Zach–Not to be Left Out

Hey Mom, Look Fast.

My first son. My Big Boy. You’ve been on this earth for 39 months, 9 days. Wowzer.

See, I was perfectly content to get sappy about your brother and save the Zach-sap for another day. Until I ran across this photo–

Maybe it was because I had been looking through all of y’alls baby pictures. Maybe it was because it’s actually possible to have a meaningful conversation with you now. Maybe it’s because you delivered a rebuttal to one of my mom-decisions that was worthy of the Supreme Court. I just had this sense that 15 years from now I’ll be able to look back at this picture and see the man in the boy you were. After I got a beer and stopped crying…sigh, this mothering thing will rip your heart out if you let it…I got sappy all over you. You even helped me pick some of the photos. At one point you asked why there weren’t pictures of you and Elliot together. So we found some and I got to work.

I spent the first 2 years of your life so smug in my parenting skills. As it turns out, you get your personality from your father and my skills didn’t have much to with it at all. You liked to sleep, eat, stare and snuggle. In that order. Even fully immersed in the “I’m three stage” you aren’t a difficult kid. You’re a people-pleaser, a peacemaker (usually), a diplomat, and a spokesperson. You are also self-centered, bossy and extraordinarily talkative (that you definitely get from me!).

November and Decemeber 2006

I worked full time throughout my pregnancy, going into labor 10 days before I was due. We all blame a certain company, who had caused an inordinate amount of stress for the past several weeks and for whom I had concluded the resulting meeting late that afternoon. At home, we were watching college basketball and at the next bathroom break, my water broke. Just like in the movies. I got all excited, decided my contractions were 5 minutes apart (they weren’t), and that we should go to the hospital (we shouldn’t have), and that I could do a natural delivery (I didn’t). I was dilated a whole centimeter.

Eight hours later I had dilated to 2cm. 12 hours later I made it to 3cm. It was then that they gave me the pitocin. I made it to 5cm before begging for the epidural. You were what they call “sunny side up”, meaning you were face up instead of down. Which explains the rug burn on both of your cheeks. I pushed for 2 hours and you finally popped out. Well, you were kind of vacuumed out, but regardless you were out and I avoided the c-section.

I didn’t have a parenting dogma mapped out. I’ve never read a Sears or Ferber book. I just did what came naturally, which I would classify as Attachment Parenting-light. I was still working, telecommuting, and you were the perfect baby for such a situation. You weren’t demanding–quite the opposite, actually.

Your First Year

It was just you, me, and our two dogs. Where Elliot has you to entertain him, you had the dogs. You bounced yourself to sleep in the jumparoo more than once, but you also enjoyed free range over most of the house. We listened to NPR and read a ton of books. I was a member of the No-TV club (until I got pregnant with your brother, then all bets were off). We took plane trips–to both Louisiana and Illinois– and you were the perfect travel partner. You were a child living in an adult’s world, for sure.

I’ve had the chance to watch a child grow from a newborn blob to an independent preschooler. I appreciate you more than you can possibly know. Sometimes I think you get the short-end of the stick –because you are the oldest, because of who you are, and because even when you are demanding, you still really aren’t.

As laid back as you are, you’ve thrown some volcanic fits. Some kids hold their breath, you managed to form petechia.

You want to be a train conductor when you grow up. I tried to buy you a conductor hat and you politely refused, stating, “I’m not a grown up yet.” You are convinced that you are going to college when you are 13 years old. You love basketball, though there is still some confusion on whether you will be a Duke or Carolina fan. You have a mess of curls and I keep your hair long, because I think they are gorgeous. You mimic my expressions and school me on my occasional hypocrisy (HANDS ARE NOT FOR HITTING, MOMMY). You are sensitive, compassionate, and full of laughter. I hope you don’t let life take those qualities away from you.

Faces of Zach

You are an awesome brother. When I was pregnant you continually insisted that having a brother meant “cookies and more toys”. Once reality set in we had some tense moments. But nothing like I anticipated based on anecdotal evidence. I’m always impressed with how much assholish-younger brother you can take before snapping back at Elliot. You boss him around incessantly, though and I think that time for you is coming to end with him.

