Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I sooooo dig this poem. It inspires me when I get that taffy feeling, ya know, the one where stuff is pulling at you and you're just standing still, trying to decide which pull is (or should be) strongest? P's a shoo in (and he knows it) but I still hear that silent social nagging singing in my synapses: dishes, dirt, duties, (blog)...
Ya, lame attempt to make up for my missed minutes logging my child's every canoodle... But read the poem anyway, its totally true :)
"Song for a Fifth Child."
Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery,
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little
Boy Blue (lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done
and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep'
~Ruth Hulburt Hamilton~
Monday, June 22, 2009
I admit, I have hang-ups about this word. I rarely use it. It carries this heavy socio-political-historical context for me that I just can't shake. So I've stricken it from my language and the wee man had thusly followed suit... so far. Then about two weeks ago he assimilated, heard it, tried it, liked it. I do love that using this word provides him with a powerful exclamation point. I get that. And I realize he lacks the contextual bullshit that bogs me down when I hear "hate." To him, its just, well, an intense feeling of "no!" towards something.... But I'm still struggling to see the beauty in this new vocab word, to hear his truth when he says it rather than my fear.
Because its hard to see my little cherub turn into a kid. Simple foot stamped "no's," even screamed loudly, coming from a very short creature with big blue eyes and sweet little curls tend to make me smile. Even if the "no!" is directed towards me. Wee kids have the cute factor going for them. Evolutionary brilliance, really. But he's gotten taller. And louder. And stronger. And this strength is so important to him. He's also started having expectations. Often quite complex, far reaching, expectations. Which is, of course, the beginning of the end of ease, since matching the next minute to our imagination can only lead to frequent disappointments....
Which leads to anger. Which, apparently, leads to the word hate. I've been racking my brain, trying to remember if the emotions actually amped up at the same time "hate" came on the scene, or if they were already gloriously vivid and only lacking in specific verbal definition.... But I'm not sure. I only know I much preferred "I don't like that barking right now!!!!" to "I hate dogs!"
And I think that's it in a nutshell. The specificity of it seems to have gone sloppy. The pure violence of the word (he really spats it out!) seems to upstage the nuances of his anger. Bigotry and history aside, his "hate" explosions don't tell me enough to help him in any specific way. But they do tell me, in no uncertain terms, he's not happy :) Which is, I suppose, a very good thing. Especially since he seems to be entering a stage where he has a harder time admitting his emotions. Sometimes even signing instead of saying something when he's rather riled. Which is taking some catching up on my part, since I so prefer knowing exactly what he's thinking...
Right up until yesterday, that is ;) When his newfound word erupted at me :( After consuming an entire package of Tootsie Rolls in 24 hours he was in full on funky form. I know a lot of artificial stuff effects his little body, but we haven't tried something like this in a while so.... Well, now we know. A good friend even noticed the difference today, saying P seemed drunk or high :) And that's what I've had to tell myself over and over again for the last two days -as he bounced off of the walls, screaming, hitting and obsessing about strange things - he is warring with his body. My child has not become possessed, my child has not had a sudden behavioral bout of insanity, my child will return....
And then we were out on the stoop. P was pissed he couldn't play at his Uncle's house and was buying time outdoors, hoping the winds would change in his favor. He was obsessing, a common occurrence for him when a food allergy is active. I navigated it as cautiously as I could, supporting, validating, but unable to change the world. Eventually, as an hour passed and the rain still came onto my slippered feet (yah, we weren't planning on hanging on the stoop) and the little man twirled around the banister, I announced my need to pee. He stalled. He stonewalled. He adamantly refused. This is beyond out of character these days. He's a gracious deal maker when its just the two of us. Admittedly more selfish and hard to reach when surrounded by friends or family, he typically finds win-win solutions when its just the Mama and the little man.
