Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Big Jump

My little one got brave today and is now jumping into the pool.

Arms and legs spread all akimbo, mouth and eyes open wide...he puts his whole entire being into it and flings himself into the pool with total abandon. I laugh at how he always tilts slightly sideways, and how his mouth and eyes are as big as saucers and full of wonder when he resurfaces.

Life has been so crazy lately, and I've been so stressed and wound so tightly, that seeing him today was a much-needed reminder that the joys in life really are very simple, that no adventure is too small or insignificant, that whether it's baby steps or a giant leap from the edge of the pool...the point is, take the plunge. Live your life. Conquer your fears. Delight in the the little things. Believe in the magic of being a child at heart.

Today, he took one more step away from babyhood. And as much as I loved watching him, it was bittersweet. I scooped him up and smothered him in kisses and praise and...

He told me I was embarrassing him.

Oh well. It's just another gentle reminder to enjoy every little thing, because all too soon, it could be gone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Dixie Satellite

My son, at age 7, is already in some pretty serious orthodontia. Born with a cleft palate (and his father's overcrowding problem) we have to not only manage the growth of his repaired palate to make sure it's growing with him, but we also have to seriously make space in his cute little rosebud mouth for the giant chompers that seem to be sprouting up every day.

We've done the palate expander, and it definitely has helped. I actually see holes in his mouth where once upon a time there was nothing but a wall of teeth. Continuing on the expansion of his mouth and jaw, yesterday he got his reverse-pull headgear.

Bless his little heart.

For those of you who've worn it, headgear is a lesson in humility. I mean, what's more humiliating than looking like a Hannibal Lecter satellite?

The resignation and embarrassment that registers on his face when he puts it on breaks my heart. All that joking around we did, teasing him that he'd look like Saturn...well, it doesn't seem so funny anymore.

(To my sister, Carrie, I'm sorry I teased you about your headgear when we were kids.)

My job is to feel his pain and make him believe this isn't all that bad. It'll be our little secret. Just think, when all the other kids are getting this, they'll be preteens and you'll be done! It will be really hard for them, because no one wants to look like that when they're a preteen! Right?!

He doesn't really know what a preteen is. And honestly, why tell him what to expect? The anticipation would kill the poor kid. He's rough and tough, but he's got a soft, squishy center.

But he's brave and he's strong and he'll overcome this, the first in many, many trials of growing up.

And just think! His mouth will be even bigger soon!

Good for the teeth, maybe not so much for Mom and Dad...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kids Having Kids...Sort Of

Little Meems just came into the room where I'm sewing. Our exchange was so bizarre. And yet, it really was nothing out of the ordinary at all.

Her: "Mommy, can I change my shirt?"

Me: "No, just wear what you have on."

Her: "MO-om, please? I really want to change my shirt!"

Me: "No." (thinking of the massive piles of laundry I'm already facing)

Her: "MOM. I. WANT. TO. CHANGE. MY. SHIRT." Oh, the drama.

Me: "Meems, why do you want to change your shirt?"

Her: "Just because."

Me: "That's not a good reason." (Lord, I sound just like my mother).

Her: "Because I can't fit a baby in my tummy in this shirt, that's why. It's. Too. Tight." Arms and hands extended and head down in an exasperated, "I'm-trying-to-make-my-point-and-I- don't-possibly-see-what-you-don't-understand-about-this" pose.

And then she adds, with a air of supreme frustration at my utter lack of understanding: "Aye-aye-aye-aye-aye." Lady.

And, sassiness aside, BECAUSE this is SO normal, I don't bat an eye. Actually, I'm a little relieved that she only wants to pretend she's pregnant, instead of something else equally crazy.

Later, I round the corner with some of the aforementioned laundry to witness her admiring her preggo silhouette in the mirror on the stairs. Strangely, there are things tied around her waist, I'm guessing to hold the baby in her shirt. Swinging her hair down in her face and talking to herself and her imaginary friends about her pregnancy and her due date. And her other kids. Apparently, she's having a girl. To be named Jane. And she's due in June. Which I'm not sure she realizes is now. And HER name is Kate. After our friend Kate who's expecting and who Meems is obsessed with these days because of it.

