not to sit down because these weren’t very good chairs.

‘How old is your daughter?’ I asked in return.

The woman glanced upwards and made a face like she was trying to figure out a very complicated problem.

‘Well, ok, so, yes, well, she’s 28 months.’

‘So, she’s two and half as well,’ I confirm.

The woman shoves a piece of okra in her daughter’s mouth. ‘She just loooooves this potato and okra curry,’ she purrs, ‘ I could bribe her to go to sleep using it.’

I look at the plate that Bee and I are sharing. Quinoa, squash and Greek salad. It’s not exactly MacDonald’s on our side of the table. We are at the deli in a health food store. Every toddler’s eating habits will be impressive here.

‘Saoirse, honey, have some more okra.’ CompetiMommy coos. Saoirse jumps and shoves her mother’s hand away.

I try not to laugh, and head to the high road. ‘Oh, Saoirse – that’s a great name,’ I say honestly. Saoirse is a fabulous name.

CM clucks. ‘Oh, we think so too! What’s your daughter’s name?’

I touch the top of Bee’s head, and tell her Bee’s name. It is also quite fabulous. Then I point to the back of our stroller where Dove hides out and tell her that I have another one back there, and tell her what Dove’s equally fabulous name is.

‘Isn’t she bored back there?’ CM asks.

‘Excuse me?’ I am not at all sure what she means.

‘With the view,’ CM explains like I’m slow, ‘in the stroller. She’s looking at the back of the other seat the entire time she’s in there.’

Wtf? Is she dissing my stroller?

‘Well, she’s 7 weeks old and sleeping, so I think she’s pretty content. When she’s a bit bigger we change the configuration and it’s more like stadium seating’

‘Yes, well, doesn’t she sit right on the ground when you do that?’

Saoirse's mommy is pretty close to being bitch-slapped, but I channel Sandra and grit my teeth.

‘We think it will be fine.’ I answer.

Now, I’ll admit, we kind of thought the same thing about the stroller, but in the end it was the best double option for us. But seriously, back off the baby gear, beeotch.

Bee reaches for a sip of mango juice.

‘Straw!’ Saoirse shrieks.

‘We have a water bottle here, sweetheart, we don’t need a straw,’ answers her mother.

I am still trying to play nice. ‘Oh, all kids love straws, don’t they?’

Saoirse's mother goes for the jugular:

‘Well, straws are about the most environmentally unsound product out there. Just devastating.’

Really? Really, Saoirse's mother? More devastating than, say, nuclear runoff? More devastating than lead in our chidren’s toys or oil spills in our oceans?

I seethe. Anybody who knows me knows that I do not make choices of consumption lightly. I also do not let toddlers handle a large glass bottle of juice without a straw.

I get Bee ready to go because we are done, and I am DONE. This is the stupid shit I hate about other women, other moms. Why do we do this? Not every mother is a stellar mother all the time, and sometimes great children act like monsters. Your stroller may offer a better view, but mine is blue camo, so fuck off. I can’t handle this kind of drama. We all win. We all lose.

Except…

Saoirse runs to the water cooler and lets a stream of water out all over the floor around her. Saoirse's mother jumps up to stop her.

Saoirse’s mother is wearing leather pants.

I win.


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1.04.2008

Body Talk

Me: Hello, Scar.

Scar: I prefer Incision.

Me: Hello, Incision.

Incision: Hello, Kgirl. How have you been feeling lately?

Me: You oughta know.

Incision: Well, if you’re asking me, you’re feeling perfect. 100%. I believe I am healing like a champ and giving you no problems whatsoever.

Me: I guess if we’re splitting hairs, it’s not you, it’s your invisible counter-part inside my body that still acts up every now and then.

Incision: Perhaps, but that too will heal, to be remembered only when attempting the trickiest of Yoga postures.

Me: Or every time I look at the baby.

Incision: Strictly a reminder of the trials we endure to receive the greatest of trophies.

Me: You are quite the philosopher, Incision.

Incision: Precisely. I am like a permanent smile upon your body. You’re lucky to have me, actually. I am a beacon of positivity.

Me: I didn’t need a permanent smile upon my body. Luckily, you will fade and I’m never wearing a bikini again, so you won’t see the light of day much.

Incision: Plus, your rather large paunch will keep me hidden from the rest of the world.

Me: Forget you, Scar. I’m going to talk to Blocked Milk Duct.


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