We have been having, what some might call, “behavior issues” at my house lately and I may have referred to my son as an “ass-hole” on more than one occasion. Whatever. I’m not perfect. You might have called him something much worse if he had taken all of his little Hot Wheels and, one by one, thrown them at the windows, the walls, and at your face in a furious temper tantrum because I asked him to say “please.”
Rather than scream and yell (like I really wanted to), I proceeded to gather all of the toys that he was throwing across the room and all other toys that he had access to, put them into boxes, load the boxes into my car, and drive them to our storage unit down the street.
Matt stayed behind to monitor the tantrum that was happening next to the “time out” chair.
I get it. He’s 3. He has emotions that are bigger than his communication skills. He is frustrated and has little to no control in his life. I get it. What I don’t get is why he has to choose the hardest, pointiest, most projectile-shaped toys to throw (in perfect spiral form I might add) directly at my face. Not cool kid.
So, now Noah is currently working on his behavior to earn back the toys that were taken away. I have discovered, however, that taking away actual toys just makes him turn regular household items into toys. He played with a paper towel roll that he pulled out of the recycling bin for almost an hour the other day. As long as he doesn’t pelt it towards my face, I’m okay with it.
With this terrible behavior in mind, and knowing that, overall, he is pretty awesome, he has had a few rare moments over the past week where he has been an absolute pleasure to be around. There have even been a couple of instances where I felt slightly guilty for taking away ALL of the toys (then I look down at the giant bruise on my arm where Ripslinger, the air plane, was thrown like a ninja throwing star directly at me and the guilt disappears quickly).
The other day, after picking Noah up from school, I needed to run a few errands. Noah was excited about the errands, held my hand in the parking lot without throwing his body onto the pavement in refusal. He even got in the cart without arguing or stiffening his whole body as to not fit in the child seat. It was a very enjoyable shopping adventure.
Because I am a huge believer in rewarding good behavior, I told Noah that he could pick out one new toy from the store because he had acted so nicely during mommy’s errands.
Now, this is no small thing for Noah. He takes decision making over toys very seriously. He scanned the isle, inspecting each toy. He asked me questions about usefulness and batteries. He finally settled on a rubber snake that, based on the picture on the front of the package, grows to be over 4 feet long when you put him in water.
I loved this toy because it provided me with even more parental motivation. When we got in the car, I reminded him that good behavior has to last through supper in order to take the new snake to the bath. Bought me a few more hours of guaranteed pleasant.
Noah’s behavior was excellent through supper. He even waited patiently at the table for Matt and me to finish our food and clear the table. He darted upstairs ripped his clothes off and climbed into the bath tub. He shoved that green snake into the water and…nothing. The snake got a little slimy and sunk to the bottom but, overall, he stayed the same size.
Matt made up some excuse that he will grow eventually but, you could tell, everyone was disappointed. After bath time, I rummaged through the trash to find the package the snake came in and it said, in the tiniest of letters on the back of the instructions:
“Snake may take up to 5 full days to grow. Keep snake submerged in water to maintain full size.”
Now, we get to have a long talk with Noah about what it means to be patient.
While I completely understand that dogs are not kids, and kids are not dogs (although there was this one time that Noah stripped down naked and ran his butt across the carpet), I first became a mom 10 years ago when we adopted Kenan.
I didn’t grow up with dogs. Mom was always a cat person and, turns out, I am severely allergic to cats so I never really got all that attached. But the summer before my senior year in college, Matt moved to Chapel Hill, we got our own apartment, and, long before Noah was even a possibility, we decided to head over to the Orange County animal shelter and become parents.
There was nothing amazing about the little brown and white puppy at the shelter. He was tiny, had a swollen belly, and he walked as though his back legs were a little shorter than his front ones. My mom even said later, “Of all the cute puppies there, why did you pick that one?” (Thanks mom- sarcastic tone intended) But he was mine. I knew it the minute I saw him. Kenan was my first dog and I was his mom.
Now, the first few years were interesting. We learned that Kenan is not like other dogs. In fact, I have begun to refer to him as a special needs dog. He just has some very peculiar quirks that only a mother could love. For example, Kenan talks. And when he talks, he has inflection and emotion. You know exactly what he is saying to you even if you don’t understand the words. And sometimes, he yells at you. If you are in his seat on the couch, he will lay his head on your knee and howl and bellow at you until you finally get tired of it and get up.
We have to give him sedatives to go to the vet because he really hates it there. We actually left our last vet because they labeled his file as “vicious dog.” Now, we have an amazing vet who takes her lab coat and stethoscope off before she comes in the room. Then she slathers one hand in peanut butter, gets down on the floor with him so he can lick it off, and then examines him without him even knowing it.
All his quirkiness aside, he has been there for Matt and me through thick and thin. He has challenged us, comforted us, protected us, and scared us half to death. One time, we were visiting family in Asheville for the holidays and Kenan managed to escape out of the car and run across a major highway (3 times!). Fortunately, it was Christmas day and the road was somewhat empty but I nearly had a heart attack.
He moved with us from Chapel Hill to Cincinnati and lived in the tiniest apartment you could imagine. We finally got him into a bigger house when we moved back to North Carolina and he had his own fenced in back yard (which he protects and guards 24/7). We have walked hundreds of miles with him right beside us and he has peed on every tree and fire hydrant at every park in Greensboro. And he has comforted me in times of deep sadness and fear with those same sparkly eyes that I fell in love with so long ago in the animal shelter.
