Dear Rowan,

I think it’s great that you want to eat vegetables all the time.  It’s a little strange that you beeline for the freezer in the morning, and then whine until I pour some frozen peas in a bowl for you, but then again, you’re a toddler.  You do some odd things from time to time.  Like lick Bapa’s chair.  And hoard batteries.  And talk to the knots in the wooden furniture.  But I digress.

Last night we were all sitting around and having root beer floats, and I offered to make you a small one.  You aren’t allowed to have soda, so I thought this would be a nice treat for you.  You dragged your chair over to the counter to watch me prepare the dessert.  After plopping a scoop of vanilla ice cream into your space ship cup, I saw the oh-so-familiar look of a tantrum coming on.  Your body went limp, your face scrunched up, and you let out your first wail of utter distress.  I calmly asked what you needed, but you were screeching too loud to hear.  Or care.  I kneeled down, took your hands in mine, and looked you in the eye.  “Rowan, when you are ready to tell me how I can help you, come find me.”  Then I left you to wallow in your misery of being a neglected and unloved child.  

A few minutes later you appeared, still wracked with sobs, your face blotchy and tear-streaked.  Interestingly enough, I had zero sympathy for you.  Wordlessly you took my hand and led me to the refrigerator.  I opened the door and lifted you up to stand in main compartment.   One by one you pointed out what you wanted, and a few minutes later the counter was littered with various vegetables and dips.  Together we cut up some carrots, a cucumber, some broccoli, and of, all things, a radish.  I got three small dishes and you squeezed some dressing into each one.  We took our medley and retreated to your pop-up tent on the back porch.  You happily ate every single bite, while jabbering away about the fly desperately trying to simultaneously escape the tent, and sample your ranch dressing.

“Rowan, you’re an odd duck.”

“Quack! Num, num, num.  BUG!”

“I rest my case.”

I love you just the same, Kiddo.

Love, Mom

An over-tired post

I broke a cardinal rule of parenting last night.  I fell asleep before my kid.  It wasn’t intentional, though I guess it never is.  Rowan was just fine without me, and when I woke up 45 minutes later, he was sitting on his bedroom floor, with a line of stuffed animals, each one with a book and a diaper.

See, I’ve been feeling stretched a little thin these days.  I’ve been working a lot more, which is great, don’t get me wrong.  Rowan stays with my mom, which is all well and good, but I know what a drain it is on her, so it leaves me feeling terribly guilty. 

I’ve been knee-deep is several other projects, and investing heavily in my Grandmothers.  Rowan, still my top priority, has been very “two” in that the tantrums are frequent and lengthy.  He needs a lot of patience and understanding and time.  It’s emotionally draining, but all par for the course. 

Rowan and I are leaving in two days for a two-week visit to New Mexico.  It’s where he was born, and where I keep some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.  It’s like going home for me, and I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while.  I have not, however, done any planning or packing yet.  It’s very unlike me, and it has me a little stressed.  Not to mention worrying about flying (which I hate) and keeping ourselves from getting kicked off the plane because my child won’t stop throwing himself on the floor and screaming.

Last night I had myself a good cry, felt sorry for myself for ten minutes, realized that was dumb, pulled myself up by the boot straps, and made Rowan dinner.  

Finding a balance has always been hard for me.  I’m an all or nothing kind of person.  When I get something in my head, I follow through.  When I decide I’m going to do something, there is no hesitation, I just do it.  Sometimes I decide to do too much.  I go until I drop. 

I’ve got to find that delicate balance between doing what needs to be done, and going overboard and doing what needs to be done for everyone.  Eventually, someday, I’ll fit in doing something for myself.

To share or not to share?

So here’s a question for you:

Say your kid has a special “lovey.”  A blanket, a stuffed animal, that sort of thing.  And then say that your kid brings this lovey to a public place, let’s say, a park.  And THEN let’s say another kid grabs the lovey.  This probably won’t go over well with your kid, or you.

Here’s my actual question.  Do you force your kid to share the lovey?

Rowan has two small blankets with tags all over them, ironically called Taggies.  We took one of them with us to the playground, along with some small trucks and a bucket and shovel.  Right away a little boy grabbed Rowan’s tag.  Rowan, understandably, started crying.   I gently took his taggie back, but the other kid’s mother flipped out.  She said that if a kid brings toys to a public place, it should just be understood that it’s all communal.  I tried to explain to her that it was my son’s special comfort item and that we would be happy to share the rest of his things.  She wasn’t having it though, and grabbed her kid by the wrist, and dragged him to their car, mumbling something about selfish and spoiled kids.

