Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Conversations with a Four-Year-Old: Just Wait 'Til He Finds Out Where Chicken Nuggets Come From

At the library, MOTHER and CHILD read a book about insects together.

CHILD: Is that dragonfly eating a butterfly?

MOTHER: Actually, I think that dragonfly is eating a moth.

CHILD: But moths are like butterflies. I like moths and butterflies! That dragonfly should not eat butterflies. Why do dragonflies eat butterflies?

MOTHER: Well, lots of insects eat other insects. All sorts of animals eat other animals. That's just the way the world is. Besides, dragonflies eat lots of bugs we don't like, too. Like mosquitoes! Mosquitoes bite people, right? And dragonflies eat mosquitoes. So we should be happy when we see a dragonfly. More dragonflies means fewer mosquitoes.

CHILD: It still shouldn't eat butterflies.

Later, at home, CHILD watches as MOTHER scrubs toilet.

CHILD: Are you washing that toilet with water?

MOTHER: No. I'm cleaning it with a mixture of water and bleach.

CHILD: Why are you using bleach?

MOTHER: I am using bleach to clean the toilet because bleach kills germs.

CHILD: You mean, after you use bleach to clean the toilet, the germs will be dead?


CHILD (accusingly): What germs are you killing?!?

MOTHER: E. coli, for one.

CHILD: But I like E. coli!

MOTHER: No, you don't. Really. At least, not outside of your intestines you don't.

CHILD: Hmph. You should not kill so many things.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sentence of the Day

"Last week, there was a new kid at the library, and Rachel and I didn't know who nor what had brought her there."

Said my four-year-old.

Who apparently uses "nor" now. And the appropriate construction, "X and I."

(Yet still says things like "hadded" and "runned.")

Monday, May 19, 2008

To the People Who Are Still Concerned That I Have Yet to Enroll My Child in Full-Time Preschool:

I have great news! I've hired a nanny.

She has a humanities degree from one of the top twenty universities in the country. I checked out her college transcript, which she included with her resume. She has taken college-level course work in English, Spanish, biology, physics, calculus, anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, art history, American History, European History, Eastern religions, Western religions, and Greek mythology, which I think positions her to offer my son an excellent, well-rounded classical education.

She speaks three languages! She has already begun giving my child Spanish lessons. Admittedly, her Hindi is a little rusty, but she assures me she can teach my son proper pronunciation when she reads to him in that language.

She has a history of volunteer work and work with non-profit organizations, which I think bodes well for her ability to teach good ethics and an appreciation for the human struggle.

Organic gardening and baking are two of her favorite hobbies. She has already instructed my son on basic plant life cycles, pollination, and the value of beneficial insects, and taught him how to start several different varieties of edible plant from seed in biodegradable peat pots. In addition, she has shown him how to bake whole-grain bread from scratch, and she uses baking as an opportunity to teach fractions and basic nutrition.

When it comes to art, though her drawing skills are not the best, she assures me that her skills as an award-winning amateur film photographer and her coursework in art history will allow her to teach my son basic aesthetic principles. Once he masters the crayon line drawing, and his art skills begin to surpass her ability to teach, she plans to personally transport him to the local art museum once or twice a week for lessons in other media.

And though she has no musical background, she has promised to provide weekly lessons with a professional children's music instructor to counter her inadequacy.

When it comes to physical fitness, as a former distance runner, she understands the value of daily exercise and promises to make a point of engaging my son in frequent physical activity outside. She also plans to attend all of his occupational therapy sessions, and has pledged to learn as much as she can from his occupational therapist about how to help him meet the physical challenges presented by his sensory disorder.

And in order to make sure he receives adequate social contact with other children, she has enrolled him in a weekly storytime club at the library with several other children his age, has set up regular playdates with several neighbors' children, and has arranged weekly group swim lessons this summer.

This nanny I have hired has three years of prior experience working as a paid childcare professional, and four years of additional volunteer experience working with a special-needs child.

Best of all, she has offered her services, 24-7, FOR FREE.

I know. I know! Unbelievable, isn't it?

It must be his red hair.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Conversations with a Four-Year-Old

CHILD: Mommy, do you wish I could always be three?

MOTHER: Why do you say that? What makes you think I wish you could always be three?

CHILD: Well, you seem sad about me turning four.

MOTHER: I'm so happy that you turned four! I'm so proud of you. You're such a big boy now!

CHILD: But, you still call me Baby sometimes instead of Big Boy.

MOTHER: I'm sorry. I keep forgetting, don't I? I just got so used to calling you Baby when you were little. I'll try harder to always call you a big boy from now on.

CHILD: Do you miss me being a baby?

MOTHER: Well, Mommies always remember their children being babies. And as I see you get older, I do miss some things about when you were a baby, sometimes. I miss being able to carry you around in the crook of my arm. I miss the way you always wanted to snuggle with me. I miss the feeling I had teaching you your very first words, when you just started talking, and showing you everything in the world for the first time. But that doesn't mean I don't love you the way you are now. In fact, you're a lot more fun to be around now. We can play games together, and talk together about all sorts of things. And I'm so proud of you for learning so many things, and for growing into such a kind and smart big boy.

CHILD: So you're sure you don't want me to always be a baby?


CHILD: But, why do you look sad sometimes when you talk about my birthday?

MOTHER: Well, to tell you the truth, I'm happy and I'm sad at the same time when you have birthdays. Mommies are always a little bit sad when their kids get older. I get a little sad on your birthday, because I know that every birthday you have brings me one year closer to a time when you won't want to live with me anymore.

