Category Archives: conversations

Sadie

answer: 7.5 hours

Question: How long does it take to drive to Los Angeles from Oakland, when squiring a newly-minted 4-year-old child?

Important related question: How long did it used to take? (Answer: 4.5 hours—pretend this was written upside-down because that would make it so much more authentic and Wacky-Packs or something and pretend that it doesn’t prove that I was frequently driving 100-miles-per-hour when I used to drive home from college in my hot-shot 16-valve 1990 VW Jetta.)

Question: How long have my husband and son been asleep? (Answer: 1 hour, eight minutes.)

Will I ever go to sleep? (Answer: unknown.) Related question: What does it take to cure insomnia?

Last night I woke up three times between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., totally meaning to get out of bed and watch the eclipse. But I was only awake enough to get out of bed the first time. I was also probably excited about our road trip.

Today we drove from Oakland to Los Angeles. It’s the first time I’ve made that drive with a child in the car. We’ve always flown. But we’ve been flying a lot lately, this trip was VERY LAST MINUTE, and the thing with Jonah’s ears hurting. Three strikes and we drove.

The last minute thing—my grandmother died. On Thursday. She was 101. It wasn’t unexpected. The doctors had given her two weeks to live back in October. My dad says she just didn’t know how to give up.

Indomitable spirit.

Question: How many people have to chastise me about not blogging for me to start blogging again? (Answer: two. My dad, and my awesome cousin Bonnie. Hi Bonnie!)

I was taking a well-earned break. But just like daily blogging had its momentum, stopping has its.

Entropy.

And then my grandmother died and I could feel the need for a post about her and the inability to post one. So here I am, up late, not writing about her or my trip today. This is what one might call “live blogging” my insomnia.

Let’s go with trip:

Jonah was a rock star. He barely complained the entire day. And it took all, freaking, day. About five-plus solid hours buckled into his carseat, and multiple gas-station-bathroom stops, with one overly long stop for lunch at Harris Ranch. Won’t repeat that mistake again, neither the losing-track-of-time lunch break, nor the eating at Harris Ranch. Yuck.

He did start to lose it just past hour six. We were heading over the Grapevine. Scott and I were insisting on listening to a podcast of This American Life even though Jonah was not finding it as delightful as we were. The podcast ended. Into the silence, Jonah started shouting: “Ugh! Stupid PATIENCE! I hate you PATIENCE!”

We yelled and groaned with him. And then we all started counting red cars, and spotting motor boats on Pyramid Lake as we passed it, and listening to the more kid-friendly They Might Be Giants “Here Come the 1-2-3s.”

Miraculously, if asked, Jonah says he prefers the driving trip to L.A. over flying. So I guess it really wasn’t that bad. The mid-first-half tootsie pop and early-second-half chocolate chip cookie certainly helped.

I bribe, therefore I am a mother.

Okay, now let’s go with grandmother…

I am feeling complicated about her being gone.

She was, bar-none, the absolute master of guilt. So the fact that in her passing, I feel guilty that I wasn’t a better granddaughter? Totally thematically appropriate.

She was a lot of other things too. Right now, I can remember how she smelled, and the texture of her skin and flesh—papery over thick and soft. She could close and open her eyes so slowly when displeased, it is the most powerful gesture on earth and impossible to imitate. I should have called her more. She had a professionally-coiffed halo of orange hair up until a few years ago when she finally let it go white and hid it under a scarf, in her late 90s, in the nursing home. She had hard candies in her purse when we went to the movies. She always had a stash of chocolate in her room.

My cousins knew her better than I did. They grew up with her in Baltimore. I saw her a few times in my life on her visits here or ours there. I visited her house once, in my 20s, with my friend Heather when we drove cross-country. Grandma drove us somewhere that day in her giant car, at 15-miles per hour, drifting into the center divider, her craning to see over the dashboard and cursing at the other drivers.

She always made apple strudel when she came to visit us. (Will find the recipe and append this post.) She also sent me care packages when I was in college. Seven-layer cookies and bags of pistachios. California pistachios. (Insert irony here.)

