Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Another Pic Break

The healing continues, but so does Kiddo's cuteness. At 3 feet and 28 pounds, he charges around with all the 2 yr old energy and abilities he possesses. Check out some recent highlights.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Picture Break

Because I have been working a little too much, I ended up with tendonitis. As it is, I'm not even typing this courtesy of speak to text. Along those lines, here are some cute pictures. Hopefully next week I will feel better.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy Second Birthday!

I can't believe it's been two years.


How could something so small and helpless turn into a hyperactive chatterbox?

I look through pictures and scan memories and find myself overwhelmed by how much Kiddo has changed in such a short time.

He transformed from a little human larvae into a little boy. He tells involved stories about his toys and favorite Sesame Street characters. He pretends - actively transforming his environment into childhood wonderlands where baskets are motorcycle helmets, lace cards are talking pets, motorcycles have friendly conversations in the refrigerator, and anything can become a horsie or a golf club.

Kiddo sits happily drawing for hours. But he's just as likely to run bases (sliding into home plate), or build towers, or dig in sand. He makes up songs for anything and everything, and loves watching musicians with their instruments.

Of course he throws tantrums when he can't communicate or isn't quite able to do something. But he also gives hugs and kisses, and says "please" and "thank you."

I can't believe he does so much - or how much my life has changed because of him. When I look at him, I can imagine him towering over me, talking about his plans for some exciting adventure or life-changing experience. I can feel how that will feel - the whole twenty or thirty years of parenting that went before and every stage of his experience from that moment all the way back to his first hour of life. I can do that, but I'd rather just enjoy the kisses of now, full-body giggles, excited toddler gibberish, and even the intense need for me in the middle of the night...

"Mama? Mama? Mama? I want Mama. Mama?"

That ask, born of the knowledge that separation will happen at some point. And then, we may or may not be ready. But for now, just for now, I'll savor everything about two. Good days and bad.
Happy Second Birthday Kiddo! I can't wait to see all the wonderful things in store for you and our family.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Reward for Training Your Dragon - er, uh - Toddler

Having a toddler is a bit like having a pet dragon; they are both tremendously rewarding, but require an equal amount of effort and trouble.

Fortunately for me, reward and effort often mingle. There are few days that are only trouble, and few days that are just rewards. The result is the lows seem lower and the highs, higher.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I saw my effort and parenting philosophy realized.

"Thank you Mama - for Cheerios, and bowl, and motorcycles."
"Thank you Mama."
"Please Grandad"
"Thank you for strawberries."

I couldn't stop beaming. Every time his sweet little voice spoke those precious words my heart melted in a way I never thought possible.

I was so thankful. I was so proud.

It is rare to hear toddlers say "please," "thank you," or "your welcome" (we're still learning the last one). Actually, it is rare to hear anyone say these things. Maybe it is a result of entitlement, or selfishness, or obliviousness. Whatever the case, I believe in honoring the time and energies of those around me, so I try to thank everyone who is generous with their resources. I thank everyone who serves me or works for me in any way. If it doesn't fit the circumstance, I at least smile at the person, not because it is expected that women should smile, but because I recognize the human being before me and want them to know.

I wanted Kiddo to honor those around him in a similar way. This is something I feel strongly about, and it is why from a very young age, when Kiddo did any desired behavior, I told him "thank you for [insert behavior here]." Some people might think this was a strange thing - a child is not equal to an adult and therefore it is beneath adults to thank children (or to apologize to them etc).

This is complete bullshit and shows just how insecure a person is if they are incapable of recognizing the personhood of a child. A child has agency. They make choices. They choose to act a certain way. Once an adult recognizes this, it makes things a lot easier. Then the adult gives the child reasons to act a desired way (or in our case, say the desired thing).

Normalizing "thank you" made a difference. Thanking everyone appropriately gave a model of behavior for Kiddo. He saw his worth, how other people are valued, and the positive response.