At any rate, my continued attempt to navigate the situation in a typical fashion proved ridiculous, as the wee one was a-typical for the day :) Our stand-off ended in me gently carrying a mortified and resistant little man up three flights of stairs as his heart broke, realizing he wasn't actually strong enough to overpower me. I hated it. Yup, the word fits there ;)
And thus, at the entrance to our flat (after relieving myself amidst the fury of little fists) a very angry and hurt child turned his baby blues to me and said "I hate you right now mama." D'oh. Lemme tell you, that one hurts. I instantly remembered him picking the pretzel over me. The adult in me understood that this was a healthy way for him to deal with his stolen autonomy, his disappointment at the way the afternoon played out. I silently thanked the Universe that my child trusts me enough to be able to express himself freely, to not hide his "hatred" or anger out of fear of my response, fear of my own anger or childish emotions. That he can expel it and get past it. But jeez that still smarted. And so my tear, the tell tale one I can't ever stop, rolled down my cheek and the child moved away from the wall he was huddled against, towards my lap. "Mama, what's this? Why is your face like that? Why do you have a tear?"
Ha, hates me my ass :) I told him he felt so sad that I felt some of the sadness. And the bridge was built. I asked him, again, as I had down on the stoop, what was going on, where his anger was coming from, could I help? And then he could tell me what he couldn't before, that he was mad he couldn't go to Seth's, that he loved Seth and wanted to see him more. That we always have to leave Seth. And his tears came, only briefly, before he could suck them back up with a frown, start to smack me again, remember that he didn't want to hurt me, cry for a brief wail and then.... rest in my arms. Poor, poor four year olds. The world is so big and mysterious and they have such little power over it (or their hyped up wee bodies!). So, I'll give him his new word, the power it gives him to say it, even if I hate hearing it ;)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Months ago, P and I saw a picture of an amazing slide. Yesterday, we finally rode it. After a gleeful morning of playdoh we went searching for what seemed a green needle in a high soaring haystack; a tiny park stuck amongst skyscrapers. I'd mapped it, but it was still elusive. Finally, someone pointed us towards what appeared to be a lush apartment courtyard. As we wandered into the space, P turned a corner of green, saw it, and squealed :)
Unbelievably, the day only improved from there. We climbed, snacked, slid and rock hunted. Then we wandered back down a path that led us to another park, one of P's favorites. I was shocked to see how closely we had missed the green gem and super slide countless times! Crossing into the riverside park, P took off at top speed in hopes of scoring a barrel of fun. And after some patient hop filled waiting, he did. And a new friend to boot.
P conquers the hop-a-long:
P and BB join Danny (yesterday's new buddy) under a bridge:
P, BB and Danny found a million different purposes for their barrel:
As a sidenote: Kids consistently accepted BB into the rough of things. With no issues, no commentary, no double takes, nothin'. That pink monster was as seamless a playmate as you could imagine. Seriously natural. He took a turn on the slide each time, and despite the long line and a couple of very vocal kids, not one had even a hint of an issue with the doll being included. Same for the barrel boy. Within minutes of playing together, P and Danny found their rhythm with BB and the three of them had a ball. I sat back in amazement each time. Then, when P joined a group on the merry go round, BB and he each took a seat. Separate seats. No one batted an eye.
Was I the only one that thought a pink and green monster made for an unlikely playground pal? Apparently :) I suppose every kid has had some special fluffy friend they adore, possibly drug along for days (or dreamed of dragging along) and could therefore relate. Its just fascinating to watch how readily kids align with P's sidekick. Grown-ups, when introduced to BB, inevitably, even the sweetest of them, have a detached sensibility about it all. They are talking to a stuffed animal. But kids, they shriek his name like he's another playmate, laugh and grab him just like they tackle P. BB's just included.
P finished out the day at yet another playground, just a hop, skip and a jump from all of the previous amenities. (If we didn't love our nabe so much, we would So be moving:) This one showcased a huge trampoline, sand galore, the merry go round and lovely water features. Despite the chilly day, the little man donned his suit and splashed about:
As we headed home that night, P wanted to wander back in reverse. There was a path he was curious about. And so we followed his curiosity right to the Coolest Rock Wall Ever. P was beside himself to return with his Uncles to climb here (I think it may be part of a sculpture and therefore not climbable, but I'll look into it). We rounded a bend only to find even more lovely rocks to clamber upon! (I had already cased my camera and was feeling too lazy to pull it back out. Now I'm regretting it, I'd love to post how beautiful these rocks were!) Alas, with Papa awaiting us, our exploration of this was briefer than we both preferred... but that just gives us something to really look forward to....
