Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rated PG-4 for Bathroom Humor, Minor in Possession and Mild Insect Violence

The unique opportunity to work from home has provided me rare glimpses into the minds of my children, particularly that of the four-year old, with whom I spend the majority of my time. And usually these occasional slideshows offer far more entertainment than most big-budget films. (A comparison I actually have no grounds to make as, sadly, I've not seen an actual grown-up movie in over three years. And from my perspective ANYTHING would be more entertaining than watching Milo and Otis for the bajillionth time.)

I like to think I run a tight ship around here... diligently steering her clear of the hull-endagering icebergs of questionable TV and prop-busting reefs in the form of Hannah Make-Me-Puke Montana; keeping her precariously afloat upon an ever-more-poluted pre-school sea of bedazzled, skimpy swimwear and hair feathering. And, perhaps I am succeeding at keeping some cultural icons from climbing aboard. But it is becoming increasingly clear to me that somewhere there's a leak. Despite my constant efforts to correct poor grammar and squash crude humor, water's trickling in, and bit by bit, this ship's flaws are being exposed. (Read: she is obviously a direct product of my leadership, and if she spends much more time with me on this little dingy, I'm going to ruin her.)

Evidence of "vessel malfunction" follows:

  • While dressing for bed, swab in question comments, "But, MUH-uuuum! I won't look PWETTY in theesth jammies." My reply, "Why do need to look pretty for bed?" "Becausth, what if we have to get up in the middle of the night? And our housth isth on fire? And then we have to run out, and theesth are the only clothesth I'll wear for the resth of my liiiiiiiiife?" This exchange left me with several questions. Not least among them why she concluded that should she lose her current wardrobe, there will be no replacing it. And in the spirit of tightening the budgetary reigns, I see no reason to quell her passion for clothing conservation. 
  • While indisposed in the Captain's quarters, sailor rudely enters (without so much as a quick throat clearing before opening the door), and pauses two feet from me and my business to briefly flair her nostrils and slightly curl her top lip. After what I can only assume was an assessment of the room's trade winds, she leaves in silence. I later approach her with an intended lesson of "when a bathroom door is closed, you should either knock or wait until the person is finished before just barging in." She replies, "I needed to know what you were doing in there." And then, I kinda had to applaud her, and somewhat forgave her for the violation of privacy when she said, "And make sthure you weren't gunna clog up that pot with too muchth toilet papuh. Besthides, you always thsay we don't keep thsecrets in thisth housth." Both, valid points. We are a household built upon the foundation of no secrets and TP conservation. I just never imagined the two principles would ever become cross-functional. I was too tired to go into a debriefing on "Secret-Keeping Exceptions", under which I believe restroom breaks qualify. 
  • When visiting as a guest in other's homes, if asked what she'd like to drink, she is known to occasionally reply with, "Beer, please, muh'darlin'!" Immediately followed up with hearty, high-pitched giggling. And every time it happens, I continue to respond with surprise and shock, "CLAIRE! Why in the world would you ever say such a thing?!" (And then I give her a wink, and whisper "Just 17 more years.")
  • During the second hour of prodding at the broccoli on her supper plate, she asks, "If I eat this, and then I thwow it up on my plate, do I have to sthtill eat what I thwowed up?" Valid question. My answer, "It will be easier to eat the second time." 
  • After violently stepping on a spider scurrying from a pair of flip-flops she had just put on and examining the remains, the bottom of her shoe millimeters from her furrowed brow, "I hope I thopped histh head off." To which I promptly replied, "Don't end your sentence with a preposition!!"
  • From the backseat of the car, returning home from spending a stupid amount of money on groceries, "Uh oh. Can you huh-wee? I have to poop. No... tinkle... oh no. I think it'sth boaf... UGH!" Again, I felt mildly guilty for not using this as a learning opportunity for the "Secret-Keeping Exceptions" theory... and I would have... had I not been laughing at her obvious anxiety over the realization that she no longer had a grasp on her bodily queues. 
She's an apt little sailor. I just wish she didn't pay so much attention to the captain.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Celebratory Sentiments

The day our oldest was born, the not-yet-to-be-knighted Nomad was all business. I was to be at the hospital early that Tuesday morning, checked in and donning hospital gown by 7 am. It was, due to still murky "complications", a scheduled induction. Or as the Nomad describes, "the morning we ordered up a pizza." We were casually pitched phrases like, "small for gestational age," "possible growth restriction," and "questionable amniotic fluid levels."

As if the uncertainty of first-time parental status wasn't enough in and of itself, we were ensured our deserved dose of anxiety with these last-minute, a la carte variables. And, prior to these discoveries, the nerd in me was determined this baby would be born sans drugs and sans complications - in a dewy meadow, near a babbling brook, as blue birds quietly chirp the news of a new life. (Allow me to insert the collective snort of all the veteran mommas out there.)

Irreverently stated, I was tweaking. The very idea that this baby was supposedly going to make its arrival as casually as a four-cheese pizza - after the long, nausea-filled, sciatica-prone months of baking away - resulted in an internal freakout session. No meadow? No birds? No news of this child's birth heralded by the mythical Sirens floating their exultations over a crystal sea? Holy crap. This wasn't at all my plan.

But, thankfully, my husband calmly took the helm, and after some effort, successfully redirected my mental state. With his sympathetic counseling (i.e. "Seriously, hon, get it together.), and his forward-thinking plan to ensure Dave Matthews was playing in the delivery room without end, our deluxe pie was indeed delivered, quite uneventfully to boot. A sturdy 6 pounds, 2 ounces, and with no confirmed complications. The pizza arrived on time, as ordered.

These years that have followed have been anything but a leisurely lunch on the pizzeria patio. Much like my detailed and unwavering birth plan, my perceptions of what parenting was going to hold for the Nomad and I were squashed more quickly than that child could fill a clean diaper. Navigating these rapids they call parenting has required a sturdy life vest and far more stamina than I had anticipated. And, I'm going to say what I'm not supposed to say, particularly on the anniversary of your first-born's birth: some days have been regretfully hard as hell, and I've selfishly wanted to resign my office of mom, longing for the days of freedom and spontaneity.

And, just because we've made it another year doesn't necessarily quell those blanketed feelings of resentment and anxiety. Every decision I make as a mother is painfully self-scrutinized. What in these past six years could I have done differently? What could I have done better? Where was my sympathy and consolation during those times that I instead employed anger and impatience?

It's days like these - the day we remember the moment we first saw her purple, wrinkled, lizard-skinned perfection - that brings into focus the reality that, yes, celebrate we must. For there is much to celebrate. But there is also much more to learn. I have much to improve upon. Many ways to better my parenting skills and processes. Many ways to better demonstrate to her that even though I am far from motherly perfection, I am honored to have been given the opportunity to improve myself through her. And for that, I'll never be able to pay her back. Six years of fun and failures. And through it all, she continues to smile, and I am blessed to walk into her room yet another morning and say, "Happy Birthday, big girl."