Oh hey, neighbors who felt the need to bang on their ceiling at 3am, thanks for letting me know that we should really try to shut our baby up. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was rude and possibly disruptive to your sleep! Stupid sick babies who are also cutting three teeth simultaneously are major bummers, amirite?
I mean, I’m not in the least bothered by the baby crying at 3am because I love being awake in the middle of the night trying to soothe a sick baby. Waking up at 3am is just kind of my jam, I guess. I totally forgot that not everyone feels that way! Thanks for banging on the fucking ceiling and reminding me that not everyone loves the sounds of crying, inconsolable babies like I do!
(I hope this jerk has a baby someday and it is the most colicky, high-needs baby of all time. Also, as much as I would like to move to a different apartment, part of me is spitefully glad that we’re renewing our lease. At least one more year of children overhead, you pricks!)
(Ugh, sorry. I am usually much more apologetic and considerate and generally feel bad if our kids are annoying other people, but NOT THIS WEEK.)
I think the thing that is so frustrating to me (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) about parenting a difficult toddler is that there’s this nagging sense of personal failure mixed into the aggravation and frustration. Like, if an adult acted this way toward me, I could just dismiss that person as some fucking asshole who needs therapy. But Milo is just a little kid, barely out of babyhood. I know that he is not setting out to purposefully piss me off (although I assume that will come in his teenage years). He’s a very sensitive, highly emotional kid, and I think that he is just constantly overwhelmed by huge rushes of conflicting emotions. I feel like I’m failing him somehow by not being able to figure out how to effectively guide him through this difficult time in his emotional development.
Thanks to all of you, as always, who wrote with suggestions and commiserations and reassurances. I’m doing a lot of research. Matt and I are going to France (by ourselves!) next month, and I think that week will give me some much needed time to reset myself. In July, Milo will go to a local day camp twice a week all day, which will give me some alone time with Zachary and probably do a lot to help my sanity and patience. In the meantime, bear with me as I continue to bitch and moan a bit.
You know what though? Here’s to not letting your rotten kid ruin your day. Because, I mean, fuck that. I got up off the couch, I picked up the living room, I swept, I cleaned the kitchen. I started prepping the veggies to make a lasagna (that I’m sure Milo will refuse to eat for some reason, probably because he hates flavor). When Milo wakes up, we’re gonna start over. Clean slate. Maybe we’ll make a cake. Today might need a cake.
The real stars of salvaging this day though are the bands of New Zealand’s Flying Nun label who got me up off the couch and out of my funk. Various David/Hamish Kilgour bands, 3Ds, Tall Dwarfs, etc. New Zealand indie rock is kind of my spirit animal.
It’s just one of those days. After a night of Zachary waking 3 times between midnight and five, both boys woke up for good at 5:15 this morning ready to party. I brought them out to the living room, put on the Aristocats for Milo, threw some toys down in front of Zachary, placed toast quarters with butter around the room. Laid down on the couch and dozed a bit. Woke Matt up at 6:30 to take over.
Apartment is trashed. Milo spent a good portion of playground time this morning acting like a jerk. Zachary fussing as per usual. My household today is basically an advertisement for birth control.
I don’t really like my kids right now, which I realize is a fucked up thing to say, especially in the light of tragedy and loss on a scale like yesterday’s. I should be hugging them close to me and reveling in their sweet cuddles, but instead I just count down the minutes in between nap and bedtime. I especially don’t like Milo. If he doesn’t stop hitting me, kicking me, throwing tantrums and screaming in my face, I’m going to lose my mind. I’m reading all the parenting books, I’m scouring the web for suggestions and blogs and methods. I’m trying. Some days are ok. Today isn’t one of them. I don’t necessarily regret having children because I do actually love them and I assume it’s going to get better at some point, but I guess it’s ok to admit that sometimes I wish that toddler boarding school was a real thing.
I decided that, in honor of my birthday this Friday and the fact that my state-issued non-driver’s ID card will have been officially expired as of one year at that point, I’d go to the DMV this morning and get my learner’s permit. My friend Rebecca had offered to come over and watch the boys on her day off today, so it seemed like a good opportunity to take care of this thing that I have been putting off for months (years, really).
I got to the DMV, waited in a fairly short line, took my learner’s permit test, passed with a perfect score, got my picture taken and papers processed, then sat down in the waiting area for my number to be called so I could receive my card and pay. I know people hate the DMV, but dang, it was pretty nice to just sit somewhere and read a book without small children grabbing at me. Finally, they called my number.
