Potty Talk

We’ve overcome the hurdle that is potty training with Harrison. It was a lot easier than I anticipated, since usually these kinds of milestones come with a litany of crises. Some people say boys are easier to train; others say girls are. I’ll let you know my stance on that argument once we train Ella (check back in a few years).

Harrison has a few things about this bathroom business figured out.

1. He loves an audience. As a matter of fact, he insisted everyone in child watch at the gym report to the stall to watch him pee last week. Twice. In one night. Luckily the other kids were good sports.

2. Poop is awesome. Every time he poops, he stands up to inspect his work. He’s always quite impressed with what he sees. Recent comments include, “Look Mom! Look how many!” and “Wow, it looks like an elephant!”

3. He must be a distant relative of Elvis. Now, I’ve heard the cheerio trick, where you put a cheerio in the toilet to help boys aim. This wouldn’t fly with my kid. He’s figured out that gyrating his hips makes for much more fun when taking a leak. He likes to yell out “Wahooo!” while he’s doing it. Fantastic.

4. When you have to go in public, it’s best to yell about it real loud so Mom and Dad will take you as fast as possible. We were at a somewhat important event at my father-in-law’s place of employment, and Harrison, out of the blue (and in the middle of a tour) screamed, “Mama, I have to go stink right now!” You can guess what stink is. So could the rest of the shipyard.

5. He’s got some room to grow. Apparently, a few weeks ago, Harrison was bemoaning the size of his, well you know. Justin reassured him that he’d grow soon, and that it wasn’t anything to worry about. How on earth does my two year old already have a concept of the “size matters” theory?!

6. This is the only time in life someone’s going to tell you to focus on your penis. I have caught myself WAY TOO MANY times yelping out, “Pay attention to your penis!” when Harrison gets distracted midstream and starts to make a mess. I need to find a way to let him know that no woman will ever say this to him again.

I think all parents should pride themselves on the completion of this milestone. After all, who would your kid be if he or she couldn’t pee alone on the potty? It’s a big deal.

We’re really loving life over here in Lightning McQueen underpants.

Baltimore

I am WAY out of the current events loop. I make a valiant attempt to watch the news each morning, but it’s harder than you think. H is constantly asking to watch a show as soon as he wakes up, and then there’s a need for milk, and then of course the obligatory morning poop, which both my children feel the need to do before my first cup of coffee. Well, it was hard to miss the headlines about the Baltimore rioting, and thankfully the news hit my Facebook page. That way I was able to read about it instead of trying to hear about over my children’s endless demands.

I really don’t know where I stand on the whole thing, because, as I said, I was distracted by my children so I didn’t get a good handle on all of the details. On one hand, why the hell are people burning down a drug store over the death of a man? I get it, I get the importance and the significance of the death. But it’s a drug store. And then I wonder what in God’s name are cops doing THROWING rocks at people? Isn’t there a more, umm, adult way of going about things?

But, I am not a news blogger. I am a mommy blogger. And that is what brings me to write about this particular topic. We all saw the mom in the yellow shirt hauling her son off the scene of the crime. Many people were so impressed that this woman took ownership of her child that they began to refer to her as Mom of the Year.  I mean, where are the other people’s moms during all of this? But then I watched the video. The mom of the kid who was committing violent and abusive crimes was beating the absolute shit out of her kid. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. This struck me as wrong, and I cringed every time she slapped her son. I was pulled away from these images by a request for cereal, but they did not leave my mind.

I thought long and hard about this mom and her son, as I am sure many mothers of sons have been doing over the last few days. At first I wanted to proclaim that this mom was doing the right thing because she came and removed her kid from the situation. Then I was mortified because she was hitting him. After all, her son was obviously using the tactics with which he was raised to attempt to solve a problem and stand up for his beliefs. That video doesn’t show us how the mother was brought up. That mother doesn’t tell us anything about her life. And yet millions of us are going to sit in our living rooms and judge her. How many times did she cry because she couldn’t get to the grocery store with unruly small children hanging out of the shopping cart? Did she stay up late at night with her kid when he was sick (and where were the video cameras then?) What were her child’s parent teacher conferences like? Could she even attend them, or was she working? How was she raised? Did she suffer abuse herself? For whichever side you’re on, if you’re taking a stance about this woman’s actions, you’re passing judgment. So many moms and dads are willing to do this these days, and in truth, most of us are doing the very best with the hand we were dealt.

Nakedness

I think I figured out the solution to my parenting problems. I’m going to join a nudist colony. I should probably join one in a warmer state, but after I hash out all the details I’ll figure out where I’m going to go.

