Monday, September 29, 2008

Guest Post: Grinch

Grinch e-mailed this to me a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was sweet and he said it was ok to blog it, so here's his first official guest post:

"This morning, on the way to school, bug asked to hear some music. Without much hope of finding anything decent, I scanned the radio stations. Much to my surprise and delight, we came upon the first bars of "Hey Jude." As I always do during that song, I got goosebumps, and cranked up the stereo as I told bug that this was one of daddy's favorite songs by the Beatles.

"A few minutes later, during the song's rousing coda, I looked back and saw bug tapping her hand on her knee in time to the music. I still can't get the smile off my face."

These two have become quite the pair lately. Dos and Bug share a room. Dos isn't sleeping through the night yet, there's still a lot of crying going on. Bug has been sleeping on the sofa bed with Grinch so at least one person in this house can get some rest. When I leave for work in the morning, I use the light from my cellphone LCD display to check on them. Bug is usually sprawled out, taking up nearly every square inch of sleepable space and Grinch is scrunched up in a corner. They're both breathing deeply and sleeping peacefully. Charlie even curls up with them. I'm happy they're getting sleep, but jealous that I can't join them. It's all I can do to keep myself from curling up beside Bug and going right back to sleep.

Kids go through this "favorite parent" stage off and on throughout childhood, apparently. I had my days in the sun a couple of weeks ago. Now, I'm regarded more as the Evil Queen than dear, delightful, sunshiney Mommy. It hurts, but I can get over it. I'm glad to see Grinch getting the love and attention he deserves....and a lot of snuggling and hugging from his little girl before she thinks it's gross.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gotta Laugh to Keep from Cryin'

Before we had kids, Grinch and I would take long walks, hikes in the woods or trips to the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet. More than once, the tranquility was broken by the sound of screeching kid or wailing infant. Grinch and I would shoot glances at the "offending" family and mutter that people should keep their screaming kids at home or teach them how to behave in public. Harumph. We knew so much about kids before we actually had some of our own.

A couple of weeks ago we took the kiddos to a nature preserve near our house. When we got to the path, the Bug took off running, so happy to be in the forest YAY! Five minutes into the walk: stumble, bumble, crash, blood, tears and an early trip home.

Saturday, we tried again. 65 acres of undisturbed forest, paved paths, twittering birds, peace and quiet. Ahhhhh....hahahah! Not so fast! We got to the forest entrance and the bug was already whining. "I'm hungry, Daddy. I'm hunnnnngry." We tried distracting her, encouraging her, promising a fantastic picnic lunch when the walk was done. No. "I'm hunnnnnnnnngry NOW." Fine. Back to the picnic tables where it seemed like a majillion snarky, cursing pre-teens were milling around, grumbling and flipping each other off. She happily ate her sandwich. Grinch and I ate ours in steely silence while Dos dribbled Cheerios all over the ground.

Ok. Lunch is done. NOW we can go walk in the forest, right? Walking, no running. No running, no falling, right? Right. At the start of the trail, the paths go in two directions. We wanted to go to the right, the bug wanted to go to the left. She wanted to go to the left so badly, that she started crying. (Why we didn't just go to the left, I do not know. Quite obviously, parenthood has eaten our brains. I think we were "standing our ground." Knuckleheads.) She cried THE ENTIRE WALK. The serenity of the forest was broken with a low-key moan of "I don't want to. I don't waaaaaaaant toooooooooo." You would have thought the 1/4 mile stroll through the woods was the Bataan Freaking Death March for Toddlers. I even tried bribing her with an offer to run. "Wanna run? You can run if you hold my hand! Come on, let's run!"
"Nooooooo! You can't RUN in the forest! You'll FAAAAAALL!"

Grinch and I just kept walking, making small talk about family gossip, and glancing behind us to make sure the bug was still there. We thought we had a chance at calming the storm near the end of the walk when we came across a huge spiderweb and its owner. "Look! What a pretty spiderweb! And such a big spider! Oooooh, it has pretty stripey legs, doesn't it?" She smiled and nodded, her eyes wide though red-rimmed from crying. She quieted for a minute....which was Dos' cue to start crying. I hiked up my shirt, walking and nursing and grinning at how ridiculous the whole thing was.

Dos finally quieted so Bug and her wails of complaint had center stage again. The end of the path was in sight and she was still crying, "I don't want tooooooooo." She finally stopped crying when we were completely out of the woods (ha!) and Grinch was able to distract her from her trauma with a look at some petrified wood. I wandered around, shaking off the tension and wondering if we'd scarred the bug for life. She'd never want to go for a walk in the woods ever again. I was sure of it.

The car ride home was blessedly short and quiet. In the driveway, Grinch and I were unbuckling the girls from their car seats, still shaking our heads at how badly everything had gone. That's when the bug smiled and said, "That was FUN!"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Playlist for the Week of Sept. 14, 2008

As a college DJ, I hated taking requests. "Hi! Can you please play The Smiths "Plea..." "Yeah! Ok, got it. I'll see if I can get it on. BYE!" Translation: "Beat it, kid. You're bothering me. Go steal your mom's eyeliner and scribble a new shitty poem about love."

Now I'm taking music requests pretty much everyday. The playlist has greatly improved, though.

The Bug has never been one of those kids who insists on listening to one song over and over in the car. Mostly because we never gave her the option. It was always just, "Here's what we're listening to now. Enjoy." and she did. Then she discovered the Beatles Abbey Road and all bets were off. Now, when we get in the car, she says, "I want to hear 'Here Comes the Sun" then 'Octopus's Garden' please? Ok." Sometimes she switches the order, but that's pretty much it. Sometimes she requests "You Never Give Me Your Money" just for fun.

