Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Have a BOY, Y'All

Yes, I've known that our child is a boy since about 10 seconds after he was born. But my cute and cuddly baby boy is becoming a rough and tumble, risk-taking BOY.

Case in point. We spend a lot of time at the playground (called the "wee" by Munch after the sound one obviously makes upon going down the highest slide available). One of the wees we go to has a couple of crazy ladders that Munch often has me help him up.

The ladder in question:

The ladder's rungs are about 8-10 inches apart, and the ladder itself is probably 3-4 feet high. Whenever Munch has had me help him up this ladder, he does the first couple rungs okay, and then I have to hold him the rest of the way up, and he hardly gets his feet on the rungs by the end.

I think you may know where I'm going with this.

On Saturday, Hubs and I walked with Munch to this wee and Munch was going up and down the slides as normal. He'd lost his god-forsaken boppy (pacifier) and though it's no great loss to us, we worried how Munch would do on the 20-minute walk back home once he realized it was missing. So, we were looking around for the boppy.

That is not to say that I had left the wee area or had even turned my back on Munch. Hubs and I were merely looking down at the ground, rather than straight at our kid. For about 7 seconds.

In that 7 seconds, Munch was busy. I was standing straight across from the ladder pictured above (in the second picture, you'd be looking at me through the opening). And you'd be seeing me from Munch's perspective. Hubs was standing to my left, a bit closer to the end of the slide at the right of that same picture.

I looked up through that opening. And I saw Munch on top of that ladder. He had about two rungs to go when I saw him.

My reaction: Freeze and look away and call my husband's name. Hubs dashed to the ladder, but by the time he reached it, Munch had already stepped on to the platform. And was smiling like crazy at what he'd just done--he KNEW what he'd done and that he didn't normally do it.

I don't know if my reaction was the best one, but it was instinctual. Munch had a very precarious situation under very precarious control. One freak out from me, and he might freak out himself. I didn't want to do anything that would cause him to lose his hand or foot hold on that ladder and PLUMMET 3 feet to the ground. And, I looked away both so he didn't get distracted by me and, if I'm being honest, so I didn't see him if he fell, which I felt was inevitable.

And he made it.

It's so true what they say--"I looked away for a second, and in that moment my kid did X, Y, or Z." Hubs and I were both RIGHT THERE, facing Munch's direction. And up a very age-inappropriate ladder he went.

I know that this is only the first time something like this will happen. Munch has a go-get-em, freak-her-out streak in him. He does similarly when it's time to go downstairs. He'll dash for the staircase and get two or three steps down before I get there to "spot" him. And he looks at me with that same grin: "See what I did there?"

His whole life will contain moments when he will be in a precarious position and something will block me from getting to him, from helping him. Sometimes, it'll be something like the playground equipment or maybe a baseball diamond's fence.

It may also be Munch's own hand, held with its palm facing me, warning me off, telling me, he's got this, to let him do this.

And I'll have to let him.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On the Power of Nature

After Sandy Hook, I felt rage against man, rage against preventable violence and ignorance.

This morning, as I watch the Oklahoma tornado footage, I feel rage against Nature and about as significant as a dust ball. We build up our homes and inside them we feel safe. We feel tucked in against the elements, like if we just close our curtains against the lightning, it can't touch us. We stay out of our bathtubs during thunderstorms and toss salt on our sidewalks during blizzards. We feel we can control our circumstances, even against the elements.

I'm reminded this morning that this Earth we inhabit is the same one that the dinosaurs ruled, this Earth used to be covered alternately in ice and fire, this Earth used to be savage and wild. And yesterday is a reminder that our Earth is still that Earth.

As our cities grow up and suburbs slowly erase the wild places, as herds of wild animals disappear and our modern technologies take over, we forget. We forget that against the force of Nature, we are essentially powerless. That in the face of a mile-wide funnel cloud, our houses built of wood and plaster and love are as strong as toothpicks or Q-tips, destroyed in minutes, gone.

