Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Incredible One-Armed Woman

I would have posted this a couple of weeks ago when it actually happened, but I've been so busy working on the sort of writing I actually get paid for over the past month that I haven't felt like I should have time to blog. Of course, this somehow hasn't stopped me from leaving my typical post-length comments on other people's sites . . . LOL.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I decided I would convert Isaac's crib into a toddler bed. It's not that he had been trying to climb out of the crib-- STAIRS freak this kid out-- I fear he has inherited my acrophobia (Get it?I fear he has a fear of heights! Haha. How clever. This is what happens when I spend several hours writing advertising copy. Watch out!).

Instead, for several weeks, he had been expressing a desire to play in the crib when not sleeping. He kept dragging me into his bedroom and asking me to lift him up over the crib rail so he could play "Night Night," a game he'd invented which proceeded as follows:

1.) I put him in the crib.
2.) He says "Night Night, Mommy. Bye bye!" and motions for me to leave.
3.) He pretends to be asleep.
4.) I leave the room and shut the door.
5.) The moment the door shuts, he cries.
6.) I come back.
7.) Return to Step #2, and repeat, until Mommy loses her patience, takes Isaac out of the crib, and insists that instead of playing Night Night we are going to go watch Finding Nemo/Clifford/Baby Einstein again for the 500 billionth time right now.
8.) Play again from Step#1 every two hours.

I figured he had invented this little role-playing exercise as a way of working out some nighttime separation anxiety issues. Since Isaac has been a terrible sleeper since even before he was born (this kid seriously kicked or somersaulted violently every ten minutes 24 hours a day in the womb, and slept less than 10 hours for every 24 as a newborn), I am pretty receptive to almost any activity I think might just possibly help him sleep better. So, I had been gamely playing along for days and days, in the hopes that this self-guided theraputic activity might eventually help him make it through more nights without waking.

The problem with this game (other than the mind-numbing repetition, of course, but that's par for the course with any activity invented by a 21-month-old) was, I have a bad back. And a bum shoulder that likes to pop out of the socket. And a I've been suffering on and off for months from this funny little thing called costochondritis, an inflammation of the sternum and ribcage, a repetitive motion injury, which, if you aggravate it, basically feels like an elephant sitting on your chest all day long-- i.e., like a 24-7 HEART ATTACK.

So, as you might guess, even if my numbed mind was willing, my creaky body was beginning to tire a bit of this in-and-out of the crib all day situation. Somewhere around the about 45th or 50th game of Night Night, as I felt my whole ribcage start to groan in protest, I experienced a brilliant epiphany:

My child is now, in fact, a toddler. This crib converts to a toddler bed. If this kid wants to climb into his crib to play ONE MORE TIME, by the stars in the heavens, he can damn well DO IT HIMSELF!

Of course, I was hit by this bolt of inspiration in the middle of the morning on a weekday. My husband was at work, and probably would be for several more hours. Still, I thought, this was surely something a handy woman like me could handle on her own. After all, I'd put this crib together with my husband while I was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant and IN LABOR (true story). I'd read the instructions for converting the crib before, and as I recalled, they'd seemed very simple. It was a couple of hours before Isaac's usual nap time; I had the basic tools I needed (a hex key, a screwdriver, pliers) close at hand. Why not just do this thing and get it over with before my husband could come home and insist on helping me so we could argue with each other the whole time over which one of us was doing it wrong?

Isaac was busy drawing pictures, anyway. This was a twenty-minute project, tops. How much trouble could he be?

My fellow mommies see where this is going.

Maybe it was the writing-project-deadline-induced sleep deprivation. I don't know. But some momentary lapse of judgement, some freakish state of mind made me, mother of 21 months, experienced older sister, and former nanny, FORGET a fundamental truth of child psychology:

The MOMENT you start trying to do something you don't want a child who is in the same house with you to interfere with, no matter how happily distracted the child just appeared-- no matter how perfectly content that child felt minding his own business a tenth of a second ago-- at that very moment the child will sense your determination to do something without his involvement, and he will ATTACK.

Of course I had to finish this project once I had started it-- couldn't wait until my husband came home, because if I did, there would have been crib pieces all over the floor in Isaac's room for hours, not to mention the fact that there would be no good place for Isaac to sleep come nap time other than my bed, which happened to have its clothes in the wash.

I wound up doing almost all of the crib conversion with a tool in one hand and a thrashing child who kept screaming "I want screwdriver!" in the other.

It took me almost two and a half hours. MORE THAN TWO HOURS. To take one side and some wheels off the crib.

I would not recommend this method of furniture assembly to 130 lb women with bad backs and a history of costochondritis.

But . . .

Almost immediately after I tightened the last bolt, Isaac leapt into his "new" bed and proceeded to bounce and roll there happily, holding elaborate conversations with his stuffed animals, for the next half hour. His newfound bed-access freedom put him in a fantastic mood. He beamed wildly at me and slapped me repeatedly with fierce baby kisses for the rest of the day.

It's amazing how the same person who drives you absolutely *chain of extravagant expletives deleted* insane one moment can in the very next moment make every instant of insanity seem worthwhile.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Like Mother, Like Daughter, Like (Grand)Son

Isaac read the word "milk" on Saturday while we were at the grocery store.