Well, last winter, we noticed that Kenan was starting to walk a little funny- almost as though his back hips hurt a little. We took him to the vet and, because the vet is such a horrible experience for him, she gave him some anti-inflammatory meds for what seemed to be a little arthritis. It seemed to work a little and then all of the stress from the holidays distracted us and pulled our thoughts in different directions.
In February of this year, we noticed that Kenan was starting to curl his back toes a little when he walked which caused him to drag one of his legs slightly. We assumed it was the arthritis getting worse and took him back to the vet for confirmation. She agreed, prescribed some more meds, and asked us to keep an eye on him for any progression.
We took him and Poplar (his little sister who is a black lab mix) to the beach in late May and it became very evident to us that something was seriously wrong. His foot prints in the sand looked as if he was dragging rolling luggage behind him. His back end started to drop if he stood too long and Matt had to carry him up and down the stairs.
The crazy part is that it seemed as though the front half of him had no idea that the back half didn’t work anymore. He ran down to the ocean, chased seagulls, and protected the beach house from potential threats just as he always had. He was just much slower. And when we got back home, he would still take off running out to the back yard and, on occasion, his back legs would go flying off to the side and bang into the sliding glass door.
His condition had progressed so quickly that, when we took him to the vet when we got back, she immediately referred us to a neurologist. She suspected and later confirmed with a blood test that Kenan has Degenerative Myelopathy which has an incredibly sad prognosis (the disease can be compared to ALS in humans).
Fortunately, there is not a lot of pain associated with the disease and, it doesn’t appear as though Kenan is even aware that something is wrong. But, at the end of the day, he is my first baby. The joy that I have gotten in watching Kenan and Noah interact and play has been tremendous. I truly don’t think Kenan knowsthat he is not a human as he and Noah play and bicker like brothers. Noah shares his snacks, pets him on the head, and talks to Kenan in a way that you would talk to your best friend.
The idea of saying goodbye to Kenan when he is still so vibrant and enthusiastic breaks my heart in a way that I never knew was possible. And, even though I am a counselor and I am trained to help others cope, I suck at grief. Just as you change when you have a child, you change when you adopt a dog. I didn’t choose Kenan that day in Chapel Hill; he chose me. And, while I truly do hope that I have so much more time with him to show him how much he has given to me, I would like to think that he would choose to be part of our family all over again.
This weekend, we were fortunate enough to be able to go over to a friend’s house for a play-date and they live in a neighborhood that has an awesome swimming pool. Well, of course, Noah was beyond excited about it for days and, when Saturday finally rolled around, he shot out of bed and spent the entire morning asking if it was time to go swimming yet.
So, after he ate his second breakfast (yes- I said second breakfast- he had French toast as soon as he woke up and then wanted biscuits about 20 minutes later), everyone got their swimsuits on, lathered on the sunscreen, and headed off to our play-date.
We get to their house and Jason (who is 5 years old) is just as excited as Noah is. Apparently, he had been asking about Noah’s arrival all morning. However, Isabella (who is 2 ½) had been casually getting ready, looking at herself in the mirror, and watching “Sofia” on TV.
We gather all of the children together, walk down to the swimming pool, Jason immediately dives in, and Noah, who cannot swim yet, looks like he is about to explode if I don’t get in the pool right now so that he can jump in. Isabella, finds a lounge chair, lays out her towel, and sits down to observe the situation (she doesn’t even want to take her cover-up off just yet).
I get in the pool, Noah gets in the pool, and Jason starts to “pretend attack” Noah with a giant toy crocodile. Well, now Noah wants all of his toys in the pool too. Because I have been freakishly busy and because Noah has decided that it is not cool to sleep anymore, I was not coherent enough to pack pool toys to bring with us. I brought a float for Noah, snacks, and sunscreen. That’s it.
Matt runs back to the truck, scrounges up the random cars, dinosaurs, and plastic animals that are lying in the floorboard, and brings them in. Fortunately, it is enough to make Noah happy. The boys “pretend attack” each other and are having a blast. Isabella looks up at how much fun they are having. She decides to venture towards the pool. She climbs into her pink police car floatie and, casually, motors around them to see if their fun is worth a closer look.
Jason “attacks” her with the toy crocodile. She does not like it.
All of a sudden, Gladys, Jason and Isabella’s mom, yells, “Oh my gosh! A frog is in the pool!” A frog, about 2 inches long, wanted to take a dip in the community pool. Noah, of course, thinks this is the coolest thing that has ever happened. Jason thinks this is the coolest thing that has ever happened. Gladys, Isabella, and every other woman who was also at the pool that day, thinks this is the most horrible thing that has ever happened, ever.
I, personally, think frogs are really cool. I swim over to it, flatten my hand, and scoop up the frog. Noah and Jason, obviously, want to touch it. They gently touch the frog a couple of times and I ask Isabella if she would like to see it too. The look on her face was priceless. It was as though I had asked her if she would like to stick her hand in a bucket of poop. I climbed out of the pool and placed the frog outside of the fence into the grass. [Noah later told all of his family that he had been swimming in a giant pool full of frog soup!]
