Are We There Yet? I Want to Go Home!

We’re back from the cabins, weren’t hauled away by Outlaw Red Spiders of Doom, and we even survived the Incessant Whining of We’re-Never-Going-on-Another-Car-Trip-with-This-Child-Again.

One thing I’ve noticed is that Z wants to stay home more, now that she’s going to preschool. It isn’t just the drop-off tears (I think we’re done with that short phase, thank heavens). But when we’re here, she wants to stay put. It’s like she needs to be with her toys. She’s so much more absorbed. Yeah, she’s a lot more clingy, too, which is why I thought a long weekend with us and the grandparents would be a good thing.

So it wasn’t the idyllic Walden scene. Unless Thoreau had a cranky toddler to contend with, mixed in with the guilt of hiding in his cabin while his husband and grandparents dealt with her? I haven’t read Walden, but I can make a pretty good guess this wasn’t the case.

Oh yeah, and we forgot her cot. So it was Z, Husband, and me all squeezed onto a full-size futon. I’ve never felt closer to my family.

Le Weekend

If you happen to be in the bay area this weekend, you might see me climbing up out of the car to surf on the roof, a la Teen Wolf.

Or maybe I’ll be reclining on the beach somewhere, reading a book.

Whatever I’m doing, I will be SLEEPING IN. Husband, too, so I won’t even have to feel guilty about sleeping in!

Yes, our daughter just turned three, and this is our first weekend alone together. We’ve had some dates, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything, but I think I can count them on my fingers and toes. So this, a whole weekend?! Two nights?! I can barely stand it.

I thought, surely, we are the last of the parents with kids Z’s age to embark on the Big Weekend Away. However, Husband has shared with me tales of parents with six-year-olds and eight-year-olds who still haven’t escaped. If I had one word of advice for those parents, it would be this: Run. Okay, actually, it would be Plan. And have a sucker grandparent nearby to take over. Even the simple act of planning this (and believe me, our planning hasn’t gone very far – we’ve reserved a room and that’s it) has done wonders for my morale.

Some other day I will have to post about my blatant and joyful misuse and overuse of parentheses.

Right now I wanna get on the road.

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes

Z has this great little distractor, an old Leap Frog alphabet thingie. Z calls it her “Letters.” She spells her name on it, which was kind of cute the first hundred thousand times.

It looks like this:

It sounds like this:

“Try pressing a letter!”

“Press a letter to hear music!”

“Press any letter to hear its sound!”

“Z! says Zzzzzz.”

The music thing is, I think it goes without saying, highly irritating. And LOUD. No volume control. I keep meaning to give it my duct-tape fix (something I heard from another parent). The Duct-Tape Fix is a highly effective, low-cost way of lowering the volume on annoying toys (cheaper, even, would be removing the batteries). What you do, is find the blasted speaker, and slap a piece of duct tape over it.

The funniest aspect of the Letters is that occasionally, Z argues with the overly-friendly voice.

Letters: Press a letter to hear its name!

Z: I don’t want to!

Letters: Try pressing a letter!

Z: I said I don’t want-

Letters: Try pressing a letter!

Z: Oh! You interrupted me!

I love hearing those arguments. So maybe I shouldn’t smash the toy with a splitting maul just yet.

What I’m listening to now, though, is the tune to “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” over and over and over and over (keep going) again. It sounds like it was recorded in a windy field with my second-grade flutophone and our out-of-tune piano.

Where’s that duct tape?

Writer’s Group

One of my favorite Z stories is how she asked me to play picnic with her one morning. She’d arranged all the plastic and wooden “food” on a blanket on the floor, and she’d enlisted a plastic Lego box for a little table. So I came in and sat down on the floor, thinking I was doing her a huge favor, taking time from cleaning to be a part of this picnic.

I said, “Okay, here I am! I’m ready for the picnic!”

She picked up a throw pillow, set it on her lap, and pretended to type. Then she said, “Just a minute, I have to do something on my computer.”

