I suspect I may not be in charge

I know, I KNOW, that a toddler isn’t entirely capable of deciding what to do.

I know, I KNOW, that if I ask Jack if he wants to do something, he might say yes or no and not mean either one or mean it for 15 seconds and then mean the opposite.

The thing is, he DOES have opinions, and in some cases, it feels really rude not to respect them. He really does not want to do something, something that isn’t mandatory? Okay – we don’t have to do it. SOMETIMES. Sometimes I know he’s saying no because he doesn’t understand, but sometimes I think he really has a preference, and if it’s reasonable to accommodate it, I would like to.

Sometimes that backfires on me.

Take this morning. The plan was to have breakfast and go to the beach for a couple hours. We had no commitments for most of the day, no story times, no play dates, and my first meeting wasn’t until 3pm. Today was the first day after his cold that I felt comfortable taking him around people, and I was looking forward to it. If you asked Jack, so was he. We were going to dig holes in the sand and play with trucks! Go in the water! So much fun.

There was no problem getting the car packed or getting him in it. The beach is only 20 minutes down the road. No problem on the drive. Then we got there. I parked the car and opened my door, and Jack fell apart.

Tears streaming down his face, sobbing, “I want to play on the playground!” “Sweetie, we’re at the beach. We’re going to play in the sand and dig holes and play in the water!” “I want to play on the playground!”

I KNEW he’d calm down and have fun if I could just get him out of the car and onto the beach, but “No, I don’t want to get out of the car! I want to keep my gray shoes on! I don’t want to wear my bathing suit! Let’s ask the kids if they’ll play with me!”

The last line did me in.* “Sweetie, do you want to go to the playground?” Sad hiccuping sobs, “Yeah.” “We have to go home first so I can put on regular clothes.” “I DON’T WANT TO GO HOME I WANT TO PLAY WITH KIDS.” “I hear you. We can, but we have to make a quick stop at home so I can change clothes, and then we can go to the playground. Which playground do you want to go to?”

Whew, calm while he considered the merits of the various playgrounds, and I got the car started. We got out of the parking lot, got maybe a mile back towards home, and then more crying, “TURN AROUND! I want to go to the beach!”

I practiced breathing. “Sweetie, we’re going to the playground to play with kids. We can go to the beach another day.”

A little more crying, I kept driving towards home, and then he asked if Graham, McKenna, Emily, and Uncle Sean would be there. I cautiously said I didn’t know, and he said “Let’s check it out!” So I called Emily, and to my great relief, they were willing to take a break from their other plans and meet us at a playground.

Fun times were had by all, I still made it home in time for my meeting, and the rest of the day was incident-free.

We’re going to try the beach again tomorrow afternoon.

*Also, because of his cold, we hadn’t seen ANYONE in over a week, and on top of that, he was up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, so he was not at his best. Neither was I.

He knows he’s funny

The other day, Jack asked to watch a video that is no longer available on Amazon Prime. That has happened before, but those videos were available on YouTube. This one is not. So Jack asked for it, and I said it’s not available anymore. I can’t find it.

Jack: Did you check on Amazon?

Me: Yes, sweetie. It’s not on Amazon anymore.

Jack: Daddy is tall. Maybe he can find it.

Me, smothering a laugh: Daddy IS tall, but I don’t think he’ll be able to find it, either.

Jack, glancing out the window toward the neighbor’s house, with a funny little smile on his face: How about…Steve?

I didn’t hide the laugh that time.

A Day

My website is back up (yay!), but I’m feeling a little down. Today was the eighth anniversary of Roxy’s death. Eight years – it feels like forever ago and yesterday. I miss my anti-social puppy.

In cuter news, Jack got butter on his hands this morning and absently rubbed his hair, so he smelled like popcorn all day.

We voted today – the town held a referendum on some school-improvement funding. Jack charmed the election officials (naturally) and got extra “I Voted” stickers.

