Merry Christmas, 2011

This was the first Christmas that Owen actually understood about Santa. We wrote Santa a letter. I wish I’d kept a copy of it, but it went essentially like this: “Dear Santa, I would like some blocks, some new feet, some music and some candy. Thank you. Love Owen.” We mailed it together and waited patiently for a reply. The reply is kind of a form letter (Santa has many obligations), but Owen still loves it. Even this morning, 6 days after Christmas, he asked me to take down the letter he got from Santa to read to him. On Christmas Eve, he carried Santa’s cookies into the living room all by himself (I carried the milk), and he “wrote” another note:

Rutabaga is a word we now use instead of “cheese” for pictures, as well as being one of the words we use to get him to open his mouth while brushing his teeth (with alfalfa, Nova Scotia, and phantasmagoria).

The next morning, Santa had replied (and eaten the cookies, of course):

Santa came through and managed to find Owen everything on his list, including the new feet. You can see them, below:

I’m assuming that Santa made them in his workshop, but similar ones are available here. Owen calls them his Max Slippers, after the protagonist of Where The Wild Things Are. There’s no listing for the slippers alone, but maybe they would do a custom order? The magnificent kitchen was a huge hit, and came courtesy of us, Erin and Nico, and Grandmum and Granddad. Owen has been making his specialties, grilled cheese soup and alphabet soup (made with the magnetic letters from the fridge).

I made him a dinosaur tail, but he wouldn’t stay still long enough to let me take his picture properly. The pattern was found at the Running with Scissors blog. I got the idea from here (thanks for the inspiration, Medrie!).

His favourite present may have been plastic leaping frogs ($4.95!). Finally, a game he can actually play:

All in all, we had a pretty great Christmas morning. I’ll hopefully get to post more about our day (continued at my parents’) later on…

Merry (belated) Christmas, everyone!

Two Daycares: Quite Beautiful

When I picked Owen up from daycare today, I asked him if he wanted to go back the next day. I’ve finished my teaching and marking, so I thought if he wanted we could spend the day together.

“I want to be at daycare every day, Mummy,” he said, causing his teacher to swoon.

So I decided that a calm day at home would suit me just fine.

After I picked him up, I brought Owen over to his old daycare. He attended from 7 months to 2 years. On the way there, Owen narrated from the back seat. “At my old daycare my teacher was Nadine. At my new daycare my teacher is Mimi. I love Nadine and Mimi. I love both of them.”

When we got there, several of his old friends were still there, colouring pictures. Nadine was thrilled to see him, and even had a little Christmas present for him. The space was bright and calm, just as I remembered it. Owen remembered faces but had to be reminded of names, “I remember Jeanne! I no remember Alex.” Lori, now three and a half, was the only one to remember Owen’s name. He settled in, coloured a little, then played with his new puzzle.

A little while after we got home, Duncan arrived and asked Owen if he had gone to visit his old daycare. Owen, exhausted with his long day, was sprawled on the couch, pacifier in mouth.

“Ya,” he garbled, “I’wsqbtf”

“Take your su├že out, honey. We can’t understand what you’re saying.”

He complied. “I went to my new daycare and my old daycare,” he said. “It was quite beautiful.”

A Very Full Day

Yesterday evening, after running around in circles and a brief stint on the potty (this was odd: he would run to me “Mummy, I have to go peepee. No, I have to run!” And would then run in a circle around the ground floor, only to come back and repeat “Mummy, I have to go peepee. No, I have to run!” After four turns, he allowed me to lead him to the potty).

So, understandably, after all that running, he was all tuckered out. He took the cushions off our easy chairs (upending the folded, clean laundry in the process, but never mind), and lay down for a rest on the floor. I asked him why he was so tired.

“I had a very full day, Mummy,” he said, seriously. “I played in Mimi’s room and in Casey’s room.”

“Oh,” said I, “that sounds exhausting.”

I’m not being sarcastic, either. We’ve impressed upon Owen both the importance of our work (i.e. we have to go to work so we can have food, clothes, and a house), but we’ve also suggested that what he does at daycare is work, too. His job, we tell him, is to play, and sing, and dance, and learn. It seems to give him a wee bit of purpose, and he certainly is exhausted at the end of the day.

When Duncan got home, Owen said, “Daddy, you home?”

“Yes, I am home, Owen.”

“You had a hard day? You worked really hard, Daddy?”

“Yes, I did work really hard, Owen.”

“I also worked hard. I played in Mimi’s room and then I played in Casey’s room. And I made a peepee, and I played with blocks, and I had some milk.”

On martial arts days, he not only plays but also, he tells us, rolls on a pig and says “hi-yah!” and breaks some wood. Indeed, I can’t remember when my days were so full.

The Potty Party

Owen and I have been doing the potty dance. We’re getting acquainted with the ins and outs (mostly outs) of what goes into our bodies. I may have mentioned this, but a couple of weeks ago, a request to pee in the potty in the morning would send him into the bathroom where he would throw the potty across the room. This from a boy who peed in the same potty every evening without incident.

