Still blaming mommy brain

Do I get to still blame mommy brain for the following, even though my youngest is about to turn 2? Here is my morning:

1. Ahhh. It’s amazing I have free time. I am SO organized and can just sit here and enjoy my coffee.
2. Oh. Right. I haven’t made the kids’ lunches yet. Or mine.
3. Ah. Wow. Even after throwing together lunches, I’m still doing fine on time! And I did the dishes!
4. Dawdler Toddler, sit down at the table to eat or you will OMG YOU ARE DRIPPING SMOOTHIE ALL OVER EVERYTHING. Let’s go change you!
5. Got him changed after a 10 minute wrestling battle. Whew! I’ve got to clean the table, too.
6. Okay, let’s go to the truck. Still doing uh, okay, I guess on time.
7. Why are you crying? You need a blanket? Fine. Sigh.
8. Oh, it’s good Preschooler asked for a blanket, forcing me to return to the house so I could discover I was about to drive off WITH THE FRONT DOOR OF THE HOUSE WIDE OPEN.
9. Okay, good. Blankets & cuddlies & lunches all packed & loaded in the truck, let’s GO.
10. Oh. I need gas.
11. Finally. At school. Should only take 20 minutes to walk both of them in since they’re soooooooo slow.
12. Ah. I finally get to go to work.
13. OMG. I never got myself dressed. I’m still in sweats. Back home.
14. Oh! Good thing I came back. There’s my coffee I never got to drink. That might help.

I hope.

Let’s Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We? (Part 2)

When last I wrote about figuring out how to get Dawdler Preschooler into a preschool, as in a “real” preschool, not the “preschool” room at her daycare, which is where she currently is, we were practically driven to drink by demystifying all the horribly disorganized information provided by the district. We have finally made a *little* progress, so an update. Spoiler: it’s still nearly impossible to get through the red tape of getting information.

Whenever we call to ask a question about something that’s unclear from the crazy disorganized and inconsistent information that is scattered across the district website, individual school websites, and the state department of education website, we get asked “Have you checked the website?”UGH.

We have narrowed it down to 3 preschools that have certified early childhood education teachers AND an after-school program. Y’know, for those of us who don’t consider 7:40-11:40 a HALF DAY and have to keep working past 11:40. But when we try to schedule tours of each, we were told “Since the curriculum is the same at every district preschool, you have to choose one to tour.” Uh, so entirely dismissing the critical point that the individual teachers and their levels of experience and commitment making all the difference in the world? Eh, any teacher will do as long as they follow the provided curriculum and lesson plans, I guess. (Sarcasm, in case that’s not crystal clear).

Even better though: one of those 3 options gives families a choice between a “traditional” preschool and a Montessori environment. So, maybe we should schedule our one and only tour at that one? “Okay, that’s fine. You’ll schedule your preschool tour with us, and then let me give you the number of this ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEPARTMENT to schedule a SEPARATE TOUR of the Montessori class environment.” Oh, lovely. Two different people to call. And they can’t coordinate tours on the same day because WHY WOULD YOU?

But wait. So once we schedule our SEPARATE tours of the preschool and Montessori at the same school and want to talk with and observe the after- or before-school care (depending on if she goes to morning or afternoon preschool), that is scheduled, can you guess? By a third, entirely distinct department, here let me give you the number to schedule a tour with OMG, just STOP.

We’ll just save ourselves a crap load of time and headache and logistical nightmares and decide here and now to unschool? Let’s just roll with that. I might as well put all this time & energy of tracking district contacts down and returning messages and waiting on people to schedule tours into planning out her K-12 curriculum.

Kidding!

Sort of.

 

Once upon a time

Dawdler Toddler Preschooler is really into fairy tales these days. This works to my advantage at bedtime since I’m particularly lazy tired and lazy. After we read 2 or 3 books, I can get her to cooperate with getting into bed and settling down by promising that I will cuddle with her and tell her a story. Even though I make up all my stories, they all MUST start with “Once upon a time…” and end with “…The end.” as all good stories should. Yesterday, she turned the tables on me and asked “Mommy? Would you like to hear a story?” This is the first time she had offered to make up a story for me. Of course I would like to hear a story.

Me: Is it about firefighters?
Her: nooooo.
Me: owls?
Her: nooooo.
Me: a baker baker?
Her: Let ME tell the story!

Sheesh. Okay. I’ll be quiet.

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl.” So far so good. “…And one morning, her mommy left for work.” Okay. “…And she was very sad…but then when her mommy came home from work, she was happy again! The end!” Uh. Cool story, hon.

