Today, my throat achy with unshed tears, I drove away from the local elementary school. After I registered Lucky for kindergarten.
I will admit: I never wanted to be the mom who gets all weepy over the next milestone. In general, I find the idea of having a school-age child exciting. I can’t wait for Lucky to learn how to read and write… and I can’t wait to delegate the math work to Charlie.
But today I feel the same way I felt on my birthday this year: it’s yet another reminder how FAST time flows.
It was also our line in the sand for trying for a sibling, the years between my school age child and a potential sibling would be “too much” in my estimation.
(Course, a lot about THAT has changed since we set that deadline, so really, I shouldn’t take it into account, should I?)
It’s hard to believe that the baby who was so quiet when he cried, you couldn’t hear him unless you were right over him, is going to be FIVE this weekend.
Five is the age of riding school buses, and bicycles, and playing tee ball.
It’s the age of skinned knees and mud pies and imagination. It’s tall and lanky and independent.
It’s the age of superheroes, where his loveys have powers and abilities FAR beyond measure.
It’s the age of loud, and fart jokes, and potty language.
It’s the age of stories, where he can (and does!) regale me, talking non-stop on the way home from daycare, with all the things Bear and Spoochy can DO. (Did you know Bear sneaks downstairs every night to hide golden treasure? That Spoochy has a boat that transforms into something that can ride in HOT LAVA from a volcano – without getting burned? I didn’t think you did.)
I know that his job is to grow up and become independent and turn into a person in his own right. That’s what babies DO – they turn into toddlers and then kids and then teenagers and then adults. As he grows, his world will become bigger and bigger, and his orbit around me will become wider and longer.
And it’s my job to help him navigate this world; to guide and advocate for him when he needs it and then step back and let him fly on his own.
It’s just going by SO FAST. In many ways, I miss those days where his orbit was just him and me, those nights in his room, rocking him in the darkness, marveling at how little he was and how damn lucky we were.
But. To kindergarten he will go. And we’ll start a whole new chapter of his life – of our lives.
Crazy stuff, this growing up.
Please forgive me the bullet/list post today, but these are things I want to record and I have no idea how to weave them into a longer story.
Some of my favorite things Lucky says and does at Age Almost-Five:
- When he pretends to play doctor, he tells me he’s going to check that my heart is “beeping.” Yes, Mommy, he’ll say. I can hear your heart beeping. Now it’s time for your shot!
- Often I hear him say something that he’s not allowed to do, like throw a ball in the house. Let’s throw the ball, Bear! And when I remind him we don’t throw things in the house, it’s against our Rules, he responds: No, Mommy. Bear and I are only pee-tending.
- Animals are AM-inals.
- Whenever I ask him if he’s hungry and wants a snack, and he responds in the affirmative, I ask him what he wants. His response is ALWAYS: What are my choices, Mommy?
- Whenever he wants to play with one of us, he’ll say, Hey! Guys! Who’s gonna play wiff me?
- Bear’s birthday is March 1, and Spoochy’s birthday is March 17, the same as his.
- Whenever we leave his room at night, and he’s not quite asleep, he asks us to “build him a wall.” Which, no lie, reminds me of my Pink Floyd obsession, but not what he means. What HE means is that we take all his stuffed animals (“Am-inals!”) and line them up on his pillow so that he is walled in - the real wall on one side, the “wall” of his stuffed animals on the other side, between him and his nightlight clock.
- He is FASCINATED with adding right now. What does 2 plus 3 get to, Mommy? He’ll ask. And I tell him to count using his fingers, which he does happily.
- The one time Charlie showed him that 4+1, 2+3, 3+2, AND 1+4 all equals 5, it pretty much blew his mind.
- He discovered the Power Rangers this weekend, and now walks around with a light-up drumstick my sister got for him at Disney in his pants. He calls it his “Power Ranger sword” and asks me every five minutes if there’s bad guys somewhere that he needs to fight.