Color me sheepish.

Our "computers." They never get viruses or need updates. In fact, the green one still works after Z's diaper leaked on it, although it is a bit lumpy from the washing machine.

Another time, I was rushing to get a plate of vegetables together to bring to a potluck/schmooze for SCBWI. Z informed me that she was going to her own writer’s group, and she was bringing marshmallows.

And today, she asked me if I wanted to go to writer’s group with her. Of course I said yes. So I had to get in our “car” (the couch) and let her drive us there (after closing the car doors and buckling up our safety belts first). Then we got out. She gave me a throw pillow, and took one for herself, and we “typed.” I asked her what she was writing, and she said, “How are you, Boo BOO!” She asked me what I was writing, and I told her I was writing about Owly Fowly (Owly Fowly is a character we made up together, who features in many of our stories).

Then we got back into our car, buckled up and closed the doors, and Z drove us home.

Someday, maybe we’ll be in a real writer’s group together. But for now, this is real enough.

Quiet Time? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

There are, in the world, parents who probably consider us lucky that Z continued napping until she was nearly three.

I try to remember this when I’m tearing out my hair and sobbing on the phone to my mom.

“Quiet Time” sounds something like this. (Please note: Curly brackets {¬† } denote the ESM’s thoughts, those things she says inside her head that she will never say aloud. Well, no louder than a grumble.)

Ever-Suffering Mother: Okay, Z, you’ve had something to drink, you’ve used the potty, you had stories and songs. Now it’s Quiet Play Time and I’ll set the timer for an hour. You get to play in your room now. Loveyoubye. {Maybe I should try setting the timer for an hour and a half? Would she know? No, but I would know, and I’ve inherited just enough of my mother’s Catholic guilt….}

Z: Okay, Mommy.

pause.

Z: Mommy, I want to take a nap. Turn on my noise machine. Please.

ESM: [rolls eyes when Z turns around] Yeah, sure. A nap. Okay, I’m turning your noise machine on.

Z: [climbs in bed] I need blankets.

ESM: [gives her the frickin’ blankets]

Z: I need my friends.

ESM: Okay, I’m getting you two friends. Which ones do you want?

Z: Talula and Ladybug Girl Baby.

ESM: [searching entire house for Talula and Ladybug Girl Baby] You know what? After this I’m not getting you anything else. It’s Quiet Play Time {dammit}.

Approximately three minutes and twenty-eight seconds go by.

Z: Mamamamadaddydaddy!

ESM: {yeah right.}

Z: Mamamamadaddydaddy! I need blankets!

ESM: I gave you blankets.

Z: [using distressed, I-mean-business-you-better-give-me-what-I-want-or-you-will-never-get-a-second’s-peace voice] I need blaaaaankets!

ESM: [using I’m-giving-in-this-one-time-and-if-you-ask-me-for-one-more-stupid-thing-I-will-explode voice] Fine! Here are your blankets. Now it’s QUIET TIME SO BE QUIET!!!

I’ve given up trying to write in the afternoons.

41 days until preschool starts.

And the little one said, “Roll over, roll over!”

[Image from Hyperbole and a Half’s fabulously funny blog. Click here to get to the original post.]

I know what you’re thinking: we brought this on ourselves. The place we’re at, right now, is a natural, predictable consequence of implementing the Family Bed (of Pain).

But that doesn’t make it suck any less.

See, maybe the Family Bed (of Pain) works great when you don’t mind letting your kid sleep there past age 7. I do know parents of twins who have done/are doing this, along with their new infant. They have a Cal King and pushed a twin bed up next to it.

Well, a) we don’t have a Cal King and, even if we were so wedded to the idea of Eternal Cosleeping that we were willing to buy a Cal King, b) one wouldn’t fit in our room and c) it still wouldn’t be big enough for us and a three-foot-tall person who wants to sleep sideways.

