Thursday, January 31, 2013

Half child, half Godzilla

I'll skip the whole, "OMG, where have I been for a month and a half," bullshit and just get to writing k?  Or do you like my self-loathing?  I thought so...

Anyone who has a toddler or has ever spent time with a toddler knows that they are crazy fun, ear piercingly loud, emotional, and completely irrational.  They go from happily playing with the farm animals to biting off the goats head like a starving zombie, complete with sound effects.  You build them a nice little train track and set up a couple of houses to play with and the next thing you know they are Godzilla crushing and throwing said city to pieces.

I swear sometimes I think I'm living with a split personality, Rambo and Rainman...

Give an older toddler an broken cracker and you might as well break their arm too, the audacity!

Awe, how sweet, Caches is playing with his blocks so nicely.  I think I'll go put the laundry away.  Three seconds later, cue blood curdling scream that makes my heart age about 20 years.  I run to him faster than I ever imagined possible envisioning a bloody mess of limbs only to find the horror is that the round block won't fit in the square hole!  The next thing you know he is collapsing in my arms as tears stream down his face like ice cream melting on a hot July day.  "Block," he is whimpering as both our shirts soak with tears. 

I let him know that I hear him, that I understand.  Blocks that do not fit in the right place, I mean wrong place, but the correct place in your toddler head, can be so frustrating!  I tell him that it is okay to cry, I won't leave, I understand.  A few moments later I offer to help with his blocks if he'd like, and he does.  We put the round block in the round hole, the square block in the square hole and so on and so forth until all the blocks are back in the box.  He pauses, shoves the box to the ground with a crash, giggles and is off to read a book.  "This!"  "Book!"  Sure we can read a book crazy, I mean Caches.

Here's the thing, toddlers are a breed all their own.  Their brains are moving a million miles a minute, they want to touch, see, do it ALL!  The live in the moment!  Everything is amazing, new and exciting, but it is also extremely overwhelming to their immature systems.  Toddlers don't have impulse control like adults and older children.  They don't have logical reasoning or higher organization.  All of this, along with empathy, is still developing. They require an insane amount of patience and love, I mean sometimes it is truly INSANE!  Have you seen me on a rough day?  Passers by are like dude, someone call the asylum and see if they are missing a forty something year old. 

But no matter how nutty, or irrational, I choose to believe that my child is not giving me a hard time, but instead having a hard time himself.  I really can't imagine him going about his day trying to make me miserable.  Sure, sometimes I lose sight and he does in fact make me miserable, but that is MY CHOICE!  I am having the bad day, not him.  I am impatient and insensitive to him, not the other way around, for it is MY responsibility to teach him about his world.  My words that will impact his future words.  My love that will blossom into his empathy for others.  My understanding of developmentally appropriate behavior that allows him to spend 45 minutes investigating an acorn when all I want to do is go inside and freakin' pee!!  PLEASE LORD it's just a fucking acorn!!! 

I said I understand the behavior, I didn't say I always like it.

But I try to make a conscious effort every single day, hell, usually every hour of the day to remind myself to be present, peaceful and as understanding as possible.  This is hard for him too, he is still SO young!   And so I make it a priority to respond to every cry, every tantrum, every request with love and genuine interest.  Because I honestly think it makes a difference in the person he will be some day.  I want him knowing that he is loved and that his opinions, no matter how silly or unreasonable or maddening, are valued.  I want my child to know that he has a voice and that it is heard.  He gets an opinion too...I just have to power to veto! HA!

Sure, a lot of people say I am spoiling him by responding to every little cry or request, and maybe I am.  I mean, I know that softly bumping into the rounded corner of a table probably didn't hurt, but does my knowing that he is probably okay make it any less painful for him?  Most of the time when he falls he picks himself right up and carries on like nothing happened, even the ones that look really painful.  But sometimes even the softest fall is extremely painful when it happens at the wrong time.  I think we can all attest to that.

Gosh, it sounds so easy and lovely when I type it all out, but it isn't, it doesn't always come easy for me.  I often let myself get frustrated and just want to be left alone to scrub the floor without a cow mooooing in my hear.  I want to chop my vegetables in peace, using BOTH hands.  I want to have a sip of hot coffee before breakfast demands are made.  I want to eat my sandwich without a side of toddler slime.  And I sure as shit want to sleep without being interrupted every damn hour on the hour!  I just want to do ANYTHING alone, and I often find myself wishing he would hurry up, quiet down or CALM down.

But then I don't...

I suppose I could do all of those things if I was comfortable with letting Caches "figure it out" on his own.  But I am not.  For I know that in time, with my help, he will in fact figure all of these things out and more.  He won't wake me up at night or need to be held while I am cooking or be interested in the oatmeal bubbling on the stove.  He will become jaded to the wonders of life just like I used to be before he reminded me how amazing a bug or a book for the 300th time can be. So I will continue to "spoil" him and take the deep breaths that are sometimes necessary for me to focus on what really matters.

This guy...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tick, tick, tick...

Caches, your downy blonde head that once only grazed the underside of the table is now inches above, eye to eye with the top.  Your once fruitless reaches to the counter are now met with treats that are hastily left too close to the edge.  Your toddling has evolved into a steady walk and a quick run.   Babbles are now words and there seem to be new ones each day.  Your world is growing and so are you.  Baby, why are you in such a hurry?

You run from the rocks to the wagon and climb inside all by yourself.  "Go!" you tell me.  You wake up, greet your dad and I and then shimmy out of bed to talk to the dogs.  If I say in bed too long I hear you meowing, awaiting my heap to feel the cat. You request an egg for breakfast and without my even asking, fetch a bowl and a fork all by yourself.  "Ready!" "Eat?"  You are climbing and growing and changing each day.  Your pants are too short and your shirts show your belly button when you lift your arms.  Your hair which once was hardly visible, now feathers over your ears and occasionally tickles your eyelashes.  Slow down my baby.

I am trying to take it all in, I really am.  I desperately want to memorize your face today, for I know it will change  by tomorrow.  No doubt you grow in your sleep.  The roundness of your cheeks will soon sharpen, your jaw will become more pronounced.  Your eyebrows will darken, your limbs will lengthen, and your teeth will continue to fill in.  There is no stopping it. 

You will never look the same as you do today.  I will never get to go back and caress your three month old cheek, or your five month old head.  I will never again get to spend quiet hours inhaling your sweet breath as you slept on my chest.  I will never again get to watch the clumsy nine month old you taking your first step.  Or the thirteen month old you utter your first word.  Time is fleeting baby, though I try to hold on.

 And so each night when your curl up on my lap to nurse, I observe your feet, twitching with delight and nearly poking through your footed pajamas.  I scan over your legs, ever growing and getting stronger.  I hold your hand and you wrap your fingers around my thumb and squeeze hard.  I squeeze back remembering when your tiny hand would grab and hold tight in reflex.  Your fingernails once so tiny and clean, now chipped and often packed with dirt.  I stare hard at your perfect face in the dim light of your room.  Your eyes wander and when they find mine you smile.  I smile.  You have a small bump on your lower lip from falling down nearly a year ago, and your hair seems to be darkening.  You are evolving

I know I can't stop time, or even slow it's pace.  And in the end, I really don't want to.  I know that God willing, you will get bigger and stronger and more fiercely independent as the days pass.  You will not be this little forever, nor change so rapidly.  The change will slow and the days will turn to weeks, months and years until I am looking at a grown man.  A man who was once a helpless infant with a fire inside so strong that he was sure to change the world forever. And I know you will.  You have already begun.