I came up with my grand plan this morning in the shower. For those of you who aren’t parents to young children, a shower means quiet time in hot water to think and reflect. Perhaps you sing  a little ditty. Maybe you shave your legs, or exfoliate your skin. For parents, a shower is a really quick experience where you wash off the peanut butter that somehow got on your elbow (that’s probably been there for many more hours than you thought).

So anyway, I was finally in the bathroom. This is after I had put Ella down for her nap and gave Harrison a freezy pop for his snack. He’d been talking about freezy pops since we woke up (four hours prior) so I was sure this wasn’t a rash decision and he was happy with his choice. I had the hot water running and I was grabbing for a wash cloth when Harrison ran in proclaiming that he did not, after all, fancy a freezy pop for his snack and that he would prefer goldfish crackers instead. Mind you, I’m stark naked at the time. My dear son sees nothing wrong with this. Why shouldn’t naked Mommy prance into the kitchen with all the curtains open and nearby neighbors to get me a snack? What’s the big deal? In order to get some peace, and I REALLY needed a shower, I threw on a towel and got the goldfish.

After I got into the shower, I remembered that yesterday’s bathing experience was also a debacle. That time, Ella was awake and Harrison was napping. It is a rare event that I ever take a shower when Ella is awake because she is deathly afraid that I’m never going to come back out from behind the shower curtain. I tried to explain to her that this was not the Wizard of Oz, but the reference was lost on her. In her terror, she pushed back the curtain and attempted to join me in the tub. I had to hold her out of the shower with my foot, and wipe myself off with the other. Even still, I’m not sure who was more wet after the experience.

Following my really quick shower, I tried to get dressed. I had gotten as far as leggings and a bra when Harrison came knocking on my door. This time he wanted to watch a  show.

“I’m not dressed Harrison.  You’ll have to wait.”

Blank stare. “I want to watch Handy Manny.”

“Harrison, I’m still not dressed.”

Blank stare.

All of this got me to thinking. If we lived in a nudist colony, I could walk around naked and get snacks for my children whenever they pleased. Ella would live in the nudist colony too, so I wouldn’t have had to change her clothes after she got soaked from MY shower. And think of all the other solutions. Potty training? No big deal. Who needs underpants anyway? Meal time messes? Just spray the kids off. No need for a change of clothes. As a matter of fact, I could join a hippie nudist colony where there was no need for showering or clothing. That would eliminate the crisis of what on earth my children are doing when I’m in the shower. Yes I think I’m on to something for all parents with small children. Nakedness and smelliness.

I don’t work

The other day, I was at the gym during my usual morning workout. I noticed that one of the patrons with whom I used to chat was back from down south. I think he and his wife spend their winters there. We’ll call this man Al, because that’s his name.

I was in a fantastic mood because I was rocking my workout and I had enjoyed at least two cups of coffee already. I welcomed Al back to the north country and asked how his winter had been. Although he isn’t in *great* health, he reported that he was feeling fine, and was happy to be back. Excellent.

So, I’ve always enjoyed talking to Al. I know he has grown children of his own and he was always interested in talking about my teaching career, which, right now, is on the back burner so I can raise my children at home. Al knew all this, but he asked if I was back to teaching. Thinking it had been a long few months, I smiled and reminded him that I was now a stay at home mom. “Not even part time teaching?”, he asked. Nope, not even that. “But I thought you really liked teaching?” I did. I do. “So, how long do you think you’ll not work for?” At this point I broke the news that Ella was only 13 months old right now, and I planned to wait until she gets to kindergarten. I can only describe his face as filled with great disappointment. He did the math in his head and decided to let me know that meant I had four more years. (I am definitely no savant at math, but I had that number figured out). He then told me that four more years was a LONG time to “not work”.

So many thoughts ran through my head as we had this conversation. I am usually met with sighs of relief and smiles of elation when I tell people I am a stay at home mom. “You’re doing the right thing.” You’ll never regret this time.” That’s what I usually hear. I also know lots of people who don’t stay at home and tell me they love working. But never has anyone even implied that my “not working” came as a disappointment to them.

Let me also say that this man wasn’t grieving over the loss of my expertise in the field, as he has never seen me teach, never met my students, and never conversed with any of my teaching peers. It’s not like the guy was going to miss me working side by side with him, and it’s not like his children (or children’s children as it may be) had wanted me to be their teacher next year, and were suddenly disappointed that I was no longer in the work force. He was simply unimpressed that I was not working.

I was annoyed. Irked. Pissed off. Who was he to come sauntering back from Florida after THIS WINTER of pure snowy hell to tell me that I should be working instead of “not working”? Did he not know how much WORK Harrison and Ella are?? Did HE clean the crayon off the walls?? (Truth be told, no one has done that yet) Did he schlep people in and out of the car in subarctic temperatures? Did he put on little coats and little hats and little boots, only to have mittens lost minutes after stepping outside? Did he potty train one kid while keeping the other from fishing in the toilet? No. He simply thought I was just sitting around, not working.

