Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Rubber Ducky Tragedy

I have to admit I'm still failing at sleep training with the younger one, possibly because I had such confidence in to my ability to do so after all - I've done it all before. The universe loves to slap the hubris from me. I've been trying to get him to sleep through the night and not nurse continually by not being in the room so there I was, relegated to the couch, with my toddler asleep in his room
on a queen side bed and my baby in our bedroom in our queen side bed. I related the absurdity of our
spatial hierarchy to my husband who was back on the east coast and we decided to redouble efforts at sleep training, which I fairly remember is something we've said before.... it's been an arduous road. Oh, to sleep the night through!

Sharing your bedroom with a baby, invariably, for us, involves sharing our bed. In order to keep him in his crib, we've had to devise intricate plans how to crawl into bed without M waking up in his crib, which have all proved fallible. We had numerous considerations for a perfect prowl - we timed it with traffic, we walked a sinuous path to avoid creaky floorboards, we opened the door in deliberately in a slow manner, we - well, admittedly my husband - had figured out by trial and error the best method of uncovering the sheets - everything was planned out to a t- and just when we smelt the aroma of victory, Ernie infiltrated our mission and compromised it by deciding to singing in damning decibels about his rubber duckies. We froze in frigid fear and locked stares of dismay. How could we be so sloppy as to have left a toy in our bed? And why was a singing toy not turned off? Before we could assess the cause of our catastrophe, we heard a murmur and held our breath for a Plinian eruption from our awakened progeny. Instead we merely heard a murmur as M simply shifted his position. After a few seconds, as an incipient smile sliced the shadows on my husband's face, I laughed. I should confess that I possess a thunderous laugh (and that is somewhat euphemistically termed)
and that our victory was short-lived, to say the least. Soon our bed housed three. One babe sprawling as he mimicked a starfish (it is quite astounding how much space a baby can colonize) and two adults frightened into foetal positions, two defeated lumps limping their way to a fractured sleep on the edges of the bed.

The other night, we went out to see some live music, which we haven't done in a while. We barely made it out the door in time, but we did it. I had no time to get ready and albeit I was never really one for glamming it up (nor admittedly, if this had ever been my taste, would I have known what to do in this regard - I only own one eyeshadow, one eyeliner and one mascara and as for hair styling accessories - ha! ) but I did clean up my aspect by for instance, putting on clean clothes and brushing my hair. Those days of civility are gone. My husband and I invariably leave the home with clothes stained by our sons' dinner and sometimes, I've discovered holdouts in my hair. My boys also like to play with my clothes and invariably have torn buttons and unwound thread so that now whenever I have a chance to shop, I look for armour, picking clothes not based on style but on durability - well, this looks like a sack, but I bet vomit really cleans up well. 

Thus, not having had time to change my clothes nor brush my hair, I left the house with an aspect that looked keenly designed to frighten even the most unfrazzled onlookers. There were suspicious stains on my jeans and as for my cephalic circumstance, my visage was populated by the labyrinth of lines that arrive with the sleep deprivation and worry of motherhood coupled with a capillary catastrophe that was whipped into a target for avian house hunters with the coup de grĂ¢ce of my aspect, being the red scratches across my neck and chest as a consequence of M's rather unchivalrous nursing habits (which my husband, in what must have indubitably been a frisson of romance described as appearing as if I had an infectious disease). I slumped a tad when as I saw my impression in a mirror that seemed ashamed of its incorrigible honesty and then I regained my resolve and figured, since it's all about perception, that we would get more space on the dance floor. And we had a ball.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Mercurial Reality

My toddler inhabits a mercurial reality. We appear to have not only inoculated him against certain diseases but our understanding of the linear nature of time and the difference between fact and fiction (arguably much akin to the Toddler-in-Chief). Each night, we go over the events of the day - a tactic I read from a psychologist and pedagogue that helps boost memory -and increasingly, I've discovered that my toddler has had clandestine and fantastic adventures. He has travelled far, from Lego Land to the moon, changed form, including being a tiger, a dog, a cow and visited characters both fictional, notably Elmo and Cookie Monster, as well as physically distant, notably my father. His partner in reality weaving, W, also inhabits a fluid reality. The other day, when asked the main event of the day by his mother, W proudly responded that he threw up. This had occurred a few weeks ago and had understandably frazzled him, but it had not happened that day. It could be a misunderstanding as to the concept of today or it could be the relation of a memory.  Or it could have been a way to garner more cuddling, for toddlers are shrewd politicians and one thing they well remember is that when they are sick, the rigid rules do bend...

