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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Children home all week. Busy, busy, busy. I’ve been cleaning up some files as I search for tax stuff. I found this old column I wrote (4 years ago), but could never quite find the right venue for. You’ll see why when you read it.

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My 2-year-old daughter, Boo, is a daddy’s girl. When he is at work, if she becomes even the slightest bit upset, she starts to repeat mournfully, “I need my Daddy to pick me up. I need my Daddy to pick me up.” The moment he walks in the door in the evening, she plasters herself to his body, utterly content. This might hurt my feelings if she were my first child, but she is my third, and her older brother and sister clung to me the way she clings to him, so I figure he is due. And it isn’t as though she has completely rejected me, because I still possess something he never will: breasts.

Boo loves my breasts. My breasts are probably the only things she loves more than Daddy. I nursed my older two children at this age as well, weaning the first when she around two years old and the second when he was almost three. They were both very fond of breastfeeding, but neither of them had this sort of attachment to my boobs. Boo has no interest in bottles, pacifiers, blankies or teddy bears. She does not need any of them, because she has my breasts.

Not long ago, Boo developed a bad cold and became completely congested, and found out that if you can’t breath through your nose, you can’t breastfeed. She would try valiantly, sucking for a moment or two before giving up and laying her head down on my naked boob. She would instead use it as a pillow as she went to sleep. It had to be naked.

She has also now taken to kissing the offered breast affectionately before she starts to nurse. When she is finished, she waves at my chest and says, “Bye-bye my bweast.” Yes, I think that is weird. If I dare to suggest that they are, in fact, my breasts, she glares at me. “No! MY boobies.”

It gets weirder. Boo has discovered that my breasts make amusing playmates. Like her older siblings before her, and probably countless other breastfeeding toddlers, Boo one day handed me one of her baby dolls and ordered, “Nurse baby!” I obligingly held the doll up to my shirt. “No!” she yelled. “Nurse baby!” I sighed, lifted up my shirt, and stuffed the doll under. Boo smiled happily at me. “Num, num, num,” she said. Apparently, the baby doll approved.

Having mom nurse a doll might be pretty standard behaviour, but Boo has now gone way beyond that. Several days later, as I was cleaning up the kids’ toys in their room, she handed me a purple crayon, “Nurse dis,” she ordered me. “Boo, that is a crayon,” I informed her. “Nurse dis!” she yelled. Then she started to shriek in outrage when I did not immediately comply. I grabbed the crayon from her hand and stuffed it under my shirt. I discovered that crayons can be neatly tucked into a bra. Boo smiled. Num, num, num.

Then she picked up a yellow crayon. “Dis!” she ordered. I played dumb. “This what?” I asked. “Nurse dis!” I took the crayon and tucked it into the other side of my bra. By the time I finished cleaning up the room, I had four crayons and a coloured pencil stuffed down there. Since Boo has figured out that she can convince me to breastfeed practically anything as long as she screams loudly enough, I have nursed hot wheels cars, a duck from the bathtub (dry), cups from a tea set, a small plastic dog, foam alphabet letters, marbles and countless crayons.

She seems happiest when she can combine the various functions of my boobs – security plus amusement – and likes to nurse on one side while holding some object up to the other. She will suck for a few moments, pop off to provide the sound effects for the crayon, “Num, num, num,” then happily go back to nursing herself. I cannot explain why Boo wants me to breast-feed inanimate objects. Baby dolls are at least logical, but marbles? Maybe it is a power thing: just how far can I push Mommy? Will she stuff a Popsicle down her bra if I scream loudly enough? No doubt my parents would argue that this is the case. After all, if I am crazy enough to be nursing a kid this age, why not her foam alphabet too?

But I suspect it is something else. I think Boo just likes to share her favorite toys – my breasts – with some of her other toys. I am assuming that when Boo eventually weans, her toys will wean also. I just worry that one day I will forget that I have something stuffed down there and go outside that way. How will I explain to some sales clerk why I have a duck-shaped lump on one breast?

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Yesterday, Maya was being very eldest child and amusing herself by manipulating her siblings. She had a loot bag with something pink and shiny inside, and told them that whoever did what she said would win it. She then proceeded to order them to tell her how marvelous, magnificent and superior she was.

Asher quickly decided it wasn’t worth it, but Boo hung in there until Maya grew bored with the game, and handed over the ‘prize’. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be an old container of some yucky goo stuff. Also unsurprisingly, Boo cried.

Despite the fact that this is well within the ages-old tradition of elder siblings tormenting the younger, we live in a new age, and I ordered Maya to provide something better for a prize. Maya produced something equally unacceptable – a small bottle of shampoo.

