Sunday, September 8, 2013

The brightmas and the darkmas

Are there some things your kid mispronounces and you wish they would never ever stop? I'll be just a little heartbroken when Taran realizes that he is replacing the "ness" in any number of adjectives with "mas". (The concept of lighter and darker seems particularly interesting to him now. As we head out to various places, an oft asked question is "will it be dimmer there?" I don't know why exactly, but this question both slays and perplexes me. One of the many questions that he asks that I have no ready answer for.)

Anyway, I've been thinking about his "brightmas and darkmas" lately because it so perfectly sums up our daily existence. This is what it means to live with a 3-something year old. Every day is filled with both the wretched and the wonderful, following in rapid succession from one minute to the next. By the end of the day, I have emotional whiplash. The other morning he walked with me hand-in-hand to the coffee shop for scones and conversation, pointing out the wisps of clouds flushed pink by the rising sun. We smelled the flowers and talked about the different bird songs we heard and stopped to look at the garden beds behind The Seasoned Farmhouse. We peeked through the windows, admiring the pristine, expansive kitchen, fantasized it was ours and schemed about taking a cooking class together.

Charming EVERYONE at the coffee shop

But, lest I get too complacent about the sweet state of affairs, within an hour, all hell broke loose. As we were playing outside, he insisted on peeing in the yard. Trying to dissuade this practice as a general rule, I tried to make light of it, scooping him up to run inside to the potty. Not liking to be deterred from his scheme, he thought it would be amusing to pee on me instead. It wasn't. Which I let him know very firmly. For which I received a smack. Off to his room he was sent until he could calm himself down, but after 60 seconds of screaming, a joyful proclamation burst forth from the other side of the door "Maaaaama, I peed!". And there he was, proud as a peacock amid his pee-soaked bedclothes. Luckily for me, Belinda Bear was accidentally among the wreckage. I have to say, I love natural consequences brought on by his own doing. It saves me the trouble of coming up with a context-appropriate consequence myself. The soiling of Belinda bear was particularly convenient because she can't be machine washed (she wasn't machine made) which meant I had to hand wash her, wring her out, and leave her to air dry. Of course, this also meant I spent an hour stitching all her semi-detached limbs back on whose seams don't hold up well to washing. But, it also meant that he didn't have her for 2 naps and a bedtime and thus, this form of retaliation has not repeated itself for the last few days. I'm not holding my breath it won't happen again, but at least we've been granted a small reprieve.

Sometimes I feel like I have Jekyll/Hyde living in the house and I'm not sure whether it's him or me. There are certain things (purposeful peeing, hitting Cally, throwing his plate of food) that make me positively apoplectic with rage and I find myself stuttering and confused, my mouth opening and closing like a gasping fish, with no clue what to say or do. And then I utter one of the most inane sentences ever spoken by an overwhelmed parent.... "Why did you do that?!" Half the time (hell, 80%) he has no idea, so this line of questioning gets us nowhere.

And then when I feel at the end of my tether, he does something, so hilarious, so sweet, so tender that I'm hopelessly in love. Yesterday morning we sat in our front yard on a blanket watching people making their way to/from the farmer's market. As one friendly-looking couple were returning home with their loot of fruits and vegetables, Taran went running over to greet them. He informed them that he was trying to climb a tree, then dragged the woman by the hand towards our front stoop insisting he had to show her something inside. She gently told him she had to get her heavy bag of apples home.
"Don't worry, I'll carry them for you" he sweetly replied, to which he was rewarded with a honeycrisp. "She's my good friend" he announced to no one in particular as he watched her travel on up the street.

"Hello, Hello!"

While naps have always been a bit of a crap shoot, as of late, they seem to be completely out the window. Over the monitor we hear crying, wheedling, cajoling, all manner of excuses and exclamations in his attempt to avoid his nap
"Mom, I neeeed you."
"Actually, it's daytime."
"Hello, I'm all alone up here."
"The daytime bunny is on, Mommeeeee, the daytime bunny is on (it isn't by the way)
"I poooooped!"

and my personal favorite of the week:

"Mommy, I made some nice bread dough for you. Come try it"

Sigh. Trust me, the lack of sleep is doing absolutely nothing to improve either his or my behavior/mood come 5 pm at night. Hence the food throwing at dinnertime. As my husband keeps reminding me, It's a marathon. We just have to keep running this marathon. A good friend once told me that the key to a good marriage is a short memory and a good sense of humor. This is easily also the key to parenting a pre-schooler.

As for Cally. At least for now, she's all brightmas. She sleeps about 14 hours at night with one wake-up after about 10-12 hours. Wakes up smiling and squealing with delight at the sight of us. Looks around with an earnest expression and the occasional gummy grin for about 50 minutes and then back to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. And those cheeks! I'm obsessed. I can't stop kissing her cheeks. With Taran, it was this little warm, sweet, swirly spot of deliciousness on the back of his head, dubbed  "the eye of hurricane Taran" which I couldn't get enough of. But with Cally, definitely the cheeks.

I know she'll have her moments too - those, pull-my-hair, end-of-my-rope, shoot-me-now kind of days. But for now, I'm basking in the sunshine.

And for me and my many failed-parenting days..... As Anne Shirley was always wont to say "Tomorrow is a whole new day with no mistakes in it yet."


  1. So well said. I think we can all relate. Afterall, we are all human. We have ups and downs. Moments of lightmas and darkmas. In the end, we have to forgive ourselves for the times we loose our patience and celebrate the times that go so much better than we could ever have imagined.

    1. Thanks J, So nice to "see" you here. I'm working on the forgiveness thing. I can be remarkably hard on myself and I love the idea of spending more time celebrating and less time criticizing. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I gave up on naps a loooong time ago for Lauris. I think it was when I realized I was spending more time trying to get him to sleep than he was actually sleeping... His sleeping at night has finally normalized, and we instead have quiet time while Mikus naps - an hour or so of puzzles, games or tv, when mommy has to "work" and he has to quietly occupy himself. But as they say, get used to it and it will change... With his vocab, curiosity about the world and (adorable) reasoning skills, I have no doubt that you're not capable of a "failed-parenting" day. Hang in there!

    1. Liene! Hello - it's been a while. So nice to hear from you!

      Joe and I have been talking about giving up naps too. He only takes them half the time and when he does fall asleep, he almost always wakes up really tearful and takes a long time to cheer up. Naps seem to disorient him more than relax him these days. If I could just get him to stay peacefully, restfully in his room for an hour, I'd be fine with that too. Last week I tried to get him some books on cd so he could quietly listen to stories and I don't know if he's still just too little for them, but he spent the whole hour jumping up and down on the bed, hooting and hollering. We'll just keep trying something until it works. But I know that he and I both need a little down time in the middle of the day in one form or another.

      Thank you for your vote of confidence as well. It is so much appreciated. Hope all is well on your end.