Deception

We’ve mostly been doing really well with naps lately, but these last few days have seen a couple of bumps.  Three or four days ago, I was trying to get Jack to go to sleep, but he kept saying “Poop” and “Poo dada”.  I thought he was asking me to sing the poopy diaper song (“Poopy diaper!  Poopy diaper!” to the tune of the Hallelujah chorus), so I sang it quietly for a little bit and a while later he fell asleep.  I did sniff his diaper at the time – didn’t smell anything.  When I changed his diaper after that nap, I discovered that he had pooped.  Whoops.  So the next day when he told me “Poop.” while I was trying to put him to sleep, I believed him.  I picked him up out the crib (and he giggled – that should have been a clue), turned the light on, and checked his diaper.  No poop.  Back into the crib.  He insisted he had pooped for the rest of the time it took him to fall asleep, but I wasn’t falling for it (and I couldn’t smell anything).  He eventually fell asleep.  Post-nap diaper change: no poop.

During our attempts to fall asleep yesterday, when he said “Poop!” several times right after I put him in the crib for his nap, I believed him.  I picked him up (no giggle) and changed his diaper (there was poop).  Back into the crib, where he immediately yelled “Poop!” at me.  Not a chance.  But after about 10 minutes of insisting that he pooped, which is a not-at-all-fun constant barrage of “Poop.  Poop.  Poop!  Poop.” in increasingly tearful tones, I figured I should check again.  He giggled when I picked him up, I checked his diaper, and there was NO POOP.  Back in the crib, back to the “Poop” chorus, and he never fell asleep.  No nap yesterday.

Today, I got the “Poop.  Poop!” plea pretty soon after I put him in the crib again.  I stood up, leaned way over to smell his diaper (to giggles), didn’t smell anything, and refused to pick him up.  He eventually fell asleep.

Jack: The Boy Who Cried Poop.

Mother of the year

Okay, so obviously I shouldn’t let Jack watch TV all afternoon, especially not on a warm sunny day.  I had a meeting, one I couldn’t just pretend to listen to (I don’t seem to have many of those anymore), so I got him his lunch, strapped him into the high chair, and turned on the TV.  He was happy, I was working, and all was well.  When my meeting ended, I cleaned him up and put him down on the floor. Before I even reached my hand out to the remote to turn off the TV, Jack ran across the living room, grabbed the armchair pillow, dragged it into the middle of the rug, and plopped himself down, giggling excitedly.

It feels cruel to turn the TV off when he’s so adorable and into it.  I mean, I did it anyway, and we all lived to tell the tale, but he was so happy.

His memory is better than mine

Months and months ago (time has no meaning and I don’t remember exactly when this was), Jack learned to say baby and when he combined it with his love of emergency vehicles, it reminded me of a certain song.  We sang it to him for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, and then forgot about it.

The other day, I had Jack on the changing table, and he indicated that he wanted me to sing and he said, “Oowee.  Baby.  Oowee.  Baby.”  Over and over.  After a couple of minutes, it clicked.  “You want me to sing Oowee Baby?”  “Yup.”  You got it, kid.  Sea Cruise coming right up.

Another toddler mystery

Jack didn’t nap today, so our afternoon was a little rocky.  I pulled a toy out of the closet as a fun surprise – for him, not for us.  It was that piano toy shaped like a cat that plays the WORST versions of kid songs with cat-related lyrics.  We had hidden it for our own sanity.  He loved it, though, and giving it to him worked for a while, but then he got this really sad look on his face, mouth turned down at the corners like he was about to cry, and said “Dada me!  Dada me!”  Was he looking for Dada?  Asking for Dada to play with him?  That seemed unlikely.  He doesn’t know pronouns and has no idea how to use “me”.  He’s doing the Gaby thing of answering “You!” when we point to a picture of him and ask him who’s in it.

Still, we found Dada, but that did not solve the problem.  “Dada me!” in increasingly sad and tearful tones.  FINALLY I figured out that he wanted to hear one of the terrible songs on constant repeat.  It was “Partridge in a Pear Tree”, but the lyrics were something like, “In the month before my birthday, my daddy gave to me…” and “In the week before my birthday, my daddy gave to me…”  Ah.  Dada me.

So I’d help him play the song, and then cycle past all the other bad songs so we could hear this one again.  And again.  And again.

John has taken Jack up to bed, so my mission is to hide this worst toy ever somewhere new.  Somewhere Jack won’t find it.  Maybe…the basement.