I was mystified as to why my little boy was so anti-potty. A friend lent me “Potty Training for Dummies” – yes, it exists! – and while I have yet to try the “potty weekend mambo,” I have stolen a couple of tricks from the book that somehow got Owen enthusiastic again about the potty adventure (Thanks, Jen!). One of the tricks was to forget about getting him to use the potty – get him to show a doll what to do. Undress the doll, sit the doll down, flush the mythical contents, and wash the doll’s hands. This worked like a charm. Immediately after the doll did his business, Owen wanted to imitate the steps. The other trick, which I had never considered, is the idea of empowerment – apparently it’s really important to teach a child to pull down his or her own pants so when the potty trained day comes, the child is self-sufficient. We practiced pulling pants up and down for a couple of days and this also helped Owen get enthusiastic about a skill he can do himself. He’s taken to putting on his own boots and slip-on shoes, too. I like this independent streak!

The potential downside to this potty enthusiasm is that now he knows how PROUD we are of him for everything his body produces in the potty. But he hasn’t yet realized that we don’t tell EVERYONE about our potty products. Last night, we were at a party and on the way there, Owen asked, “We go to a potty party?” We’ve been dancing our way to the potty lately, singing “potty party, potty party” (if my students only knew the levels to which I sink [rise?] on the weekends)… I said that it was NOT going to be a potty party, but that if he wanted to use the potty, to just tell me, and I’d help him to go.

So, sure enough, in the middle of the party, one of the party-goers saw my son head for the bathroom. I went in with him, and he started to pull down his pants.

“We make it a potty party, Mummy?” Indeed.

And then, when we exited the bathroom, 10 or so people (adults, all childless as far as I could tell) were informed that “I made a pee-pee in the big potty and I flushed it and I washed my hands. You so proud of me?”

The thing is, I’m totally proud of him. And I kind of feel like strangers should be, too… I guess he shouldn’t be telling strangers about his urine but – seriously – where’s the harm?

So, we continue to dance the potty dance together, partying on the potty trying to get the signals lined up. I’ll keep you posted (because you all care, right?)

Before Bed

“I go to party at Adam and Val’s tonight?”
“Yes, we did. Who did you meet?”
“I met Sara and Katherine and Kyla and Erin and Luke. And I said ‘nice to meet you.'”
“I know. You were a very friendly boy.”
“But I don’t remember the cat’s name.”
“The cat’s name is Caleb.”
“But I didn’t say ‘nice to meet you’ to the cat. Because he no have hands.”
(He nods, admiring the logic in his argument).
Goodnight little love.

I’m Not Your Mother

I’m a little mothered out, lately.

I am not tired of being a mother to Owen (though I wish he would go to bed more easily. Two weekends ago I attended the naming ceremony of a certain Alma, the beautiful daughter of a dear friend. I drove down to Philadelphia with my parents and Owen. The trip was wonderful. But Owen and I slept in the same bed for five nights in a row. We went to bed at the same time; we woke up at the same time. As much as I enjoyed our time together, my nerves wore a little thin too. Since we got back, the child is so used to sleeping with me that he’s taken to climbing into our bed early – like 2:00 am – or not wanting to sleep at all unless I sleep with him. Last night I had to wrestle him to sleep at 10:30 pm – literally – I held him down until he calmed down enough to just lie down. Tonight it took four tries. Finally, I held his bedroom door shut and listened to the patter of his chubby feet back and forth from his bed to the door -rattle, rattle, “Mummy?” rattle, rattle- My heart expanding with love and all the while hoping he would just go to sleep already so I could have some kind of an evening).

But, like I said, I am not at all tired of that kind of mothering. Owen asked me tonight, “Are you my friend?” and I said, “Well, I’m your mother.” “My mother-friend?” said Owen, “And Daddy’s your friend?” “Yes, Daddy’s my friend, and you’re my friend.” The other day at daycare he told his teacher she was beautiful. This evening, he offered to give his great aunt Joy a wreath he had made at daycare and, as we were about to leave, asked, unprompted, “Would you like a kiss, Aunt Joy?” and stepped forward to plant one on her face. This boy is pretty easy to love.

I am, however, a little bit tired of being a “mother” to anyone who is not my child. It is getting to the point in the term when students will ask things like “Can I do some extra work to pass the class? Because I know I am failing but if you let me do some of the work I didn’t do, then I could pass.” Strangely, I am not at all interested in giving myself extra work to help a lazy student pass. I am also tired of justifying the grades of average students who think they’re special and are looking for a boost in self-confidence. Don’t they have mothers for that?

I snapped at my friend and coworker yesterday. He asked, rather innocuously, what I thought he should bring to the pot-luck. I said “Read the instructions” or something equally dismissive… Oh dear. I know he only asked because I was sitting in the same room. But you see, I’ve answered the same question 10 times this week. I am organizing our staff party this Friday. The person who did this job before me (18 months ago) used to keep tabs on who was bringing what and would periodically send updates so people would know what to bring. For her, this worked. For me? Headache. I am not remotely interested in organizing a potluck. It’s the luck of the pot. If we get 33 appetizers and a lasagna, so be it. I set it up so people can see what people are bringing. It takes me just as long to scan the list of food as it does anyone else. And then I have to write an e-mail about it.

I was also grumpy because another colleague asked me (snarkily, I think) to remove her old e-mail address from the list. When I did not remove it the first day, I received a second missive requesting my prompt attention. While inviting people to this party is my pleasure, it is not my JOB.

About half an hour ago, Duncan asked me if it was OK with me if he went and did a little work. “Do whatever you want,” I said. He looked at me, surprised. “OK…” he said, a little scared of me, I think. But I told him he’s going to have to do what he wants to do and leave me out of it. I don’t sound like a very nice person, do I? The problem is, I think, that all my mothering, shepherding, organizing energy is focused on a small toddler. And all of the other requests, demands, and complaints are just noise.