She was not easy to be around, or to talk to. But she had stories. There was a rooster, and the Spanish flu. She won bridge tournaments. She traveled to China. When I was studying abroad in Russia, I had a photograph taken of me by a street vendor. I was wearing a giant fur hat. I mailed the picture to her. She displayed that picture in a frame on the bookshelf in her apartment in the “Retirement Hotel” that preceded the nursing home.

She would leave phone messages like they were little postcards, always signing off, “Love, Grandma.” She graded the performances of the various grandchildren and we always knew where we stood in her estimation. I was content with not holding the number-one position.

Some years, I sent her a grandmother card on Mother’s Day.

We threw an awesome super-glam wedding and she got to be a part of it. That was good. We gave her her own song for the processional. But instead of going slow, which we were expecting given her advanced age, she booked down the aisle.

She was there at all of my major events: bat mitzvah, graduations, wedding, bridal and baby showers.

We brought Jonah to visit her five times. The first time, he was a tiny baby. The second, he played hide-and-seek with her around the chairs in her room. The third, he ignored her and was overly concerned with some smooth rocks in a lobby water feature. The fourth, her 100th birthday bash, a party put on by my cousin and featuring a hoola-hoops artiste, a magician, and black forest cake. She was thrilled with the attention and the performers and cake, but in the end irritated by the gifts. “What do I need this for?” she asked, gesturing.

The fifth visit, she somewhat ignored us, this being earlier this year, and life was getting really physically hard. We were there during lunch. She had needs regarding her food, staff members were not meeting them swiftly enough. A mysterious woman, somewhat older but not old, rail thin, dressed entirely in orange from hat top to shoe tip, but with lipstick—red, arrived to take Sadie for a walk. A volunteer. She saw us and thought she should leave.

No, we reassured her (practically grabbed her). Please stay. It’s so kind of you, what you do. We were just leaving.

Tomorrow is the memorial. I did not volunteer to say anything. My cousins who grew up with her might. My dad will, his sister may as well.

My grandmother was a strong woman, an extremely smart woman. I am who I am in part because of her.

I imagine I will continue to feel complicated.

birthday celebration, phase 4: on shaky ground

The future of tomorrow’s play date party is uncertain.

Jonah spiked a fever today. I took him to the pediatrician because he was also complaining about being dizzy.

But he’s fine.

I asked the doctor if we should cancel the party and I swear the man looked at me like I was COMPLETELY nuts.

“Give him Tylenol every four hours and see how he feels in the morning.”

“But the 24-hour rule?”

Again, with the look.

“It’ll be fine!”

I should say, this is not our normal pediatrician. She would use more words and only make nice faces at me. This is the same-day-appointments-on-Saturdays guy. We saw him two weeks ago also, checking out Jonah’s rash before our big trip. I was worried it was food allergies. He dismissed it as “lip-licker syndrome” and “prescribed” Vaseline. I promptly purchased an organic emollient cream from Whole Foods and an organic lip balm instead. Because that’s how I roll.

Based on his demeanor, I’m suspecting this doctor is not loving his Saturday shift. But I’m not about to try to see him on a weekday to see if he’s any more charming.

Anywhoo…

I do think the parents of Jonah’s friends generally subscribe to that 24-hour rule. We do. You know the one? If they’re fever-free for 24 hours, you can send them to school/care. If they haven’t vomited in 24 hours… ditto. If the mucous is not running continuously… are there any others? I’ve also heard that they are shedding viruses most strongly for 24 hours before they come down with something so there’s always that window of contagion that one cannot control or avoid. So, technically, all his preschool friends have already been exposed. Possibly.

If Jonah is feeling well in the morning, I will email and call folks and give them the lowdown on the fever’s passage.

We’re thinking we could just erect a card table at the base of the front stairs. We could hand out plates of snacks and cake and goodie bags and people could drop off their gifts. Drive-up window service.

Today I decided that some other day, I should just surprise Jonah with a “sick day.”

Because when he gets sick, I become the greatest mom on God’s green earth.