- He says the red Power Ranger is his favorite, because he has a RED power rangers suit and a HELMET!
- For his birthday party, he told me he wants me to make him a dolphin cake. No wait, a jaguar. No, Mommy, I would be SO happy with a CHEETAH cake!
- We went shopping yesterday for his birthday party, and he picked out THIS HAT. All on his own.
- Please ignore the pink eye, mmkay?
I can’t say it enough times or as loud as I need to. We are SO lucky to have him in our life.
And I cannot believe he’s going to be five next month.
I’m going to try and write every day in January; I feel like I had a lot to say back in November when I did NaBloPoMo and I’m hoping that I can get my mojo back, a little bit at a time.
Lucky has always been an introverted kind of kid; ever since he was a baby he never did well in big groups, even when it was people he knew. Thankfully, over the years, he’s come out of his shell a lot. I think it started when he was able to verbalize what he was feeling; gave him a little more control over the situation to be able to say “I don’t like that.”
When we go to Charlie’s family gatherings, though, getting him to acknowledge family members is kind of a battle. For example? We’re a huggy family, whenever we get to a family gathering, everyone turns and gives a big welcome to the people coming in the door, and we give hugs to everyone in the room. Which is really hard, given his temperament. He gets embarrassed when there are too many eyes on him, and he’ll be contradictory and refuse to hug or look at anyone.
We work with it, of course – we prep him about who will be there, we try and arrive early so that there aren’t too many people looking at him, and I’ve often hugged people with Lucky in my arms, his head buried in my shoulder, giving them a welcome from the both of us. And then he’ll get down and run off with his more outgoing cousin D, and we don’t have to worry about it until the end, when we’re trying to get him to give hugs to people on the way out, also a bit of a struggle.
Last weekend, we actually hosted a family potluck at our house: for this part of the family, we’re a central location. And we love hosting.
Apparently? So does Lucky.
When people came in, he was the consumate host: asked to take their coats, told them they could put their food in the kitchen, then took every last one of them up to see my things in my bedroom!
And Charlie’s Aunt M came into the kitchen after the visit to his room, completely shocked and flushed with pleasure. I can count on one hand the number of times he said HELLO to be before, and all of a sudden he’s inviting me to his room! And showing me all sorts of things! And telling me all about his stuffed animals and his favorite books! I can’t believe it!
We’ve had a little trouble with mice lately. This is the first time we’ve had an issue since we moved here; we think it has to do with the cold weather and lack of a cat (not that Puck would have ever KNOWN what to do with a mouse, honestly).
But Charlie bought some traps, and set one on Saturday night, and sure enough, Sunday morning we had caught a mouse. Lucky, of course, was all interested in the traps when Charlie bought them that day, and Charlie explained that it was a way to catch and kill mice so that they didn’t make a mess in our house and eat all our food.
So Sunday morning, Charlie asked me if it was okay that Lucky SEE the dead mouse, since he was asking about it.
I know that stuff like this is in a grey area. But Lucky was never bothered when Puck died; we told him that he had a kind of sickness that the doctors couldn’t fix, that the doctors thought the sick was called cancer, and though there are some times when you have cancer you DON’T die, Puck’s cancer was a kind that the doctors couldn’t fix. So he died.
And he took that explanation, and there wasn’t much questioning or anxiety over it (will I get the sick, too?). He talked about Puck a lot, and how he had a cat that died, but there wasn’t a lot of angst around it.
And my personal parenting belief is that I want to foster Lucky’s curiosity. If he was asking to see the dead mouse, what was the real harm?
So we showed him the dead mouse, and he said, Wow, that’s a big one, Daddy! And that was it.
Until that afternoon, during the party.
Lucky asked me if it was okay for him to read to everyone the “Night Before Christmas,” which he has memorized. And I asked the people in the room if that was okay, and they agreed.
