Monday, June 29, 2009

"You can do it!"

I'm sure I've mentioned that Michael is contrary before. In fact, If I remember correctly, I even mentioned that the Pediatrician "diagnosed" his contrariness. But, if you have missed the point, let me just remind everyone that Michael is a contrary child. I'm not complaining, the kid gets it from me.

Being contrary myself, Michael's contrary temperament doesn't bother me at all. It does wear thin for both Andy and my mom at times, but I see it more as adding some sport to parenting. I mean really, how easy would it be if Michael actually agreed with me?

My world is filled with enough contrary that I often forget that not all children are contrary. It's always a surprise to me to see a two year old walking patiently by her mom in the mall. They can do that? Even more shocking to me is when I see a small child actually eat food and enjoy it. How does that happen? It's like visiting a foreign country.

But, sometimes other parents get to be mystified by the shear power of will that Michael can demonstrate over such seemingly small issues.

Last Tuesday when we went to the zoo, Michael and I got to the playground before any other families. We played for a bit before a mother and her three year old son showed up. Michael and the little boy started to play together right away and the mom and I chatted a little bit. One of the play structures has a rubber lattice ladder that resembles a spider web. The distance between the top rung and platform at the top is too far for most three year olds to climb on their own. Michael will climb part way up, but he's just not comfortable going all the way up. I always try to encourage him to give it a try, but I don't force him because one simply cannot force Michael to try something he doesn't want to do.

The other little boy's mother was not ok with this. She started cheering him on and clapping her hands. "You can do it, you can do it!" I repressed the urge to roll my eyes. She was just trying to help.

Michael's response? "I can't," stated calmly.

The mom looked at me and said that there is no "can't" in her house. I just smiled and let her continue to cheer Michael on knowing good and well that she had already lost the battle. She kept cheering and Michael just kept refusing. She tried pointing out that he was almost at the top, and he switched tactics to "I won't". After about five minutes of this I could tell he was starting to get upset with her so I intervened

Once he was down from the web he ran off to play on the slides. The mother turned to me, completely flabbergasted, and said, "I've never seen a child so invested in not doing something like that."

I just smiled again and said, "He's a very, very contrary child." And you know what, I realized that I was actually bragging a little bit. Not because Michael wouldn't climb up the lattice, but because he had made a decision and he was sticking to it. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but in the long run, I know that kind of strength of will is the foundation of perserverance and integrity. If being stubborn now helps him to stick by his convictions later in life, than I'll take it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Introducing...

I'd like to introduce the newest member of our family. Meet Larry.


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Poor Larry. We discovered her and her siblings abandoned in the gift shop at our local zoo. As you can see, Larry is a rare yellow, orange and pink, fuzzy mama rattle snake.

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Larry's history before her tragic abandoning in the gift shop is unknown to us. I suspect that she was smuggled into the country from overseas. I just can't imagine why people put exotic animals through such trauma only to dump them into our inhospitable local environments.

When we went to the zoo on Tuesday I really did not expect to come home with Larry. Michael has never shown an interest in stuffed animals before, so I was not overly concerned that the zoo forces patrons to exit through the gift shop. I figured we would just walk on through like we always have in the past. But, not this time.

Michael quickly noticed the brightly colored litter of snakes hanging in the center of the gift store. The poor things were hanging by their necks from the display, their limp tails dangling down into a basket. Michael and I were both taken by the plight of these poor creatures. Michael rushed in and tried to rescue all of them; the orange ones, the green ones and the purple ones. I cursed the zoo for their prominent display of such startling colored child magnets and wondered what my chances were of escaping the store without either a snake or a tantrum. It didn't look good.

I was tempted to use the moment as an example of how little boys don't always get everything they want, but Michael draped the snake around his neck, named her Larry and told me she was a nice mama snake. Sigh. Why did he have to go and name her? So much for the teachable moment. I paid for Larry and we left the store with me holding her head and Michael trailing behind grasping her rattle.

I'm happy to report that Larry is fitting into her new home nicely. I was concerned that she might be discarded five minutes after we walked in the door, but Michael is quite taken with her. He has been dragging her back and forth between our house and grandma's every day since. Michael finds something very comforting about wrapping a four foot long, psychedelic snake around his neck.

I'm happy to have Larry in the house too. I love the giggles she gets from Michael when she tries to slither her way under Michael's shirt and up his belly.

Welcome Larry.




Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I think he doth protest too much

Until the recent bedtime delaying tactics kicked in, Michael has been pretty reasonable about going to bed. That said, he's never been one to jump right into it either. You'll never see him grabbing Shirt and heading off to bed on his own. He's just not that kind of kid.

Or so I thought. On Monday evening, he must have been really tired. At one point during dinner he asked me if it was bedtime. I told him it wasn't, but that if he was tired I would put him to bed. "No, I'm not tired."

After dinner we moved into the living room to play and watch Here Come the 1,2,3s. I was going to be home with him on Tuesday, so I didn't want to rush him to bed in hopes that he might sleep in a little. As the DVD was coming to an end I told him that when it was over we would start getting ready for bed. "No, I don't want to go to bed."

When the DVD went off, Michael headed straight to his hiding place behind the end table. I rolled my eyes and sighed. I hate the bedtime stalling thing. I decided to push him to go to the potty so he couldn't use that as an additional stalling technique and I was surprised that he agreed. He immediately popped up and ran to the bathroom.

While he was going potty he told me again how he didn't want to go to bed and explained that he's afraid of monsters. However, when he was done, he let me get him cleaned up without running around the house naked for five minutes. Not only that, he even laid down so I could adjust his diaper. He was being so agreeable that I started putting his PJ's on while he was laying there. He kept telling me about not wanting to go to bed as he was holding his legs up for the PJs. As soon as they were on, he jumped up and ran to the steps. I hadn't even told him it was bedtime yet!