He watched about six Dinosaur Train episodes today, plus a few other shows. Two episodes of something called Noodle and Doodle. A few minutes of a movie called Robots. The entire live-action film, Andre. The waning moments of a good-night show on Sprout that featured a lullaby and all the puppets were tucked into bed.

He had as much “syrup milk” (milk mixed with maple syrup) as he wanted. Which was about 4 glass-fulls. He also got to sample the frosting for tomorrow, and one of the star cookies that broke. In fact, I gave him the option of selecting a piece of Halloween candy before going to the doctor. He chose M&Ms.

First I was using it as a bribe. He loves going to the doctor. So he may over-report symptoms just for the excitement and drama. I tested him by offering candy as a trade. That didn’t work. But I felt bad about trying to bribe him. Then, I was hoping with the candy to bring up his blood sugar and make the dizzy feeling go away. It didn’t work.

But he did enjoy the candy.

Are you nominating me for mom-of-the-year yet?

He did eat an actual meal for dinner. A meatloaf sandwich. So that’s some good beef and whole-grains yang to balance out all the sugar yin.

And then, everything fell apart.

Scott was out on an important errand buying the boy a present or four at TRU, and picking up missing parts at Ikea — for the latest piece of office furniture he was trying to put together earlier.

Jonah and I had just finished watching the lullaby show. I said something complimentary about the barrette in his hair, a blue-glitter heart that his friend Sabine gave him at school yesterday. Jonah loves barrettes. The prettier, the better. He also adores Sabine.

“I have another barrette,” he tells me. “I think Asha gave it to me, or Sabine. It’s an orange butterfly. The wing is broken off, but I don’t mind.”

He couldn’t be beaming more blissfully as he’s describing this to me. And my heart is sinking into the center of the earth.

As we were cleaning up the house today in preparation for the party, I threw away that barrette. It was amongst all of the other bits and bobs that pile up everywhere, and it had lost more than just one wing. It was literally a silver clip with a little knob of broken-edged orange plastic.

I screwed my courage to the sticking point and told the boy the truth. I battened down the hatches. I held on tight because a storm was a-comin’.

And it came. Oh man. It came.

He screamed. He howled. He WAILED. His face turned bright red. Tears poured down his face. “I want you to get it back, RIGHT NOW.” “NO NO NO NO!!!!” “GET IT BAAAAACK!” “I want a NEW one RIGHT NOW.” “NOOOOOOO!”

With every “No” he wagged his finger so furiously, it was a blur.

I stayed calm. I heard the pamphlet in my head, the one I’d read recently about crying. The pamphlet voice in my head said, “This is his opportunity to heal. He is using this as an appropriate moment to heal from something entirely unrelated. Don’t talk him out of it. Just let him be angry. Let him cry.”

I held fast. I agreed with him about how sad it was. I apologized for making a mistake. (Part of me so wanted to blame the house cleaner, or pretend I hadn’t thrown it out and look all over the house for it with him.)

He stood on the couch and pounded the pillows. But he didn’t hit me. At one point, he wailed, “I wish I had told you how important the barrette was to me!”

I so understand what he was feeling. And I told him I understood.

Eventually, the storm/tantrum played itself out. When he was calmer, we talked about how this was similar to the Train Balloon. How sometimes things go away and you cannot get them back.

I told him he could have one of my barrettes. We went to the bathroom together and I gave him every one I had. Which was two. One gold sparkle one, and one with rhinestones. We found a special box for him to keep his barrettes in, so this sort of thing won’t happen again. We discussed when might be a good time to shop for a butterfly barrette, which will be tomorrow, after the party, or instead of the party if no one comes.

We sat on the couch in his room for a while and cuddled. He told me that he never wants to leave here ever.

“Right here, snuggling on the couch with me?”

“No. This house.”

“You never want to leave this house?”

“I want to stay here forever.”

It’s entirely possible that he may have heard Scott and I talking about how we don’t like our house, and how we might sell it someday. We may have even discussed it with him. Blithely. It’s a strong fantasy for us, dumping this house. Jonah does not feel the same way.

“I don’t ever want to lose anything, ever,” he says.