I’m all about teaching Rowan to share right now.  Sometimes he does quite well, and will pass out his toys to kids that aren’t even playing with him.  Other times tears are shed.  The difference though, is usually he’s just plain mad about it.  With his tag, it was more fear I was seeing.  Hence my hesitance to force him to share.

In the future we will leave tag in the car or at home to avoid another incident, but what would you have done in this situation?

Dear Rowan,

I don’t mind that you follow me into the bathroom whenever I go.  It doesn’t really bother me that you empty the cabinet that holds the lotions, some bath toys, and other harmless junk, EVERY time you’re in there.  I’m okay with the fact that this morning while you had your back to me, you unwrapped four tampons and threw them into the still-damp-from-your-bath tub.  I can handle the fact that you figured out how to get the lid off a tub of vaseline and you rubbed it on the wall.  Do you know how hard it is to get that crap off walls?  No, you don’t, because I, your loving mother, cleaned it off while you sat on the floor eating strawberries and watching like I was your own personal floor show!  I can even deal with your desire to throw my toothbrush down the heating vent.  But Rowan, please, please STOP FLUSHING THE TOILET BEFORE I AM DONE!

Love, Mom

Out of the mouths of….the elderly.

In November of last year, my Grandma Jean came to live with us.  She was 89 and had fallen and broken her hip and wrist.  She spent several months in a nursing home, doing rehab and regaining her strength.  She’s a tough old broad though, and fully recovered, with total use of her wrist and she is walking with a walker 90% of the time.

This particular Grandma has been a part of my life since the day I was adopted.  She lived in the apartment attached to my parent’s house in Andover, MA, and then close by wherever we lived after that.  She taught me how to read full chapter books by the time I was four, how to paint, how to properly serve tea (That little life lesson  hasn’t been particularly useful), and ultimately cultivated a love of words in me.

There is one, I don’t want to call a glitch, but maybe more of a hiccup in her awesomeness.  It’s her inability to filter anything that comes out of her mouth.    I wish that in all the years I have known her, I had the foresight to write some of these gems down.  I think I was too busy being mortified by the stories she would tell my friends to see that she was really quite funny.

My memory isn’t what it used to be, as all my brain cells have been killed off by sleepless nights, an over-abundance of Thomas the Train, and my son’s farts.  Those things could kill.  In any case, here are a few prime examples of her wit and wisdom that I have had the joy of being present for in the past few weeks:

-Let me set the scene:

After church on Sunday, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat on our way home, so we wouldn’t have to do dishes.  The lunch itself was pretty uneventful, apart from Rowan not having any pants on, but that’s a whole different post.  As we were gathering purses and lone pairs of pants, my mom decided to use the facilities.  So as my dad  tried in vain to buckle my son into his car seat, I walked Grandma to the door. 

Now, her hearing is mediocre, at best.  She believes that if she can’t hear what she’s saying, we can’t either.  So shouting during a conversation with her is a given.  As I was leaning on the door with my back to shove it open, she bursts out, “HER BOOBIES CAN’T BE REAL.  SHE MUST HAVE HAD THE SURGERY!”  I meekly replied, “I don’t know.  Let’s talk about it la…..did you just say boobies?  Seriously?”  After recovering from the initial shock of witnessing my Grandmother checking out some chick’s boobs, I hurried her to the car.  By the time we had gotten there she forgot what we were talking about, and I was able to shove that unfortunate incident to the back of my brain.

-Since we’re talking about her inability to hear, last night she happened to wander by as Rowan and I were sitting on the floor, having a living room picnic together.  She asked what we were doing, and I told her, “We’re sharing.” 

“You’re eating herring?!  It looks like pasta to me!”

“No Gram, we’re SHARING.”

“I’m not staring, I’m just passing through.”

“Okay Gram.  Thanks for stopping by.”

-A few days ago I was helping her get out of bed in the morning, and she stops, places her hand on my arm, and says with the utmost sincerity, ” I had a dream I kissed a fine-looking man last night.  He would be perfect for you!” 

“Gram, I don’t think you and I should be sharing men.”

“Love doesn’t care about age.”

“Yes, but I do.”

“Maybe you should lower your standards.  That’s why you aren’t married.”

-Today was the icing on the cake.  While helping her get dressed she, in all seriousness, observed that, “Either these pants come up too high, or my boobs hang down too low!”

-Ever since it became shorts wearing weather, Grandma likes to tell me that my legs are sexy.  It wouldn’t bother me except that for emphasis she swats my booty when I walk by.  I know her mind isn’t all present and accounted for.  She’s slowly slipping away, and now,  more than ever, I have to remind myself to appreciate the fact that she thinks my legs are sexy while she still knows who the person is that those legs are attached to.