Saturday, February 27, 2010

The ultimate act of love...

Oliver is sick... again. Poor bug, poor, poor, second child. He is getting everything his petri dish sister brings home from preschool, but as a baby it just manifests itself in so much more pitiful a package. Julia has been congested and sniffly for about 2 weeks now. However, when Oliver gets congested, it causes him to cough until he pukes. Particularly charming when he does it in the middle of the night... twice.

Last night the boy was up about once an hour, and just crying and flailing around in bed, unable to settle, just downright uncomfortable. He needed us to rock him back to sleep each time he woke. In the quiet of the middle of the night, through my exhaustion, I was also filled with wonder at what a beautiful, innocent sight it is to watch a baby slowly fall asleep, eyelids gradually getting heavy, blinks getting longer, face becoming calm, limbs becoming limp. I was also struck by what an amazing act of vulnerability, love and trust it is to fall asleep in someone else's arms.

As I held my little boy and was consumed by love and concern for him, it made me think about all of the unwanted children born in the world. Every child deserves to be welcomed and celebrated, and how lucky are my children that they are loved and cared for, their parents are concerned and consumed by providing for their well-being. Perhaps if every small person were welcomed into his or her family like my children were when they were born, maybe the world would be a slightly better place. At a minimum, every child deserves to be loved, and someone who is willing to rock them back to sleep in the wee hours of the night. Someone they love and trust enough to fall asleep in their arms.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Save the drama for your Mama

AH, four year-olds. And DOUBLE AH, four year-olds with a spunky, obstinate streak. Julia's moods can fluctuate so wildly, in an adult I think she might be diagnosed as bipolar. Yesterday we had a lovely day much of the day. In fact, I was told, "Mama, you are the best Mama in the world and I am never going to send you away." That's quite a compliment coming from a four year-old... though this begs the question, was there ever a doubt in her mind that I was going to stick around?

However, by day's end, demon child emerged. The demon child decided she didn't want to eat her salmon for dinner (she LOVES salmon), and when her Daddy asked her to take a bite, she turned to him and in a very surly voice shouted, "N, O, NO!" and dinnertime turned into time out, tantrum, throw body weight against the door, take away television privileges for two more days on top of the four days lost previously in the week, lose the CD player in your room, no stories or books before bedtime time. GOOD times.

The thing I don't get is this: Dave and I have been VERY consistent in doling out the consequences. When I say something is going to happen, you can be pretty damned sure it is going to happen. If I say we will leave the playground if X happens again, we are leaving the playground kicking, screaming, biting, and dragging a melting down child 20 blocks. So I don't understand - the testing? WHY would you test me when I say, "Julia, throw your weight against that door one more time and you will lose your show for another day" or "you won't get books this evening" WHY WHY WHY do it again? It never ends well, it's never reinforced, so SERIOUSLY, why drive your parents crazy and lose privileges???

Dave says we should honor who she is - that is is spunky, strong-willed, opinionated, and fiercely independent - all things that will translate well into adulthood. It's not that I don't honor her and love her for who she is - she's tremendously entertaining and loving and sweet. However, all of those head-strong qualities make for a VERY challenging four year-old... and cause Mommy to drink more than her fair share of pinot grigio.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The ups and downs of technology

Can we talk about technology for a minute? Our kids are INUNDATED by technology on a daily basis - Julia knows about stuff that didn't even exist when I was a child, and her experience with the world and with media is so different than mine was. Julia has no idea what commercials are but she doesn't like them. She calls them 'channels' and has only watched them twice in her life despite watching a 30 minute TV show every day, once during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and once during the Superbowl. All the television she watches is prerecorded on our DVR. We just set it to record 'Dinosaur Train' or 'Superwhy', and it automatically records all the episodes as they come on.

While those are public television shows and PBS doesn't air commercials, prior to the Superbowl I think it had been the better part of a year since I had watched commercials. We just fast-forward through them. In fact, even if we aren't busy, we wait for our shows to start and get going so we can fast forward through the commercials. The additional nice thing about having a DVR is there are no power struggles with the TV. When the show is over, a blue screen comes on and asks if you want to save or delete the show. DONE. Julia even turns the TV off herself, no questions asked. That certainly wouldn't be the case if there were an ad for the next show coming up.