So we talked for a while about that. I tried to tell him that things are just things. We can always get more things. Even though we’re sad sometimes when we lose or break things. That the people we love are the most important (and I stop there and pray that he isn’t worried about losing people; but he might be).

He says, “Like how grandma broke that plate?” Last Thanksgiving, Scott’s mom was helping do dishes and she broke her mother’s fancy gold-edged china serving platter which Scott had pulled out for the occasion. She felt terrible. She’d saved that heirloom plate, passed it on to us, and it slipped in the grease and soap in the sink. I think I may have told that story to Jonah when his train balloon flew away, and/or some other time when I was trying to explain about how things that are important sometimes get broken or lost, but the people are more important than the things.

And then it was over. He turned to examine a printout of a dinosaur picture, taped up on his wall, showing combat between a Triceratops and a Deinonychus. “There’s Deinonychus’ terrible claw,” he says, pointing to where said claw is rending the opponent’s flesh. “We should color some blood on this.”

So we take the picture down and the boy goes in search of red crayons.

Daddy comes home with dinner for us. Jonah sets out his ladybug tea set and serves us pretend tea. We have to wait a bit, he informs us, because it’s steeping. But eventually he pours, warning that we’ll need to cool it off by blowing.

And then it’s time for bed. He puts the tea set away, brushes his teeth.

We read A Color of His Own, one of my favorite books from my childhood. Scott sings songs. And the boy, in his space sleeping bag, surrounded by 14 stuffed animals, some decorated with monster-truck stickers, falls asleep.

having a 4-year-old is like playing the vegas slots

You insert your quarter and pull the arm. Every third, tenth, hundredth time, you hit the jackpot. Your brain likes jackpot. You insert your quarter and pull the arm, insert quarter, pull arm…

But the 4-year-old is easier to please.

The question is, should you please him?

Yesterday, I made the plan on my way to picking him up from preschool. I’d had a rough day already, and I wasn’t sure how the rest was going to go because I was supposed to rush home for a phone appointment, and the sleep debt of the whole vacation still hadn’t been paid and I just decided that what I needed was a trip to the frozen yogurt shop. One of those pull it and top it yourself places.

Jonah was game. Of course.

We had some negotiation over whether he was going to be allowed to eat it in the car. My plan was to buy the yogurt and rush home for my call, hoping we had enough time. But I’d also sent messages trying to cancel via phone, email, text, and carrier pigeon. I was for him waiting until we got home, he was against.

Meanwhile, another mom-child pair decided they would also like to go for yogurt. So we went together, me keeping an eye on my eyephone and the time but also fairly confident that at least this part of my day was going to work out in the end.

Normally, when we go to these yogurt places, I am a bit of a pain about the toppings. Certain ones, especially the gummy candies, I just prefer he not have. They’re worse for sticking to the teeth and causing decay, and they just have no redeeming value in my book, relative to something simple and pure like chocolate chips.

But on this day, I decided to not control him.

He asked for strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla yogurt. I gave him healthy dollops of each in his cup. And then he directed me across the toppings bar. Chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chips; he wanted peanut m&ms but I convinced him to go for the regular ones instead—solely on the basis of flavor, my only influencing action; and gummy bears. His cup overfloweth.

There was a low table with small chairs and several kids sat all around it, including Jonah and his friend David. On the big screen TV on the wall above the register, which was directly across from where Jonah was sitting: the movie Cars.

Jackpot.

What’s funny is that I don’t know what my philosophy was in that moment exactly, I only knew I wanted to do it. To, as much as possible, just let him be in charge. To not worry about it. (Though I did make him promise to brush his teeth when he got home, which he promised, and we both forgot.)

He got a full-body brain-freeze from the experience but other than the shivering, he survived unscathed. In fact, contrary to popular belief and other experiences with sugar, he was completely mellow and delightful for the rest of the evening. He even volunteered the idea that he should take a bath.

Never, in his entire four years, has he requested to take a bath before bed.

The slot machine analogy doesn’t entirely hold. But there is something, maybe it’s dopamine, maybe it’s the desire to make the whining stop. Pleasing the child is seductive. And he offers so many opportunities for you to please him, if you’d only take the cue.