Just another day in the life of a 5-year-old wannabe mom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Swim Meet

My son had his very first swim meet last night.

This is a sport with which I am both familiar, and yet not. I swim, but I'm not a swimmer. I know all the strokes, but I'm not fast. I know what I'm doing, but I'm not confident.

He is. And that's good. But, can I be honest here? I was a nervous wreck yesterday. All day long, a bundle of nerves. Anxious, dreading, stressed out...nervous. Why?????

Terrified he's going to freak out, terrified he's going to miss his event, terrified he's going to do the wrong stroke, terrified he's going to be discouraged if he comes in (gasp) last...

Me, not him.

As a mom I've learned to appreciate organization -- not my strong suit (ask anyone who knows me), but I crave it nonetheless. I had no idea what to expect, no clue what to do once we got there, no concept of what was going to happen. Show up by a certain time; these are your events (whether you can do them or not)...that's all the information we had. I was a hovering helicopter parent-from-hell -- making sure he was in the right spot, making sure he had his goggles, making sure they're on, making sure I wish him good luck. I was my own (and his, I'm sure) worst nightmare.

The kid...well he's amazing. Incidentally, the next meet I absolutely WILL NOT hover.

He finished first in his heat in the freestyle, and second in his heat in the backstroke. Regardless of where, overall, he finished in his events, I'm one proud mama, let me tell you!

The adrenaline is just pumping. Through him -- he's so excited. Through me -- I am too!

My son has done soccer, T-ball and basketball. Never, NEVER have I had the jitters I felt last night.

Lying in bed later on, it hits me.

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with swimming. Heck, with ANY athletics. I am not an athlete, no matter how hard I try. I have a very REAL fear of failing that, luckily-and-by-the-grace-of-God, my son doesn't share.

But you see, I was the kid who got picked last in P.E. I was the kid who signed up last. I was the kid who came in last.

To top it all off, I have a long and deep-rooted love/hate relationship with the pool. Swimming, diving...these are the things that color the nightmares of my childhood. Pneumonia the summer when I was 8 was such a welcome relief -- I didn't have to fail in the pool again!

So to see him succeed where I had always failed was breathtaking. He doesn't have my fears! He wasn't last. He didn't falter. He didn't fail.

He's everything I was not. Am not. To think of your child feeling like a failure, even when you know he/she's not...it's one of the worst fears you have for your children. Especially if you know what that feels like.

So THAT'S why I was so excited last night. THAT'S why my adrenaline was off the charts. THAT'S why my heart skipped a beat every time the buzzer sounded for the start of the race.

Maybe the apple DOES fall far from the tree sometimes.

Thank God. Because, worse than our children feeling less than adequate would be us, as parents, passing along our own fears and insecurities that paved the way for them to do so.

Or so I think.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hair Affair

My daughter is obsessed with hair. And it's because she has so little, even at age 6. Bless her little baby heart, the poor child's hair grows...well, it grows at a snail's pace. Really. She was almost completely bald until she was a good 2 and a half. I gave her her first trim just before she turned 3, because when her hair DID finally start to grow, it only grew on the sides. Like a man who's balding. Except in reverse.

When she was 3 and a half, inspired by her brother's haircut, she decided to give herself a trim as well. To illustrate how slowly her hair grows, we were still waiting for the trim I gave her 6 months before to grow back. She reached into the kitchen drawer, pulled out the kiddie safety scissors and SNIP. I walked in, saw the hair on the floor, the scissors in her hand and this hesitant little smile on her face. The hair on her scalp was, in essence, gone. It was maybe a half-inch long. I truly fought the urge to get sick.

It was devastating.

Not because it was going to look bad.