So he started in:
The night before Christmas, all in the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. And without missing a beat, he paused, and said: Guys!!! WE caught a mouse today, in one of Daddy’s TRAPS! It was a big one, too. Mommy made Daddy put it in the garage garbage can.
And then he went on with the poem, right from where he left off: The stockings were hung from the chimney with care…
Charlie’s OTHER Aunt B came into the kitchen shortly thereafter, marveling at the difference in him between our house and hers. It’s kind of amazing to see him when he’s in his own environment. she said. He’s like a whole different person!
That’s my kid: a big contradiction – full of curiosity and shyness and bossy and sharing everything he knows and unwillingness to hug, unless it’s on his own terms.
Just don’t all look at him at once.
Thank you, all of you, for the love and comments yesterday.
That I could write that post yesterday, I knew, meant that I was finally coming out of the funk I’ve been in for the past few weeks.
The thing is, I’m getting it from everywhere. There’s my new nephew, who seems to be affecting me far more than any of the babies that have been born in the recent past. Part of it is proximity, I know. But I think some of it is also because there’s family resemblance – it’s not hard for me to see him as my own. My ghost child. It’s this weird physical need – I HAVE to hold him.
And that disconnect: he’s not mine. I have no claim over him other than being his aunty. I can help my SIL by holding him and allow her to eat, or hang out with the older kids, but I can’t NEED him. That’s not right.
There’s also work, which is really not going very well right now. The woman for whom I work is due with her baby in two weeks, and she’s pushing me to finish work this week – WITHIN a set of budget constraints. And that pressure is tough enough. But when she reviews my work, all bets are off. Documentation she passed in June without any comment – and so I figure I can do the EXACT SAME TESTING for my update work – she all of a sudden has issues with. And she wants everything done in that moment – so I’ll be working on fixing something and then fire questions at me about a different control, since you know, she’s moved on. And THEN I get the lectures about missing something: We really have to make sure that we [the opposite of whatever it is that I fucked up].
I have mentioned before I am not naturally an accountant, right? So I need to be sure of my facts before I can answer her questions. I can’t go fast, because I will miss something. And yes, I’ve told her this. Her answer is always: We just need to get these cleared right now.
These reviews make me feel incredibly stupid and lumbering. I just can’t keep up with her rapid fire questions. And I can’t handle the fucking LECTURES. No, you’re right, I DIDN’T write the test period dates in the excel spreadsheet. You’re right, I missed it. Fucking CHILL, lady.
And then there’s the stress of Christmas coming up, and trying to make it magical for, you know, the kid I DO have, and the fact that I took on handwriting all my Christmas cards this year because last year I felt like our picture cards were so IMPERSONAL. Except, you know, it takes TIME to do that shit. So with Charlie traveling and my work deadline, I don’t really have time to do it. And, oh yeah, I need to wrap the presents I DID buy, and we still have people on the list for which I haven’t bought anything, and OMFG CHRISTMAS IS IN TWO WEEKS.
And my training. Running is one of the few things that is going well right now; I felt so good, physically, last week, that I asked my coach if we could step it up a bit. Which he readily agreed to. But that means this week, physically, I’ve been sore and tired.
But I haven’t been able sleep, you see. Insomnia – likely from the stress of the above – has made me toss and turn for the past week or so.
Writing yesterday: a release.
And I have today to finish my testing, which I *THINK* might be doable, even though I’m missing Lucky’s daycare Christmas show today. (Thank goodness Charlie can go, but yeah, there’s a LOT of guilt that I’m ALREADY missing his school shows and he’s not even in school yet!)
And last night, for the first night in I don’t know how long, I slept the whole night. Without waking, or worrying about Lucky, or having a hard time falling asleep. I got into bed, fell asleep, and woke up just before my alarm. And today, I don’t feel stressed out, or anxious, or scared, or hopeless, or numb. I feel sort of wrung out, but in a good way. Like I’m going to be okay.
I am going to be okay. This is my mantra when it gets to be too much. But today I actually believe it.
I am going to be okay.
