What could be more exciting to a 4-year-old than the possibility of riding a carousel for the first time? What could be more terrifying to an almost-2-year-old than the possibility of riding a carousel for the first time? What’s a mom to do? (Take them both on the carousel — cuddle with the small one, watch the big one from a few rows away, and wish she’d brought her camera.)
You may recall that Simon was dead set on having a rainbow birthday party this year. Micah was not as thrilled about it, but we did our best not to crush the boy’s hopes on his special day and all ended well. Simon even got a solar-powered rainbow-maker from his birthday buddy, whom he shared a party with. We stuck it in one of our windows where it sat for a few months and did nothing. And then we realized that there just wasn’t enough sunlight coming through that particular window. So we moved it to the boys room. And now every morning at around 11:00 we’re treated to rainbows and snowflakes as they dance around on the walls.
Who knew that his simple little birthday wish would be paying such delightful dividends nearly half a year later?
Would you believe me if I said that the most exciting thing about Hurricane Sunday was that Micah and I got to spend some time making dress-ups for the boys? They were nothing fancy, of course. Just a couple of tails. Simon has been watching the Cat in the Hat lately (that’s where he got the “Moms are better than chocolate cake” quote — though I didn’t know that until after I posted it here) and the most recent inspiration from the show was that he needed tails from the tail machine. It sounded like a good idea, so after the boys went to bed on Saturday night we got to work.
Simon requested a monkey tail, a bird tail, and a rattlesnake tail. We did two of three this weekend. If anyone has any ideas for how to do a good rattlesnake tail, we’re all ears. We can’t seem to find anything around the house that would make a good rattle, but maybe we just need some different perspectives. In the meantime, please admire our handiwork. Don’t you wish you had one?
Oh, and it turns out that our heads are roughly the same size as Simon’s waist. So, if we wanted, we could wear a monkey tail headband. That discovery, made by Micah, was one of two times this weekend when I nearly laughed myself to tears. Good times, my friends, good times.
“Potty. Potty soon? Potty soon?” Oliver has several two-word phrases at his disposal, but this (and “Sit down!”) is the most prevalent. I actually don’t know if he’s asking a question or proclaiming a statement. I think he means, “Potty, too.” But whatever it is, he sure says it a lot.
Every time I change his diaper: “Potty. Potty soon.” So he goes into the bathroom, lifts the lid and seat, imitates his brother, and flushes the toilet. (And then puts down the seat, says, “Sit,” I help him sit, he sits for a second, says, “All done,” flushes again, and washes his hands.)
When his brother uses the restroom, he is now hot on his heels. “Potty. Potty soon.” And he grabs my hand and pulls me towards the bathroom until I give him the chance to use the potty.
But he doesn’t use the potty. I’m not even sure he realizes what is supposed to happen when he’s “using” the potty. (Although he did get really upset when he peed on the floor after he had “used” the potty but before I could get a new diaper on him, so maybe he does get it.) He’s got the motions down pat, but it is all for nothing.
Or is it? I assume it is a good thing that he is showing interest and that I should encourage him as much as I can. Even though it is annoying and a lot of effort when he doesn’t go so much as a drop. Even though I think he is still six months away from actually training. But maybe he is ready to train and I just need to get with it. Maybe he is saying, “Potty soon.” Maybe he’s telling me he’d like to use the potty soon, for real. Maybe I should get on this and lose the diapers already.
We felt a little tremor a few minutes ago. The strings of balls we have running across our living room ceiling were swaying, the stroller that is mounted on the wall swayed too. I thought it might be our building showing signs of unsteadiness. (One of the apartments upstairs is being renovated and I thought it might have something to do with that.) But I checked my favorite news source, the Times, and they confirmed my suspicions. There was a tremor, and we felt it.
We haven’t been able to use our phones, but we are fine and feeling especially grateful that we spent yesterday and today restocking our 72-hour kits.
Out of the blue: “Moms are better than chocolate cake!”
Simon’s newest love: the fireman’s pole. I’ve made the mistake of taking him to the nearest park simply because it is . . . the nearest park. I should clear it with him next time, unless I want to hear, for the next week, teary-eyed questions about why I didn’t take him to the park with the fireman’s pole (even if I have since rectified the situation).
Lucky for all of us, the boys has discovered a fireman’s pole in our very own apartment. Hallelujah and happy day! Let’s just hope he has moved on by the time they start firing up the boilers and that thing becomes a hot commodity. For real.
“Long Island Rail Road train! Long Island Rail Road train!” One of the boys, if not both yell this just about every time we go the the train station. Or the laundromat. (When Oliver says it, it sounds like, “Yah yah yah ay ro tay!”) We live a couple of blocks from where the train comes out from underground, and the boys have been keen on getting a closer look for months now.