Two weeks ago, fighting gravity and the kicking feet of my sweet, cherished daughter:

Ever-Suffering Mother: [eyes still closed, barely able to sit up on couch, resenting being dragged from bed for the morning’s goodbye-to-Daddy-just-one-more-hug-and-kiss-oh-last-one-wait-one-more-and-one-more ritual] I can’t do this anymore.
Husband and Z: It speaks! What is it?
ESM: I’m the Ever-Suffering Mother. Pay attention.
Husband: [realizes  Z left some pointy toys of the couch that the ESM might use as missiles] Yes dear?
ESM: I can’t do this anymore. Z, tonight if you wake up and want to come to our room, you can sleep on your cot. We’ll move it next to our bed. [looks at Husband] This has gotta work. Please let this work.
Husband: [muttering] This isn’t gonna work.
[Creepy music to foreshadow disaster.]

The Cot of Urine after its most recent hose-down.

Husband was mostly right. The cot, from here on referred to as the Cot of Urine, is only partially successful. Z’s diaper leaked on the second night, so after getting cleaned up, there was nowhere else for her to go (or was there?) except into the Family Bed (of Pain).

Henceforth (what a great, underused word), Z seems to have realized that peeing gets her into our bed. Here’s what I think goes on in her head:

Step 1: Wake up.
Step 2: Say, “Oh no! My Pull-Up leaked!” (Whether or not Pull-Up is wet.)
Step 3: Wait for grouchy parent to take me to the potty and change my Pull-Up. (Whether or not Pull-Up is wet.)
Step 4: Climb into the Family Bed (of Pain). (Even if the Cot of Urine has no urine in it. This is where Mommy and Daddy are weak, lazy parents. If they were smart/less tired, I’d be getting back into my cot (if it’s dry) or back into my bed. Mommy and Daddy are sucker parents and I shall sleep in their bed until I’m 25.)
Step 5: Talk and kick for the rest of the night/morning.
Step 6: Screech with glee and happiness and ask for a snack at 5 a.m.
Step 7: Wonder why Mommy looks like a zombie bride.

Now that I’ve analyzed her way of thinking, I see where we’re going wrong: Step 4. Things are going to change around here.

Somehow. If I ever get enough sleep to have the energy to completely shut down the Family Bed (of Pain).

The Pirate at the Other Side of the Table

Besotted with my kid as I am, and proud as I am of her smart little brain, I can’t help but wonder if somehow, maybe during her naps, pirates are sneaking into the house and coaching her in table manners.

Having never dined with a pirate (except in my fantasies when Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow first takes a shower, sobers, and then sweeps me away for a pleasure cruise…wait, this isn’t my fantasy. This is – – – – -‘s fantasy. Guess it’s mine now, too). Where was I? Oh yes, having never dined with a pirate, I cannot say for certain what their table manners are like. However, if the most popular modern-day depictions of pirates (yes, you know the movies, starring Mr. Depp) are any indication, I imagine pirates would shovel food into their mouths when they’re hungry, and, as soon as their tummies are sated, they might start throwing things on the floor, at each other, and generally act dirty and uncouth: spitting, piling up the unwanted food, smearing it on their hands and arms, sweeping everything to the floor with a sticky arm (or hook, because we should embrace the pirate clich √© s).

Just like my daughter. Just add random, belligerent yelling.

Husband and I weren’t very happy for awhile, didn’t feel very close, when Z was really little and neither of us could do anything fun because we couldn’t hear or talk or make plans over the screaming. But now, now we’ve bonded all over again. We have united in the face of a Common Pirate Enemy. And our sense of camaraderie doesn’t stop at the dining room table. The shared horror at the atrocities performed a mere two feet away from our plates has strengthened our relationship. We understand each other better. We have suffered together, and continue to suffer, and will suffer through whatever future stages of growing-up we are lucky enough to witness.

They say the early years go by so quickly.

The speed of the early years going by is not quite as fast as a pea shooting through the air.