It's possible that toddlers don't have clear delineations between memories, fantasies and reality - its concrete nature hasn't quite levelled them yet and they live above its surface able, able to enjoy a vantage point that we have lost. If a toddler remembers a memory, that could be a defining moment of their day, so when I ask L what happened that day, if he remembered Lego Land, to him, he was at Lego Land that day. Likewise, when L responds that he's been to Lego Land that day, it may have been the recreation of a memory or play-acting with his similarly obsessed best bud, W. I've heard them plotting road trips down to San Diego numerous times and possibly they've also play-acted going there and who am I to say that there is a concrete difference between their play-acting and reality if through play-acting they are physically experiencing it?

I continue to be amazed at the connections my toddler makes. The other day as we were walking to our usual park up on the hill and L pointed to a house, its facade an intricate display of masonry and yelled, "that's baka and deka's house" with glee. I thought it interesting that he's decided his grandparents live so close to us and more notably, that he assumed they live together albeit he has never seen them together (my parents though good friends and a model divorced couple, were divorced when I was young). In L’s world, Baka goes with Deka and they live together. I suppose he must also assume that Yia Yia and Papou live together - after all if understands that his grandparents are his parents’ parents and as mum and dad live together, he’s assumed each set of grandparents live together also.

Meanwhile, mon petit carporal continues to hold imperium over our shared bedroom. He has also learnt to demand more attention in other ways, competing with his brother for our attention and for various toys (one train in particular has been the subject of a few tug-of-wars, tears and calls for parental peace keeping). Somewhat paradoxically, as their internecine conflicts grow, so does their bond. They hold hands and hug in the double stroller, L comments on how well his younger brother plays piano, L likes to feed him, M’s stochastic and seismic laughing fits have come to be infectious and L loves to roll and giggle with his brother - all is fine and dandy until we come to the trains. Not only do they both want to play with the same trains, but M’s habit of destroying train tracks that his elder brother frustrates L to no end. This is particularly because L is very strict on routine. As much as he wines and opines that he doesn’t need to wash his “happy hands” after returning from outside, if I change up the routine just a tad and he gets an inkling that he will not wash his hands soon after entering the home - he reminds me. I stopped strapping him in the double stroller recently as I gauged that he no longer needs this uncomfortable precaution and was curtly reminded by my small passenger that I had forgotten to put the “strips” on.

It is interesting to see how different the two brothers are. Of course, I’m not sure how much of it is genetics and how much of it is environmental for M came into the world dominated by L, who is a rather intense individual and the development of M's character has been to some extent moulded by this contingency. M is as intense as his brother, even more so, but while L likes to command the attention of a crowd, M prefers to examine the crowd as if they were his subjects, a look of pinched pensively nearly permanently impressed upon his features. He is also becoming very hard to trick. If I need to divert his attention, I used to be able to simply hand him a new toy, but now my younger son, who just turned nine months, takes umbrage at this insult to his intellectual faculties and spears me with a dissatisfied look as he throws away the toy to ensure that I have received the message from my sovereign.

I’m not sure if any other parent has had to use a cyber nanny, but when I’m making dinner and the boys are not employed in their own endeavours, M pensive presumably about how he will gain domination over the whole world (one can only hope he will be a benevolent dictator) and L immersed in a fantastic world of his own making, I resort to using my mum and dad over Face-Time. We speak almost daily anyway, but sometimes I put them to work. My dad has perfected this scheme with an arsenal of toys which he puts up to the screen, using each toy to examine my sons’ knowledge of colors, shapes, sounds, letters and numbers. And lest I forget, the chess pieces (my dad has been training my sons for a while in chess and has pretensions as to their Masters potential). Meanwhile, I’m running the dishwasher or cooking dinner  - for this cyber nanny is not good for work since one ear always has to be on duty to ensure that neither boy has had a frisson of inspiration to say, climb the bookshelf.