I would say I don’t know what to make of that but I totally do. She’s going through something. Just what it is, I’m not sure. I would say it’s a phase where she’s not getting enough Mommy time. Because she’s crying when I leave for work every morning, pleading with me to stay “5 more minutes?” But that doesn’t explain all of it because when I pick her up every afternoon, I’m dragging a sobbing screaming defiant 3 year old out the door as she’s wailing “I sad about leaving! I don’t want to go home!!!” and stomping her feet. Every single day.

It’s gotten to the point that other parents stop and ask “Is she okay?” Or even worse, the dreaded “What’s wrong with her?” I try to understand that it just comes from a place of “awww, poor thing” concern, but really? Can we rephrase that? It usually comes from a parent whose child never acts up. So, good. Congratulations that your enlightened 3 year old is articulate to the point of being able to clearly explain the origins of their tantrums so well that you can simply use some Jedi mind trick to head off their explosive emotions. But the best I get when I try to talk to her about it is a consistent answer of “I sad about leaving. I want to stay and play with my friends.” No amount of logic or explanation or consoling has worked. I’ve tried every trick in my book: distracting her with silly jokes, timing our exit to coincide with friends’ departures, trying to make our exit a game, ignoring her attention-seeking behavior, & using a calm, soothing tone in which I offer bribes for cooperation. No matter what I do it just escalates.

But even if I knew what was going on inside her little mind, I’m not sure I would think anything was ‘wrong’ with her. She’s a very clingy, sensitive girl. She hates transitions, spending the first few minutes after we arrive somewhere or the last few minutes before we leave a place or activity crying or trying to make herself invisible. She can be very emotionally volatile. In other words, she’s THREE. It’s hard for 33 year olds to hold it together all day so I can only imagine how intensely difficult it can be to be three. Listening to grownups all day, following all kinds of rules as you try to sort out & communicate your feelings and needs…It sounds exhausting! She always has a great day at preschool so all I can figure is she uses up all of her self-control just by *being* all day. By the time we get there in the afternoon, she just doesn’t have any emotional control left. And that’s okay.

I really have no other guesses as to why she’s like this every afternoon. So until we can tease out what the root of the tantrums is, maybe I’ll just start to answer other parents’ questions with stories. I could tell them that she hates going home because of the scary clowns we invited to live with us. Or the ex-cons who babysit every night? Or how we like to watch The Ring with her for fun after dinner since it’s scary movie season? But the truth is:

Once upon a time there were parents who wished they knew how to keep their little girl from getting so heart-breakingly upset when they go to work. And who want to help their child be more cooperative with going home at the end of the day. The end!

Shart week

Dawdler Toddler Preschooler: Mom, we learned DON’T touch sharps. They’re sharp!

Me: Sharps?

Dawdler Toddler Preschooler: No, wait. Not sharps. <thinking…> Sharts.

Me: Sharts?

Dawdler Toddler Preschooler: Yes, sharts. Swimming in the ocean. Sharts.

How to avoid bath time antics

Recipe for ensuring your kids smell straight-from-the-bath fresh and clean with a minimum of difficulty and effort:

Have older child scrub your face with their bath soap during imaginary bath time. Do not rinse.

The rest of the day any time you cuddle or hold your child, you will think “Awww. You smell SO good.”

Judging drivers by cars

For the past week, my family has been here visiting. In order to accommodate everyone, we had to rent a vehicle, and when it came time to select what to rent, the only two vehicles that would fit everyone were a minivan and an SUV. I was not looking forward to driving a minivan but we thought it would be easier for my dad to get in & out of (he has physical difficulties) than the SUV, and probably more spacious for everyone crammed inside. So I reluctantly hit reserve.

Turns out it is awesome. With one notable exception of black leather seats – a bad idea anywhere in the summer but most especially so in Phoenix- it was undoubtedly the right choice. Comfy seats, enough room for everyone, cup holders galore, and…an entertainment system that allows us to play movies. Okay, yeah yeah, those have been around awhile, I guess, but not for those of us driving a 2001 vehicle. So we decided that Dawdler Toddler would get to ride in the “special vacation van” to take advantage of watching Cars…in a car. Her little mind was blown. The very first thing she said to me after getting in the van & me showing her that it played movies was “Mommy? How come our truck doesn’t play movies?!?” And she cried when we told her we had to take the van back last night.

I always knew our kids would eventually judge us for driving a piece of crap car. I just never thought that would happen before one was even 3 years old.

Curses

This morning walking out the front door, the strap on one of my shoes broke. “Oh shit,” I said.

“Oh shit!” a tiny voice right behind me immediately echoed.