At home, she asks to hear The Proclaimers "Sean". She calls it the "hi-ya" song and we always hold her and bounce while we sing it together. I draw the limit at once every now and then. That song gets kind of annoying after one or 10 plays.

"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Jump, Jive and Wail" also figure high on the Bug's list of favorite songs. Cool with me. Those get me off the couch to dance and that'll blow out a bad mood any day.

I used to sing to the Bug a lot when she was a baby. A lot of big band, some hymns, Monkees, show tunes....basically whatever slow songs I could remember the words to. When I couldn't remember the words I lah-dee-dah-deed until the tune was done.

For some reason, I don't feel like singing to Dos at night like I did with the Bug. I think I'm so worried that it'll keep her awake or re-energize her and we'll never get to sleep that I'd rather just keep my mouth shut. Still, I think she needs some musical introduction and it would be a good way to establish her bedtime routine. Right now the only routine is: nurse, cry, sleep. That kinda sucks.

So here, for your enjoyment and inspiration, is Dos' bedtime music mix: (Playlist created by Mommy.)

Sleepers Awake from Cantata 140, J.S. Bach
Afro-Cuban Lullaby, Trad. arr. Marshall
Gymnopedie No.1, E. Satie
May Safely Graze from Cantata 208, J.S. Bach
No.1 from Well-Tempered Clavier, J.S. Bach
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring from Cantata 147, J.S. Bach
Praise Ye the Lord, K.339
Fairest Lord Jesus 2:02
Traditional (What a Gift to Be Simple)
Chopin: Prelude in A

Almost all the selections are from the Christopher Parkening "The Great Recordings" CD. He's a favorite artist in this house. He should be a favorite artist in EVERY house in my humble opinion. Torija is from John Huston's "Three Centuries of Music" CD. Chopin's Prelude in A is from Andres Segovia's "The Segovia Collection."

Burn, enjoy and pleasant dreams.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hearts Were Made to be Broken

People say that having kids makes you young again. That's pretty much true. You giggle madly with them at the most ridiculous stuff. You lay down on the sidewalk to get a good view of ants soldiering back and forth with their bits of food. You sing "This Old Man" and ABCs with gusto. You eat hot dogs and mac 'n cheese for dinner. You have tea parties and bake Lego bread in shoebox ovens and count it up as rollicking good fun. When your kid is having fun you have fun, too.

The flip side is when your 3-year-old gets her heart broken, yours breaks twice as hard: once for her and once for the 3-year-old you who has had her heart broken multiple times in the very same way over the past 36 years.

Bug loves her friends. I don't know if all kids latch on to their playmates like she does. My theory is that she's so shy with everyone that once she feels comfortable with someone, especially a kid, she just can't hide her glee at being around them. She wraps them with hugs, guffaws long and loud at their jokes and glows like a sunbeam when they enter a room.

As shy and reserved as Bug is, her friend Ria is outgoing. She chats up people in the park, pets strange dogs on the playground and blows kisses to everyone in the restaurant. Bug LOVES her and together they have the energy of a dozen toddler-sized hurricanes. They play wonderfully together. They share and take turns and make each other laugh. All the stuff that good 3-year-old pals are supposed to do.

Last weekend, we met up with Ria and her family for a festival. The two girls hit it off as usual and had a grand time, marching in a parade together and sharing milkshakes from Starbucks. By the end of lunch, everyone was tired and ready for naps. Ria was pouty and ignoring everyone, including Bug who wanted to share a few more laughs. We chalked it up to the heat and general toddler temperament.

After naps, we went to Ria's house for a party. Bug was so excited to be at Ria's house! For a party! With cake! And Ria! She barreled in and started peppering Ria with questions and news and proposals about games to play. Ria flatly ignored her and went to work on a craft project. Bug figured that's just what they were doing now and got to work, too. She kept up with it long after Ria abandoned her project to join other kids in the playroom. Bug couldn't bring herself to go in there, choosing to stick close to Grinch, Dos and me. While the party crew hooted it up in front of the TV in the other room, we ate alone in a quiet corner of the living room.

Bug pushed aside her fears and walked into the crowd to have cake with her friend. Ria walked away after a few minutes, leaving her cake and Bug behind. Everything Bug did to engage her friend was ignored or refused. By the time we left, Ria was in the middle of a crowd of kids, tearing into a pile of her brother's birthday presents. Bug was in Ria's bedroom with Grinch, quietly giving a gentle checkup to a pink hobby horse. I don't even know if it really registered with Bug that her friend had ditched her. Grinch and I saw the whole thing though, and it hurt as much as if we had been ditched. It hurt worse, I think.

I know Ria wasn't being mean. She was just tired and overwhelmed with all that was going on. The protective mother in me wanted to pull her aside and say, "Be nice to her! She's your friend! She's just a little girl!" But Ria is a little girl, too and the next time we see her, she and Bug likely will be back to their old tricks, giggling and hugging the way they always do.

I want so much to give my girls a full life, to let them see the world and experience all it has to offer. I want to protect them too, to keep them safe from harm and heartache. I know they'll fall and scrape knees, maybe even break a bone one day. That's what comes with adventure. Their hearts will get bruised and broken, too. I just wish it didn't hurt worse than a broken arm.