Today we went to the Lawrence Hall of Science. He wanted to start with the gift shop but I convinced him to leave it to the end. We had a long conversation before entering about how we weren’t going to buy anything, but that he could show me all the things that he wants for his birthday (we are still celebrating this weekend) and for Hannukah and Christmas.

He lifted this, pointed to that; Mama, I like this because it’s a race car. Look at this book of stickers, Mama. It’s all space stickers. I’m just going to sit here and look at it, Mama. I’ll be right here. I know we’re not going to buy it, I’m just looking at it. I want this dinosaur puzzle and this dinosaur skeleton. And if you get me this dinosaur grabber I’ll use it to clean my room really really fast—like THIS! (He races around, clapping the jaw open and shut.) Mama, you can get me everything in this store.

I did manage to surreptitiously purchase a couple of items which he either didn’t notice or pretended not to notice. Because he’s clever that way.

I want to get him everything. And we already have too much stuff. And nothing is ever enough. And none of it is really important. But if we look really hard and choose carefully, we find items that are special. The things he gets to decorate his life with; what he will love, what he may remember. Now that he is 4, there is more that he will remember.

I just have to be careful that I’m not going for another jackpot high myself, only to be followed by the empty crash and wanting more. But maybe that’s unavoidable.

It’s not about never crashing. It’s about being able to take care of yourself when you do hit the lows and accept that it’s not going to be three-cherries 24-7, right? It’s also about being able to get up off the stool and step away from the machine sometimes. I think that’s a jackpot too.

still sick

And so it goes.

Not exactly the most inspiring place to blog from.

I share with you some of my favorite Jonah-isms of the last few days…

+++

The other morning, I was asking Jonah if there are things he worries about.

He informed me that most of his worries involved being left to his own devices if Scott and I were to meditate at the same time (which we were just about to do). After saying that ten different ways, he mentioned that he wished he had more toys than anyone else in the neighborhood. And that it would be nice if every house and every store had a bathroom.

Right?

Totally.

+++

This morning, as we were all hanging out drinking our “morning beverages,” Jonah paused for a moment, to adjust.

“I’m just organizing my penis,” he explained.

Of course.

a perfect day

What happened from 7-ish to 9-30ish is a blur.

I recall cooking breakfast. Scrambled backyard eggs in unsalted Irish butter (salted with pink salt) and leftover pork roast, a tiny piece cut into tiny pieces. Faux bacon. Toast.

Jonah’s breakfast was an unwarmed piece of the gluten-free bread (texture of paste) which he carefully, meticulously, spread with butter, peanut butter, and front-yard-plum jam. And then ate 1/3 of it. And demanded eggs and pork, which we shared.

“I love your jam,” said Scott. “Me too,” said Jonah.

Next Jonah and I went to the Y, picked up our friends Laura and Flann on our way.

Dropped the boys at childwatch. It’s been so long since we’ve been there early enough for me to work out, Jonah marveled at his size in relation to the miniature toilet and sink.

Laura and I elliptical-ed, stretched, and sauna-ed.

It may not be accurate, but I enjoyed that the minimal level that I work out at is considered within the “weight loss” range according to the on-board heart rate monitor.

The boys were having so much fun at childwatch, they didn’t want us to take them out.

“We’re building!” Jonah protested. And indeed they were. Blocks of a variety of sizes, including Kaplas, all to themselves in a special loft that they are now allowed to play in unsupervised because they are both days away from turning 4.

“I don’t have anything to take away or bribe,” I muttered to Laura.

She took the lead. If Flann didn’t come down, he wouldn’t get to go to a friend’s birthday party.

He descended the stairs.

Jonah continued to play. I asked again. No response.

“Jonah, if I have to repeat myself a third time, I’m going to start taking away privileges.”

Not proud of myself, but it works.

Per Jonah’s instructions, I inform the swim teacher of his intention to not participate in class.

“I promised Jonah I’d let you know,” I tell her. “So, you might want to employ reverse psychology today,” I add, quietly. She nods. Roger that.