He is 21 months old.

He is not involved in any experimental early-reading programs.*

Yes, I know you don't believe me. I wouldn't believe me if I were you either, but it's true.

We were in the baking aisle, with the condensed and powdered milk. We don't use powdered milk. There's a box of it waaaay in the back of my pantry in case of some milk shortage disaster, but as no such disaster has yet occurred, Isaac has not had occasion to be introduced to the concept of milk-as-powder.

Isaac was toddling along in the isle, holding his father's hand. He stopped, and pointed to a box of generic brand powdered milk that had no pictures of anything related to milk on it. He pointed at the letters on the box, that, in a very ordinary sort of typeface, spelled MILK, and said "Milk!"

His dad was there, I was there. WE BOTH SAW IT!

Much to my anti-consumerist chagrin, the boy has already been recognizing certain corporate logos and signs for a couple of months now. It started with Burger King (also known as the only restaurant he is willing to eat things at). One day he pointed to the Burger King logo on a toy he had gotten with a kids meal there, and said "Fries!" I told him that indeed, that was the logo of the place we often went to get fries, but that in fact, it said "Burger King," which was the name of the restaurant, not what they served there.

Now when we go there, he points to the logos on the cups and the bags and says, "Burger King," and smiles at everyone in earshot very proudly. He also recognizes the logos for Sesame Street, Disney, PBS, NBC, and Charter Cable, even though I swear I don't let him watch that much television. He recognizes the Scholastic logo from some of his books (though sometimes he gets confused and calls it "Clifford"). He recognizes the Kraft logo, too, but he calls it "Bag of cheese!" (I have tried to use this confusion to my advantage to get him to try foods made by Kraft that are not, in fact, shredded cheese, but so far I have had no luck in that endeavor).

But recognizing logos, of course, is not quite the same as reading.

He also recognizes and can easily name every letter of the alphabet, as well as numerals from 0-9. He got really good with these a couple of months back when we bought some alphabet and numeral refrigerator magnets.

But knowing the names of letters and numbers is not the same as reading.

And he pretends to read his favorite books himself now, and sometimes remembers to say a fair number of words from the stories.

But repeating words he's heard me read a thousand times because he knows they're supposed to be there is not the same as reading.

This is the first time we have ever seen him actually, seriously, definitively read a word.

I know you probably STILL don't believe me, but I'm recording it here anyway so I can prove to Isaac when he's older that he really DID start reading before he was two, and it's not just that my memories of his early childhood have been clouded in the years since by motherly love.

(By the way-- Sorry I went behind your back and told all those people you talked to about how I started reading before I was two that your memories were just clouded by motherly love, Mom. Touche).

Looks like we might have a third-generation literature major on our hands.

Maybe this one will get lucky and actually have enough discipline to write famous novels!

Of course, I'm pretty sure his dad is still rooting for him to either be a world class hockey player or a computer engineer . . . **

* Unless you count his father's obsession with Wheel of Fortune.
** Edit: Upon reading this, John insists that he only likes watching strangers on skates beat each other up. He claims he does not want acually to see his own son getting beaten by people on skates. But you wouldn't guess this from the way he's taught Isaac to jump up and down screaming "GOAL!" Or from the hockey-themed clothing he has encouraged Isaac to pick out at the store . . .

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ode to an OT

Oh, Michelle! Michelle who comes to our house instead of making us drive 45 minutes and then wait 20 minutes to see her in a sterile, un-childproofed office. Michelle with her bag of bright, squishy, irresistable toys. Michelle who sits on the floor all the time when she's here so as to be at child-eye-level. Michelle who brings tests, equipment, and treatments designed for a toddler instead of an eight-year-old.

Michelle, who has been the first healthcare professional besides our family doctor to treat Isaac like a child with an eating problem instead of a problem child.

Isaac tried BARBEQUE SAUCE today, thanks to Michelle.

Now if only we could get Great West to actually cover her services before our healthcare FSA runs out.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Husband Material*

*Note: not available for serious dating until 2022

Today, as I was gathering dirty clothes for laundry, Isaac came up to me and said, "Dryer?"

"No sweetheart," I responded as I piled together some whites for a light-colored load, "I am putting these in the washer to get clean. Then we will put them in the dryer."

Before I could stop him, he ran to his own laundry basket, grabbed two baby-sized handfuls of clothes, and ran to the utility closet. I heard a thump as he threw his body against something. I came out of the bedroom to see what he'd done.

Despite being about a foot shorter than our top-loading washer, apparently by jumping, he'd managed to throw them all in. And, looking inside the washer, I discovered the clothes were all light-colored! Unless it was just an amazing coincidence, he'd apparently noticed I was sorting my own clothes and not grabbing anything dark, and decided to follow suit.

Then, when I had the load together, he insisted on helping me pour in the soap and set the dial.

Did I mention that he's already been helping me load the dryer for months, and he also likes to dust, use the lint roller, put his toys back in his toy box, and wipe off the dining room table?

Maybe I don't need a maid.

Now, if I could just get him to learn how to scrub applesauce and playdough out of the carpet, and to stop unfolding clothes as I fold them . . .