So we took a trip out to Long Island to pick some berries. We spent 5 hours on trains, 2 hours picking berries, and 5 hours walking around, killing time, hanging out with some friends who drove out to join us, and exploring a little tourist-friendly farm across the street from the U-Pick berry farm.
The boys had a great time. Oliver must have thought he was in heaven with all those berries just lying on the ground. Micah and I took the opportunity to discuss our dream home yet again, this time in some detail. (How far back from the street? What approach would the driveway take? Lots of grass, or lots of woods?)
We picked 4 pints of berries, some of which made it to these lovely scones, some were put in pancakes, some more were cooked into a syrup for said pancakes, and others we ate with our morning bowls of granola. Tastes just like summer should taste.
I have to keep reminding myself of this. He acts so mature sometimes. He is so responsible. He takes his dishes to the sink, throws things away when I ask him to, and apologizes, very sincerely, if he accidentally kicks me. (Not so much when he does it on purpose.)
There are times when I need no reminding, however. This morning, after Oliver earned a stone to put in the “good behavior” jar by putting his pajamas away, Simon and I had 30 minute stand-off in which he refused to get dressed unless I gave him a stone, too. I finally changed the boy myself, only to have him strip down to his underwear again and continue yelling and crying for another 30 minutes.
Tonight, after refusing to get in the bath after being asked several times, he threatened the same behavior again. “I won’t take a bath! I won’t!” I started helping him out of his clothes, and he started kicking. “Simon, didn’t we already do this this morning?” I asked. And suddenly he was as pliant and helpful as any mom could hope for. He apologized. He took off the rest of his clothes. He was in the bath in seconds.
Some of our friends have commented that Simon is an old soul in a very young body. I don’t often realize it because he is my first child. I have nothing to compare him to. He is who he is, and while I recognize that he is, in many ways, a remarkable child, I don’t really appreciate how different he can be from other kids his age. Until I see other kids his age, hear the way they talk, watch how their parents interact with them. And then I realize how adult-like he can be, how he interacts with adults so easily and confidently, how I treat him and talk to him and think about him.
I’m so grateful that he is who he is. I love his childlike intelligence, his insatiable curiosity, his humble confidence. But I must admit that sometimes it gives me whiplash to try to keep up with his behavior, so 4-year-old one minute, so grown-up the next. I never know if I should be encouraging him to just be a kid more, or treating him like the adult that seems to be lurking inside him.
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that when I saw this weekend approaching as we crossed the days off the calendar, I was dreading it. There was too much to do, too many new things, too many uncertainties. Everything could go wrong. There were so many points at which meltdowns could lead to chain reactions which would have us all in a pile of tears before things were brought under control — probably by Micah. And it was pretty much a given that we would end up cranky and tired and ready for another weekend, which would be five long days away.
Oh, how I love being wrong!
As it turns out, a 14-mile run is the perfect way to start a busy Saturday, one in which we spent 3 hours scraping and repainting a single bench at Prospect Park (along with a couple dozen of our closest friends) before taking the train to Coney Island to watch the first baseball game two little boys would ever experience. Who knew it would be such fun to try to explain to a 4-year-old how a game of bats and balls and outfield and infield and fouls and strikes and bases works? Or to help a 21-month-old navigate the path between fascination and fear that appeared whenever the people dressed as chickens came in his line of sight? And don’t even get me started on the perfection of holding the giddy 4-year-old in my lap at the end of the game while the fireworks exploded on the field. (Squish survived the attack of the fireworks in his father’s arms and as far away as he could get without leaving the stadium.)
So Saturday was a surprising success, despite the drizzling rain that nearly spoiled our baseball game. But what about Sunday? Would rain ruin the trip to the lake we had planned months ago? Thunderstorms were forecast throughout the afternoon, but at 11:30, when there was more blue sky than clouds, we took a leap of faith and drove away from the city to a friend’s lake house, where Manchild spent four hours in the water, paddling around in his life jacket, lending some truth to his claim of being a swimmer. I cast a fishing line into the water for the first time ever, but came away with an empty hook every time. Squish, despite his fear of putting his feet in the sand, got a kick out of splashing. We all came away a little bit sun-kissed, but not burned, a little bit tired, but also refreshed by our time away from the city.
It was only after we were safely on our way home, dropping in on some friends who live just outside the city, that the thunder and rain finally showed up. We drove home, put the boys to bed, sat down to banana splits and patted ourselves on the back for a weekend well done.
At 9:00 this morning we rolled out of bed. Manchild was lying at our feet. I have no idea how long he’d been there. We’d slept more than 9 hours. It was Monday and all was right with the world.