Almost Four Year Olds Say the Darndest Things

I have clear memories of car rides on the Belt Parkway with my mom, me sitting in the front seat (no airbags!), driving home to Canarsie and playing the quiet game. Do you know the quiet game? It’s the “game” to get your children to be quiet for just. one. minute. pleeeeeeease. Whoever talks first, loses. I lost a lot.

Fast forward twenty-five + years and sometimes I play that game with my own little one. Nolan talks from the moment he wakes up (around 6:30am) to the moment he gets into bed at night (at 8pm), plus all the moments after that when he climbs out of bed to tell me things.

microphone

I try to write down some of the funny things he says, but of course I can’t keep up. For every keeper I remember to record, there are ten other bizarre things he comes up with that I’ve forgotten before dinner. Here are a few recent ones…

While getting dressed in the morning:

NOLAN: Do you want to see my tushy?

ME: I already know it what it looks like. I made it.

NOLAN: You didn’t make it! You just pooped it.


While having breakfast:

NOLAN: Mommy?

ME: Yes honey?

NOLAN: … Mommy?

ME: Yes?

NOLAN: Ummm…ummm…Mommy?

ME: What??

NOLAN: … Mommy?

ME: Oh my gosh, Nolan, what???

NOLAN: Um, the mosquitos are hibernating now.


While getting dressed in the morning…

NOLAN: These are my nipples. They’re little.

ME: Yup, they are.

NOLAN: Do you want to touch them?

ME: No thanks.

NOLAN: You have nipples on the front of your boobies.

ME: Yes. I do.

NOLAN: Can I see them?

ME: No.

NOLAN: I think you have bigger nipples than me.

At this point I didn’t know whether to explain to him that it’s generally frowned upon to talk about your mother’s nipples, or to tell him that using “me” is incorrect in that sentence, and he actually should have said, “I think you have bigger nipples than I have.” I decided to just leave it alone.


Finally, there is the occasional sweetness that makes all that talking worth it.

ME: Which do you like better, home days or school days?

NOLAN: Home days.

ME: Why?

NOLAN: Because I love you guys.

Advertisements

Being a New Mom: Second Baby Edition

When Nolan was a baby, I read countless articles, blogs, top ten lists etc. about being a new mom. Then when I was pregnant with Will, I read all sorts of things about what you do differently the second time around. One of my favorites was this list I saw on A Cup of Jo. It’s from Jason Good’s book This is Ridiculous, This is Amazing. Some of them made me seriously laugh out loud like,

“TV Rules: First Kid: PBS/Sesame Street only. Two 23-minute shows per day.

Second Kid: Has his own Netflix account.”

Friends and family (and strangers actually) have asked, “Isn’t it so much harder with two?” And in a few ways it is. Leaving the house is a beast. It doesn’t help that in New York we’ve had a brutal winter. Wrestling Nolan and his giant jacket into his car seat is reason enough to move to Southern California; then you add packing up Will and all his stuff and hauling his heavy car seat back and forth everywhere. My back hurts just thinking about it. (And because I did it this morning when it was 10 degrees out.)

The evenings are also tough. I miss having those few quiet hours after Nolan goes to bed when Matt and I catch up on the DVR and drink some wine. Some nights we luck out and Will goes to sleep at 8ish, but most nights he’s up until closer to 9 or 10 and then I end up just going to bed at the same time because I’m exhausted!

But for the most part, I actually find it easier having two. I know this may change once Will is on the move, but I’ll enjoy this time until then. I guess since Will is here, Nolan kind of understands that I can’t do 100% of what he wants me to do and he’s more independent for it. He can keep busy “playing hockey”…

IMG_4363… or trying on my boots.

IMG_4378

Obviously the biggest factor in having an easier time is the experience! When you’ve done it before, you don’t worry about the same silly stuff you did the first time. I also haven’t put the same rules on myself. Through no one’s fault but my own, people’s innocent advice turned into DANGER! DANGER! WARNING! in my head. So here is my advice that I hope will calm any new mom nerves out there.