Because she had cut off almost 4 years worth of hard-earned, intensely wanted hair. After trying to calm her down (her hesitant smile turned to tears when she saw the shock and horror on my face), and cleaning up the hair and trying not to cry myself, I could do nothing else but survey the damage, reassure her that she looked precious and darling, make her promise to only let grownups cut her hair from now on, and send her off with a lollipop to watch a video. I poured myself a stiff drink and, when she was out of earshot, sat at the kitchen table and let the tears roll.

Which brings me back to the beginning. There's still not much, but what she has, when it's behaving, is really gorgeous. Big, loose, Campbell Soup Kid type curls. And since it's still short (despite the fact that we've been growing it long since last spring), it looks cute with her big bows and her deep dimples.

The funny thing is, now everyone gives her hair for special occasions. Wigs, hair extensions, ponytails...

My sister called to ask what Little Meems would like for her birthday. The only thing my daughter has asked for is a trash can for her room. So, knowing how fond she is of the hair my sister gave her for Christmas, and knowing how tangled and disgusting it is, I offered new hair as a birthday gift idea.

And I'm so excited!

The girl wears her hair. Everywhere. Until it's so matted and tangled that birds fly out of it when she puts it on.

Not long ago she wore it out to run errands. We went to Sherwin Williams, where she bellied herself up to the little paint bar they have and proceeded to play "moms" with her doll and her purse and her fake, 3-foot long Rapunzel ponytail. To say she looked ridiculous is an understatement. She was also wearing pink Barbie high-heel feather-boa mules and a raincoat with traffic signs all over it.

I caught the customer service guy ringing us up giving a little smirk over her way. Feeling defensive that he might be laughing at my little daughter, I was ready to point out how ridiculous those grommets were in his ears. GROMMETS. At which, by the way, my oldest son sat and stared, mouth open, trying to figure out what was going on up there.

I don't know if he thought she was funny, or cute, or ridiculous, or what. But as I finished my transaction, blocked my son's gaze with my body and told him it was time to go (flashing him one of those "we'll talk about it in the car" looks), I caught site of my daughter, in all her glory, walking out the store talking to herself and her imaginary friends.

The breathtaking feeling I got is the reason why I will go to the ends of the earth to arrange for her to have her heart's desire. I will continue to haunt drugstores, and take delight in, the search for the perfect hair.

I WILL get defensive about my daughter's wigs. Even if they're pink and she's wearing them to the playground.

Because, I can't give her what she REALLY wants. And that kills me.

But I can give her the next best thing!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Blessed Naptime Victory?

My daughter (almost 6 - gosh I can't believe that) is asleep in the hallway upstairs. In the floor, with her blanket and pillow. Why? Because that's where she wanted to sleep (or so she said). And honestly I'm so desperate for her to take a nap, I actually gave her the OK. If I know my daughter, she was trying to catch me off-guard. Her motivation was not so much a change of venue as it was a reaction. She was pushing my buttons and I knew this because of the twinkle in her eye when she called me upstairs to say "look where I'm sleeping" (insert singsong voice) and the slight shock of panic and disbelief in those same eyes when I said "ok" and walked back downstairs. After some loud, off-key singing and little-brother taunting that ALSO got no desired response from me, she just gave up and fell asleep.

Yes, in the name of some holy quiet time, I had a battle of wills with, and called the bluff of, a 5-year-old. And she being as stubborn as she is, she was not about to move, so off to dreamland she went sprawled out in the middle of the hallway.

I can't believe it! In the epic battle of wills between the two of us, I won. Of course, I won by nearly surrendering, but victory, my friend, is sweet.

Turns out, it's also fleeting.

Because it has just occured to me this one true fact -- that I'm virtually a prisoner of my downstairs.

And the things I was counting on naptime to get done are all UPstairs.

But still...ahhhh...quiet.....

Monday, June 1, 2009

How Many More Days of Summer Vacay?

Two days in to summer vacay. This is how I feel. How much longer???

(Mmmm. You think they sell these at Starbucks?)