I listen to you guys play when you think I’m not paying attention. I hear you explaining Real Life Issues to him.

“This is NOT a cup, Elliot. This is a baby cup. We DO NOT drink out of baby cups”.

      I tried to give y’all baby sippies and call them a cup.

“Head butts are not cool. I don’t like them. Does you like it when I do it to you?”

      Overheard from the living room after I Elliot had started crying. E’s lesson was learned, no interference from me was needed.

“Yes, that is a _____ (train, truck, car, shoe, sock, book). Good job.”
“HA, Elliot. That’s not a cat. That’s an apatosaurus”.

Brothers

You try my patience daily, sometimes hourly. That’s not really your fault — I don’t have an abundance of patience to begin with and life with a 3.5 year old mostly guarantees that my short supply is gone by noon. But you also amuse me with your silliness. You amaze me with your intelligence and self-sufficiency (bliss, you can put on your own shoes, brush your own teeth, and get in/out of the carseat…complete with buckling).

Most importantly, you filled this adult’s world with the unconditional love of, and for, a child.

Elliot, Mom is Sappy Today

Elliot, mom is sappy today.

My second son. My baby. But–as you are insisting and I am realizing–you stopped being a baby a while ago. You’ve been on this earth for 20 months, 13 days. It’s completely surreal for me to look at you now and remember that you it wasn’t so long ago that you were an an 11.8 pound, 6 month old.

I should have known from the moment of your birth that you’d do things your own way. Labor was quick–we arrived at L&D at 6am and you were born at 7:20-ish. Epidural? Nah, Elliot wasn’t interested in waiting. Nor was I. I believe I responded to the nurse’s edict to “not push until the doctor arrived” with a “fuck you, someone better get down there to catch.” Doctor got there and caught. Yes, he charged us full-price.

You were a tiny thing, with a dimple in your right cheek and baby blue eyes that didn’t turn. I was grateful to you for being a reasonable 7 lbs. since it made that unintentional natural childbirth much easier. That and the lovely nurse in training who had just finished an elective class on Lamaze. Since I hadn’t even bothered to watch a YouTube video on breathing techniques, he was most useful. His name was Mark and you were his first birth. Someone else who will never forget you.

November and December 2008

Hummus- 1; Elliot- 0

In some ways you are easier than your brother. From the beginning you put yourself to sleep. I can count on one hand the times you’ve “requested” that I rock you to sleep. You started attending playdates at 5 days old–totally passed out in a Moby Wrap. You didn’t poo a whole lot, which made cloth diapering a breeze and was deemed normal breastfeeding behavior. We wouldn’t find out about your food allergies until later.

You loved staring at shadows. You’d just lay there and stare. You definitely let me know–loudly–when you were quite done with Elliot-alone-time. You still do.

January/February 2009.

In many ways you are harder. My child, you and I share a lot of the same personality traits. Words that would not be used to describe us; laid-back, patient, and easy-going. Your father and brother are those people. We are not those people. I can see struggles in our future, because I’ve lived those struggles in the past. We have a battle of will every day. I assume I’m still winning, though probably not as often as I think. You’ve finally started to get the whole “learn/use words” thing, for which we are grateful. I chuckle every time I hear you yell “no,no,no,no,MINE, SHOO” to Zach when he’s trying to re-appropriate your toy. Zach isn’t as pleased with your verbal progress.

Your curiosity gets you in the stuck in the damnedest places. You see a mountain and start a plan on how to climb it. You are tenacious and driven. Redirection has always been more of a challenge with you. You’ve been chasing the big kids since you could move. Now you almost always catch up.

Stubborn, Tenacious and Driven are also Attributes

All of that is a nice way of saying that you can drive a person crazy, turn an entire head of hair to gray, and disappear in less than 2 minutes. You did stuff at a year that your brother didn’t think of until he was 2.5. Because you had your brother to learn from.

You are determine to boldly go where you haven’t been before.