With the frog excitement over, Noah spent the next hour jumping into the pool so I could catch him. I think he probably jumped in about 37 times. I would place him on the edge of the pool and, before I would even have time to get my feet set, he would thrust himself off the edge, throw his arms in the air, pull his knees up to ears, grinning so big his cheeks hurt, and splash water all over his mommy. After each time exclaiming, “I want to do it again!”
Isabella, in case you were wondering, is still lounging.
By now, I’m exhausted and I am guessing Noah has probably worked up an appetite. I convince him to go have a snack and he reluctantly agrees. He climbs up next to Isabella and they both enjoy a sampling of fruit snacks, goldfish, and teddy grahams. Every now and then, Isabella gives Noah a side-eyed look that says something like, “Why are boys so weird?” Meanwhile, Noah feeds the crocodile goldfish, talks about how awesome the pool is, and keeps speculating about what the frog is doing now.
Eventually, Isabella jumped into the pool too, however, with much more caution. Eventually, she was curious about Noah’s dinosaur toy but in a nonchalant kind of way. But, all in all, she was perfectly content to hang out in her polka dot bikini and observe the happenings at the pool.
I can only imagine how many more times I will be amazed at the differences between boys and girls. I can also only imagine how many more times Noah will jump in the pool. And, eventually, he won’t need me to catch him anymore.
Three years ago today, was Noah’s due date. It did not, however, end up being his birthday. For some unknown, cruel, and un-Godly reason, doctors think it is appropriate to set a “deadline” of sorts on your pregnancy.
They have some fancy 40-week calendar based on your last period as to when you are expected to have your baby. But babies don’t give a flying flip about this calendar. Babies don’t know when your last period was. Yet, instead of giving a range of dates or a goal to shoot for or even a healthy window of time, doctors give you a flat-out, no nonsense, in your face due date of which you are considered abnormal if you are under or over.
So me, being the freakishly type-A, over-controlling, and detailed-oriented person that I am, now have 9 months (which would turn out to be much longer) to plan for, worry about, and obsess over this very specific date.
Well, as I would learn later (and I am still being reminded of on a daily basis), Noah laughs in the face of deadlines. And July 28th, three years ago, was just another day in the uterus for him.
July 28, 2010 started out as a very exciting day for me. Why, you ask? Because I am good at deadlines and my baby was coming that day. My hospital bag was packed. I had just finished reading “Ina Mae’s Guide to Natural Childbirth” (along with the other 30-some pregnancy books on my nightstand). Baby’s room was good-to-go. All of the onesies had been washed and organized according to size. I was ready.
Noah was not.
July 29, 2010 started out optimistically. I was still prepared but I began googling ways to naturally induce labor. I was still pleasant and exciting when people asked me about my impending family addition.
By July 30th, I was hot (95 degrees in North Carolina summer with 80% plus humidity every day almost killed me), grumpy, and aggravated that I was still pregnant. I had decided that the only thing that would get this baby out of me was to exercise. I went to the gym twice a day and ran 3-4 miles on the elliptical. I couldn’t do the treadmill anymore because my belly stuck out so far that it banged into the front of the machine. The worst part was watching all of the people’s faces as they cautiously tip-toed around me waiting on me to go into labor at any moment.
By the first few days of August, I had basically just accepted the fact that I was going to be pregnant forever. I started snapping at people when they would ask me questions. Even questions totally unrelated to my pregnancy got a hateful response. I was over it.
By August 5th, I had made a list of things people were not allowed to say to me (which basically meant that I stopped answering my phone all together). The list included:
1. Wow! You look like you’re about to pop! (You’ll think “pop” when I punch you in the face.)
2. So, how pregnant are you? (I am just as pregnant as I was 10 minutes ago, ass!)
3. I can’t believe they let you go this long. (It is none of “their” business just like it is none of yours!)
4. I would’ve just scheduled the C-section already. (Really?!?)
5. You better sleep now while you can. (Yeah, it’s really easy to sleep when you have a giant belly, raging hormones, you pee every 13 minutes.)
6. He’ll come when he’s ready. (This just made me angry- no elaboration needed.)
August 6th, my mother-in-law felt really bad for me so she came to town and took me and Matt out to lunch (although I couldn’t eat because there was no more room inside my body because it was full of baby and amniotic fluid). We went on an adventure to Replacements Limited (where a random lady asked me, “So, when’s your due date?” to which I replied (in a voice that probably sounded a little like Satan), “It was 2 weeks ago. Thanks for asking”). It was, however, a nice change of pace.
On August 8th, I went in for an ultrasound and a good cry with my midwife. She assured me that I was still on track and she did a few “midwifery” tricks to help kick start my labor. I woke up at 4am with contractions 2 minutes apart and Noah was born 5 hours later on August 9th.
So, today, on July 28th, I do not celebrate what was assigned to him as his “due date.”
I choose to celebrate:
1. Appreciation and patience- as the best things are truly worth waiting for,
2. Perseverance and Strength- as it would have been so much easier to just give in,
3. Understanding- as I think my husband seriously thought about divorce at least twice, and
There must be a small alarm that goes off inside 2 year olds a few months before they turn 3. I am pretty sure that this alarm sends some kind of signal to the brain that says, “Hey you! Figure out everything you can possibly do to be an asshole today!” Noah’s alarm went off yesterday.