As Boo wailed again, I told Maya that she had to find something acceptable to Boo, and she’d just keep going up to her room to look until she was successful.

Maya made a couple more tries, increasingly serious and all rejected. I had tuned out, but tuned back in about this point and noticed that Boo was yelling after her sister, “And make it good this time! I expect something really good. Nothing stupid counts! I’m sure you have something in there you can find that I will think is acceptable! You’ll just have to keep looking.” And on and on and on. She had Maya jumping through those hoops and she was loving it. It took mere minutes for Boo to go from opressed to opressor.

Maya finally satisfied her with a lollipop, by the way.

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* Version One

When we had Maya, we were convinced she was the cutest baby in the universe. J honestly felt badly for the other parents who had their babies at the same time, because when they went to pick up their newborns in the hospital nursery, they’d spot Maya and be jealous.

Years later, we looked back on our photos and came to the realization that really, while she wasn’t actually ugly, she wasn’t the most gorgeous infant around either. But once she passed infancy and came into baby and toddlerhood, she did in fact become the cutest baby ever. I’ve been scanning old photos we have of her, so I have proof. Once I scan infant pictures, I’ll post those too, not be biased. But for now, adorable toddler:emma-toddler10

emma-toddler20

M with doll

M with baby

This last one is Maya with the Cutest Baby Ever, Version Two, (otherwise known as Asher) who was also not cutest until later. But whereas she was still cute as an infant, just not the cutest, he was, um, kinda ugly. Totally not his fault though, because he kind of got squished in utero and emerged with a huge lump on his head, a bloodshot right eye and a squashed ear. Stay tuned for more of Version Two.

Oh, and just for comparison purposes, here’s the Cutest Baby Ever, 12 years later.

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Mary G, over at Them’s My Sentiments, asked in her latest post:

If you were asked why you had children, if you wanted them, what would you answer? Would it be an easy answer, or a struggle like this one?

You should go over and read it yourself, if only for the adorable picture of her girls when they were wee. But for those of you who don’t, her basic point is that she just kind of fell into it, because that is just what you did back then – get married, have kids, get a house, etc. She was never into babies, but is delighted to have survived that stage, because she quite liked the children they grew into.

I have met a lot of women who admit that they never much liked the baby stage and much preferred their children once they started to become their own little people. I’ve met enough of them to no longer be surprised, but I used to be surprised because I am the complete opposite. I loved babies from when I was a kid myself. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to babysit so I could get my hands on squishy, delicious babies.

Loved the babies. Didn’t so much like their older siblings. I found little kids to be mostly boring. Bigger ones were annoying. Babies never ever intentionally annoyed you. Of course they did lots of annoying things unintentionally, but it was the intention that really made me crazy, so I never got irritated with a baby, even though ones who cried for hours.

When I was only just 15 years old, I babysat a little guy who was about 8 months old for a weekend. They were right across from our house and my brother, a year younger, co-babysat. He played with the 4-year-old. The baby cried for about the first 4 hours, then clearly made up his mind that his parents had abandonded him forever and I was his new mommy, and this one wasn’t getting away so easily. I wasn’t allowed to put him down to pee with protesting wails (good practice for having Asher, turns out). He wouldn’t go to sleep for hours past his ‘bedtime’ and woke me up at about 5:30 am. He tossed me into the deep end of the baby pool and I adored him. He was delicous. (And I still remember the look of utter shock on his face when his parents walked in the door.)

So it is safe to say that I wanted a baby. I really, really wanted a baby, although I was a responsible human being and waited until the time was right. I did assume – hoped, really – that I wouldn’t find my own child quite so boring once s/he got past infancy as I’d found the kids I babysat. I didn’t find Maya boring (although endless Franklin books and pretending to lose at the game of Sorry has frequently worn on my nerves), but I did find her more of a challenge to parent as she grew. Infancy I knew how to handle, even when the infant was colicky. Past that point, I have wished quite frequently that I hadn’t lost the manuals they must have come with.

Now I have no more babies. I adored my babies and, while I do not want any more, I do admit to missing my kids’ babyhoods, when parenting was easy and they loved me more than anything and they mostly smelled really, really good and were squishy and huggable rather than all elbows and knees, and they were so much more easy to understand.

But, thankfully, it turns out that I really like these kids I ended up with in my quest for babies. They are very funny and remarkably smart and always surprising. Turns out I’m pretty glad I had children, not just the babies I wanted.

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fiddling around

Asher is an aspiring fiddle player. He had one teacher he loved, so of course she moved across the county after a year. We found another and he didn’t love her so much. Then we spent a year letting him recover from the crappy teacher and me recover from him and looking for a good teacher. Fiddle teachers are not a dime a dozen.