Upon hearing this anecdote, My Better Half groaned “ohhhhh shit. Wonder what else our little sponge repeats.”

Hair don’t

Yesterday was my first haircut in ages. I generally have low-maintenance hair, and it doesn’t bother me if it’s longer than usual, but ever since I had kids, all I can see when I look in the mirror are the gray hairs sprouting here and there, so it drives me nuts if I don’t get in every 8 weeks. But it had been more like 11 weeks since my last appointment due to me having to reschedule, then my hairstylist having to reschedule and then forgetting that she had rescheduled me, which meant that she had to work me in among already-scheduled clients on a weekend. But I was just relieved to finally get in and address my gray hair problem at its roots.

When it came time for me to leave for my appointment, Dawdler Toddler insisted on coming along. I didn’t mind, though I did try to convince her going to the salon is not all that fun for her in that it’s loud, has strangers everywhere, and involves sitting and waiting a lot. In other words, her worst nightmare. But she wanted to come and who am I to say no to that cute little face? In the past, my stylist has said to bring her in with me to an appointment and she’d trim her hair & give her a cute little ‘do for no charge. I texted my stylist beforehand to check if it was okay if I brought her and she said of course! That’s one of the many reasons I like my stylist –  she’s got a daughter the same age and understands the rigamarole of hauling a toddler around.

So Dawdler Toddler sat patiently while I got my hair colored (or “painted” as she said) and waited for the color to set, she sat patiently while my hair got trimmed, dried, and flat ironed. And then the heartbreaking part: we got escorted to the desk to pay “Thanks for coming! Here’s your next appointment!” As I mentioned, my stylist had to work me in among standing appointments, and so she had 2 or 3 other women to attend to and didn’t want to fall behind. So I get it – not having time to do a cute little do, but Dawdler Toddler was in tears. “That was supposed to be MY turn! What about my haircut?!”

I felt terrible.  But, I told her, you’re getting older and with that comes some tough lessons. Like this is just the first of about a million times a stylist will disappoint the crap out of you, if my lifetime of experience is any predictor.

A case of the mondays

Two weeks ago, Baby got viral gastroenteritis for a couple of days and shared it with me for all of 8 hours while I was home from work with him, but we both recovered. Last Friday, as I was picking up Dawdler Toddler from daycare, she starts hurling. She had it all through the weekend, meaning we got nothing whatsoever done except tending to her. Side note: why is it that the weekends where I want to sit around on my arse and do nothing do not coincide with the weekends I get to do that? I had TONS of errands & stuff I desperately needed to get done, because I’d gotten nothing done being home from work with a sick Baby.

By Sunday, I was feeling very stressed – faced with missing even more work and still needing to get tons of stuff done outside of work, I texted every sitter as well as any contacts who could potentially serve as an emergency stand-in sitter, asking if by some random chance anyone could possibly watch her on Monday. I’ve been missing TONS of work with sick Baby. My Better Half doing fieldwork during the workweek means that I’m the only one ever available when daycare calls telling me Baby has a fever and has to leave, so I feel like I’m walking a fine line at work. I don’t know if I am. Maybe I’m just super sensitive to the rolling eyes one of my coworkers gives me (a childless jackass) whenever I’m dashing out to grab a sick Baby or Toddler. Maybe I’m just super sensitive because it’s performance review season and I’m paranoid that it might appear as if I’m not accomplishing much other than occasionally and unpredictably occupying a chair after returning from maternity leave this time around. Maybe I’m super sensitive because I have a new boss, who, while he has four children of his own, has never once experienced the “my kid has a fever above 100, so s/he has to be picked up from daycare within 30 minutes and can’t return for at least 24 hours” because his wife has always been a stay at home mom. I’d like to believe that my work worries are all in my imagination but I’m not quite convinced that’s true. But, alas, no sitters or would-be sitters were available.

So I crossed my fingers and held my breath and the next day, Dawdler Toddler seemed to be back to her normal self, and after being able to hold down her breakfast, I took her to daycare. And her Baby brother. Even though he had a fever. I didn’t have an alternative, given that I had no sitter available. And I HAD to make an 8:30-10:30 meeting, if nothing else. So I just prayed that he was just running a low-grade, teething? minor thing? fever and would be fine. After having to wait in the morning to make sure Dawdler Toddler was okay enough to go to daycare, I was super late to work – more than an hour late. Let’s just say the clock read 8:32 when I was getting ready to leave daycare for work. I got to work only to discover that my meeting was way far away in another building, so I was about 30 minutes late for that important must-not-miss meeting. And I was there about 25 minutes before daycare called and said Baby had a fever and was vomiting and had to leave.