I went up to the counter, handed over my paperwork and pulled out my wallet expectantly. The woman runs my name through the computer and…..oh hey, it turns out that I have some unpaid tickets from 1997 or 98 from both Ulster County and Kings County. No permit for me today! She told me that I could take care of the Kings County (Brooklyn) ticket today since it’s next door to the DMV, but I’d have to call Ulster County and figure out those tickets with them. The Brooklyn ticket ended up being a $60 fine for a non-functioning tail light, so I paid that. I’m a little more worried about these multiple tickets from upstate, although I assume/hope that they’re parking tickets or tail light/headlight tickets with relatively small fines too. Of course, once they’re paid off, I have to repeat the entire process of line standing and test taking over again.
Unpaid tickets more than a decade old? Ugh. I am such a failure at adulthood sometimes.
Matt was in LA for a few days to manage the “To the Wonder” premiere. (As an aside, I’m always a little amused when I think of our parallel lives during his business trips. While I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas eating warmed-up leftovers and watching The Good Wife, he was eating dinner with Ben Affleck. Huh.) He got home on Wednesday afternoon while I was at the doctor’s office with the boys (yes, again) being informed that Zachary has yet another ear infection.
I’m sure you can all imagine the scene. A spirited toddler drunk on no-nap energy joining forces with an angry, fussy baby desperately tugging at his ear to conspire to drive their sleep-deprived mother into full-on madness. Ever try to pin down a screaming (and strong!) baby so the doctor can examine his ear while at the same time trying to keep your wackadoo toddler from unplugging the exam room computer or running out into the hallway or using the trash can as a stepping stool to the counter? Needless to say, after all that and a rush hour subway ride home spent trying to balance both baby and toddler (many thanks to all the assholes on the C train that day who pointedly refused to offer their seat to a 2.5 year old kid, making him stand the whole ride home), stress levels were elevated.
When we finally made it home, I could hear music playing so I knew Matt was home. I couldn’t dig my keys out of my bag quickly, so I knocked on the door. No response. I knocked again. I suppose there was a flicker of annoyance in my eyes, to which Milo responded to as he helpfully supplied a “goddamnit door!” and kicked it.
I need a vacation. I need children to stop being sick. I need to go a few weeks without dosing kids with sickly-sweet pink liquids twice a day. I need to figure out how the hell to parent my almost-three year old more effectively. I don’t believe in corporal punishment. Time outs do not work. I try to practice “mindful parenting”, but that doesn’t seem to be doing much good either. I practice positive reinforcement, which also does not seem particularly effective with Milo. If anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with a spirited, stubborn, willful, defiant older toddler who treats everything as a joke, I welcome them. (Also, I will say that he generally seems to act pretty good for other people! Like, his teachers don’t report having any issues with him in class, outside of the occasional bad-mood day with a little pushing.) Seriously people, message me!
Ugh. Nothing ruins a nice afternoon more quickly than one of your kids waking up from a nap crying. Never a good sign.
We got our lease renewal this week, and it turns out they want to raise our monthly rent by more than $200. It’s things like this that make me question why we live in NYC. The weather is terrible for 6-7 months out of the year. Our apartment is tiny, there’s no outdoor space (although we do have closets in each room and an elevator in our building, so), and we never bothered to paint over the flat contractor’s paint when we moved in several years ago so the walls are scuffed and dirty, which only adds to the visual disarray. Our local zoned public school is kind of crap.
And yet…and yet…then springs begins. And the boys and I have a day like yesterday. We met my friend Kristy and her daughter Alma outside and walked to our music class. Afterwards, we stopped at our favorite neighborhood playground, which was packed with joyously shrieking children. Milo and his pal Alma ran around like maniacs together, climbing the jungle gym and holding hands down the side-by-side slide while Kristy and I chatted. After nap, we went over to another friend’s apartment. My friends and I sat in the backyard drinking rose and eating bread, cheese and olives while our boys ran around. The boys fought and made up a hundred times in two hours. Zachary got passed around from lap to lap with a thousand cuddles and kisses. We all admonished each other’s kids and automatically stepped in with hugs and kisses and consolations whenever needed.
I guess this is why I still live here. I love the camaraderie that I have found with all of my fellow-parent friends. I love that I’ve seen a whole group of kids grow up before my eyes, that Alma thinks nothing of bringing me her shoes and plopping down on my lap after class to get dressed, that I can turn my back on Milo for a few minutes to deal with Zach because I know that my friends will automatically pick up the parenting slack for me. I love that I get adult conversation and empathy everyday. I know I would not be a good SAHP if I was on my own most days.