The first day of Standard Time. He’s been up since 5:45, and we’ve had a day of activity – a hike, raking leaves, and he even got to watch a professional cut down trees. We’ve given his daddy kisses and seen him off to the airport, and it’s just he and I at home.
He climbs into my lap and asks to go to bed at 6:30. And he’s been doing this recently; pretending his feet don’t work to go up the stairs so I have to carry him. He’s long and heavy and I don’t love carrying him up the stairs, but tonight he holds on around my neck and snuggles into Bear and Spoochy and Maisy. It’s too cute.
Every night we read two books, so I tell him to pick out his books for the night. He picks out one book – Richard Scarry’s book, “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go” – and tells me, This is a long one, Mommy, so I only want to read one tonight.
I don’t know what he finds completely hilarious about me accidentally skipping the first page, but he gets the giggles. His laugh makes ME laugh, and we are laughing together.
I read the book, he finds Goldbug on every page, and then we’re done.
When I turn off the light, he asks, Will you lay down with me, Mommy?
So I do. And he turns to me, his face inches from mine, and he snuggles into Bear. And he stares far into my eyes until his lids start to droop.
In a flash, I’m transported back to the hospital the night after his birth, where I lay on my side to try and nurse him, and he just stared into my eyes, as if he had known me forever.
That was ages ago, eons ago. But yesterday.
Within seconds, his eyes are closed, and he’s asleep, his breath sweet against my cheek. And I stay, and watch over him, and marvel at how beautiful he is and how deep and wide my love for him is. How I’d do anything for him.
With every fiber of my being, I love him.
I take an extra, luxurious moment, and breathe him in.
And then I tiptoe out.
Last night, in the bathtub, Lucky looked at the bottom of one of his rubber ducks – the one we used to use as a temperature gauge when he was a baby. This time, though, he noticed it had a word on it.
As he usually does, he asked, What does this say, Mommy?
So I helped him sound it out. Hot! he said triumphantly.
And then he said, I can WRITE Hot. Down, down, across. A circle. Then down, across.
I thought for a moment, then confirmed that yes, that’s how you’d write the word Hot.
This morning, when I was in the shower, he came in to say hello. And again noticed his duck.
And this time, he ran downstairs to Charlie, so that he could practice writing.
With Charlie’s help sounding the words out, by the time I got downstairs, he had written the words “Hot,” “Warm,” and “Cold.”
I’ve been meaning to have Lucky send my mother a get well card for a while now, just hasn’t been my priority – especially with all the drama that’s been going on in the past couple of weeks.
But this morning, since he wanted to write, I asked him if he’d make a card for Grammy.
And with some help sounding the words out, he wrote this – all by himself:
I love you
My kid is WRITING. Holy crap.
I’m in someone’s house; I’ve never been there before, but I recognize all of my college friends there, helping pack, take down curtains, move boxes. There’s a gorgeous lace sheer in one of the rooms, and I remark how pretty they are. A friend offers it to me. “Do you want it, Serenity? I don’t know where I’d put it in the new place.”
I agree. So we’re helping her move, then. I take the curtains down and start folding them, then move into some of the other rooms, too restless to stay in one place.
In the kitchen, someone’s putting together lunch. Salmon, steaks, salads; it’s a huge spread and I don’t understand. If they’re moving, why do they have so much food?
We all sit down, a table of women, and I take a piece of steak, suddenly famished. I cut it and put it in my mouth.
Then my best friend warns me not to eat it. “It’s not fully cooked, Serenity. You could get listeria*!”
I take the half chewed piece of meat out of my mouth, wrapping it in my napkin.
And. There’s a pause at the table, and everyone looks at me expectantly.
“Well, Serenity? Is there news you want to share? Are you pregnant?” a friend asks me, somewhat teasingly.
I reply as vehemently as I can. “NO, no. I am NOT pregnant. Trust me, there is NO news to share. I just don’t want to get sick from uncooked meat!”
