How is He Mine?

 

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I mentioned we took Bear to the library the other day, but had to cut is short; I had a headache, we had to go grocery shopping, and I needed to go home and cook.  I honestly wanted to skip the library all together, but I can’t deny Bear that simple pleasure.  He adores the library, and the last thing I want to do is discourage him from that love in any way.

I’m thrilled that Bear is developing a love of books, and excited that he’s already starting to sound out words (pretty successfully!) months before his fourth birthday, but I also love watching him interact with the other kids.  It’s both a joy and a complete and utter mystery to me.

I have several people in my life with kids around Bear’s age; friends, acquaintances, coworkers.  Almost without fail, they are all sweet kids, but most of them have the typical shyness I always associated with small children; the coy, peeking-out-behind-mom’s-legs sort of shyness that people fawn over as being “sweet.”

I was one of those kids, except I never really grew out of it. I present, I think, as a pretty friendly person, and I feel like that’s what most people see; but from the other side, I spend a lot of time in my own head second guessing everything I do, hyper-critical of everything I say, overly anxious and worried about how to navigate socially.  I definitely have good (even great!) days and bad days, but being social and interacting (broadly) with people will always feel draining and slightly uncomfortable to me.

Then there is my son.

My son is like local celebrity at our library; the librarians know him by name, and he likes to ask them about all the stuff on their desk, and the new displays at the front of the children’s room.  Being that he sees them every week (and we’ve been going there for a couple of years now), I’m not totally shocked that he’s gotten comfortable with them.

But then there are the other kids.  This past visit, we walked in and he noticed two other kids, both slightly older than him, sitting at one of the tables coloring.  Immediately he smiled and walked over.

“Hiiii!  What is your name?  What are you doing?  Are you coloring?  What’s a contest?  I would like to do a contest.  Can I sit and color with you?  I would like to sit and share crayons with you.  Can I have a pink and a blue crayon, please?  Thanks.  Are you coloring a ghost?  What is your ghost’s name?  Is he Casper?  Casper is from a show.  It is called, ‘Casper, the Friendly Ghost!’  He is not a spooky ghost.  What are you reading?”

To my son, the idea of not going up to a person and trying to make friends with them is unthinkable.  His instinct upon meeting anyone new is to try to engage them; to greet them and ask them questions about themselves.  He doesn’t understand other children’s reticence to open up to him; he isn’t mean-spirited about it, but he can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t want to try to make friends with him.

It’s fascinating to watch, as a person who was very much unlike that for the vast majority of my life.  It’s enviable, that level of absolute comfort he must have in himself.  It’s also a little scary.

Because when I say he wants to make friends with everyone, I mean everyone.  Little kids, big kids, the cashiers at the supermarket, people on the train, people waiting for the bus.  Once in Florida, we got off the tram at MCO, and when I turned to look at my son (whose hand I was holding), he was also holding the hand of a strange woman who had been seated near us during the ride.  She was kind and amused at his antics, but while I laughed it off, it gave me pause.

I don’t want to shut my son down.  I don’t want to instill fear into his heart, or make him afraid of talking to people he doesn’t know, or reaching out to befriend others.  But I also need to teach him – in a way that won’t do those things – how to be cautious around strangers, and how not everyone you meet is a kind or friendly person.

The world needs more people like my son, people who go out of their way to try to include and befriend people, and I need my son to be both happy and safe, without depriving the world of his vivacity.  As someone whose native language is, in so many ways, social fear, I’m not totally sure how to do that.

But, as has been the case with literally every other aspect of parenthood, I’m sure I’ll learn.  For now, I’m just going to enjoy watching my son do his thing, wherever we go.

Bear’s Book Haul: October 22, 2018

Bear's book haulHere is a hella late book haul…!  Sorry, OctPoWriMo, Preptober, Inktober, and general life/work/parenthood is kicking my butt.

We had our normal library day on Wednesday – though it was shorter than usual, it was also something I want to write more about later – and got a small stack of books this time around.  We also finally worked through the stack from our library sale book haul, and while there were no major stand outs, I think Nathan really enjoyed the Arthur books. My son thinks D.W. is hilarious, which makes sense, since she’s a pretty sassy four year old with an extremely limited palate, and he’s a pretty sassy (almost) four year old with an extremely limited palate (though I will say Bear is far less bratty than D.W. about 95% of the time).  He also currently absolutely fascinated with the idea of going to school, so he especially liked Arthur’s Teacher Moves In (which I also really love.  I have a weird affection for Mr. Ratburn.  I… don’t want to get into it).