Last night, as I watched Dancing With the Stars and tried not to imagine those kids inside Plaza Towers  Elementary School, tried not to imagine being their mother, the hosts called for yet another moment of silence for the victims, just as they did weeks ago for Boston and Texas, as they would have done in December for Sandy Hook.

And I was seized with that old familiar feeling that I wanted to lock my family in the house and keeps us barricaded in against the danger because, on nights like this, it just doesn't feel worth it.

And then, again, I remembered. Even that wouldn't be enough.

Monday, May 20, 2013

From Cue Ball to Mad Scientist to Hayley Mills

Munch had his first haircut last weekend! We went to a really fun place called Kidville, and he got to sit in the firetruck chair and ring the bell and pretend to drive the whole time. He had a very good time, and didn't seem to care that anything was going on except when the stylist was cutting his bangs and he didn't like that going on in front of his face. So we gave him a Blueberry Dum-Dum and he pronounced that "Nummy" and went about his business.

We've waited a long time for the hair cut--2 years and nearly 2 months. It's been a long journey that started in utero. At one ultrasound, my OB said that Munch had what appeared to be a particularly round and large head. We then started picturing Charlie Brown and I started worrying about birthing a baby with a head like a bulldog's. My husband has a rather round and large head, so we weren't terribly surprised.

Luckily, Munch's head is perfectly normal sized and it's not noticibly round. He was born with a very light dusting of blond fuzz that he promptly shedded. My cousin once had an ultrasound where her daughter's hair was waving in the breeze (I understand that the breeze was fluid, but my way sounds so much nicer).

Not Munch's. Munch had no hair to speak of and he seemed to get balder as the months went on. He had the finest layer of hair and appeared totally bald for the first 6 months. His hair started filling in until his first birthday he had essentially a tiny mohawk on top, where his hair came to a point over his forehead, not much on the sides or in the back.

From his first to second year, Munch's hair took on a life of its own. He grew curls, corkscrewing, wonderful curls along the back of his head. His head of hair thickened, and he fell as in love with it as I did--he often laid on my lap, drinking his bottle, and caressing his own hair. Eventually, when wet, the back of his hair fell down between his shoulder blades. Daddy created rock star spikes with shampoo. He would wake up with bedhead like you've never seen. And I loved my red-blond-light brown baby's hair as much as my own (and that's a lot, since my hair is basically the only feature I'm vain about).

We marked his second birthday pictures as the milestone to get to before the cut. We wanted him to look like "himself" in the pictures. Those happened in mid-April, and we just kept delaying and delaying. Munch grew messier by the day, with his bangs falling into his eyes and his sweaty curls clinging to his cheeks after each muggy May playground afternoon.

It was time. He looked nuts sometimes, with the curls poking out every which way. He had a tangle of curls.

The stylist cautioned against going too short--I think it's like when a woman goes in with hair down to her butt and demands a pixie, the stylist balks. She cut off some of the length in back, but it still curls up. She shortened the bangs and the sides. Munch looked cleaner. I was so happy to get to keep the curls.

Then, he woke up the next morning, with his hair flattened by sleep and his bangs down on his forehead. Hubs said, "I think he looks even more girly now--I didn't expect that."

The thing is, Munch now looks a bit like Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap--after they cut East-coast twin's hair. Google it, I'll wait ....

Yep, that's Munch right now. He looks like a middle-aged woman with a light perm. I think it's the poufyness, along with the bangs. He also looks a bit like George Harrison in the 50s.

I'm not terribly devestated by this, it's just taking some getting used to. And, I told Hubs, this first haircut is a point of reference--next time, we can say, we need it shorter or thinned out. We've at least cleared this hurdle.

The Parent Trap was always one of my favorite movies anyway.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On This Mother's Day

I can't believe this is my third Mother's Day already. This week, so much has been made of mothers getting what they "really want" today--which, according to so many in the media, is time away from their families.

Maybe it's different if you have more than one kid or maybe it's different if your kids are older; but I don't feel this way. I understand that everyone needs down time, "me" time--but, to me, today is the day you get the gift card and the promise of a spa day.