I finally found one, a young guy. I figured that might work. This week was lesson the third. Asher announced when we got in the car that he wasn’t going to his fiddle lesson. He hates fiddle. He never wants to take lessons ever again. Guitar! How about guitar? I pointed out that one also has to practice to learn guitar too, and go to lessons. Yes, said the boy, but guitar would be fun. He hates fiddle. It is too hard. He hates practicing. He hates his new teacher (who turns out to be somewhat terrifyingly strict at moments).

I dragged him into the lesson and he actually appeared to have fun, but renewed his rant the moment we left. This, I figured, was a bad bad sign. All the way home he complained. I sulked. He’s actually good at fiddle. I like fiddle music. I selfishly want him to continue. He nagged me for an entire year to find him a new teacher and I found him one. Enough already.

I sulked through dinner, answering in monosyllables. Unpacking stuff, I picked up his fiddle, put his bow in my hand properly – not easy, you know – and had a little go. Asher walked up to me. I said, “If you don’t want to play any more, maybe I should just learn this myself.”

He stared at me in what can only be described as utter shock and said with bafflement, “I don’t want to quit.” My jaw literally dropped open.

“Was this all about being hungry?” I asked. “Now that you’ve had dinner, all is good again?”

He shrugged. “I dunno.” Then he said sternly, “I just know I am not quitting.”

They sure know how to screw with your mind, these little beasts.

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Asher has a great deal of difficulty writing; it’s a learning disability, actually. He also has ADD, and works very hard in school to concentrate. By the time school is over he’s had it, and so frequently I ‘scribe’ his homework. He bounces around the room dictating to me what he wants to write.

His class is reading the book Sarah Plain and Tall, which I have not read, but know something about because Maya did it a few years ago too. Today, he came home and told me that he is to write a letter from Sarah to William, the child who is to be her stepson. Sarah writes letters in the book, Asher told me. But he knew nothing else – not what she wrote, not what he was supposed to write. He got as far as “Dear William,” and had nothing further to say. So I wrote this:

Dear William,

I hope you are good at paying attention in school so you will know what your homework is and not drive me nuts when I become your mother. I hope you don’t use, “The teacher told me I had to read the book, but she never said I had to remember it,” as an excuse.

Love, Sarah.

I am thankful that Asher’s teacher has a sense of humour.

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Mousy murder

We have mice in our cold storage room in the basement, and in the closets down there. We keep the extra dog food in a storage closet along with tons of other crap, and when I took out my winter boots, they were filled with dog food. They also got inside the gift I was keeping for my 5-year-old nephew – a set of kid-sized tools from Home Depot and filled his little tool belt up with food too. That made for a more amusing gift-opening experience. He was so happy he has his very own level and chalk line, he didn’t care.

So J did the manly thing when we found the boot full of food and set out traps in the cold storage room. The mouse find their way in every fall, no matter how many little cracks J stops up with steel wool. The kids refuse to go in when this happens, making it easier for me to hide gifts from them.

But today, our remaining cat, Roxy, got into the room unsupervised. Predator that she is, she found one trap under the shelving and dragged it out to the middle of the basement. Traps themselves aren’t so easy for a cat to carry, but when there is a nice, plump mouse in it, it’s a snap – so to speak.

Maya found the result, which is a bad thing. She came screaming upstairs, raving about “blood everywhere”! I didn’t panic. Maya exaggerates. A lot. Sure enough, there was a dead mouse, caught in the trap only by maybe a lip (eeewwww!), but I think Roxy did it a favour and finished it off. The ‘blood everywhere’ turned out to be a smear on the trap itself.

The positive side to all this is that Maya has now announced she will never again go down to the basement and since that is where the TV is, maybe she’ll never watch TV again. I wouldn’t count on it, but then again, I wouldn’t put it past her, either. When she was four years old and we lived in a different house, I flushed a wasp that got inside down the toilet on the main level and she refused to use that toilet ever after, convinced the wasp was going to swim back up and bite her on the butt. That’s only mildly insane when you are four, although she did irritatingly keep it up the whole summer until we moved. But what pushes it over the top is that this summer, she remembered the incident and now refuses to use the ground floor toilet in this house, which has basically the same lay-out.

I totally understand why people chose not to have children, given that they suck very life out of you for 20 years or so, but I do feel a little sorry for those who live the stable, expected life that comes from not living with these unpredictable, insane little creatures. Like, for example, an 11 year old who refuses must go upstairs to pee because her mother flushed a wasp down the main floor toilet in another house 7 years ago. I giggle every time I think of it.

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