Short on time, as usual

I just used up my blogging time recommending books to online friends, and that makes me happy.  Hopefully those recommendations will make them happy.  But it means this is all I can write in the time I have.  (Also, I had to spend an unexpected 45 minutes putting Jack to sleep after John tagged me in.  Jack was NOT sleepy.  We gave him a few bites of custard and a bite of brownie after dinner, so I’m blaming the sugar high.)

I am out of time!  Good night!

A big day

Today was full of firsts.  Well, two firsts.  But some days there are no firsts, so I’ll call two in one day a full day.

The first first was a first for me!  (I am reading WAY too much Dr. Seuss.)  I made custard!  For no reason and prompted by nothing at all!  And it’s good, if maybe a bit eggy.  I have no idea what made me think of it, but then I googled a few recipes, discovered I already had all the ingredients, found a recipe that did not assume I own custard cups, and boom.  An hour later, we had custard.

The second first (same as the – no, that doesn’t work) was a first for Jack.  I think he’s learning empathy!  Finally!  We went to the beach today with Emily and fam, and McKenna gotten bitten or stung by something.  It got her finger, and she was very upset for a while.  When she started crying, Jack looked around and said, “Baby!  Baby!” I may be projecting a little, but he sounded concerned.  Tonight, while reading before bed and then as he was falling asleep in the crib, we repeated this routine probably ten times: “Baby! Baby?” and he’d hold up his finger. “You mean McKenna and her finger?” Then a plaintive “Yup.” “She’s okay, I checked. Everyone is fine.” Then a satisfied “Yup.”

He cares! Or he’s at least remembering it and thinking about someone other than himself.  Still a first!

Cuteness overload

Jack is the sweetest cuddliest toddler ever.  Evidence:

  • He kisses everything.  Me, my toes, my hands, his toes, his toys, birds he hears…  This morning, we were walking back from watching trucks, and he heard a bird.  “Peep!”  He swiveled his head around in all directions, trying to see it, and then said, “MAH!”
  • When we read The Poky Little Puppy, after we count the four puppies and they find out one is missing, he says, “Oh no puppy!”  Every time.
  • Grammy got him an Elmo doll, and he LOVES it. He’s had it for three days now, and he hugs it, kisses it, and keeps it in sight while he’s eating.  The only time he doesn’t look for Elmo is when the TV is on.
  • If I’m on the floor, he’s likely to be on top of me.  Across my stomach, behind my back, sprawled across my legs, or using my legs as a slide.  I’m his jungle gym, but I always get hugs out of it.

Best baby in the world.

It’s an oowee day

This morning I stood in front of Jack’s dresser and said (to myself, or so I thought), “What should you wear today?”  Jack, who had been happily reading in the chair with John, said “Oowee” and wiggled to the floor.  “No problem!” and I pulled out a short-sleeved white t-shirt with five fire trucks on it.  Jack insisted “Oowee!” and pulled out a plain red t-shirt.  “Well, it’s fire engine red, so I can see how that counts.”  I put the other shirt away.  Then he dropped the red t-shirt and went rummaging in the drawer.  A minute later, he pulled out his long-sleeved red fire engine shirt.  “Oowee!  Oowee!”  “But-” “Oowee!”  Okay.  The high is only supposed to be in the low 70s.  Long-sleeved shirt and shorts it is.

Today’s chore: put away the long-sleeved shirts.

Yes, this is almost all I talk about with EVERYONE

Yeah, I jinxed myself a teeny bit with yesterday’s post.  Jack did NOT sleep through the night last night. It was John’s turn to get up, and after two and a half hours (John tried longer than we usually go before trading), I got the text.  “Help.”  Jack had been trying to go to sleep, no crying or fussing, but he just didn’t settle.  We traded at 4am (John and Jack had been up since 1:30), and Jack went right to sleep for me.  He was out by 4:10, and I was back in bed ten minutes later.  Sometimes the trade-off works like that – he just needs the new presence and out he goes.  Sometimes the trade-off wakes him up completely and we’re all screwed.

We still got him up at 7am (need to stick to our routine!), and he went down for his nap easily, too.  I did, too, right there on the floor with my left arm stuck through the slats of his crib.  (He was sleeping on my hand.)  That keeps happening – as uncomfortable as I am like that, I have dozed off with him every time I’ve put him down for a nap or at bedtime for more than a week.  Too bad I have to work during nap time.