Yesterday morning started off like every other morning. We got Noah up, got him dressed, he wasn’t really in the mood to eat his usual breakfast so I decided to treat him to a mommy-son breakfast date at Chic-fil-a. They even gave him a balloon because he was being so sweet. We get to pre-school and I discover that Tuesday is “Water Play Day” and of course, I forgot to put him in his bathing suit. No big deal. He has extra clothes. He can just get wet. No harm, no foul.
I go to work. It is an incredibly long day (one of those no-time-for-lunch-because-everyone-has-a-crisis-that-only-you-can-solve kind of days). I am actually really excited to pick Noah up from school because I know he will be excited to see me.
When I get to school, Noah is beaming with cuteness, dancing around and showing me all of the cool stuff he did that day. His teacher tells me that tomorrow is “Decorate a T-Shirt Day” and reminds me that I need to bring in a plain white t-shirt. Well, I already feel like a crappy mother after forgetting the bathing suit this morning so I say, “Oh yeah! I got one the other day for him.”
Of course I did not get him a plain white t-shirt. What the hell is “Decorate a T-Shirt Day” anyway?
Regardless… When I get to the car, I ask Noah if he wants to go to Old Navy and get a t-shirt. He is very excited about it and is even more excited when we get to the car and he sees his red Chic-fil-a balloon from this morning. We get to Old Navy, he turns on the charm. He is talking to people, asking really cute questions, just hamming it up. We go to check out and, while I am paying, he sees a big basket of red, white, and blue soccer balls in a clearance bin at the front of the store.
Noah: “Hey mom! Can I have a soccer ball?”
Me: “No babe. I already paid. You have a soccer ball at home you can play with.”
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! 3-year-old asshole alarm goes off.
Noah screams at the top of his lungs. He throws his body on the floor. He kicks and yells, “I don’t want to go home! I don’t like you! I want a soccer ball!”
There is a line of people staring and judging. Now, I am the mother that forgot the bathing suit for water play, had to buy the plain white t-shirt last minute, and I am letting my child writhe around on the floor of Old Navy all in a span of less than 12 hours.
I take a deep breath. I decide I am not going to speak. But I am going to take control.
I throw my purse over my shoulder. I pick him up in a way that one might carry a large pile of lumber, and I walk calmly out of the store. Meanwhile, Noah is kicking me in the ribs, pulling my hair, slapping every bit of me that he can reach, and continuing to scream “I don’t want to go home! I don’t like you!”
In the parking lot, he kicks his shoes off right in front of a very large pick-up truck. I manage to shift Noah to one side like a swing dancer where his knees are bent over my right arm and his head and hands are dangling free. I pick up the shoes, wave an apology to the pick-up truck driver, and swing him back up like a pile of lumber.
I have to force him in to the car seat while he slaps my face and pulls my hair (still screaming mean things to me the whole time). I get in to the driver’s seat and pull out of the parking lot. The entire drive home he kicks the back of my seat (now he is screaming, “I don’t want to be in the car! I don’t like your car mommy!”) and he decides he wants to try and escape. He grabs the door handle and pulls it over and over again until I think it is going to break off (thank goodness for child-locks!).
I finally speak and tell him, in a very calm voice, that he is not allowed to pull the door handle because it might break. Well this pisses him off even more. Now, he’s going to pull out the big guns. He starts biting his arms as hard as he can and then screaming about how much his arms hurt.
[No, I will not crack.]
We finally get home, I pull into the driveway, I unbuckle his car seat and he refuses to get out of the car. Fine. I leave the door open and I check the mail, put the garbage cans away, put my bags in the garage, and straighten up a bit. I look back at the car and he is struggling to try and get out of his car seat by himself (it was actually kind of funny to watch).
I finally do the countdown. “I am going to count to 5. If I get to 5 and you are not out of the car, I am going to drag you out of the car and you get no TV tonight.” I can see his wheels turning. He’s trying to decide if he wants to call my bluff. He decides. He chose poorly.
I count all the way to 5 (hoping and praying that he gives in because I really do not want to deal with an asshole who can’t watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It’s been too long of a day). I grab him up, take him inside, kicking and screaming.
He spends the next 30 minutes in the laundry room. Every few seconds, he opens the door, throws something at me, and then slams the door 3 or 4 times to prove his point. Then, the noise stops. I get nervous because screaming is usually always better than silence in the case of a 2-year-old. He comes out of the laundry room and, in his sweetest voice says, “Mommy, I need to poop.”
Now, I’m his best friend.
I really wish I hadn’t taken for granted the days, long ago, when Matt and I could go to the beach, bathe in the sun, drink beer while we relax in the sand, and totally zone out/nap while we wait for the waves to roll up on our toes.
Now… we have Noah.
The beach is a very different experience with an almost 3 year old boy. First, if we want to enjoy our vacation as well as bring Noah along on our trip, we have to bring reinforcements. No more do we get romantic getaways. We get family vacations with parents and in-laws because, as we have learned in Noah’s short life, there can never be too many adult eyes on him.
Our beach vacation started each day with Noah waking up at 6am asking to “go see the ocean.” By this he means, wake everyone up in the house, screw putting on a bathing suit or eating breakfast, let’s go, now!
Matt and I would spend an hour convincing him that the “ocean didn’t open until 9am” and Granny and Grampy aren’t allowed to get up before 7am. We were forced to watch horrible television like Little Einsteins (which makes me want to poke my eyes out) while Noah asked every 30 seconds, “Is it 7 yet?”