This interaction then struck me in a different light. I have been so very, very lucky to have had such supportive friends and family members over the past year of my life. Being a stay at home mom is not always rainbows and butterflies, but it definitely is worth it. And even though I often miss teaching, I know I’m doing the right thing for my family.

Froggy

I grabbed that damn frog off the living room floor for what must have been the millionth time in a week. Why did all of Harrison’s sleeping tools never seem to be in his bed when it was time to go to sleep?!

Stopping to look for a minute at the small green figure, I noticed how, even after only a short time, his plush coat was faded and slightly matted down. The polka dotted bow around his neck was surprisingly still in tact, but had I chosen a bow for this creature rather than gifting him in his original store-bought attire, I think I might have opted for a different hue. Green on green wasn’t exactly my style. His black yarn smile peeked through some fuzz around his mouth, and his beaded black eyes looked relentlessly happy for a Wal-Mart purchase. Did he know he was from a bargain bin in a big box store? No, Katie, of course not. He’s a stuffed frog. I had even lied to Harrison when giving Froggy to him for the first time. “He came from a special frog store,” I replied, when he asked where this new toy came from.

And why? Why did I lie? Why didn’t I say that I bought the toy at Wal-Mart? Would he have cared? Surely not. Initially Froggy was cast aside and crankiness ensued. No airplane? No Lightning McQueen? What about legos? Legos would have been awesome. I explained to Harrison then that I bought the toy because I knew he didn’t feel well and I thought a new surprise would cheer him up.

The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t feeling well that day either. Having spent several of the previous days in fits of tears over the somewhat sudden and gut wrenching loss of the family cat, whom I had been in the company of for all of his thirteen years, I was very very sad. My husband did not love the cat the way I loved the cat; my daughter only thought he was worth chasing; and Harrison, being scared of anything on four legs, did not notice he was gone for more than a month after the fact. Although I was wallowing deeply in my own sorrows, I had been on that shopping trip to clear my mind of all sorts of troubles, but, as a mother never could, I couldn’t forget that my son was at home with a sitter, and very under the weather. Thus, I had to come home with something for him. I had thought if I could cheer him up, perhaps my own spirits would lift.

Somehow, and not surprisingly when coming from my son, the sentimentality of this object came clear after I explained its purpose. His old soul seemed immediately to turn course and find joy and love in his new present. It was now an imperative part of all comfort routines; bedtime, car rides, couch snuggles. Despite its apparent importance in all of my son’s activities, he is always an after thought, forgotten until the last minute, and then NEEDED before any further actions can proceed. Perhaps this is on purpose. Perhaps, it’s my chance to stop and go “search”, literally, for that frog, but also for a way to bring happiness and love, the way I was able to do to Harrison, even though I was hurting so much at the time.

Baby Powder

One glorious day about a month ago, my lovely mother-in-law came to spend some time with the children and give me a few hours to myself. She’s fantastic like that, and I really appreciate how much she does for us. She, like grandmothers do, adores my children. She adores Harrison to the point that he can do no wrong. When he’s having a bad day, she pities him and fusses over him while I am frantically thinking up a new punishment. But, alas, this is the way of good grandparents and I love that he is loved so much. It is for this reason that I am exceptionally happy Susan was at our house on what will henceforth be called the “Baby Powder Day”.

I was getting ready to head out to go to the gym, as I work a child care program in the evenings so parents can exercise. I usually have to leave at about 4:40 to get there on time. Susan remarked that it was amazing that Harrison, at such a young age, could entertain himself quietly in his bedroom for a period of time. I puffed out my chest a little, and smiled, thinking that some amazing parenting techniques had to play into this ability my son had. After all, it must have been me who taught him to self-entertain.

At 4:38, my husband came home from work, kissed us, and asked where Harrison was. Susan and I replied that he was in his bedroom playing nicely. Justin gave us a funny look and reported directly to Harrison’s room. He opened the door to find it filled  with a fresh coating of baby powder. All. Over. The. Room. Sheets. Clothes. Train table. Floor. Windowsills.

There were tears. There was laughing. There was disbelief. And there was Harrison, letting us know that there was still a little more powder in the bottle, if we wanted some.

If it weren’t for Susan, who thought this was indeed the most brilliant thing my little tyrant had done, I would have definitely lost my mind on that very day. Luckily, she stayed back and vacuumed while I went to the gym. She changed the sheets. She dusted the windowsills. When I came home, there was my happy little boy, all fresh smelling, and a clean bedroom. The vacuum still smells of baby powder when I start it up, but other than that, I suffered very little from that day. And guess who told me last week that I should pick up more baby powder at the store???

http://youtu.be/QLihOQndOx4