Talk about instant gratification - she has known since she was younger than two that the world is at her fingertips... she just has to google it - a term she also knows about. In fact, at this point when she wants us to help her find something on the computer, she actually dictates the search she wants us to plug into the search engine when we go to google. I remember when she was about 18 months, she wanted to see a gorilla film. About 30 seconds later, we were on youtube, and she was watching a film about gorillas in the Rwandan jungle, complete with accompanying music.

About 3 weeks ago, I opened Pandora's box and introduced her to In three weeks, the child has learned to navigate the computer, move around a website, double click, drag and drop, open programs and find files. My parents can barely open their email, and my four year-old daughter can open photo booth and take a picture of herself.

Julia has her own email address (inspired by her friend in LA who has HER own email address and sent Julia an email. You never know when is going to be taken! Have to make sure to preserve it for her! - and FYI, I know that is crazy.) J has an old cell phone of ours and knows how to take pictures. She has her own kids' digital camera and can use all the functions of it. It's amazing to watch her navigate this technological world without a moment's anxiety - she views it as a source of entertainment rather than something to fear.

I do wonder how this technology is going to impact this generation of kids - the generation of instant gratification kids who can access the world and view whatever it is they have a hunkering to see (Mary Poppins, gorillas, parrots, etc.) RIGHT NOW. What will research be like when they get older? Will they appreciate the process rather than just the end product? Only time will tell. For now, however, after last night's massive temper tantrum when it was time to get off the computer, I have to figure out how to put my computer on a timer as well...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ah... the Reprieve of the Dentist's Chair

Well, the omens said it was going to be a DAY when we woke up this morning and our snowman had been peed upon by our landlord's dog. Julia and I locked horns for the first time before 8 AM. Julia is in that lovely four year-old zone where she wants to do everything BY HERSELF but isn't capable of doing everything BY HERSELF. The child has a repertoire of about 15 words she can write independently, yet she wanted to be totally autonomous in writing a message in her teachers' valentine, and 'I DON'T NEED YOU TO WRITE LINES MOMMY'. I am sorry, but I just don't think her teachers will understand what 'ST' means at the top of the valentine and 'YES YOU DO NEED LINES'.

So at 10:15, I found myself in the dentist's chair, ah, sweet escape. The irony is that 4+ years ago, I DREADED the dentist. I found it uncomfortable, painful, and downright horrid. Two natural, drug-free childbirths later, and pain is all relative. Yes, it is somewhat uncomfortable, and sure it isn't particularly charming to rinse and find yourself spitting out blood from your maimed gumline.

However, as I watched the calming fish screen saver on the computer in front of the dentist's chair, in that moment no one needed ANYTHING from me. The only thing anyone needed from me is for me to open up, rinse and spit. Compared to the day to day life of two children under the age of five without a babysitter on payroll (that's right, it's the Mommy show 24/7), open up, rinse and spit seems like a 'Calgon-take-me-away' moment. Kind of sad, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Well, it appears we are going to get that blizzard they predicted after all. I probably angered Mother Nature this morning when I casually mentioned I wasn't 'impressed' by the blizzard thus far. What a difference three hours makes! White out conditions, the snow is piling up outside.

I had half a thought to go to Prospect Park to go sledding with the kids. However, I realize there is a distinct disconnect between the image in my mind of how that would go (think Norman Rockwell painting, apple cheeked, happy children playing in the snow followed by steaming mugs of hot cocoa) and the reality of what would actually happen if we were to trek out there in the snow.

HERE'S what would really transpire: 30 minutes by foot and subway to get there, followed by someone crying on the way (could be Oliver, could be Julia, could be Mama, it's a crapshoot and anyone's guess). More than likely the blowing snow would send Oliver and Julia into hysterics, as the 15 minute foray we made into the outside world this morning felt like thousands of tiny needles stinging cheeks and eyes. We might sled down the hill once, MAYBE twice if we were lucky. And THEN I would have a 30 minute trek home with two soaking wet kids. Snow days were a lot more fun when I was a student, or even when I was a teacher. Now it just feels like a lot more work... and we are stuck inside for the day. Sigh.

Maybe when Oliver goes down for his last little rest this afternoon, Julia and I will go out into our .0000000001 acre 'garden', push together some snow in the form of a snowman and call it a day.