Monday, March 30, 2009

Wish it was Sunday

Typically, I don't mind Mondays at all. I quite enjoy the rhythm of our weeks and by the end of the weekend I am ready for it all to begin fresh and new.

Today was a new day, but certainly not very fresh. It started off well enough but quickly went astray. Our usual routine was interrupted for Nathan's four year well check. The nurse, then the doctor had him do many tasks and tests designed to check developmental progress as well as hearing and eye function. Shocking as it was, his hearing is perfect. The eyes are just less than and will require a follow up appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist. I expect it will be routine.

He listened to and responded well to the requests of the doctor, which was a clear improvement from his three year well check where he was quite reserved; until, that is, we came to the matter of drawing the picture of a person. In fairness, the nurse probably erred with this particular patient in her efforts to motivate. When he showed no immediate interest in drawing a person, she suggested he draw a character from a movie, nada. She began to list movie characters that he might choose from, of which he has little to no exposure and knew nothing of what she spoke. She began to give movie reviews on, I presume, every animated film known to pediatric nurses. Still nothing. Finally, she told him to just "draw whatever you want". He looked at her wide-eyed as though she was slightly demented; certainly she was not bringing out his inner artist.

The morning was filled with confrontations, mostly with myself. First, Nathan made a liar of me when I proudly announced that he knew his letters for the eye exam. Next, he raised his right arm when she asked for his left and the whole drawing fiasco goes without saying. Then there was the issue of my credit card being denied for the lousy copay and the academy award winning scene when I dropped him at school. Finally en route to climb aboard the sinking ship that is my livelihood, there was a metal ladder being flung about the freeway like a beach ball at a summer concert. Thankfully, I and my vehicle, escaped unscathed.

Later in the evening I decided to bring out the writing materials to see about this drawing business for myself. With the threat of shots lifted from his concern and being in his comfort zone, surely he would comply. Uh, not so much. When all else fails, cheat, so I started him off with a circle and he was on his way. I'm pretty sure he is okay, he added several elements to his 'unfinished man'. I'm not certain how many are expected for so called 'normal' development at four years old, but do you suppose it's a problem that one of those features was a deep furrow between the brows?

As if my day weren't complete enough as it was, I went for more, just to be sure. I inquired about this and that on his person, and when we got to the two little lines in question, he couldn't quite name them, but got his point across just fine. "You know, those things", he said squinching up his own face while glaring at the space in question on mine. Oh yeah, those.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Details, details...

"Mommy? But how did I get OUT of your tummy?"

This just gets better and better. I wonder if there is some toddler reality show in production about how to mess with uptight parents, so I try to take it in stride and nonchalantly reply, "Through the birth canal".

Internally, I am screaming "I don't want to deal with this right now, I'm not ready!"

Yeah, whatev, apparently, he is ready, so pull it together Momma.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do Unto Others

Mommy: "What is it called when we treat someone the way we want to be treated?"

Nathan: "The Golden Rule."

Mommy: "Would you like it if I were kicking you?"

Nathan: "No, but it doesn't hurt me when I kick you."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Fever

Nathan loves babies. He seeks them out and can be quite obsessed with helping them, taking care of them, showing them affection, basically stalking them. There has even been a full blown meltdown in a children's clothing store where he insisted on buying infant clothing for the baby that he would somehow procure. When questioned as to how he would facilitate this plan, he has come up with varying answers from buying a baby at the store to taking one home from the park. Lest you be fearful that he would leave some poor woman childless, he has it worked out such that the family from which he will seize the baby will have other children, so they won't miss just one. He's thoughtful like that.

Nathan has now matured and grown and no longer talks of bringing strange babies home. Now he simply lets his needs be known along with asking for clarity around some of the details he has yet to work out.

Our conversation over breakfast yesterday morning:

"Mommy, I want a baby."

"You do?"

"Yeah, I want a baby in your tummy, then...a baby."

"Yes, I would like that too, but it's not always that easy."

He continued eating his breakfast and I went about packing his lunch for preschool and emptying the dishwasher. Have I mentioned that he is fascinated with how things work? Yes, very much so, and this was to be no exception.

"Mommy? But how does somebody get in your tummy to be a baby?"

My head spun with the many possibilities of how to answer the question. This question that we have known was imminent. I wanted to choose just the right amount of information to give him while at the same time laying the foundation for all the questions that would follow not only in this moment, but also in the years to come. Answers that do not meet his satisfaction are typically met with a barrage of additional questions that generally make my head hurt, lead me to pour a glass of wine and lock myself in my room. Being that it was 7am, I deemed this not to be the most appropriate course of action. After a few deep breaths, the simplicity of my answer emerged from the hollows of my brain while I noticed that he had been silent those 15 seconds of my despair. As I had struggled, he had moved on.