He participated.

After swimming, we went to the library to return a video, and get ONE more.

We left with four more. And still, a block down the street, Jonah realizes that I forgot to get the one about the airplanes. One about rockets, one about stars, one about the origin of the universe, and one about trains. But he’s going to whine and groan and bellyache and guilt me about the other one, which I’m not going back to get because we’re already half-way to the car and we need to get across town to pick up Scott to have lunch together and drop him at his 2pm hair appointment.

I’m sure I threatened something to get Jonah to stop. “If you can’t stop whining, I’ll take all the videos back.” Or somesuch.

Jonah ate a few bites of hamburger and some fries at lunch. I convinced him to finish the burger in order to earn the “sweet treat,” later. We shopped a bit around Piedmont Avenue, with Jonah delighting in the sparkly holiday decorations already on display and for sale.

Then, organic gelato at Lush: vanilla bean and Mexican chocolate (with cinnamon):

There was also a stop at Peet’s to load up on loose tea for me, and a stop at the comic book store, to load up on desire for Scott and Jonah.

Then the grocery store. I asked Jonah if he would help me cook dinner tonight. He’s been on a play-cooking kick lately. I asked what he wanted to cook. He said he would like orange, purple, and yellow carrots. Unfortunately the grocery store on Piedmont Avenue didn’t carry them. But they did have organic corn. Jonah loves corn. He also threw a bowling ball sized melon in the basket, which I decided to let him have. The prices on organic produce were so out of control at this store ($4 per pound for broccoli) that the corn and the melon were all we bought.

At home, Jonah watched his videos for a while. Only half of the rockets one; the train one was a surprise hit.

Then we played with play doh. He’s been working on a universe, some rockets, an alien spaceship, lots of little people. Scott and I took turns meditating in order to keep Jonah occupied and attended. Attention-ed.

Then I engaged Jonah in the dinner-cooking. I cut the corn cobs into pieces that he rolled in olive oil in a pyrex, and dusted with salt and pepper. Together, both of us holding the peeler, we peeled carrots (I had two in the fridge) and tossed them in. All of that went into the oven to roast.

He also salted and peppered the steak. (Yes, we ate WAY too much protein today. I’m raising him meat-an.)

“What does raw meat feel like?” he asked.

“You can touch it,” I said. “We just have to wash hands after.”

So we poked the steak together for a bit. Tenderizing.

That went into the oven and then I threw some frozen spinach in a pan with a little milk and salt and voila! We made dinner.

At first Jonah was upset because I’d cut his steak for him. Fortunately I had another piece so I switched the whole for the parts. He has a little dull knife we let him use (what he used for spreading on his toast this morning) and he was hacking at that ribbon of meat. Hard. But it wasn’t working. So we used my steak knife together.

“What’s that stuff that looks like applesauce?” he asked, pointing to the fat.

The non-fat pieces of meat, the corn, and the carrots he ate with gusto. The spinach, usually a favorite but notably the only part of the meal he didn’t help cook, went untouched.

“Today was a perfect day,” he announced.

Amen.

today we were fragile

I picked Jonah up from school today with two of his friends. We currently have 3 carseats strapped in the back, artifact of nanny share days, so I volunteered to be carpool mom.

Of the two girls joining us, Jonah decided he wanted the OTHER one to sit next to him. And he decided to throw a fit about it.

The worst part for me was imagining that at some point, the girl he didn’t want to sit next to would suddenly realize that she was being dissed.

But neither girl cared.

Jonah was a total pill. Crying and whining until he settled into a resentful sulk. The girls were making each other laugh, telling jokes and waving their arms around. Jonah continued to sulk.

Lovely.

We got to the park before the other moms. The two girls got on the swings. There was no third swing for Jonah.

Lovely.

But then, the tire swing opened up. Three kids; one mutually-joy-filled activity.

Actual loveliness.

But then, they tired of spinning.

Two girls back in the other swings, Jonah wailing in my lap. Not because he felt left out, but because he was hungry. I didn’t have any snacks, the other moms still hadn’t arrived.