We went to our first outdoor story time in a year and a half, we took a long walk in the stroller and brought back lunch, we had a dance party before dinner, but the Roxy thing just brought down my whole day.

Sleepyhead

I never nap when Jack naps. During the week, that’s prime work time. During the weekend, I usually get some uninterrupted reading time. Regardless, I don’t sleep, and it’s not a problem. Usually.

Today was the sixth day in a row with no nap for Jack, and I’ve noticed a confusing trend. When Jack doesn’t nap, I’m the one who feels sleepy in the afternoon. Yesterday my eyes were actually watering from the effort of keeping them open.

I don’t have this problem on days he naps. Apparently, it’s super exhausting for me to watch him not nap. He doesn’t even give me a hard time about it anymore – there’s no crying or yelling. He just doesn’t nap, and eventually I give up. And THEN the sleepiness rolls in, which makes it extra hard to try to work while he plays (when he’s not tugging at my arm or stealing my mouse).

Anyway, I’m going to bed.

The snow is more fun when you’re well-rested

Yesterday’s adventure in the snow was not so positive. I took Jack out while it was still snowing so I could do a first round of shoveling before the snow turned to freezing rain and packed everything down.

He was fine with the snow on the ground (progress!), but it was windy, and any time the wind blew snow into his face, he started to shriek. I mean, I can’t blame him – it’s cold and it’s wet and it’s in his face. He didn’t quite understand that he could turn the other way and be protected.

He let me get quite a bit of shoveling done, though. At one point, I escorted him back to the door so he could sit on the step, protected by the overhand. He sat there contentedly for the 10-15 minutes I needed to get to a stopping point, which was truly surprising. Then we played with snowballs under John’s office window until the wind turned on us again and we went inside.

That’s when we tried hot chocolate. You’ve seen the video – he liked it okay, but it wasn’t a life-changing experience.

Of course, the whole afternoon might have gone better if Jack had napped. Yesterday was the third day in a row without a nap. I’m not hopeful about today.

A little fall of snow

We got an inch of snow, maybe a little bit more, the other day, and it’s been cold enough not to melt away. We haven’t left the house, so the only tracks are from the Amazon Prime delivery van. Every few hours, I look out the window to see a light flurry – pleasant to look at, but not enough to add to the accumulation.

I’ve had meetings during our play windows the last couple of days, so this afternoon was my first opportunity to get Jack out to play.

When it snowed in October, he was NOT a fan. He didn’t want to touch it, didn’t want to walk in it. Since then, we’ve watched some TV episodes where it snows. We’ve got a Thomas book from the library all about snowy train tracks, we’ve read a book about Little Owl experiencing snow for the first time, we’ve read about snowmen and snowballs, and his favorite episode of Thomas and Friends (after Diesel and the Ducklings) is about Percy and Thomas crashing into the snow.

With all of that, I was hopeful that he’d be more open to playing in the snow this time around. On top of that, he has brand new snow boots (no more rain boots with extra socks) and brand new tiger paw water-resistant mittens, AND he watched baby cousin Lucy enjoying the snow this morning. I said, “Look! Lucy’s playing in the snow!” and Jack said, “I play in the snow!” Progress!

And it paid off! I got him all bundled up and outside, and then he stopped at the edge of the snow. “Pick you up! Mommy, pick you up!” I suggested we go play in the meadow (side of the house), and he let me hold his hand. He took a few cautious steps, and then we were fine. Over the course of the next hour, he touched the snow, threw the snowballs I made, crushed the snowballs I made, crushed the tiny snowmen I made, leaned over to try to make his own snowballs, fell on his face once, fell on his butt once, and ran to the other side of the yard. He stopped short of tasting the snow, but (thank goodness!) he had a good time, and after we came inside, he told me he wants to do it again.

We have conquered the beach. We have conquered the snow. Next stop, paint! Ha, who am I kidding, I’m not ready for paint. Next stop, potty-training!