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Given that we’ve had this stack of books for almost a week now, I can name a pretty clear winner for this haul already, but I’ll be fair and hold off just in case something dramatic changes in the next two days.  Anyway, this was our haul:

Fairy Floss: The Sweet Story of Cotton Candy, by Ann Ingalls:  “In this book, a young girl named Lily and her Aunt Mae are told all about Fairy Floss by John Wharton, one of the inventors. Lily can’t wait to go to the Fair and see how it’s made. While there, she even makes a batch for herself!”

No Biggy!, by Elycia Rubin:  “Getting frustrated is a part of life! And whether the curious little girl in this story is working on a puzzle, getting the zipper to slide all the way up her jacket or trying to spread peanut butter on a piece of toast, she learns to manage frustration by taking a deep breath, saying No Biggy! and trying again. She even teaches her mommy and daddy a thing or two!”

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, by Adam Rubin: “News alert! It has just been discovered that there are NO MORE TACOS left anywhere in the world. This is a huge problem because, as you know, dragons love tacos. If only there was a way for the dragons to travel back in time, to before tacos went extinct. Then they could grab lots of tacos and bring them back! It’s the perfect plan, as long as there’s no spicy salsa. You remember what happened last time…”

Construction Zone, by Cheryl Willis Hudson:  “Caution! Construction zone ahead! Anyone who has ever stopped to watch a big building going up — and who hasn’t? — will be thrilled by this behind-the-scenes look at an amazing construction project.”

The Deep Deep Puddle, by Mary Jessie Parker:  “Young puddle jumpers will delight in this silly Seuss-like fantasy about a puddle that keeps on growing. How deep can it get? So deep that soon enough, glub glub glub, the entire city sinks out of sight, only to reappear later with everything in disarray.”

That’s it for this week… uh, until Wednesday.  So, yeah.  That’s it for… the next day or so.  Wow, I need to be more on top of my posting schedule.  OctPoWriMo really has been throwing me off even more than usual.

Any recs for young readers?  I’m always open to suggestions.  Until next time!

 

 

Friday, Fri-yay: October 19th, 2018

& (1)This has been a hell of a month, creativity-wise; despite occasionally falling behind on my OctPoWriMo or Inktober prompts, I’ve none-the-less been getting them all done (just, you know, occasionally a day or two late).  I’m currently searching for a other creative prompts/marathon/sprints/challenges to complete in the upcoming year (and if I find some good ones, I’ll put up a page/calendar for them to share with you all) because I’ve been so happy with my output this month.

Also carrying me along this week:

First, some of my favorite vloggers have started uploading Christmas haul and Christmas decor DIYs.  I’m super happy, because Christmas is by and far my favorite holiday, and the one I try to go all out for, so I’m psyched to get some early decor ideas to plan for and start in on.  Bargain Bethany, unsurprisingly, has one of my early faves in this Dollar Tree Christmas DIY video.

My brother had more beer than he needed, I guess?  So he gave me some?  Free beer, hey, I’m not going to complain.  Beer is not at the top of my list of preferred alcohols, but my brother and I at least drink the same kinds (mostly Sam Adams and Blue Moon), so if he’s giving it away, it’s worth it to take a few.  I grabbed four bottles, and enjoyed one with my dinner of homemade chili tonight.

Dependent on how we feel, but Lesley University is hosting MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo tomorrow and Sunday, and it’s family-friendly, free, and Abby Howard is going to be there, so that might be a pretty cool thing to do if we have nothing else going on (or you, if you are in the Cambridge/Boston area).

Also, I’m going to recommend the British-Canadian Netflix original Hilda to you all, because it is super cute and quirky and as much as I love/as nostalgic as I am for the cartoons of my childhood, I am getting positively sick of the way people insist on how much “better” cartoons used to be.  There are so, so, so many amazing animated shows on the air/available, people!  Just, go friggin’ watch some!