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We had such a phenomenal day today. Its too late for a full report (but rest assured the little man has big plans to take Uncles Seth and Ian to Teardrop Park!), but I just wanted to post a pic of the Wee Urban Cowboy. He absolutely adores his new hat. He's asked me a few times if he looks like Gramps now :)
So Ethan informed me that last weekend was Father's Day. On the two days a year that he calls the shots (we don't do gifts, we "give" the day to the honoree), he's prone to waking up, dawdling around our flat for a few hours and then suddenly proclaiming, "Let's hop a train!" Ummm, my spontaneity gene apparently evolved instantaneously when eight pounds of scream entered our lives four years ago.... So I warned him Thursday to warn me by Saturday if he wanted to vamoose Sunday. Anywhere, anyway, just let me pack a bag for the kid. But after many weekends filled with work (and this weekend no different) E decided mellow would be his theme. And thus, he planned our day.
Brunch at an old favorite in the city.
The World Science Fair in Washington Square Park.
The movie "Up." (Using his throne to sanction something I'm usually not on board with. Sneaky. Very sneaky :)
Dinner out and a leisurely walk home.
Generous as always, he had considered everyone's needs. Nevertheless, as we headed into the city for brunch, P sighed a great sigh and muttered that he wished there was a Phoenix day :) I LOVED that comment.
Brunch was lovely, despite P's loooong 10 minutes spent in the loo at a rather busy brunch spot. The kid knows how to pick'em. If there are stalls upon stalls, he is the picture of quick bid-ness. A nice one holer and whalah! Bid-ness screeches to a (obviously fruit lacking) halt. E just chuckles as we re-emerge, "hours" later, his food eaten and the check waiting...
The Science Fair was fab too. P was super psyched to see the large robots. He even muscled the gumption to throw some balls back at them. The bright white ground covering just about blinded his baby blues though...
Then we saw an adorable Rutgers student lie on a bed of nails, with a bed of nails then placed on top of him too. Then children climbed aboard. P did not get up the gumption for this....
Having retained almost nothing from previous science classes, I felt like I learned a lot of new stuff from all of the presentations (retention this time: fairly foggy...) Apparently, the little man picked some stuff up too. The next day I overheard him muttering to himself "mumble mumble, rotation, mumble mumble, pressure, mumble mumble, gravity..."
On to the movie we marched. And it was, actually, pretty adorable. And it allayed my fears that Pixar movies always set Horrible examples for small children (just count how many times the characters in Toy Story call one another "stupid.") P cuddled on my lap and quietly whispered his questions while we noshed on berries and popcorn (sans food coloring!) from Whole Foods. E laughed so hard at one point he almost choked. Which, in turn, made me laugh pretty hard ;)
We dined outdoors at a fave Italian eatery, entertained by Sock Monkey. Come to find out, E and P share a lot of personality traits. I try not to chuckle too loudly when I hear their big Schultz toes drawing heavy lines in the sand. Sock Monkey has proven to be a fabulous defuser in most head-butting situations. And since P was never satisfied with E's BB voice, Papa now has a creature of his very own with which to woo the little man.
So, though P wished the day was actually his, and, though we got the dates wrong and the day wasn't actually even E's, it was lovely. And I'm thinking we'll make the same mistake next year too. Cuz, really, E certainly deserves a couple of Father's Days a year....
Monday, June 15, 2009
P's emotional growth is a time machine of late. He's big enough for Anything, he needs me to wash his hands. He's ready to run an errand himself, he's frantic to hold my hand. He'll put himself to bed, thank you very much, he demands I cuddle him and turn on the night light. He helps me carry boxes of groceries up the stairs ("Look how strong I am now, Mama") he wants me to carry him up the stairs. He talks big, then he tosses in some baby talk....