Once Noah was finally allowed to wake everyone up, we shoved breakfast in him, I chugged a cup of coffee, and the long process of getting ready begins.
First, Matt and I get our bathing suits and sunscreen on while Noah shouts, “Hey! Watch me!” and then he does some awkward jump or dance or something that he thinks is amazing.
Second, once we are totally, 100% ready (as we know we have to be because as soon as Noah is ready, there will be very little time before a meltdown ensues), we get Noah’s suit on. He is very particular about his clothes so this process probably takes much longer than it should as he only has 3 or 4 suits to choose from (Dinosaurs or sharks? Green or orange? I don’t like this one, change it. This one pulls funny. This one has a weird tag. Etc.).
Third, here comes the sunscreen. And even though we put sunscreen on this child every single morning before school, and school puts sunscreen on him every single afternoon after nap, this is a fight. Noah is lucky enough to have the whitest of white genes from his mother. Noah’s skin is so incredibly fair that it is almost translucent. I don’t trust the spray for the initial application so Matt has to hold him down while I lather him with 50+ sensitive skin sunscreen. I get kicked in the face a few times, he yanks and pulls my hair and my bathing suit (exposing more than my in-laws care to see I am sure), and then he complains for 5 minutes that I got sunscreen in his eyes. I do use the spray sunscreen for the cowlick on his head. I put a hat on him and rummage around for his beach flip flops.
Are we ready to go to the beach yet? Of course not. Now, I have to get the cooler ready. Is it full of beer and tequila? Of course not. It has juice boxes, popsicles, bottled water, and fruit snacks. I then make a separate bag with crackers, pretzels, chips, cookies, and anything else I think he may have an instant craving for (I really don’t want to risk having to go back to the house just for a granola bar). I then shove a diaper in there (because he still refuses to poop in the potty), lots of wash cloths, towels, more sunscreen, sunglasses, and another hat in case the one he is wearing gets wet or lost.
Are we ready to go to the beach yet? Well, Noah and I are. Matt still has to carry all of the beach chairs down (that we won’t sit in until Noah takes a nap back at the house), beach blankets, shovels, rakes, buckets, dinosaur shapes, shark toys, umbrellas, and toy trucks.
Now- we are all at the beach! If you could possibly close your eyes and imagine what pure happiness looks like, it would be Noah playing on the beach.
He dug holes.
He threw sand.
He ran, and ran, and ran.
He dug more holes.
He went on missions to find other places to dig holes.
He jumped in puddles (so much that his suit would get loose and little chubby butt-cheeks would poke out… then I’d have to put sunscreen on them).
He fought the ocean. And I mean punched, kicked, stomped every wave that came up to him. As the waves would start to break he would yell, “Come on ocean! Let’s fight!” Then he would handle business.
And then we would start all over again. For 7 days straight.
We live in a great little neighborhood with amazing neighbors. We are also very fortunate that our next door neighbors have a son that is only a couple months older than Noah. His name is Gus.
Well, a few weeks ago, while the boys were playing and riding bikes in the neighborhood cul-de-sac, Gus was wearing a Lightning McQueen helmet handed down to him from his big brother. He looked super cute and, of course, Noah just had to have a helmet too.
We don’t have a helmet. And thus, the drama ensued…
Noah had to have a hat (which is obviously second place to a Lightning McQueen helmet). We run all the way back to the house, search for his hat, panic a little when we can’t find it, Matt finds it, and I run back out to give Noah the hat. Well, by this time, Gus is tired of wearing the helmet. He takes it off, sets it on the ground next to his juice box, and continues riding his bike.
This is Noah’s opportunity. Noah sneaks over and, very quietly and gently so that no one would notice, puts the helmet on. Well, if you have boys, I am sure that you are aware that there is some kind of hormonal signal that goes off when another kid wants to play with your toys. Gus immediately stops everything that he is doing, jumps off of his bike, and demands that Noah takes the helmet off. So, Gus’s mother and I rush over to intervene. We offer suggestion after suggestion about sharing, taking turns, you weren’t wearing it, you have a hat instead, etc…
At this point, there is no sharing, no learning opportunity to be had, no calming Noah down as tears are flowing and wails can be heard 3 blocks away. Gus doesn’t want to wear the helmet but he sure as heck doesn’t want Noah to wear it either. Matt takes Noah inside, kicking and screaming, and I am left to gather Noah’s toys and head home.
[Side note: As I am gathering the bike and the scooter and the other toys, Gus comes up to me with a very sly smile and says, “Can I wear Noah’s hat?” I looked at Gus and then I looked at his mother. I said, “Really kid? After all that? No, sweetie. You can’t wear Noah’s hat. Put on your helmet.” And then his mom and I just giggled.]
And, this brings us to this past weekend- the weekend of the helmet.
Saturday morning, my wonderful husband decides that, in order to prevent another “helmet incident” that we should go and buy Noah his own helmet. We needed some other things at Target so, why not?! Let’s go get the kid his very own helmet.
We stroll into the store, buy the random odds and ends that were on my list, and head over to the sporting goods area. Noah picks out a helmet with Dusty the crop-duster on it. Everyone is very excited. We also just absolutely had to have a new Superman T-shirt with a cape and mommy was tired so she caved.