So I excused myself with yet another quick missive of “sorry! gotta run! I’ll try to get in some work from home!” apology and dashed out. Got Baby, got him some Tylenol and he went down for his afternoon nap. That just dragged on and on and on. By late afternoon, after I’d picked up Dawdler Toddler from daycare, I was starting to get concerned. He seemed a little out of it, listless if you will. And his fever, rather than going down with Tylenol just kept going up. And he wasn’t the least bit interested in eating anything at all. By the time his breathing seemed to be getting strangely irregular, I left My Better Half, home from 10 hours of fieldwork in 111 degrees, to put Toddler to bed while I took Baby in to the children’s hospital, the only thing open at that hour. I get to the children’s hospital and have a text from My Better Half saying: I have the stomach flu now too, can’t stop throwing up, but keep me updated. I get us checked in and while we’re waiting in triage, I start hurling. Repeatedly.

They kept an eye on Baby, checking his vitals every 20 minutes, trying to coax him into taking pedialyte (unsuccessfully), giving him medicine for nausea first in order to then administer more Tylenol so he could keep that down and then waiting for him to demonstrate that he wanted and/or could eat. They kept him far longer than I would have expected. Which is why I was more miserable by the moment. I couldn’t stop throwing up, my stomach was doing somersaults, and I had nothing with me. Nothing. Not even a water bottle to go fill up, not a sweater to stave off the fever chills that were washing over me in waves. So every 20 minutes they came in to give him medicine and make sure he was improving and I’m getting worse by the second but they couldn’t even so much as bring me a goddamn apple juice because I’m “not the patient.” I get it on an intellectual level – liability of treating someone who’s not a patient in this letigious world of defensive medicine we find ourselves in – but at a visceral, physical level I was furious. Your whole purpose as nurses and doctors is to help people feel better, and if mom is doing this horribly, how can she be expected to take in all the information you’re giving about Baby’s condition and respond?

Why wouldn’t I just text My Better Half and say “for chrissakes, bring me some gatorade?” you ask? Because we have one vehicle. One. With both carseats in it. So even if he would have wanted to drag Toddler and himself out of bed and then out of the house at an ungodly hour to come bring ME medicine at the children’s hospital, he couldn’t have. Not to mention he was throwing up at home too.

So all in all, I’ve managed to make it to work one whole day this week. My Better Half seems to have improved, as have I. Although now that he’s back to working in 110 degrees, we’ll see. Baby still has a fever and is vomiting and was seen again yesterday and will be seen again Saturday. So I’m not counting on getting ANYTHING done this week or weekend either. Good thing my folks are coming in town Tuesday. Oh wait, that means I gotta somehow clean & disinfect this disastrous house. And take 48 hours vacation time. Right before my annual performance review. I’m beginning to think the rumors circulating yesterday that anyone who was getting a raise this year got notification yesterday is true. Like that asshole coworker who shoots me a dirty look every time I rush out, scrambling to go get a sick kid, just doing my best not to lose it.

A New National Holiday

Dawdler Toddler has been learning about the rhythm of the week – which days are weekdays, which are weekends. Which days Mommy is working, which ones Daddy goes to work, and which ones are days when she goes to school. But she’s also getting a handle on the rhythm of the year too vis a vis holidays. For instance, Christmas and Halloween come up in conversation from time to time. So on Monday, we used the day at home all together as an opportunity to talk about the Memorial Day holiday. While we didn’t stray much into the purpose of the holiday, we talked about how on some special days, we all stay home from work and school and spend the day together. Most importantly, we framed our discussion about how sometimes holidays mean special foods – that sometimes on a holiday like Memorial Day, we might have a cook out with burgers and watermelon or even go camping and make foods over a campfire. I told her that after dinner, she was going to help me make a special dessert.

She pestered me the rest of the day (I’m ready for DINNER! aka it’s time to get on that special dessert, lady!) and finally, after dinner, she helped me assemble s’mores, a treat that was new to her. She enjoyed breaking up the graham crackers and carefully placing a marshmallow on each cracker. I did the chocolate part because, let’s face it, she would have just eaten all the chocolate before it even got to the assembly line. When it came time to eat them, she declare that they were sticky, and also “licious” (she leaves off the de-)*.

The next morning, getting her up and ready for school, she asked “Mommy? Is it still s’morial day?” No, sweetie. Memorial Day was only yesterday. And s’morial day is not until August 10.

* also leaves the di- off of “disgusting” so foods she does not like are just “SGUSTING!”