CHILD gasps, blinks back sudden tears.

CHILD: But, Mommy, I won't ever want to not live with you and Daddy! Not ever!

MOTHER: Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to upset you! Don't worry. You'll still be living with Mommy and Daddy for years and years. I'm talking about someday far away, when you're all grown up.

CHILD: Hmph. Well, maybe when I'm one hundred years old, then I won't want to live with you anymore. When I'm a hundred, you'll have to live without me.

MOTHER: Okay. When you're one hundred years old, I'll let you go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You Decide!

Does standing on an aluminum ladder outside today in a cold drizzle in between thunderstorms hacking a quick fix for my loose downspout with-- wait for it-- duct tape-- qualify me for:

1.) A Special Homeowners' Quick Fix Badge


2.) A Darwin Award


Answer in comments.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to Me

The wind and storms have killed four of my bean plants, nearly knocked over a young apple tree, and worsened a problem we already had with a loose gutter to the point of emergency.

And Isaac woke up this morning crying that his stomach hurt, and later spewed his breakfast all over the sofa. So far today he's been able to keep down six crackers.

So . . .

Instead of the sappy book-length combined Mother's Day/kid's fourth birthday post I'd planned to write today, I'm just going to send you here for a series of posts on what some moms I hang with want for Mother's Day.

I wish all my mama friends a Happy Mother's Day that involves getting properly pampered.

And I hope all of my readers will take a moment today to remember this day's original meaning, and pray/meditate/think strongly about bequeathing our children a future of peace.

Meanwhile I'll spend my day mopping up vomit and starting some new bean sprouts while my husband is outside on a ladder hammering on the roof in gale force winds. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hangin' at the Democratic PARTY

Here I am at the Missouri State Democratic Convention in Columbia, Missouri, blogging from an overpriced hotel restaurant with crumbling '70s decor, lamenting the fact that my hash browns are soggy and my eight dollar breakfast includes nothing to put in my coffee but partially hydrogenated soybean oil with corn syrup solids.

My husband and I, who are both pledged Obama delegates to the Missouri State Convention, arrived last night to discover the largest collection of liberal bumper stickers we had ever seen in one parking lot:

Seriously, EVERY car had at least one sticker.

Because we're parents of a (four! FOUR! *SOB*)

four-year-old, we of course showed up about an hour later than we'd planned, but just in time to crash the fringes of a paid dinner party we were too poor to spring for we arrived too late to attend that had trickled out from a convention hall into the hotel lobby.

We ran into a bunch of delegates from our own Fightin' First Congressional District, as well as some great people from the Second and Third Districts that we knew from Obama campaign emails and meetings. We also happened across Russ Carnahan and Clint Zweifel. (No pictures of them yet. Sorry. Will attempt to rectify.)

The Obama afterparty was dominated by people from the east side of the state, as demonstrated by the choice of pizza:

And the fact that everyone kept asking everyone else where they'd gone to high school.

Interestingly, there were a ton of delegates there who had graduated high school in the year 1998, including, of course, my husband, myself, and these guys:

Perhaps this abundance of High School Class of '98 members getting involved with the delegate process to make SURE their votes count has something to do with the fact that we all voted for president for the first time in the year, ahem, 2000?

(Notice to the Supreme Court: We're after you next.)

Anyway it was inspiring to see that so many 20- and 30-somethings are participating in the delegate selection process, many of them for the first time.

I've been passing out MOMocrats cards to everyone willing to talk to me, and I'll be blogging a recap of the whole convention for MOMocrats as soon as we finish our Mother's Day "Dreams of a Mother" Series.

And now I'm off to try and find Senator Claire McCaskill, to see if I can convince her to write a guest post for MOMocrats.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fundraiser in Honor of Jessica and Kelli

Kim from Parachuting Without a Net has started a website in memory of her two daughters, Jessica and Kelli. If you go there you'll find information on a fundraiser that Kim will be holding in Collinsville, Illinois on July 13th to honor her daughters' lives. Proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund in Jessica's name and the school cheerleading team Kelli belonged to.

Using a photo Kim sent me, I made the button you'll find in my sidebar to support Kim's effort. Feel free to copy it for your own use if you'd like to help publicize this event.


As an aside, I know I've been lax with the posting here lately, and I hope you'll all bear with me. It's been a crazy busy couple of weeks with birthdays, appointments, work in the garden, work on the house, and many other things. But I'm headed to the Missouri State Democratic Convention tomorrow, and you can bet I'll be posting about THAT in detail!

Friday, May 02, 2008

My Victory Gardens, Part Two

Read Part One.

During my pregnancy with my son, on the verge of new motherhood, in the midst of my joy at prospect welcoming a new life, I found myself, as I think many women in that position do, more acutely aware than I ever had been before of the worst aspects of the world I would be bringing my child into, and helplessly anxious regarding my certain inadequacy as to act as a permanent shield against heartbreak and danger.

Driven by some nascent maternal desire to create an orderly, welcoming corner in an endlessly uncertain world, I started gardening in earnest during my pregnancy.

The apartment my husband and I shared at the time was tiny, and lacked a yard, but I was determined. I filled our tiny balcony with a motley collection of pots, and planted them with herbs and tomatoes.

The tomatoes didn't last long in such a confined spot, with a lack of good sunlight; after months of clinging tenuously, they succumbed to spider mites. But the herbs flourished, and soon I had a minature forest on my balcony. I was officially a gardener.

And every place we've lived thereafter, I've found a place to create a spot of green, for a boy whose fifth word was flower.