I've never noticed such a series of expansions and contractions in him before. I've read about it in two's, three's and I'm sure its popular in four's too, but this is the first time we've had such wildly divisive swings. Its fascinating to watch him navigate his need to be autonomous and his need to be cared for simultaneously.
And the block party this Saturday was the perfect stomping ground for a period of expansion. With so many friendly families out all day and the road closed to traffic, the little man had free roam of the block. E was at work most of the day, so if I needed to run to the loo or grab my potluck dish, P proudly pranced around outside by himself. Highlights from the day of fun:
The bouncy house. Quite literally, hours of fun. He'd run out every so often to check on me (often tossing a "I wuv you, Mama" my way :) and the bounce back in.
True Brooklyn style, the fire hydrant was opened by Brooklyn's finest for an afternoon of fun. P got drenched and was determined to "drip dry...." (No, it wasn't very warm, or sunny)
P, captivated, when the firemen returned to shut off the valve:
P fell, hard, for this sweet little dog that was too busy scrounging for scraps to even notice the four year old. His name was Bubbles, and P followed him for over thirty minutes...
P also adores the snow cone kid (he sells them every year at the block party) named Tom. Tom, an adorable 9 year old only child that lives two doors down, was sweet enough to let P run with the big guys. Up and down the block (and its a decent sized hill too!) the four year old raced on his scooter, keeping up with the big guys as best he could. Every once in a while he'd look around to make sure I was there, wave, smile and scoot on towards heaven:
Saturday, June 13, 2009
P's favorite art installation closes soon, so we hustled back for one more viewing. This time, with Aunt Alicia :) It was a full day for the little man, a short play date at our house, a trip to the Mulberry Street Library, a jaunt uptown for the exhibit, a family taco run in the evening and then a lengthy stalking session at Whole Foods in search of their mint balls...
P was So excited for Ali to see this show. Its just gorgeous and brilliant and sublimely evocative and he just knew she'd appreciate it. I Love hearing the little man ponder its meaning every time we go. It seems the abstract quality in this work really suits his temperament, his imagination soars and his questions are self answered. It reminds me of the Einstein quote: "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."
The armory was Packed this time, the city getting one last glimpse. And while P was happy to experience the space again, his primary focus was Aunt Alicia :) More and more I grow invisible when she's around. His comfort level with her is increasing to almost comical proportions. He leans on her, makes demands of her, holds hands with her, sing-songs her name every few minutes and just generally assumes he is her sun; that she lives to orbit him ;) Any attempt on my part to give her some space, allow her to snap a pic without a bump, gets a growl or other defensive acts of emotional pain. Its such a fine line to walk. I'm thrilled he has people in his life he loves so much, that love him; that he can spread comfortably beyond me. But his social boundaries are still so fuzzy, and I don't want his loved ones to get rug burn... Meanwhile, any allusion to said abrasion seems hurtful to the little man and he wants to believe I am wrong, that everyone loves everything he does. Its all out of love and excitement - how could it be wrong??? Childhood has so many rough awakenings it sometimes seems heartbreaking to me.
Anyway, I digress :) Nothing was heartbreaking on Friday. P was in heaven bouncing around, smelling spices, luxuriating on styrofoam bead beds, climbing on Alicia :)
P and A decide they'll live here forever:
A, working her magic behind the lens:
Playing a hidden hand game with P, that brought out his inner fluster (he'd seen a child chastised for touching the fabric during our last visit - my little legal stickler!)
Honestly, there's only so long one can sit still for two photo happy red-heads before funky faces erupt....
As I returned from the loo, bag packed and ready to go, I just had to pull out my camera again. P and Alicia lay on the floor, Ali, trying to get her shot, P leaning comfortably on her, shifting as she shifted, listening intently to whatever yarn she was weaving. It was such a sweet moment. Ahhh, that the child has family, here, in this sometimes solitary city, so far from our original "home." It warms my heart. That they are such phenomenal family is more than a transplant could ask for. Now, if we can only get Uncle Ian up here..........
The crowds nixed the seafoam balls, saving us about three hours ;) So we headed out, on schedule, to meet Ethan and Seth for tacos. The little man glowed as he entered the subway, the realization that so many loved ones would be dining together after such a wonderful afternoon - in his words, "how lovely!"
