Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Up stood all my hairs and my feet they did run,
But Humpty just cried and said, “I hit my head yet again”.

First– E is at the 12 hour mark and remains asymptomatic from his potential concussion after the wall fall. Trust me, I’ve asked him no less than 2 dozen times since this morning, and chased him down with a flashlight to check his pupils.

He’s, “FINE, MOM. Just FINE”. Well, he would be fine, if only I’d let him do all of those E-related activities; run, jump, wrestle followed by jump, run, wrestle.

Second– yes, concussions can be a serious medical condition. I would imagine that concussions from a fall on concrete are decidedly more unpleasant. No, I did not take him to the ER, since 1) he was conscious and crying, and 2) met none of the other criteria for a serious head injury.

Third– my DH has the concussion experience I lack, having had several of the knock-you-out varieties. His stories this evening both reassured and enlightened me. After all, JB didn’t die, and now I have a bit more background on why his memory is so crappy.

Now that I have listed all the disclaimers about why I’m not a shitty mother for opting out of an ER visit–

Poor E. What an unfortunate ending to what had been a pleasant museum trip. If only he hadn’t been trying to bogart all the goldfish crackers from his brother. If only it hadn’t occurred to him to leap from the wall to the trash can, a la Batman.

Lucky E. The kid literally lands on his feet. I think–since there is nary a scratch, bruise, or bump to be found- that he fell feet first, and then tripped the rest of the way down. I saw him fall, but not land.

Keeping a high energy three year old calm and still–but not asleep–was a test of my patience. Z, always game for spending the afternoon on the couch with a few shows, had changed into pajama pants before the front door closed behind me. E, never game for long-term sitting, could be heard jumping on the couch while I was in the bathroom. And the small part of me that is still a bit superstitious wonders if he just won’t have a delayed reaction, which will occur in the middle of Z’s Gold Belt test tomorrow, because that’s what a little brother’s brain would do, right?

Sigh.

Waking Humpty for his 11pm Concussion Quiz

What’s your name?

    Elliot.

How old are you?

    Three.

Does your head hurt

    NO!

Are you tired of me asking you these questions

    YES!

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.

How AA Helps Parent a Toddler

I’m not an alcoholic which might make how AA helps me parent a toddler seem strange. But it’s all about the Serenity Prayer.

…grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference…–Reinhold Niebuhr

I’ve been reciting this to myself for weeks. It’s not to keep me from drinking, but rather to help me make it through parenting a three year-old. My own natural tendency toward control-freakishness and impatience makes this stage particularly difficult for me to deal with. But I will persevere—he’s far too old to be dropped off at the fire station.

From the beginning of Zach’s second year—new sibling included—I was smug because all signs suggested that the Terrible Two’s weren’t going to be so bad for us. I tried NOT to be smug, and even when I failed my smugness wasn’t borne of maliciousness. Zach was E.A.S.Y. Yeah, we dealt with the occasional tantrum, including one that lasted—no lie—for 12 straight hours soon after Elliot was born, but he was a generally affable kid. I assumed (incorrectly) that this was the result of our stellar (ha!) parenting.

Well, I was smug. Then he turned three and exchanged compliance for defiance without apology—or warning. He tries to call my bluff every day—still not believing that I don’t deliver empty threats. Part of me (a very small part that only comes out while he sleeps) admits to being proud of his determination. Surely this personality trait will serve him well in his future.

wisdom to know the difference

Ah, the most important line. A thousand times a day I remind myself that I cannot control him (or anyone else), but I can control myself. I give choices when appropriate. Bad behavior delivers consequences; good behavior provides rewards. Our family’s definitions of good and bad are well-defined and consistent. Sadly, making the appropriate choices often requires applying logic and reason and well, we aren’t there yet.

Freud has a semi-famous theory about Id (instincts), Ego (pleasure), and Super Ego (conscience). My delightfully laid-back infant has grown from being little more than an Id-filled, baby-blob to a little person. A little person so full of Ego, that his eyes are brown with it. Eventually he will also develop his Super Ego and things will presumably get easier. Presumably.

The irony of being an adult in a life surrounded by three-year-old-Ego includes the realization that all this defiance and emotional lability also happens to be developmentally appropriate. Teaching a young preschooler to get control of those murderous feelings of rage (today prompted by me cutting a sandwich into rectangles and not triangles) is the most important/difficult job for me.

Hell, I sometimes struggle with overwhelming feelings of impatience and anger, and I’m well beyond my preschool years.

I am humbled.

With Zach, as a first-time parent, I had the pleasure of not knowing what was to come. I assumed I had thrown the right bait into the lake of genetics and landed a large bass. With Elliot I have no such illusions. Maybe second children move into the Ego stage earlier thanks to all of that older-sibling modeling. Maybe Elliot will revert to a laid-back kid when he’s three. Maybe I’ll get a punching bag for the basement.