After paying for everything, the moment I put my wallet back into my purse, Noah demanded that he put on the Superman cape right away. So, as mentioned before, mommy was tired. I pulled Noah’s dinosaur shirt off, ripped the tags off of the Superman shirt, and put it on him. Now he was excited!
We ran a couple other errands while he insisted the entire time that I get the helmet out so he could wear it. The tags and wrapping of the helmet required a little more effort than the t-shirt so he had to wait until we got home.
The minute we walked in the door, “Mommy, can I wear my helmet?”
“Of course you can. Let me get it out.”
“Mommy, I need my helmet!”
“Matt, I can’t get this stupid helmet open. Help!”
“Mommy, I need my helmet NOW!!!”
“Fine! Here is your helmet. Put it on!”
So, we venture outside to work in the yard. Noah helps me water my plants.
Before his nap, I convince him that little boys are not allowed to wear helmets to bed. But he had to sleep with it in his room.
After his nap, it was a little too hot to go outside right away so we finally watched Frozen for the first time.
Then we ate dinner.
The next day, we actually wore the helmet to ride our bike. This time, we also needed our Dusty sunglasses.
We got tired of riding our bike.
So Daddy had to carry the bike home.
That evening, I hid the helmet.
Do you ever have those nights when you just have a gut feeling that you should go to bed early because the night might just be a little more than usual? Well, last night was one of those nights.
We put Noah down around 8:30pm (in his new toddler-bed, might I add). Matt and I discussed staying up and watching a movie or one of the many shows on the DVR that we haven’t gotten around to yet. But, finally, after finishing the dishes and putting a load of clothes in the dryer, decided we were just too tired and got in bed around 9:30pm.
At 11:30pm, I hear that sound come over the baby monitor that every mother knows. It is the shrill scream/cry that bellows “Come and get me right now! I don’t know exactly what is wrong but something is wrong with me!”
After assessing the situation, Matt decides he can handle it alone (he is the designated nighttime respondent after all) and I go back to sleep. About 30 minutes later, Matt screams up from downstairs, “I need a little help down here!”
I get down there to find my sobbing baby boy, completely non-responsive to any regular means of comforting, just moaning and groaning about his tummy-ache, just rubbing his belly and saying, in the saddest and most pitiful voice you can imagine, “It hurts, mommy. My tummy hurts so bad.”
Well, we tried everything. We got him ice cubes- it didn’t help. We got in the bath tub- it didn’t help. He asked me to hold him (except he says, “Mommy, I want to hold you” and it is the cutest thing in the world)- it didn’t help. We got into mommy and daddy’s bed- it didn’t help.
I finally offered to go back to his room and lay down in his bed with him until he could fall asleep. That seemed to sound like a good idea to him so we left Matt in the big bed and headed to Noah’s room. Keep in mind that it is now 2:30am.
When we get to his room, he asked me to sit on the floor first because he wanted to sit in my lap. (Whatever he wants at this point, right?) I get down on the floor, he looks me straight in the face, and just as he is opening his mouth to ask me a question, the vomit comes shooting out at, what seems like, lightning speed. Of course, I do the only instinctual thing that I know every mother does, I put my hands out in front of him, forming a “hand bucket” of sorts, and try to catch the vomit before it gets all over me.
Of course, my hands can only catch a fraction of the vomit. Also, I am screaming to Matt, “Get in here and bring towels- lots of towels!” The vomit- full of hot dog chunks, cream cheese and wheat thins, and blueberries- is everywhere. It is on my feet, all over my shirt, and somehow it made it like 6 feet across the room. It smells worse than any smell I have smelled in a very long time. And, within seconds, it is overflowing my “hand bucket” and spilling out onto the rug.
Then, hearing my calls of desperation, Matt shows up with the smallest hand towel I have ever seen. (Seriously!? A hand towel?!) He cleans up Noah and starts to wipe up the floor. All the while, I am sitting on the floor, hands full of vomit, unable to move for fear that the minute I try to stand up, I will spill the entire contents of my “hand bucket” onto the rug, even further tainting my baby’s room with that rancid hot dog vomit smell.
So I say in a very impatient voice, “Matt, help me!”
He realizes my predicament, wraps my hands up with a towel (only slightly larger than the first hand towel he brought in), and helps me up off of the floor. I walk down the hallway to the guest bathroom only to realize that the toilet seats are down, my hands, full of vomit, are wrapped tightly in a towel, and I have to figure out how to get the vomit from my “hand bucket” into the toilet without spilling it everywhere in the bathroom and without dumping the towel into the toilet (I did not want anyone to have to figure out how to clean that up later).
Being the incredibly flexible person that I am (please note the extreme sarcasm intended here), I lean far enough over to the side so that I can lift the toilet seats up with my feet, careful not to spill the vomit. I then shimmy the towel off of my hands into the bathroom sink, only spilling a few small chunks into the sink. Next, I shake my hands with a ferocity never seen before, getting every last chunk of vomit into the toilet, because all I want to do at this point is get as far away from the vomit as possible.
I scrub my hands about 6 times with every kind of soap I can get my hands on. I then jump in the shower and quickly scrub my legs and feet. I realize I can still smell the vomit on my hands so I scrub them with way too much hand sanitizer. I change my clothes, and go get Noah who is still very sad and pitiful and complaining about his tummy. Now he is also upset that he got his “carpet all messy.”
