Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Listening to the iTubes

Turn your back on Calvin for two seconds and he learns something new, climbs something he couldn't climb before, plants his drool-covered flag on some piece of furniture I was sure was out of reach. Last night he pulled himself up on the baby gate between the kitchen and dining room and rattled it as hard as he could. It is not at all hard to imagine him just throwing a leg right over that gate and laughing at our pathetic effort to corral him.

And Audrey is up and down the emotional scales everyday like she's rehearsing for the stage. Screaming rages, sweet nothings, imperious questions, stern finger wagging, expressions of shock: "Mommy, I can't believe my eyes!" The overheard column for this week:

Audrey, standing in front on my computer: "Mommy, let's listen to music on the iTubes."

Me: "What are you going to say to Dad when he gets home from his trip?"
Audrey: "Thank you for the lovely coming home!"

Audrey, as we get ready to leave the house for nursery school: "C'mon, Calvin. Let's get this show on the road."

I can't manage a solid piece of prose this week, just these snippets. It's too hot. And the house is rattling from being re-shingled and painted so I am scattered all around, too. Maybe this afternoon we will go for a nice air-conditioned ride in the car, just me and kids, listening to music on the iTubes and I will nap in the back because Calvin will have figured out how to drive by then.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Days ago Calvin couldn't crawl and now he is lurching around the living room on all fours, taking full advantage of Audrey's nap time to chew on her toys. Her toys are all the ones, you see, that she is interested in, and a baby toy by definition is some piece of junk that she doesn't care about but will do just fine for Calvin, thank you very much. Her idea of a fair trade is to rip the legos out of his fat and eager little hands and offer him an empty toilet paper roll in exchange. Not exactly negotiating in good faith, but for now the notion of trading keeps Audrey from being an absolute tyrant. And Calvin thinks, "Hey! A toilet paper roll! Cool!"

So he's locomoting all over the place here while I read my novel (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, since you ask) with one ear tuned to the baby monitor for the sounds of even, slow breathing that means Audrey has gone to sleep. And while I am semi-ignoring Calvin, suddenly there he is, pulling himself up to a full stand. His efforts are furious and intent. He uses everything-- fingers, toes, torso, and finally he grips my pant-leg in his gums to haul himself the last few inches. Then beams-- simply beams at his achievement.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Overheard: When I the grown-up

Audrey is keenly tuned in to the differences between babies, toddlers, preschoolers and grown-ups. We showed her a "Wallace and Gromit" movie during our recent vacation and she calls it "Wallace and Grown-Up." (Side note: Do not even think about boarding a cross-country flight with a small child unless you have a portable DVD player and are prepared to throw all your prohibitions against t.v. right out the emergency exit. Thank you for your attention. You may begin pre-boarding at any time.)

This week Audrey moved from the toddler room to the preschool room-- a transition which caused me more of that heavy-sighing, weepy-sniffly mommy blogger stuff... never mind. We won't get into that again.

At school pick-up time, as we walked through the parking lot together:

Audrey: Mom, are you a preschooler?
Me: Nope, only you are a preschooler.
Audrey: But when you were a kid you were a preschooler just like me?
Me: Yes!
Audrey: Mommy, when I a grown-up, I drop you off at preschool and then I walk away, with the baby.
Me: Sounds good.

The photo above is part of a montage I am making of photos from her first year at school, "Year of the Tadpole." I miss it. I miss everything lately. I am already nostalgic for this morning- that's how fast they're growing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Giddy-up (before I fall asleep on my feet)

We are jet-lagged, we are up to our armpits in dirty laundry and travel detritus, and Scott is already back on the road to California, but I cannot neglect you, dear readers, though the hour is late and I just barely got the kids to bed 30 minutes ago after an epic struggle with both of them. Here is one photo from our vacation, taken at a small canyon ranch near Cashmere, WA. Pa Skip and Nanu took us all out for some horseback riding. It's truly gorgeous country all around them out there. A breath of fresh-- and dry!-- air after the humidity of Boston in summer. Audrey was alternately gleeful and terrified while on the horse but we were please she gave it a try.

More photos to come, but this Buckaroo is going to bed now. Atop a small mountain of unwashed socks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Terms of the Treaty

I give up! I give up! I give up! I give up!

Three months since my last frustrated posting about potty training, and I am only now crawling out of the bunker, hands over my head where she can see them. I surrender. We put her back in diapers this morning because we are sick to death of cleaning up accidents, dragging her to the bathroom, and arguing about it. Audrey happily wears her underwear but has not once—not once—in three months actually volunteered that she needed to go to the bathroom. And forget about #2—you’d think we were asking her to jump out of a plane with no parachute. Even the incentive of a brand new guitar of her own, wrapped and waiting right there in front of her, has made no difference. This morning I asked her why she persistently refused to tell us that she needed to go to the bathroom even though it was making Mommy and Daddy very, very frustrated and she said, “Well, I’m not ready.”

I love clarity when I am right, but when it works to prove me dead wrong, I prefer the comforting muddle of uncertainty.

I know, I know, I know. It’s not like we weren’t warned from every possible source. I just thought that I might win this battle of wills with her. I was so, so wrong. Being as willful as my two year-old is simply not working out for me.

But I am not going to surrender quietly. For the record: if there was a way to force this I would do it. I would! Sue me, I would. I’m that sick of diapering. There is something deeply irking to me about a preschooler in diapers, even though I was a preschooler in diapers once. But there is no way. I’ve tried. Independence begins with the boundaries of your own body and Audrey has defiantly laid down the law on this one. You win, kiddo. But don’t think for a moment that the battle over green vegetables is over…