Anyway, that’s it for me.  I’ behind again on OctPoWriMo (surprise, surprise) and am going to trying to bang out a few words before bed.  At least there’s the weekend, right?

How have things been going for you all?

Bear’s Book Haul: Fall Book Sales!

Bear's book haulI feel like it’s been forever since I’ve done a book haul post, but over the last two weeks or so a bunch of local libraries have been having their fall book sales.  While I didn’t get a lot of stuff for myself (except The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook for $2.00, what what), Bear made out like a bandit.  I adore library book sales; books are wonderful, but so damn expensive, and while I adore going to the library, I wish it was more affordable to curate a home library.  At $1 for hardcovers and $.50 for paperbacks, scouting out library sales is something I highly, highly recommend to anyone, but especially if you have young kids (some of Bear’s hardcover books are lovely, but they have like, 400 words, and cost $14.50.  It’s not that I don’t support children’s authors, I just literally can’t afford to buy more than a couple of books at that price.)

It’s going to take a while to work through all the books we got, but I’ll probably drop a note in our regular book hauls about how we’re faring with the book sale books, and which ones have most caught Bear’s fancy (just like we do with the weekly haul posts).

What I thought was the coolest was that there were a few things I found that I remembered fondly from my own childhood, and it’s weird how powerfully nostalgic I felt when I found them, even though I honest to God hadn’t even remembered they’d existed before I saw them on the library table.

Anyway, our haul:

Arthur’s Chicken Pox, by Marc Brown
Arthur’s Valentine, by Marc Brown
Arthur’s Pet Business, by Marc Brown
Arthur’s Teacher Moves In, by Marc Brown
The Goodnight Gecko, by Gil McBarnet
Rainbow Rhino, by Peter Sis
When I’m as Big as Freddie, by Jocelyn Stevenson
Spring Cleaning, by Pat Tornborg
What Do You Do?, by Kingsley Emily
If I Lived Alone, by Michaela Muntean
Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower, by Peggy Parish
Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, by Peggy Parrish
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss
Curious George Visits the Zoo, by Margaret Rey
Curious George and the Pizza, by Margaret Rey
Curious George Rides a Bike, by H.A. Rey
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Sunny Bunny Comes Home, by… Lynx Books? (It was part of the Raggedy Ann Grow-and-Learn Library; maybe it was a collaborative effort?)

Sunny Bunny was the one books I remembered by name having owned – and read, and re-read – as a kid, though several of the Sesame Street ones looked super familiar as well.  And, I just need to note, I’m astounded by how well-kept  these books are. The publication date for the editions of the Sesame Street books we bought was 1980.  I mean.  Those books are older than I am, and in far, far better shape quite frankly.

Anyway, as usual, please let me know if there are any books you’d recommend Bear check out, and I’ll let you know how he enjoyed the haul!

 

 

Keep It Busy

This past month was great, but didn’t really feel like I had any down time, probably because, um, I didn’t.  The last weekend in August hit, and suddenly over Labor Day weekend, we had four non-stop days of parties, festivals, and social gatherings, and from there, we never really lost steam.  We had theatre tickets, apple-picking, bridal showers, game nights, social events, and while it was fun, it was also go, go, go, pretty much non-stop all September.

I find myself — as I’ve gotten older and grown more into my identity as an adult who is actually able to make their own plans — feeling like I need to fill every possible opportunity with activity, and I’ve found that’s become doubly so since having my son.  I can’t tell you exactly why that is – or, I guess, I don’t think I can narrow it down to one thing.  Part of it is that I lived a fairly sheltered and socially deprived life as a child and young adult, and I often feel like I need to “make up” for all the freedom I never got to have during my formative years.  Part of it is, when I have down time, it’s really down time; I wind up being almost entirely sedentary, and my ADHD keeps me from doing anything really constructive (even those things I want to do and enjoy doing).  Having a place to be or an activity to do that is externally scheduled and structured is one of the few ways to guarantee I get out and engage.

But part of it, more and more, is that I feel like I need to be proactive and conscientious about not saddling my son with the stagnant, asocial childhood I had.