We go downstairs and curl up on the couch. We turn on Jake and the Neverland Pirates while he sucks his thumb and rubs his belly. Matt stays upstairs to scrub the carpet, Lysol the crap out of the room, and put everything into the washing machine (I can hear him gag several times because, trust me, this stuff was rank).
He looks directly at me, takes the latex gloves off, and says, “Next time, don’t scream for a towel. Tell me to get a bucket.”
I would characterize myself as a bit of a “psycho” about respecting and understanding the appropriate developmental stages that Noah is stumbling through as I don’t want to be the person that screws him up by forcing him into something that he’s not quite ready for. As a result, we have waited on him to tell us when he is ready to start potty training. Well, apparently, he made that very clear at preschool because, a week ago, his teachers told us, “He’s ready. Bring lots of extra clothes and put that boy in underwear.”
Well, we were excited. We spent that weekend picking out big boy underwear, practiced asking to go to the potty, talked about what it feels like to be a big boy. You name it. We were ready.
We have a little children’s potty that looks like a frog. We set it up in the bathroom and made sure it was where Noah wanted it. Saturday morning, first thing when I got him up out of bed, he tells me, “Mommy, I need to pee.” I pick him up, I rush him downstairs, he stands in front of the potty, and his pee shoots completely past the potty, over the frog, and lands about 4 feet beyond where it is supposed to land. It shocked me to the point that I squealed a bit, which caused him to turn and look at me, causing the pee to cover the walls and floor of the bathroom. I then had to get past the fact that my bathroom is covered in pee (and it was that first-thing-in-the-morning really pungent smelling pee too) and celebrate and high-five and make a huge deal about how proud I am of him. And, don’t get me wrong, I am unbelievably proud of his amazingly quick processing of the idea of potty training. And I know he is so proud of himself too. I just don’t quite understand how a 3 foot tall human being can pee 4 feet past the potty.
He had done so well throughout the week and his teachers were so proud of him. Every day they sent home notes about how great he had done. We had 2 days where he only had 1 accident and 1 day where he actually came home in the same outfit that I sent him to school in. Amazing! Well, by Friday, laundry hadn’t gotten done and he hadn’t been wearing his extra clothes all that much anyways, so I only sent 3 extra pairs of shorts and 3 extra pairs of underwear to school. (Previously, I had been sending 5 shirts, 5 shorts, 5 underwear, and 3 pairs of socks.)
I am on my way home from work on Friday and Matt texts me, “You won’t believe what your son is wearing.” Well, I know it is going to either be really bad or really funny. I pull up to the house and go to open the door from the garage into our laundry room, and the door won’t budge. I hear Noah scream on the other side. He has pinned himself up against the door, screaming in a tantrum because Daddy wants him to change his clothes. During the day, he had had several accidents and had gone through all of his extra clothes. His last accident involved pooping some on the playground and pooping a little bit more on himself while his teacher tried to rush him inside to the potty. Since he had gone through all of his clothes, they had to rummage through their stash of extra clothing. He was wearing bright pink and white checked shorts, size 5T. They were huge and baggy and he loved them! He finally let us change him out of them at bath time.
Noah has always liked to take his sweet time when it came to pooping (as many men do). He requires that everyone else leave the room to give him some privacy. He doesn’t want anyone to watch him and he likes to stop gradually throughout the process to play with some toys or watch TV. Well, this has made the pooping-portion of the potty training rather difficult. He absolutely refuses to sit on the potty to poop. He makes us take his big boy underwear off, put his diaper on, leave him alone to poop, and then put his underwear back on after he’s done.
His teachers suggested to us that we either force him on to the potty or buy cheap underwear and throw them away (but be sure to point out that he is making us throw his bog boy underwear in the trash). Well, he screams bloody-murder if you try to put him on the potty and I don’t like the idea of shaming him when we throw away his underwear so I am a bit stuck. I have resigned myself to just deal with it until he has mastered the peeing portion.
However, this weekend, we went with some friends to a spring football game. Before the game, we all met at an outside cookout that had very sub-par bathrooms. Well, of course, Noah announces that he has to poop. So, I leave the cookout and walk to the Caribou Coffee next door. I had to get the key to use the bathroom. I try to get Noah to sit on the potty but, of course, he screams. I don’t want to get arrested for child abuse so I put a diaper on him. He makes me leave the bathroom. I stand outside the bathroom door (checking on him about every 3 minutes), a line of college girls is forming outside the door as I apologize profusely. These 19 year old girls don’t understand and don’t give a crap about my 2 year old’s pooping issues.
Finally, he handles his business. Matt and I later discussed how many more fun things he and I are going to miss out on because we are hanging out in the bathroom while Noah is pooping.
Well, by yesterday (10 days in to potty training), we could finally tell that Noah was doing really well and he was starting to figure out how to manipulate mommy and daddy throughout this potty training process. He had been doing so well and we weren’t constantly asking him if he needed to pee. Well, the minute we let our guard down, he comes in to the kitchen while I’m cooking supper, with a huge smile on his face and says, “Mommy, I peed in my shoes!”
At some point in the evening, he had taken his socks off and put his shoes back on without socks. When he peed in his pants, the pee ran down his legs and filled his sneakers up with pee. Now, if you have read my posts in the past, you know that Noah is very picky about shoes and, therefore, only has one pair of sneakers that he will wear. That pair of sneakers was currently swimming in pee.