We sat like that. The girls swinging, me rocking Jonah on the soft, manufactured-material-ground stuff, until the cavalry appeared; with cheerios, corn chips, pretzels, oranges, pears. And all was well.

We came home early because I wasn’t feeling well. A headache I’ve been sporting for more than a week, through two chiropractic appointments and a massage without any change, actually a muscle spasm of some kind affecting my occiput and jaw, finally broke me. I. Was. Just. Plain. Tired. And oddly a little nauseous. Not a good sign since one kid projectile vomited at preschool yesterday and I’d hate to come down with it next but the possibility is there.

I was sure it had to be 5pm. It was only 3:30. I am convinced that on this day, instead of being dropped into the sea by an earthquake, there is some kind of stretch in the space-time continuum that made things seem impossibly long.

I got home at 4, plunked Jonah in front of a video with his daily piece of Halloween candy (okay, pieces, the remaining ones are kinda small so we let him have 2: an itty bitty dumdum lollipop and a milky way—which he ate along with a cheese sandwich).

I crawled into bed with the heating pad and an actual book of fiction, borrowed from my friend Laura, who reads.

An hour later, it was still early evening. There was still much boy-entertaining to do. And I was still in pain. 2 ibuprofen and some Pepto, and more bed for me while Scott and Jonah engaged in some housecleaning. I’m not sure how they landed on that as a project.

Jonah was quite enthusiastic about his participation. Marching around gathering the tools: a rag, a sponge, a broom, a dustpan. We’ve been having problems with ants and he’s been loving helping to eradicate them. As he works, he mutters and sighs, “Ach! We are doing ALL THE HOUSEWORK!” kind of complaining and gloating at the same time.

At one point, he was set on washing a glass in the bathroom. I heard Scott worry aloud to Jonah about the glass breaking. But he left him to his devices. Until… CRASH!

Scott ran in, terrified that Jonah had cut himself. And Jonah fell apart, crying/hyperventilating because he was sure he was in trouble and he was incredibly dismayed that his work was suddenly over.

I got out of bed to help console. “That was my JOB!” Jonah wailed/hiccuped, while I held him, rocked him, picked one tiny shard off of his cheekbone.

Scott mostly dealt with bedtime. I pinch-hitted (pinch-hat?) for pajamas and tooth brushing, the most I could contribute in my current state.

I managed to cook dinner, which I have also, so far, kept down.

I hope the space-time continuum rights itself tomorrow, but for tonight, let there be many more hours of sleep than expected.

now that’s just spooky

Meta:

I wasn’t going to look at today’s “prompt” because once I do, I have to answer it.

I had an idea for today’s post, and then I looked anyway, because… I just had to look.

And it’s about balancing child, relationship, and work.

Which is exactly what I was going to write about. Spooky!

Plus I’m reading this set of pamphlets: Listening to Children by Patty Wipfler, from www.handinhandparenting.org — and seriously! How has no one told me about these before??? Freaking brilliant. The pamphlet I read today is called “Special Time.”

And now, on to our regularly scheduled blog post.

* * *

Tonight, Jonah got home from his day out with the Nanny just a few minutes before I got home from my work and chiropractic appointments.

He asked me if we could schedule some Mommy and Jonah time. Maybe tomorrow?

I suggested that we could play right now.

We went to his room. He had us dismantle the miniature football helmets his dad had given him yesterday — a ziplock baggie full of little plastic replicas that are too big for Jonah’s Mego dolls and dinosaurs but that’s who wears them. He had me remove the white face guards from each one. So then I suggested we have the dinosaurs play football. Which is how I learned that the helmets really don’t fit snugly at all. Four-legged dinos have a harder time keeping them on than the two-legged variety. And nobody can see out of them.

Next we played pretend bedtime. Jonah directed me to turn off all the lights and close the door. That way we could see his glow-in-the-dark planets glow. He asked me to put his blankets on him.

But then, oh no!

He hadn’t brushed teeth yet.

How are we going to do that? I asked. Are you really going to brush your teeth now?

No, he said. We’ll pretend.