Whatever, Brooklyn. You win again.
This is his “having fun” expression. (at Longboat Key Club & Resort)
Holding hands in the back seat. We’re in Sarasota this weekend, courtesy of the Sarasota Film Festival. It’s in the 70s here! Suck it, NYC. (at Tampa International Airport (TPA))
Fashionably accessorized on this Tuesday morning.
I was supposed to go out last night with a few friends to celebrate one friend’s upcoming second baby. It was supposed to be smooth sailing—Matt was getting home from a trip to LA that afternoon with plenty of time for me to shower/dress/get to the restaurant. My children, sensing somehow that mama was going to go out for the night without them, decided to both come down with mysterious fevers that day, which put the ol’ kibosh on my plans.
The sickness continues today. If I can be honest here for a moment though? Mild-illness Milo is kind of a delight. He’s extra-sweet, cuddly, easy-going and is super happy to cuddle on the couch with his blankies and mama watching cartoons. I gave him some toast with butter and orange juice and he responded with “Oh thank you so much, mama! I love toast with butter! I love orange juice! Thank you, mama!” I told him that it was time to take a nap, and he replied “yes, it is time to take a nap! I need to lay down in my bed, mama.” And he did. Kind of wish regular Milo was this chill.
The baby on the other hand, ugh. The baby is a miserable being. He’s like an angry, sulky teenager who hates you and doesn’t appreciate anything you try to do for him. He’s the kind of kid who’s going to hate you because you didn’t get him what he wants, even though he refuses to tell you what that is. He wants water, no! he doesn’t want the water now, go away! He wants a snack, no you idiot! not that kind of snack! (Snack is thrown angrily across room) He wants to be held! But not like that, you fool!
I sat the angry baby in his high chair and gave him some rice milk/fruit drops that he loves. He furrowed his brow, waited to make sure I was looking at him, then slowly and deliberately (while maintaining eye contact with me) picked them up and flung them, one by one, onto the floor.
I don’t think it can be all attributed to his baby-ness. When Milo got sick as a baby, he was all snuggles on your lap and falling asleep in your arms with a wan smile to let you know he loved you. If childhood behaviors are any indicator of how a person will react as an adult, I feel bad for any future romantic partners of Zachary. He’s going to be one of those people who gets a cold and acts like it’s the end of the world. (Maybe I’m just bitter because as a SAHP, I don’t get any sick days!)
Both boys are feverish. Milo fell asleep on the floor at 5, woke up at 9:30. Currently cuddling on the couch with me, watching season 1 of The Good Wife. He keeps pointing out characters that are “tewibly cwoss, mama. Oh, he’s cwoss too! Tell him no yelling!” (When a 21st century American child uses the word “cross” a lot, you know they’ve probably watched too many episodes of early Thomas the Tank Engine.)
Spring time hijinks at Forest School this week.
It’s been fun to watch Milo’s evolution over the course of three sessions (18 months) of this Waldorf-inspired playgroup. He was 18 months or so when we first started, and all he was interested in doing was roaming around and exploring. He never wanted to sit and play with mud or dig for worms. His version of circle/song time was to run in circles around everyone else while they sat and sang or watched a puppet show. Snack time (fresh baked brown bread rolls with butter and apple butter with hot herbal tea) was the only activity he participated in with full and undivided attention.
Fast forward to this spring. He’s discovered the joys of digging for worms in the meadow, and as one of the “big kids” (his words), he’s taken it upon himself to help pour out water for the “babies” to make mud with. He points out the turtles in the pond to everyone, and tells me to “come on, mama, want to go in my fowest with me?” as we walk around the paths in the woods. When it’s time to return to the meadow for circle time, he runs happily back, sings loudly and enthusiastically, and watches the puppet show with rapt attention. His love for snack time continues unabated, except that now once he’s nibbled off the butter and apple butter, he hands off the last few bites of each roll to Zachary with a “here Zacky, you have dis muffin, you want it?”
I know that a playgroup called “Forest School” might seem a little silly to those of you who live in a rural area or small town where a trip into the woods means going out into your backyard. That’s the kind of town I lived in as a young child, and I know there’s a lot of joy in exploring the woods and being outside among the trees when you’re a kid. An urban park, even one as beautiful and wild as Prospect Park, can’t truly replicate the experience of being outside in a real forest, but at least it gives city kids a small sense of the beauty of nature.
He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass. He is just teething. He is not trying to deliberately break my spirit. This will pass.