I am throwing myself a parade

It’s working!  I feel like SUCH a moron for not doing this before, but making sure Jack’s room is super-dark seems to have fixed our nap problem.  (I am totally jinxing myself right now, I’m sure.)  After a few days of hanging the comforter over the curtain rod, I bought a cheap blackout shade, cut it to fit the window, and stuck it to the top of the window frame.  I still close the curtains over the shade and tape the edges down, and it gets nearly as dark as when I used the comforter, with the added bonus of not having the extra weight try to pull the curtain rod down.

Here’s what you want to know:

Jack has napped (!) in his crib (!!) for EIGHT days in a row (!!!), and EVERY nap has been between 90 minutes and two hours long (!!!!).  He has slept through the night, nine to ten-plus hours, for every one of those nights except one.

I know this won’t last forever (growth spurt, sleep regression, his two-year molars – have I mentioned that he already has all of his teeth except for those four in the very back?  He has so many teeth! – something will happen to disrupt sleep or naps), but I am going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

First trip to the beach this year

Jack was totally adorable at the beach yesterday morning, but he is still not ready to actually go in the ocean.  When we stepped onto the sand from the parking lot and he could see and hear the waves (when I stepped onto the sand – I was holding him), he immediately said, “No.”  He let me put him down so I could lay out the mat, and then he took to the sand right away (which surprised me a little).

He seemed perfectly content to play right there, and I certainly wasn’t going to push the water thing, not on our first trip to the ocean since September.

Then Emily, Sean, Graham, and McKenna arrived, and guess who wanted to see what everyone else was doing in the water?  Turns out peer pressure DOES work.  A little.

Once he saw the others playing in the waves, he decided it was okay to at least investigate this craziness going on where the beach ended.  We walked into the very edge of the surf (Jack was wearing water shoes).  The water was FREEZING, and it was still foggy and pretty chilly out, but that didn’t seem to bother him.  A few baby waves got him in the knees, and after about a minute, he’d had enough.  “Hold up, this isn’t the bathtub.  Up-up!  Up-up!”  I squatted down to his level for a little bit, but that wasn’t safe enough for him, so up he went.  The ocean is SO much more enjoyable from four feet off the ground.

And that was pretty much that.  Voluntarily walking into the surf is a HUGE step after last summer’s timidness and this past winter’s reluctance to swim in the pool.  We’ll have to see what happens the next few times.

Changeling

There are many many things about Jack that make us confident that he is truly our child, but yesterday we found one trait that made us question EVERYTHING.

On the spur of the moment, we went out for ice cream yesterday afternoon.  We met up with Emily, Sean, Graham, and McKenna, and after trying to go to Brickley’s (the GOOD local ice cream place that – whoops – is closed on Tuesdays), we went to Swirls and Scoops.  Some ice cream is better than no ice cream.  We got Jack his own small scoop of soft-serve chocolate.  Jack took a bite, but refused a second bite.  He reached for John’s vanilla-chocolate swirl, but when John offered him a bite of that, he refused it (vanilla, chocolate, AND the swirl).  I offered him my German chocolate cake ice cream, which did NOT taste like German chocolate cake but was otherwise acceptable, but he refused that, too.

Who is this child who doesn’t want ice cream on a hot day?  On one of our walks in the woods did I look away long enough for one of the fair folk to snatch him and replace him with one of their own?  (I don’t know why a fairy child wouldn’t like ice cream, though.)

Maybe – MAYBE – he’s refusing on principle.  He was promised the good stuff, and he will not accept an inferior product.

Woot!

Jack just took his first crib nap in almost three full weeks!  We put a window A/C in his room last week, and it was letting SO much more light in.  We tried blocking the accordion sides with black cloth napkins, but it wasn’t enough.  Today, I turned off the A/C (which will not really be an option later in the summer) and hung a dark comforter over the window.  It got really dark.  Duh.

Jack fell asleep in the crib (after some protest) about half an hour after I put him in it, and he slept for nearly 90 minutes.  Fingers crossed this is the start of something awesome and not a fluke!

Still not a big fan of water

Jack and water aren’t the best of friends.  It took a long time before he warmed up to baths (he likes them now), and it was only two or three days ago that we were able to rinse shampoo off his head without dealing with the shrieking.  Last summer, we went to the beach a few times, but he was NOT going to get in the water.  The first time, we dipped his toes in and he snatched his knees all the way to his chest.  A couple of other times, I carried him in to the waves.  He didn’t cry, but he did his monkey cling and hid his face.  Definitely didn’t enjoy it.

This past January I signed him up for baby swim lessons at URI, hoping he’d get more comfortable in the water.  We only had maybe five lessons before everything shut down because of the pandemic, but he was making a tiny bit of progress.  There were parts of the class he hated and parts he enjoyed.