"Mommy? Did my water come from an animal?"

I was granted a reprieve for which I am grateful. The swift kick in the fanny was duly noted just the same.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ok, I'll play...Interview with a 4 year old

Mommy: "How would you describe me?"
Nathan: "I don't know"

Mommy: "What makes me happy?"
Nathan: "Not wasting."

Mommy: "What makes me sad?"
Nathan: "Not Listening."

Mommy: "What is something I always say to you?"
Nathan; "I love you."

Mommy: "What makes me laugh?"
Nathan: "A joke."

Mommy: "How old am I?"
Nathan: "10"

Mommy: "How tall am I?"
Nathan: "6"

Mommy: "What is my favorite thing to do?"
Nathan: "I don't know."

Mommy: What do you think I do when you are not around?"
Nathan: "I don't know."

Mommy: "What am I good at?"
Nathan: "I don't know."

Mommy: "What am I not so good at?"
Nathan: "I don't know."

Mommy: "What is my job?"
Nathan: "Working"

Mommy: "What do you love to do with me?"
Nathan: "Play."

Mommy: "How are you and I the same?"
Nathan: "Blond hair"

Mommy: "How are we different?"
Nathan: "You're taller."

Mommy: "How do you know I love you?"
Nathan: "Because you say 'I love you.'

Mommy: "What do you think I like the most about Daddy?"
Nathan: "Hugs"

Mommy: "Where is my favorite place to go?"
Nathan: "I don't know."

Mommy: "What is your favorite thing about me?'
Nathan: "Kisses and that I love you."

Mommy: "Do you know how much I love you?"
Nathan: "No."
Incredulously: "You don't?"
Pacifying: "Really much."

Sunday, March 22, 2009


"We are trapped in a way of life that is suffocating everything noble and wise in us." Eknath Easwaran

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Can you say iPhone?

Today we spent a couple of hours with friends trekking around in "nature", best we can find it around these parts, mostly collecting rocks from "the rock area" and throwing them in the lake. Sam shone as nature walk leader getting the kids to use their deductive reasoning skills and pointing out new and different sights. One of the many reasons I like getting together with other families is to observe new ways of doing things, presenting information, disciplining etc...I love the fresh perspective and I'm sure Nathan enjoys it as well.

We headed further North for dinner with Grandpa after the lake. He treated us to a most fabulous seafood soup in a little hole in the wall Mexican place that Grandma had discovered. Never would it even occur to me to try a soup in a place like this, there are usually too many other ooey, gooey, cheesy delights to choose from. Nathan must not have been particularly hungry when our soup arrived because, much to my dismay, there was way more discussion than I prefer over matters I just as soon not spend much time thinking about. Such as the workings of the juke box and Mommy's inability to operate it, the "whiskers" on the shrimp, what octopus use their suckers for, and the life cycle of the ginormous clam in our soup. We talked about how the clams used certain muscles to open and close their shells and that when we cook them in our soup they open up when they are done cooking.

Eventually, we made our way back to Grandpa's house, walked the dog, had a special treat and then left Grandpa to get a good night's rest for his big bike ride in the morning and started the forty five minute drive home.

There was little chance of sleep en route home, as he had taken an unheard of nap on the way up. We listened to music, we chatted about the day, and we were quiet.

Eventually, from the darkness I hear "Mommy?"

"Yeah, hon?"

A little bit, but not really, from left field, "Mommy, if they are cooked, then how do they open their shells?"

Translation: "Mommy, if they (the clams) are cooked (dead), then how do they (use their muscles to) open their shells?"

I may need to rename my meanderings "Stupid Mommy" because this is not the first question I have taken more time to consider (google) than my four year old audience generally allows. I am forever plagued by a deafening buzzer in my head, reminding me of my ineptitude. I take solace only in the knowledge, that it is I, most often, that can accurately determine exactly the question and if not for an accurate question, there is no chance for a correct answer. That's what I tell myself anyway.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Learning Lessons--in your face

We all have lessons to learn in life and one that Shaun sometimes has a tough time with is admitting when he might, possibly, could be...wrong. This is likely my own incorrect perception; afterall, years ago he humbly informed me that he would be happy to admit he was wrong, just as soon as he was. Seriously. Thank goodness he and I alike have lightened up on that whole thing, though my mouth is still agape in disbelief that he ever said it; mostly, I find it pretty humorous these days.