To Boldy Go

Elliot, you might be little but you have never let your size stop you. Ever. I laugh each and every time someone gives me that look. It’s the one I’ve gotten your entire life from moms who don’t know you: “Oh my, bless her heart, look at that mom letting her 6 month old (when you were a year) climb up that slide.” I love smiling so sweetly at them when you proceed to climb/slide/ride/run/hold-your-own-with-big-kids. Because you, my dear boy, are deceptively strong. Not just that, you are also full of joie de vivre. And sometimes you are full of piss and vinegar.

The Many Faces of Elliot

Wallets and Weather

Having ADHD causes moments of extreme D’ohness, which I usually control nicely with pharmaceuticals. Sometimes though, my internal Homer breaks free and I got nothing but D’oh for ya. Two epic fails this week–read on and enjoy.

First was The Wallet. No, it did not used to be a ziplock bag. However, my other one was really messed up after it got run over by a half dozen cars on the side of a busy highway. The how of my wallet being on the side of a highway remains a mystery. I assume I put it on top of my car and that it eventually fell off.

Note: Much thanks to the stranger that saw the wallet, retrieved it (and its contents), and managed to track me down through my insurance company. I promise the fact that I spent 5-10 minutes considering the potential for you to be a serial killer is a function of my overactive imagination, and not a reflection of your kindness.

Next was The Cabana. A group of friends with similarly aged children decided to take a trip to Wet’n Wild waterpark. To a kid (as memory serves) a waterpark is, like, the coolest thing…evah. We had tickets, I reserved the cabana ($100 split among a group isn’t expensive) and we were ready to roll.

Until it started storming last night and I realized I hadn’t–not once–checked the weather forecast for the day of our trip. Actually checking it–50% chance of rain– made my head start to hurt; reading the small-“cabana-fee-non-refundable”-print triggered a full headache. But, one thing about living in NC–if you don’t like the weather just wait an hour, it’ll change. My friends, good-natured people that they are, loaded up minivans with kids and contraband snacks, taking the risk that the storms would hold off until the afternoon.

This is about what it looked like when we got there. And it stayed looking like that for the next two hours.

See, there is a difference between forgetting important details ahem– the weather forecast for an outdoor trip–when the plans do/don’t include Small People. Your adult friends might give you a hard time, but it is unlikely that you will have to drag them — limp-bodied, purple-faced, and screaming — out to the car. I mean, it’s happened…but it’s just not as likely.

But when you forget those kinds of details and those adults are now the Parents of Small People (six total, ranging in age from 20 months to 3.5 years) the potential for disaster is high. Now it’s not just your screaming kid, but the screaming kids of your close friends. And being trapped in the car with them screaming for the 1.5 hour trip back home.

Elliot yelled at me for 15 minutes the other day because I gave him a bowl of Craisins rather than leaving them in the bag. Zach has thrown himself to the floor and sobbed over getting a blue, instead of an orange, cup. Anyone with kids knows it would have only taken one of them to start in on a good tantrum before the rest of them followed.

For close to two hours we sat under our nonrefundable cabana listening to the repeated PA-announcement of “…park currently closed due to bad weather. We will re-open as soon the threat passes…”

What did our group of perfect (today, at least) Small People do? They re-stacked the brick edging, cleaned up trash, examined leaves, hopped on the steps, turned loungers into climbing structures, snacked (contraband snacks = best thing ever) and remained generally affable.

Right as I went to petition for a cabana-fee refund (inexplicably easy–it only took me saying “I worked Customer Service for 10 years, and I assure you that they don’t pay you enough to deal with me if y’all try and fight this”) the storm system broke enough to give the kids 30 minutes of play time. We all got rain-checks and went out for pizza.

As an adult, the natural conclusion was that the trip was a consummate failure. But as one of the Dad’s pointed out to Joel, none of the kids realized that they had gotten screwed–thus no tantrums. In the car–right before he passed out–Zach told us that the “Wet and Water” park was “so much fun” and “we should do that again”. And we are, next weekend, sans cabana and weather permitting.