Then, last week Mom sent us a water table.  I was pretty sure Jack would like it, but (happily) he loves it.  Yay for playing with water!  He splashes, he pours water into and out of it, and he doesn’t seem to mind when his clothes get soaked.

Jump to today.  It’s been hot, and we have two sprinkler-type splash pads.  You hook them up to a hose, turn the water on, and they’re like those fountains you sometimes see in parks with water spouting up all over the place.  I put one of them out in the yard on the north side of the house, hooked up the hose, got Jack into his swim diaper, and then…Jack wouldn’t let John put him down.  He wouldn’t go near it.  Dip a toe?  No.  Put a hand in it?  No.  I turned off the hose so water wasn’t spraying anymore.  Try it when it’s just shallow still water?  Not a chance.  Even when Mama is standing in it?  Nope.

And that was that.  Maybe he’ll come around on a really hot day.  Maybe he’ll be willing to try it if he’s playing with the water table next to it.  Maybe he’ll never be a fan of sprinklers and water spraying at his head.  Maybe I should just buy a normal kiddie pool.

Faceplant

We were on the floor after dinner last night when Jack slammed his face into my stomach (on purpose – he does that).  It was a little harder than usual, so it struck me as funnier than usual, and I started laughing.  A lot.  Somewhat uncontrollably.  Jack backed away from me (which was hilarious), and then he rushed me with a big grin on his face (which set me off again), and then he stood over John and said, “Mama….nuh-nuh-nuh HA!”

And then I died.  I am writing this from the afterlife.  Please write “She died doing what she loved: laughing at her child” on my gravestone.

He’s not a baby anymore

The biggest cliche in the world is “they grow up so fast”, but GUYS.  He’s starting to TALK to me, and I’m not ready.  He pointed at the seat of the bench this morning and said, “Ant.” Sure enough, there was an ant.  A couple of minutes later, he pointed at the sidewalk.  “Two ant.”  Then we got home, and he told me what song he wanted to hear.  “Elmo.  La la.”  (That’s “Elmo’s Song”, lyrics: “La la la la, Elmo’s song.”  Speaking of Elmo, I think I figured out how he manages to be every toddler’s favorite muppet.  Ready?  He speaks in the third person.  He says his own name ALL THE TIME.  “Elmo doesn’t like rainy days.  They make Elmo sad.”)

Jack appears to be growing too quickly for his naps, though.  Today, instead of napping, he learned to say “oh no”.  We haven’t had a nap of any kind for the last four days.  He’s had only two crib naps in the month of June, two naps in the car (not on purpose, but welcome), and three naps in the stroller.  If you’re doing the math, that’s 10 days without naps.

I keep googling variations on “how do you know when your toddler is ready to give up naps” (and I want to throttle the parents writing articles that start with “My 4 year old has recently started to resist naps”), and what I’m finding is what I already knew.  He REALLY still needs this nap – it’s important for development.  He’s only 21 months old, and he’s TIRED midday.  I just can’t get him to sleep in his ####### crib.

I KNOW it’s not my fault (except maybe it is?), and I KNOW it’s not the end of the world, but if I’m failing at anything parenthood-wise, it’s this.

Itchy things are the work of the devil

I believe I have published my opinions on mosquitoes in the past, and since we moved into this house, I am adding poison ivy to my list of Things That Should Be Destroyed And Forever Removed From The Earth.  It’s all throughout the wooded areas in our yard, so we can’t let Jack wander out of the grassy parts.  And after today, I have to take the trail in Potter Wood off the list, too, at least until he’s old enough to understand and listen.  The trail is pretty wide and totally clear, but the sides are lined with lots of plants with SO MUCH poison ivy hidden underneath.  John and I took Jack there for a walk this afternoon, to let him run himself tired, and he doesn’t exactly run in a straight line.  He also has a tendency to fall down.  John and I spent the entire walk in a near-panic, trying to give Jack room to run but still keep him from veering off into the plants on the side.  He got annoyed with us after a while (“just let me go where I want”), but I cannot imagine dealing with a toddler with poison ivy.

What if all my work was filled with zzzzzzzz?

Hi.  Working on very little sleep here, so I don’t have a lot to give tonight.  I try to stay a day ahead (at least), but I have two drafts not yet ready to go and not enough brain power to do anything with them right now.  Tonight, you get stream-of-barely-consciousness.  Let’s see how it turns out.