I immediately try to figure out what the heck I am supposed to do with these shoes that will get them clean and ready for school the next day. As cleaning is not an innate thing for me, I do the only thing I know how to do, I scrub them in the sink with Dawn dish soap (it cleans everything, right?) and throw them in the dryer. This morning, the shoes are clean, the shoes are dry, and the shoes don’t smell anymore. Problem solved, right? Noah puts the shoes on and immediately starts complaining, “These shoes are too tight!!”
The damn shoes shrunk!! He went to school in crocs today and I will figure it out later.
It’s kind of amazing how much I have missed while I have been traveling over the past week. Before this work trip/vacation, I had only been away from Noah for a weekend, at most. He was a little over a year old at the time, he had just stopped breastfeeding about a month prior, and I was a complete wreck. I cried the entire way out of town, called to check on him constantly, and couldn’t get home fast enough (only to realize that he hadn’t even really noticed that I was gone). Side note- Matt also decided to drop a 50 pound weight on his foot at the gym that weekend and ended up having to have his toenail removed. When I wasn’t calling to check on Noah, Matt was sending me disgusting pictures of his gnarled up toe and arguing with me that he didn’t need to go to the doctor. Seriously! (Additional side note- when I got back and forced him to go the doctor, he got a lecture about waiting too long to see the doctor. I then said a very quick and arrogant “I told you so.”)
This trip, however, not only have I been gone over a week (8 days), but I am in a very different time zone (6 hour difference!!). It has been unbelievably difficult to call at a time that is feasible for Noah’s schedule. When I wake up in the morning, he is at preschool. When I get a break during the day around lunchtime, he is in the bathtub and way too preoccupied with his tub toys to even notice that mommy is on the phone. And when I am done for the day and ready to call home and chat with Matt and the baby, both of the men in my life are fast asleep on east coast time.
I have been able to sneak in a few “Hi Mommy!! I played in the sandbox today!” and “Guess what?! I pooped in the potty!” moments during the week but, for the most part, it has just been Matt telling me about good and bad moments. I realized how much I take the little things for granted. I miss hearing his sweet voice first thing in the morning. He always wakes up and announces whatever he has been thinking about all night. I miss hearing him breathe over the baby monitor- that stuffy-nosed snort that is full of innocence and peaceful dreams. I miss his ridiculously funny comments about random experiences that his little mind just doesn’t understand yet. And, most of all, I miss the constant enthusiasm about dinosaurs and sharks and playing outside and diving head first into life.
On top of all of that, I feel really guilty about the amazing time I have been having. I mean- I’m in Hawaii for goodness sake! It is so incredible here. The experience has been completely surreal. I keep reminding myself about how lucky I am to be here. I have taken over 1000 pictures and I have tried to squeeze in as many adventures as possible. And I so wish Matt was there to experience it with me. He and I have such wonderful vacations together. I did so many things that I know he would just absolutely love. (And, it doesn’t help that I keep texting him pictures of all of the delicious food I have been eating. When I sent him a picture of my oh-so-amazing breakfast one morning, this is the text I got back:
The guilt comes in when I think about how freeing and wonderful it is to be having all of these adventures without worrying about parenting or putting sunscreen on a little person or scheduling everything around Noah’s naptime. (The guilt does go away pretty quickly when I think about the fact that it was 31 degrees and snowing when I left North Carolina. It was 78 degrees and perfect when we landed in Honolulu. Did I mention that Hawaii is amazing?)
And then I find myself staring at the little children playing on the beach. I watch their little faces light up with excitement as they watch the huge waves in the ocean, their fat little hands digging in the sand. I am sure the people that I was with were getting pretty tired of me telling Noah stories and quoting his sweet little sayings. Last time we went to the beach, we got a little close to the edge of the water when a big wave came in. He got drenched and it scared me and him both half to death. From then on, when we talk about the beach he always says, “Watch out. That ocean gonna get you!”
I watched the unbelievably brave women walking the beaches and hiking Diamond Head with often more than one child holding their hands. There were so many mothers and fathers wearing their Ergo Baby carriers while shopping, strolling along the beach, or eating out at restaurants. All I could think about was how terrible it would be to travel (on the 12 hour plane ride) with children and babies. I imagined Noah on the horrifically long flight. He would be running up and down the aisles, crawling over chairs, bugging the living daylights out of the passengers around him, and talking way too loud, preventing anyone within ear shot of falling asleep.
And then, I see these other women doing it with such ease. They make it look effortless. And I wonder if they wish they had left the children at home. Do they ever look at the children and the husband and think, “Man. I really wish I was here by myself.”
When I was planning the trip and Matt and I were trying to figure out if he would be able to come out after my conference was over and who would watch the baby and would we want the baby to come. We decided that Matt would stay home with Noah because we didn’t want to be gone for that long, that far away just in case of an emergency. Matt, being the saint that he is, stayed home and played single dad for a week. His parents, thank goodness, were able to come for a good chunk of the week and I think that made it easier on both Noah and Matt. And I was able to have some much needed and much anticipated alone time. I am sure all of you parents know that alone time is very hard to come by when your kids are little. When we are fortunate enough to have some time to ourselves, Matt and I want to spend it together. There is never really an opportunity to just be by ourselves. This was it. It was incredible. It was amazing. It was everything I expected it to be and more. And now, I miss my husband. I miss my baby. And I am ready to hear someone call me “mommy.”