1. Hold your baby whenever you want. You’re not going to spoil your eight week old baby when you pick her up because she’s crying. If you want to let the baby sleep on your lap for two hours while you binge watch Downton Abbey, great! If you feel totally suffocated and can’t wait for her to sleep in her bassinet, that’s great too!

I was so paranoid about spoiling Nolan when he was a baby that sometimes I let him cry even when I didn’t mind holding him, but more often I held him and then felt guilty about it. Ridiculous! Women in many African countries and Eastern cultures wear their babies nearly all day for months or even years, and I haven’t heard about an epidemic of overly indulged children in Namibia.

PS This also applies to feeding your baby. Just feed him. Even if it hasn’t been the arbitrary number of hours you’ve decided he should wait.

2. Sleeping with your baby doesn’t mean your baby will never sleep on his own. When Nolan was a baby, I didn’t let him sleep in our bed under any circumstances. I remember one instance where I sort of napped next to him on the couch, and I couldn’t believe upon waking up that I hadn’t smothered him. I was actually less worried about hurting him than I was paranoid about, you guessed it, spoiling him. I figured if I let him sleep in my bed, he would never sleep on his own and in a few years I would need a king-sized bed to fit me, my husband, and my teenaged son.

Over the past year and a half we have had some battles about sleeping. We’re in a decent place now where he knows he can’t come in our bed before 7am, but there were nights where he slept on the floor of the hallway because he didn’t want to sleep in his own bed…

IMG_2390

Will slept on my chest for the first few weeks of his life because it’s the only way he would sleep at night. Now he’s three months old and he sleeps in his bassinet (mostly). I usually end up pulling him in around 5am so I can get another hour or two of sleep, but other than that he’s on his own and he’s fine. (Disclaimer: Obviously practice safe co-sleeping if you have your baby in your bed.)

3. Get stuff done when your baby is awake, instead of waiting until he is asleep. When I was home with Nolan, I would spend his waking hours gazing at him and wondering what the hell to do to occupy him.  Then when he was napping I would scramble to take a shower, wash dishes, do laundry, make phone calls, clean up, etc. Big mistake! Once they’re old enough to actually see what’s in front of them, babies can be occupied with watching you do all that stuff. Then when the baby naps, you can do important things like sleep, watch last night’s Tonight Show, eat food with two free hands, etc. (Disclaimer: This works about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time your baby will not watch you contentedly and instead will cry until you pick him up. See above: Hold your baby.)

Will

I’ll stop here for now. There is more advice but this post has become so long already!

Second (third? fourth?) time parents – what do you wish you knew the first time around? Even if you’re not a second-time parent yet, are there things you’ve already decided you’ll do differently next time around? Leave a comment!

preparing kid #1 for kid #2

As an only child in my 20s, I had definite ideas about how I envisioned my future family. Most importantly, it involved more than one child (and Matt. Duh). I never really minded being an only child when I was a kid. I had cousins to play with, tons of friends who thought their siblings were sooooo annoying, and I was always very close with my parents. Once I became an adult and I started noticing the relationships my friends now had with their sisters and brothers, that’s when it started bothering me. Seeing my parents and husband’s parents care for aging and ailing parents also reminded me that I don’t have siblings with whom I can share that job. (Thankfully, my parents are two fresh-faced crazy kids themselves, so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live in your house!!)

So back to having more than one child. After Nolan was born, I made up my mind: I am DONE. No more kids. I had a difficult delivery, and he wasn’t the easiest baby. By the time his first birthday rolled around, I turned a blind eye to all that and remembered all the reasons I don’t want just one. Fast forward a few years and here we are, expecting baby #2!

Nolan, like most toddlers, tends to be, let’s call it…persistent. He doesn’t forget anything and he loves nothing more than to repeat himself. For that reason and a few others, we decided to wait about 4.5 months before we told him. The conversation was pretty amusing:

Me: Have you noticed that my belly looks kind of big and round?

Nolan: No, I don’t think your belly looks big.