So now, even in the middle of the night, after crying for me, when I go into his room, he immediately says, "Thank you Mama."


Yes, Kiddo had several temper tantrums yesterday. Yes, I wanted to gauge out my ears when he was wailing. But then I heard those precious words, "Thank you Mama," and the tantrums faded into the distance like so many bad memories.

It took a while, but the effort paid off in some serious rewards.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Raising Genderless: Honoring A Toddler's Choice

Outside the box
When Kiddo was born, and even before, I swore I wouldn't pigeon-hole him. I didn't want to keep him from being himself, whoever that was. So I promised, to myself and him, that I would protect and honor his preferences.

I promised I wouldn't push my ideas and preferences onto him.

That is easier said than done, however I think I've done a reasonable job. Sometimes they creep up on me, like when he wanted the Elmo sleepers marketed for girls, covered in pink flowers. I heard myself saying, "girl sleepers" and I had to pick my jaw off the floor.

Since when was that a problem? Sleepers are just sleepers. Who would even see them? Why would that make a difference anyway?! I bought pink and purple cloth diapers for him. How was that any different?

I rationalized my non-purchase by saying they were poly. Kiddo can't wear synthetics coated in flame-retardant. They pill and make him stink from sweat. Plus, they feel awful and the chemicals negatively impact developing endocrine systems. I only let him wear cotton sleepers.

I didn't even touch them to find out what they were. I didn't get close enough because Kiddo was throwing a tantrum he wanted them so badly. I was annoyed, exasperated. I didn't want to get him any more sleepers, that's true, but something else was bothering me. The sleepers were pink.

I was reacting to the fact that he wanted something that was "for girls."

But he's just a little boy. It shouldn't matter that he has a penis or not. It shouldn't matter one way or another what he wears or likes. He should be able to explore himself and what he likes whatever shape that takes.

So I'm grateful for Target's choice to take down their artificial gender barriers. It allows that exploration for all kids. I don't feel weird looking at play food, baby dolls, and remote control cars in the same aisle.Those are all things Kiddo likes. He also likes cleaning, building, and every sport that contains a ball. I'm glad the pressure is off about what is okay for a parent to purchase their child, because frankly, I'm on the cultural border.

Kiddo really likes the color pink. And Abby Cadabby. He sleeps every night with a stuffed Grover and Abby. He likes both a lot. Yes he screams out and giggles when he sees Super Grover, but he also waves his arms like he's a fairy before the Sesame Street fairy school segment.

This may end up being his favorite toy...
Which is why I bought him the Flying Fairy School for his birthday.

It was a great deal. I found it for half the usual price and it gave him two figurines as well as few pieces of furniture along with the school itself. I know he's going to love it. And yes, the characters have wings. And wands. And are purple and pink. Which happen to be his favorite colors.

So what?

Watching Steelers pre-season
Kiddo is a stereotypical boy in many ways. He just collected another bruise today from yet another fall (growing and going TOO fast). He runs around screaming at the top of his lungs. He loves trucks, and cars, and adores
motorcycles. He loves all sports involving balls - golf, soccer, baseball, football, basketball, tennis (yes, even tennis!). But he also likes to pretend to cook and play with figures. His made-up stories often involve hugs and kisses. He loves fairies, butterflies, pink, and purple. He is empathetic, and works hard to make people feel better when they are upset or sad by giving them his toys, hugs, or trying to make them laugh. He shares (I know, but seriously - he does!) at least half the time. He likes sparkles.

And I can't blame him. I like all those things (well, I'm not crazy about watching tennis, but playing is all right. Golf bores the snot out of me, but mini golf is kind of fun.).

The point is his sex organs do not dictate what I give him. And they don't dictate who he is now or will become as an adult. If he wants to wear "girl sleepers," that's okay. That was just a label someone else gave a product that fits any child. And if my toddler loves that product (and I do too), then by the grace of our capitalist overlords, I will let him have it.