I stand up and walk out. I want to find Charlie.
When I go outside, I see Lucky’s stuffed dolphin, Spoochy, on the ground. Surprised, I look around for he and Charlie, expecting them to be together.
Except Charlie is helping my best friend’s husband with something in the driveway. Lucky is nowhere to be found.
So I search him out. It doesn’t take me very long before I see him, across the street, high up on someone else’s property, playing in the front yard. The property is on a steep hill, so the side he’s playing in is raised high above the sidewalk on the side street. I start crossing the street to get to where he is.
He’s walking along a curb at the top of the property, holding onto the fence, pretending he’s a tightrope walker. It’s one of his favorite things to do when we’re walking somewhere, except he always holds my hand. He’s probably 20 feet above the sidewalk. So I speed up, walking a little faster, because I have this sense of wanting him to be careful.
Because the fence he’s holding onto ends, and it’s just the curb to the edge of the property. And instead of hopping down, he keeps walking.
And then I see his balance falter. And his arms windmill, trying to grab onto something.
And he falls, toppling onto his head, landing right at my feet. Crumpled, not moving.
I wake up sobbing. Heart pounding, muscles screaming, I can barely breathe.
Thank goodness for my husband, who wraps me in his arms and tells me that Lucky is fine, he’s asleep in his bed, it’s not real. I’m soothed enough to fall back asleep again, and thank goodness I’m not plunged back into the nightmare again. Because sometimes that happens.
This week has been awful for work. In the past three days I’ve worked 34 hours, and where I’ve been able to see Lucky in the morning for a few minutes before we have to leave for school, it’s not been real quality time.
So this morning, Lucky and I slept in, and we had a real breakfast together in our kitchen, and we played a bit before it was time for school.
And in the car, when we were stuck in traffic, I looked in the rearview mirror at him, and was filled with love and ache. I was suddenly struck with how close I was to losing him. In my nightmare, yes.
But it’s a really good lesson.
Life is tenuous.
Savor it now.
*Yes, I know that uncooked meat is more of a risk of salmonella, not listeria. Apparently my subconscious wanted it to be a pregnancy-specific issue. Yay.
With the daily miralax, we got to a point where Lucky put together MULTIPLE weeks of dry days. Not even kidding, I think the longest we went was 10 days. Which, honestly, is huge for us.
So the pediatrician told us we could start weaning him off the daily dosage. Which is what we did – we did every other day.
And the accidents have been happening, more and more.
And a couple weeks ago, we had an AWFUL, AWFUL week of potty issues. Multiple accidents in a morning. He’d be wet after a half hour in the car.
So, of course, we tried to get him to use the bathroom more. And he’d say no, he didn’t HAVE to go.
And then, 20 seconds later, he’d be wet.
He was defiant. We were angry. Charlie and I were, quite honestly, at our wits end. All this progress for nothing – right back where we started. Again.
We did EVERYTHING: sticker charts, M&Ms, having him clean up after himself, not saying anything, setting the timer for every hour like we did in the early days of PT. We played games (his favorite: pretending the bathroom was a portapotty and someone was knocking on the door, wanting to come in), we made it serious. We jumped and clapped when he was dry, we didn’t say ANYTHING when he was wet, we were neutral, we let our frustration be known (I lectured. No joke. I talked for about 10 minutes before Lucky said, Mommy, I am NOT talking about accidents ANY MORE. I am talking about COOL things. Like trains. Do you like trains, Mommy? Are they cool? Sigh.)
Finally, we gave. Resolved that we would have wet pants until he was in college. Because we thought he was being defiant, and really, we have NO CONTROL over whether he uses – or doesn’t – the potty.
Until this exchange:
Lucky, use the potty.
But, Mommy… I DON’T HAVE TO GO!
Lucky. YOU’RE WET.
But Mommy, I didn’t EVEN KNOW I WAS WET!
Hard to tell what’s wishful thinking with him nowadays, whenever he disagrees with something we say, he’ll unequivocally declare the opposite to be true.