After posting about P's abstract approach to two dimensional art I started brainstorming on ways to bring 3-D closer to 2-D. Less line, less definition, but still a general attention to mass and shape. And then it hit me. Rocks!
So we color sorted his precious collection and went to town roughing in general mass. It was great, because with a tiny shift of a rock his intent could shift too, leaving disappointment and unmet expectations behind. His Egyptian Bunny, above, really nailed the complex space the young mind resides in; understanding the concept of "drawing" but still viewing the world in sculptural form. So, while I thought he'd nailed a full on side-shot of a bunny body, the little man shook his head and added another ear, as if viewing it from above :)
He's seen lots of shark drawings though, and when he brought his rocks to the breakfast table the next day his shark was infinitely recognizable. Even BB knew to be scared. Right up until the rock jaws bit the little monster's toes and then swallowed him whole....
Friday, June 12, 2009
At four and a HALF, the little man seems to find sharing fun again. He love, love, loved it for the first few years of his life. As do most tiny tots. Its fun to show people what you have!! Then he made friends with a tyke that had an amazing grab and run scheme (like, run all the way across a field) and that pretty much ruined sharing for a while ;) He's returned to his position of consummate host this year. And, honestly, its occasionally a little over the top....
Like when we hung out with some fellow unshcoolers, before P's journey. The little man was hot to try out his remote control land/water vehicle in the park, but was worried our little friend (only a mere 2 and a HALF:) would have trouble with the toy. So he packed a smaller, hand driven version for L and away we went.
I was less worried about our wee friend, more about P's ability to share such a new toy. Silly Mama ;) Though he much preferred L's Mama to drive the machine, he sweetly tried to show L how to handle the controller. The long grass was more than the short wheels could handle, and the jumpy starts formed a theory in P's brain: the car liked P best :) There was some superstitious rite that went along with success too, but my memory fails me and the little man is asleep....
We eventually wandered down to the dog pond, since the boys were greatly interested to test exactly how waterproof the machine really was. P relinquished the controller to me and watched from his perch in the water as the car explored the shallows . It was only a short time until P was splashing around, retrieving the floating vehicle, testing his shoes waterproofness :) He landed a nasty rash from this little exploit. Yuck!
Soaked through and joined by rain, we all headed to chateau Schult. for a little playtime. P welcomed his friends with open arms, dragging out every piece of candy he could find - to shove in their faces. Host on speed, if you will. He was happy to have little L play with anything, anything he wanted... until that shadow crossed over the little man's face and his people cup was overflowing. I've seen it happen twice since then. Host with the most, use any toy you like, eat my food, can I get you some water - and then Bam. Don't let the door hit you on the way out :) Ah, well..... He is only four. And a Half :)
Upon P's return home, his enormous bag of booty was deposited into the sink for a thorough cleansing and animal removal procedure. He wanted me to take a shot to document the enormity of it all :)
I've Got to get a picture of his play table tomorrow. It currently contains all of his nature finds, rocks, shells, flowers and whatnot. It is pretty surreal. A friend recently told me a story about an unschooling mum of three who's daughter was a natural collector. The mum mentioned that she would have worried she had "caused" the collecting behavior had she not seen it materialize in just the one, and so instinctively and passionately. Silly as it is, that was reassuring to hear, as my wee collector drags home yet another whatnot for his whatever collection (pick it, really, we've got rocks, shells, buttons, berries, sticks, hats, bottle caps, pennies, unclaimed met cards. And of course, toys :) And he's only 4. Oh, and a HALF.)
P typically takes his time pooping :) I often sit and chat, wander out to put something away, wander back to respond. He prefers to have company :) As I wandered out the other day, he bellowed after me "I can't see very good because of my eye surgery. After they poked my eye and rubbed it, I can't see very good any more. Does the dryer have two "F's" on it?"