Me: Oh, well it is. What could be in there that’s making it so big?

Nolan: Ummmm… food? Milk? Yogurt?

Needless to say, he never guessed correctly and we just came out and told him.

That was about a month ago and he hasn’t been too curious since then. He sometimes talks about teaching his baby brother to play hockey and baseball. He periodically rubs my belly and says, “There’s a baby in there?” And tonight he told me we should name the baby Moonaganna.  I think the two books we put into the bedtime rotation have helped quell his curiosity.

The first is a classic that I loved as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.

I remembered very little about this book other than Brother Bear outgrowing his bed just in time. Upon rereading it, I was surprised to find that (spoiler alert!) Mama Bear delivers the baby alone in her home while Papa and Brother are out building a new bed. I’m still not sure if I feel empowered or degraded by that.

The next book I bought after seeing it recommended on Rebecca Woolf’s blog. It’s Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree.

The Baby Tree is narrated by a little boy who finds out his parents are expecting a new baby, and he doesn’t understand where the baby will come from. He asks people in his family and neighborhood and gets all sorts of backwards and roundabout answers until he asks his parents who finally explain it. At first I was worried that the book was too old for Nolan; not in the sense that it’s inappropriate in any way, but I wasn’t sure he would be interested in the story or understand enough of it. Well, I was wrong and he loves it. The illustrations are beautiful and there is even a page after the story with more specific answers to kids’ questions about conceiving and delivering babies.

How did you prepare your children for new siblings? Did you find that they were excited or did the jealousy begin before the baby even arrived?

I want that immediately right now

I’ve been thinking about this sense of immediate availability that has pervaded our culture. I think we’ve all heard a lot about the instant gratification that we have become accustomed to. Cue old person hissing, Booooo, kids today…

I notice it with students more and more each year. It appears in the general lack of attention  in class:

“Please double-check to make sure your names are printed in the books before you return them. I can’t give you credit for returning the book without your name in it. Are all your names in the books?”

Five minutes later…

“Ok, so I got back six books with no names. Who didn’t write your name in the book?”

It also comes up in their inability to stick with something. When asked to research a topic on a database with thousands of articles:

“Ugh, I can’t find anything. There’s nothing here for my topic.”

“How many articles did you read?”

“The first half of this one.”

The ugly truth is that I notice it in myself as well. When browsing through Facebook on my phone, if I tap to open a photo or video and it doesn’t open in, I don’t know, two and a half seconds, I close it. “Baaah, nevermind.”

But now the worst part is I see it in Nolan, and he’s only two and a half. Nolan doesn’t watch a lot of television and when he does, he watches the same two or three things. We keep a bunch of Sesame Street and some similar shows on the DVR so that when we feel like giving him some time in front of the tv (that’s parent speak for, sweet lord I need twenty minutes to myself), we can put on a specific episode of a show. In his mind, all the shows he likes are available all the time.

I didn’t think about that having any sort of negative effect until we were upstairs recently and I offered to put on the tv in my bedroom while I got ready. Nolan said, “I want to watch Sid.” I explained that I would have to see if Sid the Science Kid was on at that moment, and he looked at me like I was talking about astrophysics. I could see his little brain working, IF it’s on? Of course it’s on. Push buttons on the remote and pass me a binky. Needless to say it wasn’t on. After I put on something else he just kept asking for the specific shows he wanted, “I want Rosita’s grandma Sesame Street. I want Elmo’s grandparents Sesame Street.” I explained that we have those saved downstairs, but I’m fairly certain he thought I was lying to him.

Now this has spilled over onto music. He has finally taken pity on us and started asking for music other than Music Together, but the concept of the radio is totally lost on him. If he asks for “I Don’t Care,” I can play it from my phone. If he asks for “Pompeii” or “Gone Gone Gone,” I say it’s not on the radio right now. Again, totally puzzling to him.

Do I pretend iTunes doesn’t exist because I’m going to create an impatient monster, or do I embrace the availability of everything? Dr. Spock didn’t cover this in his books.