Pinky

Jack’s sleep has never been terribly consistent, but we found our routine and things had been going well most of the time (for the last few months, at least).  Jack learned to fall asleep in the crib, not entirely on his own, but quickly, so it was working for us, and he usually slept through the night.  On any given night, I would (or John would – we did it the same way) put Jack in the crib and then sit or lie down next to him and slide one hand between the crib slats.  Jack might ask me to rub his back until he fell asleep, or he might grab my hand and hold it, roll over on top of it, or lay his head down on it.  Not too long after that (most nights), he’d be asleep and I would pull the magician-tablecloth trick and get my hand back without waking him up.

It worked for a long time, and actually, it’s still working, but for the last few weeks, Jack has been waking up in the middle of the night and very clearly telling us that he’s upset because he woke up and we weren’t there.  We were there when he went to sleep – what happened?  That’s EXACTLY the reason all those sleep books give for why babies need to learn to go to sleep completely on their own.  They wake up freaked out because things are different and they don’t understand.  I read those books forever ago, but it’s only now that it’s actually a problem for us.

So now we need to fix it.  It’s finally really truly time to teach Jack how to put himself to sleep without Mommy and Daddy in the room.  It’s going to take a SUPER long time, though, because we have found out that we’re just not cry-it-out people.  Can’t take it.  Not gonna do it.

So instead, we’re going to take baby steps.  First, no more hand.  We’ll still put him in the crib and lie or sit down next to it, we’ll still talk or sing to him as needed, but no more falling asleep on top of or under the hand.  Once we have that down, we’ll start moving farther away from the crib, toward the door, until we can put him in the crib, say good night, and leave.  It’s going to take FOREVER, but I’m hopeful that it’ll work.  There will be crying, but we won’t have left him alone to deal with it.

That’s the plan.  And we have begun!  Barely.  On night one, I put him in the crib, sat down next to him like usual, and when he asked for my hand, I said “No hand.”  Cue the crying.  He cried and sobbed “Yes, hand!  Yes, Mama hand!” for 32 minutes and then he passed out.  Success?  Sort of?

The next day at nap time, I did the same thing, but there was only an hour of crying, no nap.  Which is pretty much what I expected for naps.  The second night was John’s turn, and Jack was exhausted from not napping, so he fell asleep in John’s lap during story time.  Doesn’t count.  Day 2’s nap is where I think I turned our baby steps plan into even smaller steps (not on purpose!).

He was crying, asking for my hand, not napping, threatening to climb out of the crib, and then I got him to lie down and giggle a little by pretending to offer him my pinky, outside the crib, and then YOINK!  He couldn’t have it.  We did that for the last 10 minutes of the nap attempt.  No nap, not surprising.  Then we got to Night 3, my turn, and Jack didn’t ask for my hand!  He asked for my pinky.  I let him have it, his hand outside the crib, my pinky clutched in his fist, and he was asleep within minutes.

That’s totally cheating, I know.  But at the same time, it’s kind of a step in the right direction, so I’m letting it ride for a few days before I take it away.

Communicating in mysterious ways

Jack identifies which song he wants to hear by describing the album cover (because that’s what shows on the screen for Amazon Music and Pandora).  So “car” or “black car” is Pompeii by Bastille.  “Blue car” is Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man.  (The image is a black car on fire, but the reflection looks kind of blue.)  Today, he requested “popple” (which is how he says people – it’s so freakin’ cute).  Well, a lot of album covers have people on them.  I started with the playlist that has both of the car songs on it.  We scrolled through the whole playlist, trying each song, and he said no within five seconds of the start each time.  We scrolled through the recent songs – none of those.  I tried Huey Lewis and the News, since the album cover of Fore shows the band leaning against a wall.  Not any of those.  Then he looked at me very seriously and said “white people” (which came out as “woot popple” and I’m giggling remembering it).  John was there, too, and we both told him he was exactly right – Huey Lewis and the News are as white people as you get.  But that’s not what he meant.  The song he wanted was “white people”.  He grabbed my phone and pointed.  Of course, it was at a song we’d already tried and he had already rejected, but he wasn’t wrong about his description.