I didn’t have anything resembling a social life for, well, most of my life.  There were never any sports teams, never any dance lessons, or swim lessons, or gymnastics.  No Girl Scouts.  A lot of it was because my parent’s didn’t have the money for so much of what makes up a busy, structured youth – our grammar schools were tiny and private (read: where all the money was going), and didn’t offer any extra-curriculars; dance and gymnastics were pricey; and my folks had neither the time, energy, nor inclination to have to put forth the effort for something like Girl Scouts.  Even trips out to eat or to the movies were few and far between.

And I get that.  Bear is an only child and loves to sing and dance, so I’ve sat and priced out a number of music and dance academies, and I can appreciate how my parents – who had three kids and were already also paying tuition for our private schooling – must have felt overwhelmed by the potential cost.

But there were also no bike riding lessons.  There were very few trips to the park, or to the pool.  There weren’t many festivals or fairs, very few events, activities, or parties.  Trips to the library were sporadic at best, and I ha only one friend whose house I was allowed to visit.  I didn’t go to a birthday party until I was thirteen, and I had to fight tooth and nail for that, years after most of my classmates had given up inviting me to parties I was never allowed to attend.  Hell, there was barely even any plying outside. We could get hurt on bikes and skateboards and everyone in our neighborhood was looking to do us in, if you were to believe my parents.  Our time even in our own yard was infrequent.

And I don’t want that for my son.  I don’t want my son to be the kid who is never allowed to go out, and never learns age-appropriate social skills; I don’t want to be the parent that turns around and uses the fact of their lack of social skills as reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to go out.  I don’t want my son to grow up and realize at thirty-six he has virtually no memories of his childhood because he basically didn’t have one, because had so few stand-out moments and formative experiences.

I feel like we’re doing an ok job.  My son’s goes to parks and fairs and parties, and at 3, has already been on a plane more times than I had by the time I was 30.  We go to restaurants and the library, and while I hesitate to spend $14 on a movie ticket when I’m sure he’ll spend most of the time climbing on the seats, he’s been to several free outdoor movie nights.  We’re doing ok.

We’ll see what opportunities October brings, and what memories we can make.

So Long Luvs: The Last Diaper

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Tonight, I put our last diaper on my son.

He’s been using the potty successfully for weeks now; since the end of May, more or less, though I’ve been hesitant to write about it because, hey, I don’t tempt fate – the second I get too cocky about it is the second he turns around and decides he actually kind of misses not having to get up to use the potty and missing the end of Peppa Pig, and boom, he’s made a liar out of me and we’re back to square one.

But it’s been long enough now that I feel confident saying it – our son is potty trained.  He can tell us he needs to use the potty, he can hold it a reasonable amount of time (should we be out and about, away from an immediately viable toilet), and he can wash and dry his hands more-or-less independently afterwards.

In fact, he recently started peeing “like a MAN!” (his words), which has been great, in that lifting him up and having to basically hold him on the toilet when were are anywhere other than home (and away from his Elmo potty adapter seat) has gotten increasingly difficult as he’s gotten increasingly bigger.  It’s also a disaster that has resulted in a lot of internal screaming as I watch him touch public toilet seats to steady himself mid-stream, and one bathroom at home that just, like, has a sheen of pee on it.  Just, a fine misting of pee, airbrushed on the walls.  You know, for a gloss effect.

While he’s actually been night-dry for longer than he’s been day-dry, last week saw a run of three or four night where he had nightmares, two of which resulted in a wet bed, so we decided, more to give our washer a rest than anything else, we’d put him in diapers at night.  I mean, we still had some left – not enough to be a viable gift or donation, but far too many to throw away – so we might as well use them.

And tonight I used the last one.

There was a long stretch of time where I was terrified I was never going to get Bear potty-trained- I was honestly afraid he’d be walking into first grade still in pull-ups.  And I felt like it was going to be my fault.

I have trouble regulating my own needs – I forget to eat, forget to shower, stay up way later than I should because I get sucked into these rabbit holes of Special Interests and General Bullcrap and totally lose track of time – and here I was reading articles about how to potty train your kids by literally taking sitting them on the potty every fifteen minutes essentially around the clock (with a scheduled night-time potty trip where I’d have to wake my child up, are you friggin kidding me??)