Jack was up from 2am to 5am last night, and so were we.  I dragged myself out of bed around 6 because that’s almost the only time I can work, and I do have to actually do some work.  That was painful.  Jack didn’t nap today, which is both surprising (he was super tired today, considering last night) and not surprising (naps are VERY hard to come by these days), so I didn’t get that window to myself.  I was able to answer a couple of emails during the day, but that didn’t get me very far, so I’m staying up late tonight to get some stuff done.

That is probably going to backfire on me.  He went to sleep right away tonight (John didn’t even finish the first bedtime book), but it’s impossible to predict anymore when Jack will sleep through the night.  It’s easier if I stay pessimistic about it and assume he will not.  Not a lot I can do about whether he sleeps or the need to stay up to work.  It just is, and it won’t last forever.  It’s not his fault he’s having trouble sleeping, and it’s hard to get worked up about the ravioli he throws on the floor when he’s only doing it because he’s tired and cranky and doesn’t know how to fix it.  (I do – GO THE **** TO SLEEP.)

Enough of this.  Gotta work.  Gotta sleep.  Gotta try again tomorrow.

Mom Brain Trust

When we tell Jack he can’t touch something, he listens, about that thing, most of the time.  Take the oven, for instance.  Unless he’s in a really ornery mood, he won’t touch the oven.  He might point at it and shout, “NO!” (to which we reply, “That is exactly right, Jack, good listening” because if we say, “YES, that’s right!” we’re afraid he’ll think that’s “YES, you can touch it”), but he’s not touching it.  Most of the time, he’s good about not touching the TV.  He’s even pretty good about leaving the fridge alone, but I think that’s mostly because we put a lock on it.

The appliance he can’t resist is the dishwasher.  When we latch it closed (which we always do now), he can’t open it, but that doesn’t stop him from pushing the buttons.  He starts the dishwasher over and over, every day.  All our stern nos and we-don’t-do-thats haven’t even slowed him down.

I finally posted to my moms’ group on WhatsApp: “Does anyone know how to keep a toddler from starting the dishwasher 15 times a day?”

The responses:

  • Supportive laughter. Nice, but not helpful.
  • Tape cardboard over the panel.  Could be effective, but ugly and has to be removed before WE can start the dishwasher.  Willing to try it.
  • Unplug the dishwasher.  Not really possible since it’s in the middle of the counter.  Maybe the plug is under the sink?  Still, this one would probably make me think the dishwasher was broken before I remembered it was unplugged.
  • See if there’s some way to rig the door so it’s unlatched, but stuck so Jack can’t slam it open and get in the dishwasher.  Um…no.

Then.  THEN.  One brilliant mom asked me if my dishwasher has a way to lock the controls.  She said one of the buttons on her dishwasher has a lock icon on it, and if she presses it for several seconds, the controls are locked until she does that again.

Whoa.  Dishwashers do that?  I’d like to remind my readers that we spent several years without a dishwasher in the places we were renting, so I’m not exactly up on the latest dishwasher technology.  (If dishwashers have done this for 20 years or something, I don’t want to hear it.)

MY DISHWASHER DOES THAT.  I tried it, it worked, and then I showed John, whose mind was also blown.

Problem solved.  Moms to the rescue!  Also, technology.

Also, also, it’s been 36 hours since I locked the controls, and Jack hasn’t tried to start the dishwasher even once.  How does he know?

The Jack Updates

Jack has added “No, Mama, no” to his vocabulary, and it is equal parts adorable, hilarious, and frustrating.  Like this morning, for example: “Let’s go change your diaper.”  “No, Mama, no!” as I carry him up the stairs.  Or, “Jack, we don’t throw toys.” “No, Mama, no!” as he throws more toys.

He’s also finally able to truly express his preference for whichever parent is not in the room.  The other night, Jack woke up a little before 3am, and John went in to try to put him back to bed.  A little after 4, I got the “help” text.  I went in, John left.  Jack was standing in the crib, but when he saw me, he sat down.  “Dada, up.”  “Dada went back to bed.  I’m here.  Can I pick you up?”  “Dada, up.”

He’s making connections left and right, too.  John was out mowing the lawn yesterday morning, and Jack was watching him go back and forth across the windows while he was eating breakfast.  When I let him down from the high chair, he went straight to his lawn mower and started mowing our floor.  Every 10 seconds or so, he’d pause, point out the window and say, “Dada”, and then point to his toy lawn mower, “Dat.”  “Dada”, window, toy mower, “Dat.”

Maybe all this learning is why he’s not napping.  Too much to think about.