Those are white people wearing very white shirts.  Right on, Jack.

(It was Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon.)

Mickey D’s

We got SUPER lazy Saturday evening, and after a fun wander around the grounds of the lighthouse at Beavertail State Park, we went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and got Jack his FIRST Happy Meal!  We let him unpack the box himself, which resulted in a cascade of fries all over his high chair tray.  He dipped his fries and his McNuggets all by himself and totally ignored the apple slices (which is a little surprising – lately he’s been all about the apple slices).

When dinner was over, we let him open his first Happy Meal toy!  It was a weird potato-looking thing that we eventually figured out was an egg that opened to reveal a dinosaur.  Jack was thrilled about the egg and totally freaked out about the dinosaur.   (It’s a 2-inch tall T-rex with jaws that open and shut.)  We put it safely away back in its egg, and he eyed the whole thing warily until bedtime.

He warmed up to the dinosaur when we tried again this morning, emphasizing that it’s a baby dinosaur, and look, it’s saying hello with a baby rawr.  I found it later, stuffed between the couch cushions.  We may have to put it away for a while.

He must be a changeling

We had a major breakthrough at the beach yesterday.  Like, BIG.

Are you ready?

Jack – wait, I don’t feel like you’ve prepared yourself enough.  I’ll give you another few seconds.

Okay.

Jack played in the water.  For reals.  He was hesitant to go in at first, but he was willing to take one slow step at a time in, his back up against my legs and his hands in mine, all the way up to mid-shin.  Then he scrambled to get up in my arms, but from there, he pointed imperiously out to sea.  “Mama, DAT!”  So I did.  We waded out together, John close behind, until I was waist deep and waves were splashing us both.  He kicked his legs and splashed with his hands, laughed when waves got him in the face (He LAUGHED!  He still wails when we get water in his face in the bathtub!), and giggled when we spun him around in circles with his hands trailing in the water.  When he got too heavy for both of us (we were taking turns holding him), we went back to where he could stand, and he marched and splashed and played, and it was like he was a whole different kid.  And he protested getting out of the water!  I promised him we would come back after the holiday weekend, and he agreed to come out.

What a nice surprise.

New cutest things

Jack keeps adding cute things to his repertoire, and I must share them:

  • You already know that Jack calls any vehicle trailer a choo-choo, any truck pulling a trailer a choo-choo guck, and any boat a boop.  Unsurprisingly then, the first time he saw a car pulling a boat on a trailer, he pointed and shouted “Choo-choo boop!”
  • A sheep is a baa, and he knows that sheep say “baa baa”, and one day while changing his diaper, he was repeating “baa baa baa baa”, so I started singing “Baa-baa-baa Baa-baa-baa-ran”.  He requests it now.
  • For a while (sadly, he doesn’t do anymore), while he was (not) trying to fall asleep in his crib, he would sing to himself.  “E-i-e-i-guck,” and then immediately “Yay!” and clap for himself.  Over and over.  He still says yay and claps when songs end.
  • He pretends to give his stuffed animals drinks from his water cup.
  • He pretends to have his Elmo doll (and others) walk and run across the floor.
  • He picks up anything that looks remotely like a smartphone, holds it to his ear, says “Hello-bye!” and puts it down fast.
  • He tells jokes!  Okay, one joke.  He looks at me, says “Hi, Dada!”, waits for my shocked expression, and laughs like a loon.  Then he’ll say “Hi, Mama!” to John.  Then we’ll ask him who we are, he’ll get us both right, and then he’ll point to himself and say, “Dada!” and laugh some more.
  • He calls himself “you”.  When the three of us are together, he likes to point it out.  “Mama, Dada, YOU!”  And if there’s something he wants to do for himself (like turn on the light) and one of us tries to do it first, he’ll say, “No, YOU!” which was very confusing at first.