C is for cookie...

Monday, November 23, 2009
E has an imaginary friend. Actually, she's not quite imaginary. She is one of Linny's trusty side-kicks on the Wonder Pets.

For those of you who don't know, TWP are three classroom pets that receive a cry for help via a can on a string, jump in their frisbee "fly boat" and answer the baby animal's call of distress. And while they're no real American heros, they are cute and funny and sweet...mostly.

Anyway, back to E's lispy imaginary friend, Ming-Ming. Ming-Ming sits at the table with us. She has her own placemat, her own cup, and her own food. She reads books with us, E says "excuse me" whenever she gets in his way, and she lets me wash her wings when we're all done eating. E shares his food with her, and not just the stuff he doesn't like. Nope, he shared his M&M's with her. Shared his M&M's! M&M's are such a rare treat in this house...well, for him anyway. I eat them almost every day. But, yeah. He shared his M&M's with her! As in two for me and two for Ming-Ming. And they sat on her mat for a solid five, six, maybe seven minutes before one of them disappeared. And then it was another four or five minutes before I looked over again and the last chocolate-coated delicacy was gone and there was a tell-tale streak of Red #5 around E's lips.

Now, my intention had been to keep E away from the tv till he was at least three but what I hadn't factored in to my grand (read: naive) plan was that I would become pregnant and so sick that I would turn to tv as my savior. I was at about week 6 when all of a sudden whoa! It was all I could do to keep my eyes open and my mouth puke-free. So on the really rough days, those days where there was no. other. way., I would spend a blissful 30 minutes or so, usually in the morning, propped up on the back of the couch, with one arm draped across E's lap (safety precaution) and we would watch a little tv.

Because I felt so guilty, I would keep one eye open so that I could talk to him about what we were watching (I read somewhere that this made it better...perhaps like it's better if you say excuse me after you fart in public.) I started with Sesame Street's 123 Count with Me/Learning About Letters (C is for cookie, that's good enough for me...) Again, to alleviate my guilt, I rationalized that he'd be learning the alphabet and his numbers. Plus, I'd been warned by seasoned parents never to let your kids listen to or watch something that you don't want to have run through your brain in perpetuity (C is for cookie, that's good enough for me...)

D and I agreed that old-school Sesame Street songs were as good as it gets as far as ear worms go. We were having fun with the 123's and ABC's. We sang along and E was "learning" his numbers*, so I'm not quite sure when or why we veered off that path, but I know that we watched a few episodes of The Backyardigans (too sophisticated) and a few episodes of Little Bill (too annoying) before stumbling upon TWP.

While I find the program's message of team-work and helping those in need to be well-intentioned, I do take issue with the fact that it's a bit stereotypical and borderline racist. Jewish squirrel mom happy that her baby is rescued from a roller coaster at Coney Island...Baby flamingo's Jamaican uncle is happy that TWP rescued his nephew, mahn (in every other episode it's one/both of the parents that thank TWP at the end)...fat old Cajun frog needs a wheelchair...Chinese panda who can't pronounce her R's...see where I'm going with this? I mean, really? You need to teach two-and-a-half year olds that black babies don't have daddies? I'm just waiting for the episode where a baby manatee gets caught by the propeller of a speedboat off the coast of Cuba and all 15 cousins, three aunts and a drunk uncle come to thank TWP. Because as out-raged as I am, I'm not going to do anything about it till they offend my people.

So why do we let E watch TWP? First off, he watches about 3 or 4 hours of tv a week, not counting football with dad. And that's only when there's a minor baby emergency, usually when B needs a bath or is going through a growth spurt and is nursing for the 6th time before 9:00 am or when it's too crappy to go out. If the weather is nice - and we have a very liberal definition of "nice" around here because I have found that the quality of our day is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend outside - and we ride scooter or walk to one of our neighborhood parks or just play basketball in the front yard...but we make sure to get outside.

Also, I'm confident that at two-and-a-half, E is not picking up on the subtle undercurrents of racism that make me cringe. However, he is definitely picking up on the overt messages of teamwork and ingenuity. He talks a lot more about helping and sharing and trying again and finding a different way. Things that, apparently, you can only learn from cartoon animals because when I suggest he tries something a different way, oh nelly.

And the number one reason we let him watch? Because it makes him laugh out loud. D and I can't help but indulge in a little TWP because seeing E so happy makes us really happy, too.

* Children at this age aren't really counting. They're reciting a string of words. Knowing how to count implies understanding cardinality and one-to-one correspondence, a skill that does not emerge till much later.
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Beer, Boobs, Boards and Belays

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Here's a list of all the places I've nursed one kid or the other and let me tell you, there's a real theme here...