“Eeeeeeeeee” he said in the darkness — someone taught him (at school?) that you make sounds when you brush so that the E is for your front teeth and… “aaaahhhhhh” for the back.

“Shhhhhhhh,” he ran the pretend water and “shk shk shk, shwooosh,” he swished some in his mouth and spit it out.

But then…

“Books!” he announced.

“How are we going to do books if we’re not *really* doing bedtime?” I asked.

“Pretend,” he said. “I’ll show you.”

I turned on the light next to the chair and sat down and he climbed out of bed and came over to me. “Open your hands like this,” he said.

“But what does the book say?” I asked. “Who is this story about?”

“Three worms and a (something else).” With apologies for breaking the flow but I am literally too tired to recall what the characters were, or what I had them do. Wait — there was a cabin, and a river, and…? Whatever I made up, it was rather short, and met with his approval.

I believe we did another one of these short-hand (so to speak) stories.

And then he asked for the story that his clock tells. So we turned off the light, I tucked him in again, and we both listened to the extremely odd story programmed into his clock. Saccharine fairy lady voice, electronic music and sound effects, fairy children and rainbows are involved.

After a period of pretend sleeping, we pretended it was morning and woke up.

We turned on the light. What to do next? I decided I wanted to really read books, even though it was still early yet. We’ve been binge-ing on encyclopedic texts for months now and this past week I’d actually checked some actual storybooks out of the library.

So we sat and read them. When Scott tried to come in and listen, Jonah repeatedly shoo-ed him away. This was Mommy-Jonah time.

By the end of the third book, he was barely able to hold his head up, so I moved us into “dinner” — real, not pretend, but also not the ideal family dinner I’ve been striving for, though I did pull off two family meals yesterday (pats self on back); rather this was the faux family dinner where I make a sandwich for Jonah and one or both of us adults sits with him at the table and watches him eat it.

Tonight it started out with both of us and then I peeled off to check the day’s emails since I’d been out all afternoon.

Later, after Jonah was asleep, Scott went out and picked up the Thai food for us, again. It’s a two-Thai-takeout kind of week. Am reserving the right to make it a hat trick.

* * *

Scott said that he was willing to drive to the Thai place (it was supposed to be my turn) because I did such good mommy play time tonight.

I am trying not to say the bittersweet part of this: that it can be really hard for me to give Jonah focused, uninterrupted attention. I win points for tonight, and I win points for our Mommy-Jonah days out in the world, like Saturday.

Scott got even shorter shrift tonight since A) Whichever one of us went for the Thai food had to change OUT of our pajamas to go do it. B) I forced him to watch America’s Next Top Model while eating said Thai food, and C) After dinner, post ANTM, and after only about 5 minutes of snuggling with him in front of the football game he had DVR’d, I peeled off to do my pamphlet reading and blog writing.

And now, I shall go back downstairs and see how the football-watcher is holding up… or I may just hunker down here in bed and wait for him to wander back upstairs to me.

jonah’s jokes

We’re trying out jokes with Jonah. With some success. Witness:

Me: Knock Knock

Jonah: Who’s there?

Me: Banana

J: Banana who?

Knock Knock

Who’s There?

Banana

Banana who?

(Dear reader, you know this one, right?)

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Banana

Banana who?

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Orange

Orange who?

Orange you glad I didn’t say “Banana?”

(Blank stare.)

Then Jonah says, “I want to do one.”

Jonah: Knock knock.

Me: Who’s there?

J: Potato.

M: Potato who?

J: Aren’t you glad I didn’t say orange?

J: Knock knock

M: Who’s there?

J: Tooth

M: Tooth who?

J: Potato!

J: Knock knock

M: Who’s there?

J: Book

M: Book who?

J: Knock knock

M: Who’s there?

Tooth!

Tooth who?

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Banana

Banana who?

Sweet potato!

(Jonah dissolves into giggles.)

* * *

We tried again at dinner time.

Scott: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Jonah: What chicken?

(I dissolve into giggles.)

Me: Right, we have chickens, and we don’t want them to cross the road?

Jonah: Yeah, unless they are holding our hands! (He demonstrates, wings outstretched.)