But even barring my neuro issues, and even barring the super intense three-day potty training regime, I didn’t know how I would ever be able to implement a regular enough schedule to successfully train him.  I work, as does my husband.  My mom, who watches my son while my husband and I work, wanted to support our potty training efforts, but she’s physically impaired, and also cares for between two and four other kids during the day.  She’s capable of caring for my son and keeping him safe, but there was no way she’d be able to devote the time needed to keep up whatever potty-training regime we conjured up.

But you know what we could do, and did do?  We made the potty accessible – it was in the corner of the kitchen when we started, so he could get to it himself, without having to alert us or try to open the bathroom door by himself.  We checked in with him every  20 or 30 or 45 minutes or so – we didn’t time it, just when it seemed to make sense – and offered him the potty.  And in the morning, every morning, we sat him on it.

And what do you know?  At some point it clicked.  At some point, he started telling us, albeit it generally as pee trickled down his leg, that he needed the potty.  I mean, there was a learning curve, but hey, it was progress.  He was getting somewhere.

And after that, it was almost like a switch flipped.  Suddenly, he was sick of sitting in wet, dirty diapers – he wanted to use the potty.  That’s something that was so, so key – he wanted to make this change, and when he wanted it, all we had to do was make it accessible for him and encourage and praise him for it.  Our actual, direct involvement, was quite minimal, honestly.

And so tonight we put him in our last diaper.  Probably the last great milestone of the pre-school years – he can already walk and talk, he can dress himself (more or less),  he grabs and totally unpeels his own Babybel cheeses, and he opens and inserts the straw into his own juice boxes.  My husband and I will soon be rendered obsolete.

It’s a sweet moment.  I spend so, so much time marveling how this amazing little person could possibly be the same tiny potato I brought home from the hospital less than four years ago who relied on me for literally everything  – everything – just to survive.

But right now, I’m mostly marveling at not having to scrape poop off a screaming pre-schooler’s butt anymore.  That’s pretty sweet, too.

Bear’s Weekly Book Haul: August 24th, 2018

Bear's book haulWell, here we are, end of summer.  I start back up at work on Monday (more on that later, I’m sure), and after Labor Day, out library resumes it’s regular hours.  We’ll probably retain our Wednesday schedule when it comes to taking out books, but with the library resuming it’s weekend hours, that opens up the possibility of being able to take Bear to other programming – our library has some nice story time, read-aloud, and craft programming for younger kids, so that’ll be nice.

Ugh. there’s a lot of things I’m looking forward to about fall.  But that’s literally another blog post.

Anyway, last week’s clear winner was undeniably Poor Louie, by Tony Fucile.

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Tony Fucile has spent a great deal of his professional career in animation, including work on The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, which I think is really obvious in the style of this book (more Iron Giant than Incredibles, honestly).  The drawings were adorable, and it was a sweet take on a story trope that’s been done before (big sibling – fur sibling, in this case – feels displaced and lonely with the impending birth of the younger sibling).  Bear is very, very firmly an only child, but I bet this would be a nice book to read to older-siblings-to-be.  Bear really enjoyed how evocative and emotive Louie was, and loved giggling at his faces while he walked in the rain as was “tortured” by babies.  And, of course, he loved yelling “POOR LOUIE!” every couple of pages.

This week’s batch was chosen by Bear’s dad.

Morris Mole, by Dan Yaccarino:  “Meet Morris Mole—he has always been a little bit different. When the moles are running low on food, it’s up to clever Morris to save the day. With a little help from an unexpected friend and a lot of digging, Morris learns that even the smallest creatures can do big things.”

Come to the Fairies Ball, by Jane Yolen:  “All the fairies are excited to be invited to the King’s ball, except for one young fairy whose only party dress is in tatters, but some wise words from the resident ants help her be all she can be.”

Any Questions?, by Marie-Louise Gay:  “Many children want to know where stories come from and how a book is made. Marie-Louise Gay’s new picture book provides them with some delightfully inspiring answers through a fictional encounter between an author and some very curious children — together they collaborate on writing and illustrating a story.”

The Only Child, by Guojing:  “A little girl—lost and alone—follows a mysterious stag deep into the woods, and, like Alice down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in a strange and wondrous world. But… home and family are very far away. How will she get back there?”

Drawn Together, by Mihn Le:  “When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.”

That’s all for this week.  As always, if you have an recomendations for books for us to read together – or emerging reader books that Bear can start looking at on his own – leave it down in the comments!