Walking down the frozen-food aisle at Target
On the mats at Rock'n and Jam'n
In the neighbor's backyard
On Bear Creek Trail near the golf course
The lodge at A Basin
At a cocktail table at Gordon Biersch
At a breakfast table at Table Mountain Inn
The front seat of the car (not moving)
The back seat of the car (moving* and not moving)
The beer garden at Golden City Brewery (see below)
In front of the lions at the Denver Zoo
The doctor's office
Every room of our house
That crappy bar at the base of Breckenridge (what is that bar called?)
On an airplane (multiple times)
The beach at A-Basin
In a public restroom (never again!)
On every hiking trail in the front range, but one worth mentioning was a gorgeous fall hike through Beaver Creek
Patio table at the Red Lion
In the lounge of the women's powder room at Nordstroms
Myrtle Beach, both at the swimming pool and at the beach
The ski patrol hut at Blue Sky Basin **
At a rehearsal dinner
At the wedding the next day
Climbing at Scout Rock
On the warm sands of South Beach
Hiking St. Mary's Glacier (D actually stopped someone and had them take a picture of us. E was chowing away in the Ergo. They had no idea.)
Climbing at the Iron Clads

* E was safely buckled in his rear-facing car seat. I, on the other hand, was precariously perched, suspended above him with my boob in his mouth.
** Actually, I pumped here. I should get extra points for pumping in the back bowls of Vail, 11,000+ feet above sea level and in full snowboard gear.

Nursed or pumped somewhere interesting? Would love to hear about it!

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It's science

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thanks to Cloud's blog, I had an AHA! moment and realized that part of B's problem, and quite possibly all of B's problems - are because of my overactive letdown. We've been working on it for a bit over a week and things have improved remarkably. She's a lot less gassy and not nearly as frustrated at the boob. So I'm posting about it just in case it helps one other mom identify and rectify a very frustrating issue. Thanks, Cloud!

Mothers & Daughters - Part One

Saturday, November 14, 2009
"Oh, Gawd. I hope we don't have a girl."

It was maybe March and the fact that we were pregnant for the 2nd, and probably the last, time was sinking in. E and D were convinced it was a girl. I was terrified that they were right. "Oh, man. I hope it's not a stupid girl." I was more than a little bit serious. But not for the reason you think. Sure, I'd roll my eyes and talk about how girls are such a pain in the ass when they get to the tween years and who wants to deal with short skirts, bad attitudes and dopey boyfriends? But really? The reason I didn't want a girl? Because I'm not sure I can be a good mother to a daughter.


I have the distinct pleasure of hanging out a friend's four year old little girl - we'll call her Miss S, where the "s" stands for smart - and I thoroughly enjoy it. She's cute, she's curious, she's intelligent, she's thoughtful. And at the zoo the other day, while sitting over by the gorillas and nursing the babies, my friend and I discussed Miss S's social development. Basically, she's one of the youngest student's in her class and while she's on par with her peers academically, her teachers would like her to be more social. I was listening to my friend talk about this and I found myself becoming fiercely protective of Miss S. My brain raced to defend her. I watched her playing with E and thought - that girl's got social skills. Look at her! She's entertaining a 2 yr old and that's no easy feat.

Her mother and I volleyed back and forth. She wanted to respect the judgment and concerns of Miss S's teachers but also wanted to make sure that this wasn't a mole hill turned mountain. Is it really a problem? And why? I started offering reasons for her social "short-comings"...She might be an introvert! Maybe the other kids are not stimulating conversationalists and they're boring her! And all of a sudden it hit me - I was just like Miss S at her age. By defending her, I was defending myself. I preferred the company of adults. I didn't always have the desire or patience to hang out with kids my age. I didn't always share their interests. I was the oldest of three. I didn't see what the big deal was with My Little Ponies. But where Miss S and I diverged was that I didn't have exposure to a lot of the shared experiences amongst children my age. I was from a different cultural background, we didn't have cable, we couldn't afford Guess! jeans, I was being raised by my father, we moved around so much that I'd lost all impetus to make the effort to make friends, etc, etc, ETC. Not to mention that I was a tragic introvert and preferred to escape in a book. And I didn't have a parent with the knowledge and awareness to carefully examine both sides of the situation and advocate for me regardless of the outcome. So while my isolation was part choice, it was also part circumstance. But it seems like Miss S's is all choice and if that's what makes her happy...

On the way home, with E chatting it up in the backseat and B whimpering like a puppy in the seat next to him, I glanced in the rearview mirror and realized again that I had a daughter now. Little by little, I've come to terms with the fact that there are four of us and that one of us is a little girl. And like always, a tiny voice in my head said, "Uggg. A girl," but for the first time I let that voice finish it's thought (Hell, I didn't realize I'd been cutting it off!) The conversation went something like this:

Voice: "Uggg. A girl..."
Me: "Yeah, I know. I bet she'll want to dress up like a princess and wear make-up and prance around."
Voice: "Give me a break! That's so lame."
Me: "I know! The worst part is, I don't even know how to play princess."

Oh my goodness. It's so obvious. How could I be so stupid (shut up.) I'm afraid that I'm not going to be good at being a little girl again. I messed it up so royally the first time around that I'm frozen with fear at the prospect of reliving it all. Looking back at myself as a little girl, I feel so bad for her that I don't want to be her again.

So what do I do? It's been over a week and I've been consumed with this question. What do I do? How do I separate me as a little girl from B as a little girl? It certainly doesn't help that she's the spitting image of me.

As far as the whole playing princess thing...I can identify everything from a front-end loader to a back-hoe to a knuckle-boom loader because right now, big machines are E's passion, so I'm confident that I can embrace B's passions with the same fervor that I've taken on E's.

But who am I kidding? That's not really the problem, is it? The real issue is how I can concurrently learn to accept, and dare I say it, even love the little girl me without allowing it to color my mothering of B. How do I allow her to be her own person and not the reincarnation of me? How do I avoid becoming a mother as horrible as this?!? Suggestions?