After covering one eye at a time and studying the dryer (which sets just by the loo) we determined that his surgery eye is, indeed, not as capable :( He was 20/20 after surgery, so this means its gone downhill. He was, however, reassured that his other eye could clearly see the two "F's," and learned the word "off" to boot!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Fire Island pics, courtesy E and his Iphone (P is the red dot in the landscape). For really great stories and shots, check out P's Amazing Aunt Alicia's blog: here and here !
I laughed my way through last weekend as my nearest and dearest (except my mom!) joined me for a weekend in the city. I know there are many that take a little vacay when their spawn is six months or so, but this was P's first foray away for an extended period. And even as he left our flat he reminded his Aunt B that he'd see her that very night. Cuz, tho he was piss-his-pants excited for his adventure with Papa and Sock Monkey, he was Not interested in spending the night away....
All I can share are E's brief reports. Had the child been with my mother (or, not to be sexist or anything, but any other woman I know) there would have been fabulous tales to regale ya'll with. As it is, I know the basics. The little man had fun :) He got wet. He collected sea shells and half a beach of sea rocks. He ate egg sandwiches and pasta. He was thrilled by his Aunt and Uncle, repeatedly. He put himself to bed the first night, telling E, "You go to sleep Papa, my body still has energy in it and I need to move around." He moved around, looked out the window, rinsed some shells and then climbed into his sleeping bag and went to sleep. He talked to Sock Monkey for four hours straight at one point. He greatly enjoyed an enormous two seater trike....
And that point in the weekend is where I came in. I called, as I had to :) It was Sunday and I hadn't spoken to the little man himself in 36 hours!!! E informed me they were riding some hunk of junk with three wheels, two seats and a bunch of happiness. I could hear P humming along in the background. And, quite honestly, though I was beyond content with my fem-tribe surrounding me, I burst into tears. P got on the phone and described to me the scene he could see. He ended with a "Mama, you HAVE to come here. Do you know why? Cuz its So Much Freakin Fun!" As I choked back a sob, I was astonished at the need to hold him. I was happy, he was happy, yet not being near him was physically uncomfortable.
He flew through the door the next day, smiley, sandy and sun kissed. (And bearing the largest bag of sea shells/rocks you have Ever Seen (massive kudos to E for schlepping the stuff all through a walk, ferry ride, bus ride, train to another train to a car service...)) P had handled the weekend with aplomb. Even shared a bed with his Father, forgoing his sleeping bag after the initial love affair ended. And I wondered. Would that be that? Could E and I alternate bedtime? Would I merely whisk out the door for my co-op shift, unfollowed by tiny toes? Wow....
Then, as we attempted to whisk out the door for dinner, E grabbed P's shoes to assist. "No, Papa, that's ok. Mama can do it. Mama," he called back into the house, "since you're here again, you get to put my shoes on me. Aren't you happy you're here to do my shoes again?"
And, as nice a reprieve as the weekend was, my lifelong friends and their lovely smiles, I could honestly reply, "Yes, P, I'm really happy to get to put your shoes on you again." And there it was. In that moment, his growth summed up. Happy when he moves forward, happy when he moves backward. Allowing the moment of helping him to wash his hands be a meditation in Now and Senses and Love rather than just a hurried splash. That touching his dirty little toes and holding his sweet little leg and silly-sandy shoe is a gift in time. His momentum towards independence is speeding up, and its fascinating to watch. And feeling the poignancy of four, the fleetingness of four, well, I think I'm done with weekends away for a while! I can hardly stand to miss a batted eyelash. Yesiree, I'm happy to get to do the shoes again :)
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I'm behind!! We've had great fun in the park with family and friends - and I want to stick some shots and stories on here.... but not till next week. The little man and I are spending our first weekend apart starting Friday and there have been preparations aplenty :) More on everything next week after the big event has passed...
Until then, pics of the little man's traveling companions. Papa, who has risen to the occasion with exceptionally well honed playing skills, despite his very few moments at home of late, and Sock Monkey, who has become E's alter ego as BB is mine. Armed with a new sleeping bag and plans for his amazing Aunt and Uncle to join him, P will venture off for three nights of fun on Fire Island. Though excited, P refuses to call it a "sleep-over" since he says he will not sleep without me. To say that I am nervous is a grand understatement :)