But when he told me he didn’t KNOW he was wet? Warning bell sounded in my head.
Whenever we asked him/told him/incented him to use the bathroom, I think he would push a little to see if he HAD to go. And he’d wet himself, and STILL not realize he had to go.
Maybe it wasn’t defiance. Maybe it was physical. Maybe he was constipated again.
So we started him on the daily miralax again. Just in case.
And sure enough, after two weeks, this week he’s had one day where he’s had an accident.
We don’t have to remind him to use the bathroom – seems like he’s starting to go when he realizes he HAS to go.
I really think this potty stuff is a result of constipation. Which, I swear, I NEVER would have even THOUGHT about if it weren’t for my blogger friend Rachel emailing me the article that talks about the link between the two. (Seriously, I owe you one, girl!!!)
From what I’ve read, it might take six month of miralax for his colon to shrink enough that we can say goodbye to the potty issues forever. Charlie and I have decided, at the very least, that we need an entire month with no accidents before we even discuss stopping it.
And I have to say. There’s NOT a lot of stuff out there for parents of kids who have this issue. I can’t tell you how many google searches I’ve run to find potty issues that AREN’T a result of new training and/or regression.
So I’m putting this out there in the hopes that someone, someday, might be helped by our knowledge.
And in the meantime, crossing my fingers that this will go away for good. Because it’s been a year. And I am so, SO tired of pee.
Lucky has always been a kid who needed help falling asleep.
When he was an infant, I had to rock AND nurse him in order to get him to settle down enough to sleep.
We had a little while where I could put him to bed half-sleepy, but that was after some work on our part – bath, rocking, sippy of milk.
And from the moment that we transitioned Lucky into a toddler bed back in 2010, and then his real bed when he turned three, he’s always wanted us to stay with him until he falls asleep.
And I’ve done so. Despite Charlie Brown’s desire to be more firm and have him fall asleep on his own, I’ve resisted going the hardcore method of sleep training*.
I just felt really strongly that I didn’t want his bedtime to be about tears and isolation and loneliness. It’s, like everything, my own baggage – I have vivid memories of being scared and little in my dark room, but knowing I had to fall back asleep because my parents would yell at me if I got up.
The thing is, I’ve always enjoyed the nighttime with him. Back when I was nursing, it was my favorite moment; listening to the classical music in the dimness of his nightlight, rocking and nursing my son.
The quiet happiness of that moment made the sleep deprivation worthwhile. For eighteen months, even.
So resting next to him while he fell asleep, to me, was never awful. A pain in the ass on the nights where it took him an hour to fall asleep, yes. And the times where he just wouldn’t stop moving and I’d have to
say a lot more firmly than I’d like yell to stop moving and go to sleep was annoying, yes.
But then he’d roll over and face me, his arms clutching Bear, his eyes all droopy and sleepy,and he’d fixedly stare at me until he drifted off.
And in that moment, my love for him was white hot and nearly otherwordly.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that he hasn’t really been able to get comfortable in bed. So after 15 or 20 minutes of laying with him, I’ve gotten out of his bed, kissed him, said Happy dreams, lovey. I’ll see you tomorrow, and left.
He’s protested a couple of times. One night he asked me to stay with him until he fell asleep. (I did.)
Sunday night, he was exhausted from an early wakeup, and two playdates. So when I got him tucked into bed, he was nearly asleep already. I didn’t want to bother him by climbing into bed next to him, so I kissed him and smoothed his hair back from his forehead.
Mommy? he said, his eyes drooping from sleep.
Yes, love. I’m still here. I responded.
You can leave.
I kissed him one last time and left his room, a hollow pang of something a little like incompleteness in my chest.
Never thought I’d see the day where I missed him needing me to fall asleep.
*Please note I do NOT at all judge anyone’s decision to sleep train using CIO or whatever other method you decide that works for your family. I just couldn’t do it personally.