What I want today is to spend time with my Munchkin, and to think about the reasons why I love being his mom--how he plays with my hair when he's tired or insecure. How he grabs my neck and hugs me tight sometimes. How he screams "MOMMY!" from the top of the stairs when I'm down in the kitchen. How he holds out his boo-boos to be kissed better.

How being his mother is making me a stronger and more confident person. With all the labels in my life, this is the one I'm most proud of.

Here is my journal entry from my first Mother's Day, when Munch was only about 6 weeks old, before I started this blog:

May 8, 2011

Today is my first Mother's Day--so weird to be on the receiving end this holiday! Hubs has done a wonderful job making it special. We have stayed conscious of Points, but also treated ourselves. For "brunch," we had healthy omelets from IHOP and bagels from Panera. We watched some CSI and then headed to the Rio (for the third time this weekend!) The sun was hot for the first part and then it got a bit overcast and breezy. We were in B&N a bit and then got Potbelly (first time since pregnancy!) and came home for more CSI--and presents! Hubs (and Munch!) did awesome. They gave me the Liam Neeson movie Taken, the new WW cookbook (can't wait to pick out recipes for the week!), an adorable Precious Moment of a mother rocking--that's Munch!--an infant, and from Blue Nile, a locket that says "Mom" with pictures of the boy inside and aquamarine earrings with little diamonds. I couldn't have asked for more!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Munch Ate Chicken Nuggets

And the heavens opened and an angel choir sang HALLELUJAH!!

What is a momentous event for me would be what some mothers would only call "dinner." Or, this would be a momentous event for them, say, a year or more ago.

My son is 2 years old. And he is a picky eater. At least at home. At daycare, he's been eating those nuggets for a year or more.

But those nine (NINE!) nuggets were the first morsels of meat Munch has eaten for me in his entire life. HIS ENTIRE LIFE!!

I've tried nuggets before. Usually, his father or I end up eating them after he turns his head away with no interest at all. Like, "Woman, seriously? You thought I'd eat THAT?"

Last night, with less than zero hope that he would do anything but push the plate away, I gave him three nuggets, cut into fours.

He sat on my lap and watched videos of "the baby" (himself) on my iPhone (a post on raising a potential narcissist to come at a later date).

Without batting an eye, he picked up a nugget.

I tensed and clenched my teeth, wanting to give no reaction that I cared in the least whether that chicken passed his lips.

He ate it.

And reached for another.

And another.

When those were gone, he asked for "mo." When another three nuggets were gone ... he asked ... for "mo." And he ate them.

Internally, I rejoiced! I wanted to scream out into the rainy night: MY SON ATE CHICKEN NUGGETS!!!!!! IRON, IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER!!!!!!

But, I made like it was the most normal moment of our lives, happens every day, will happen again tomorrow.

No biggie.

After all, it's just dinner.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Puddle Jumpin

My son loves water of all kinds--whether it's a fountain splash park at Disney or a small backyard pool, this kid gravitates toward water and has to be IN IT if he sees it. Even "ucky allo" (yucky water), which he finds pooled at the bottom of a slide after a shower.

Run-of-the-mill puddles are no different. If it's raining out, I know that we won't be able to leave the house without a full-on desperate attempt to streak for the puddles and do a little one-two-three dance step in each one.

As adults, we generally avoid the puddles, both in our parking lots and in our lives. Puddles are messy. They make our feet wet. They are an inconvenience. We could do without puddles.

Yesterday afternoon, Munch and I sought out the puddles. It had rained off and on for a couple days, so the ground was wet, but not soaked. Puddles were there, but not plentiful. We had to look. And Munch seemed to know this was a search and discover mission, rather than a jump into everything mission.

Munch pointed at a puddle, sometimes so far away or small that it took me a moment to see it. Then we ran for it, enjoyed it for a moment, and then he pulled my hand to find the next one. We went throughout the parking lot, finding puddles and eliciting delight at every one.

My son teaches me that some things that I may find hum-drum, like puddles, are actually wondrous, if I just take a moment to enjoy them, if I forget about sneakers that will need to be dried or cold socks soaking my feet.

Today, look for the puddles. And hop in one.