The routine in our home in the evening is that I make dinner while Nathan either helps me, plays, or, if he is lucky, watches television--he loves television. Until now, I have been fortunate enough not to know thoroughly those persons that truly don't hear you when you call to them while they watch, uh, pretty much, anything on tv. Interesting that it bewilders me more than frustrates me, making it so much easier to simply turn the thing off when he doesn't respond.

After dinner Shaun does the dishes and turns on the dishwasher. Often, Nathan wants to help with this activity as well. On this particular evening, Nathan decided to get out the dish detergent and found alongside it, a sample product that had been in that cupboard for some time. He and I had had the conversation more than once about what the product was, our need for it (or lack thereof) and where it was to be deposited in the dishwasher, et cetera. As Nathan went about the process of getting this product out and then attempting to put it in the dishwasher appropriately, Shaun was telling him all the while that we didn't need anymore soap, that that is not where we put it in the machine, etc, etc...

Shaun and I try to be respectful and not contradict one another to Nathan and generally we do pretty well; on this night I found it difficult to get a word in edgewise. When I did find an opening, I gently suggested to Shaun that he might want to look more closely at the product and what Nathan was trying to do with it before he continued to tell him what he was doing was incorrect. Upon doing so, Shaun acknowledged his error out loud, apologized and we all went about finishing up the evening kitchen clean up. In his need to sum things up, Nathan offered the familiar pretense: "I know what the problem is Daddy," and the conclusion, "You're just not really smart."

There was genuine laughter and Shaun said what we were both thinking, "You're doing wonders for my ability to admit I'm wrong, kid!"

The lessons served up by innocent four year olds are so much sweeter and easier to swallow, aren't they? I hope the little one is learning half the lessons I am.

Perfect Love

Nathan spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa recently, wherein he pronounced his love. This time Grandma was the lucky recipient. "I love you, you are perfect", he told her. Thankfully, she corrected the idea of anyone being perfect and was met with the sweetest response, "No, you are perfect because I love you." Who could argue with that?

Coffee Talk

I'm not sure if Auntie T has enlisted Nathan in her Master's project, or if perhaps Auntie C has taken him to one too many hippie organic corner markets; where, by the way, M has determined that they carry a lot of snack foods for the hippie munchies....Hmmm....I digress....anyway, there's a new running conversation around here and I thought I would share.

Most meals these days are met with lots of questions as to the origins of the food on my boy's plate. This seems to have started when Nathan recently asked to have a ham and cheese sandwich to take to school for lunch. I avoided the Jewish take on that question, mostly 'cause I don't know the answer for sure and lord knows there is a premium on correctness 'round these parts; otherwise there will be twice the questions and twice my own confusion when the truth is uncovered. Anyway, I went the vegetarian route; "you may not have ham at school because at school we follow a vegetarian diet". I could only hope to go on about my business of the morning, but, nope, naturally, I was met with, "what means vegetarian?" (in a 4 year old's pronunciation which I cannot begin duplicate.) I was only two sips into my coffee and I knew where this was going and the panic (my own) was setting in. He is a sensitive soul and a thorough thinker. We don't do Disney, skipping a scene or two here and there doesn't cut it for this kid. We are reading Charlotte's Web as an exercise for me to get more comfortable with the whole death thing with him. I feel queasy just thinking about it and am inclined to become a vegetarian myself after all of this.

I try to circle the question, "being vegetarian means not eating meat", we don't really use that term, instead choosing more specific labels for our animal intake, so naturally the next logical question, "what means meat?" I take a deep breath, "meat refers to animals like chicken, fish, and cows." I am impressed with my own resourcefulness and quickly retrieve the puzzle Grandma brought from France that clearly shows the food chain in perfectly natural form, albeit much lower on the food chain, nonetheless the point is made. "Why don't they (vegetarians) eat animals?" "Because vegetarians don't think it is nice to have animals for food." I am terrified to use the word kill and clearly I have been successful in avoiding it. This conversation continued as I tried to overcompensate around the whole issue. We discussed the business of a farm and the animals there, not soon enough I decided it was time to shut my trap. Nathan proceeded with eating his breakfast giving the matter a little more thought, eventually: "Mommy, don't they miss them when they dead them?"


ps lately as he contemplates his meals, he asks, "what did this used to be?" As in, what animal was my cereal, pasta, bread; basically anything he's not sure of, he wants clarified. He has even let S know that it's not nice to eat plants either, they are, after all living things too ya know. Also, if you are interested, Nathan thinks it would be very nice to have a pet cow so he could have milk whenever he wanted. Never mind the conversation about where and how the cow gets milk, my head had exploded by that point.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just do it

"If you hear a voice within you saying 'You are not a painter', then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."
Vincent Van Gogh