Friday, July 11, 2008

Moving on

I am definitely one of those over-emotional mothers who will privately cry over many of the seemingly minor milestones that my kids reach. One such milestone recently occurred with Nicki and nearly broke my heart.

When we moved Gabe into his new "big boy" room we bought him an Elmo doll to sleep with in his new bed. He never really got attached to the teddy bear we had placed in his crib, so we decided that a new friend to sleep with might make the transition from a crib to a bed a little easier, and since he LOVES Elmo, it just made sense. Well, not wanting Nicki to feel left out, we decided to buy her a Sesame Street toy too and got her an Abby Cadabby doll for her room. Never in a million years would I have expected her to want to sleep with it, but she took it to her bed right away, relegating Mr. Bear to the floor.

Mr. Bear. The adorable little brown bear that has slept right by her side every night since she has been born. Faithful Mr. Bear. I can still remember buying him from the furniture store where we bought Nicki's crib. He was just the cutest thing and he always seemed to have his own little personality, from the very first day we brought him home. I can remember how Eddie and I placed him on the kitchen table for months before Nicki was born. He had somehow become to us a symbol of the new life we were about to bring into this world and we liked to see his little face every day while we sat together at the table and pondered how our lives were about to change. I can remember how Eddie used to make him come to life, by making him wave or nod his head. But best of all, I can remember how Nicki would hold him tight when I tucked her in at night and how I would find him crumpled up beneath her the next morning, crushed by her weight but so happy to be loved.

To her the switch was a no-brainer: new doll comes in, old one moves out. But to me, the switch symbolized the end of an era. Nicki is no longer the little baby she used to be. At 3 years old she is her own person, with her own unique personality, her own ideas, her own opinions. Gone are the days of cradling her in my arms for hours, gazing into her eyes, soaking up her smell. As hard as it is for me to admit, I know I have to start letting her grow up, even though she will always be my baby.

Which brings us back to Mr. Bear. The irony has not been lost on me that he is now actually sitting on the floor beside her bed in the lap of none other than Humpty Dumpty, the very same Humpty Dumpty that I slept with in my bed for so many years as a child. Now the two sit there together, taken down from their pedestals, but certainly not any less loved. I am secretly hoping that the magic of Mr. Bear can live on a little longer by asking Nicki if she would like to give him to the new baby when he or she arrives. I guess I'm just not quite ready yet to never see chubby little fingers curled around him again. I guess I'm just not quite ready yet to move on...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My 13 year old 3 year old

Nicki has become quite the little drama queen lately. Her behaviour is quite different though from the tantrum throwing of a child who didn't get her way. When she gets in a "mood", it's usually brought upon by what she perceives as being misunderstood, but the fact is, there is really very little to misunderstand when Nicki tries to convey something. As articulate and verbose as any adult I know, Nicki usually doesn't leave much room for confusion. And yet, she behaves as though she's desperately misunderstood by the parental world. I can only imagine the angry song lyrics or angst-filled poetry that she is sure to pen someday.

I swear if hear one more sigh, see one more eye roll or am privy to one more exasperated "Oh Mommy..." I am going to lose my mind. How is it even possible that my darling little 3 year old is even capable of such condescension? Ok, I'll admit it, I'm definitely guilty of sighing. I do it quite a lot actually. But it's never accompanied by a head shake and tongue click, nor is it followed by pouting and moping. Plus, it has to be better than swearing out loud right? Right?!? I'm pretty sure no one on Sesame Street or Dora rolls their eyes. I don't think any Disney Princess books relay the idea of extreme moodiness as acceptable behaviour. So will someone please tell me where all of this is getting picked up?

Picture this: It's bath time and Nicki is getting on the potty before I brush her teeth. The tub is filling up, so I can't hear whether or not she was actually successful in her attempt to pee. She wipes, gets off the potty and then stands there frozen with a look of confusion on her face. I ask her what's wrong and she looks up at me and says "I think I peed." I know that something isn't right because normally if she has peed, she will just wipe, flush, wash her hands and move on without any discussion about it. So I ask "Are you sure? You don't look sure." To this she replies "I think it was just blank pee."

Now just to get everyone up to speed on the lingo here, we have had the discussion in the past about her distinction between regular pee and what she has labeled "blank pee." Apparently "blank pee" is pee that comes out clear (as opposed to yellow).

So I tell her that it doesn't really matter what colour the pee was, just that some actually came out. I then ask her "Did any pee come out or not?" This was met with the most exasperated sigh, a head shake and an eye roll, followed by a long drawn out "Oh Mommy..." I try to remain calm and suggest that if she isn't sure, then she should probably sit back down on the potty again just in case. She starts to cry and tells me how I never understand her and how she's just so tired of everything. Pretty intense for a 3 year old, no?

A few seconds later, a tidal wave of pee comes rushing out, confirming my suspicion that nothing had happened the first time around. Hoping now that the episode is behind us, I brush her teeth and try to engage her in unrelated conversation. She resists, still sighing and looking miserable. So I tell her that it's time to get in the bath and that she has the choice now to have a fun bath together or to keep being upset; it's her decision. She tells me that she doesn't want to have any fun and would prefer to have a fast bath (i.e. wash and get out, no toys, no bubbles, no playing) so she can just go to sleep. She even tells me she doesn't want me to read her a bedtime story, and for Nicki, that's saying a lot.

And so it goes at our house. 90% of the time Nicki is a typical happy-go-lucky little girl, full of smiles and giggles, wit and charm. But the rest of the time, she becomes sad and withdrawn, almost to the point of seeming utterly dissatisfied with her life, and often without provocation. Just today she said to me that she's "tired of being in the same place all the time and seeing all of the same things", and would prefer to "travel all over the world and never stay in one place for too long." All of this with a sigh and a shake of her head. Doesn't this sound more like the musings of a middle-aged woman who, after pondering the meaning of her life decided that it needed more substance, than the reflections of a 3 year old child? What on earth is this little girl going to be like in 10 years? 20 years? I can only imagine...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Soccer moms

Now that I have officially become a "soccer mom" I have had the incredible misfortune of being exposed to other soccer moms on a weekly basis. I am astounded by the behaviour that many of these moms display and by the way that they speak to their children. What is it about watching their kids play sports that turns regular every day moms into shouting, raving lunatics? Aren't kids allowed to just have fun anymore?

Now remember, these kids are 3 and 4 years old. Any rational human being would agree that there's only so much you can expect from them performance-wise right? Well, a couple of weeks ago I was seated beside one mom in particular who was continuously yelling at her daughter on the field. She sounded something like this:

"Sofia, run faster! You're going too slow! You have to get the ball and kick it in the net! Why are you looking over there? Keep your eye on the ball! You're not paying attention! No, you don't need any water, keep going!" This went on and on for the entire length of the game and it took all of my will power to not shout "Just leave her alone, will you?!"

It was incredibly heartbreaking for me to watch this little girl on the field and see her become more and more demoralized with each passing minute. Does this mom not realize that what she's doing isn't exactly motivating to a young child? I mean seriously. The poor girl was obviously doing her best. I can only imagine the "I'm never good enough" complex this child is going to have as she goes through life.

Aren't parents supposed to be the greatest supporters of their children? Aren't we supposed to be their "soft place to fall" (to steal the expression from Dr. Phil)? Aren't we supposed to be the people that our kids can turn to when their world is spinning out of control? I'm not saying that we should set our kids up for failure in the real world by constantly sugar coating the realities of life. But should we not make them feel that, at the very least, there are two people in this world that will always have their arms spread open wide for them to run into, whether they succeed or whether they fail?