It was such a surprise that Andy didn't even know that he needed to come up and brush Michael's teeth. Michael continued to protest bedtime as he ran to climb up on my lap for stories. He asked me not to turn the lights off as he curled up against my chest and closed his eyes. He told me he didn't want to sleep in his crib while leaning towards it in my arms. His final denial occurred as he was rolling on his tummy and pulling his covers up around him.

His argument against being tired was pretty effective. Well, except for the part where he practically put himself to bed that is.

Monday, June 22, 2009

You know what would be funny?

Yesterday was father's day. Michael and I went all out for Andy. I made French Toast for breakfast and rib eyes for dinner. Michael bought his daddy a new satellite radio receiver, even though he really thought daddy would prefer dinosaurs. Michael also yelled "Happy Father's Day" about 20 times though out the day. What more can a father ask for?

I may have done one more thing for Father's Day.

Michael and I do your weekly grocery shopping on Sunday mornings. Our current shopping battle is over those stupid $2.99 toys that they hang all over the shelves of the store. There are packages of 4 squishy letter blocks in the shampoo aisle, Spiderman spoons by the bread, and little round garbage disposal balls in the baking aisle. (They are balls, therefore they must be toys in Mcihael's mind.) Every week, Michael wants me to purchase one of these stupid toys. I admit, I did cave in once and got the stupid blocks, but I've stood my ground on the spoons and the garbage disposal balls - even though we could probably use them. Michael needs to learn that he doesn't get a toy every time we go to a store.

Yesterday, the toy that caught his attention was a package with two water guns. I started to say no, just on principle, but then gave it a second thought. I took the package down and handed it to Michael.

"Michael, you know what would be really funny?"

"What mommy?"

"If you took your squirt gun outside and squirted daddy with water." He seemed to think it was funny too, so we kept talking about it as we completed our shopping.

Once we got home, I filled up both guns, handed one to each of the boys, and sent them outside with a "Happy Father's Day"!

It was pretty funny.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Billowing

The other night while Michael was doing the "hide behind the end table" portion of his bedtime stalling routine he dropped Shirt onto one of the air conditioning vents in the living room. It fell in such a way that it started to billow up from the air. He noticed it immediately and wanted to investigate, but his mean mommy insisted that it was bedtime.

When we got home the next day, Michael went right to one of the vents and laid Shirt over the air flow. Sometimes I really love how dedicated and persistent he is. He had clearly been thinking about that all day and couldn't wait to get home and try it out.

He was so methodical in his examination. At first he poked at the billowing shirt to see what would happen. He saw that it would collapse under the pressure. Next, he started to pat Shirt with his flat hand. I watched as he adjusted the pressure he applied to see just how much weight he could put on it before it would start to give out. From his hand, he moved on the laying his head down on it. I think it looked like a pillow to him, so he tried using it that way. He spent a lot of time trying to figure out just how much pressure he could apply before clunking his head into the vent below. Finally he would sit up and poke his hand under the edge of Shirt and watch as Shirt deflated.

He played this way until the A/C would shut off. He would wander away and pick up his dinosaurs and play with them. As soon as the A/C would click back on, he was right back at the vent going through his experiments all over again. I could have watched him for hours playing with Shirt with his brow furrowed and his lip sticking out. What an amazing place this world must be for him. I love watching him discover it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Water Bill

One of Michael's favorite past times is playing with water. He loves to get baths, to play in the sand and water table, the pool, the ocean, you name it. If it's water, it's fun.

Recently, I've been letting him play with water in the kitchen sink. He pulls up his step stool while I get a bucket and turn on the water. He likes to dump his little dinosaurs in the bucket and then use cups and a funnel to do whatever it is he's doing. He really enjoys this and has spent a great deal of time doing it.

Well, I got the water bill the other day. He manged to run up an additional five dollars on our monthly bill this past month.

My first reaction was that I need to stop him. What a waste of five dollars. But then I thought a little more about it. What did I get for that five dollars? I got a lot. First, I got a happy kid. Second, I got to prepare at least 10 dinners without having Michael interrupt me. Third, I even got several chances to just sit down and chill while he was happily absorbed in his water play.

My friends, I call that a bargain.

P.S. If you are tempted to mention that I'm allowing Michael to waste water, please research the amount of rain the Philly area has been getting lately. We are so drenched that I have mushrooms growing all over my front lawn!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I hope this is an Outlier

Michael has been working the bedtime stalling angle for a few months now. I've gotten pretty used to the various approaches he takes from pretending he needs to pee, to hiding behind the end table, to trying to get me to read four books. We have been able to keep them under control and bedtime has been going pretty well despite all of his efforts. Once I get him tucked into his crib we rarely hear a peep out of him.

Yes, my three year old is still in a crib. This has been a perfect case of if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We have been doing the same bedtime routine for 2 years now and we tweak it if need be, but for the most part it works. Michael could get out of his crib if he tried, but since he hasn't tried yet we keep doing what we are doing.

Last night was not business as usual. I don't know what got into Michael but about five minutes after I put him down for the night he called me back saying he had a tummy ache. I had a feeling it was just a ploy, but because he's never called me back into his room like that, I didn't want to chance it.

It was a ploy. He blew it after a few minutes and switched tactics. He tried the scary monster approach, which is a first. I explained that the only monster in the house was friendly like Cookie Monster. He switched approaches again. (Maybe he sensed that I was about to sing "C" is for Cookie and HAD to put an stop to that.) Next he tried telling me that he was too cold and that he needed to go downstairs where it's warmer. His room is the warmest room in the house, so I wasn't buying that. He finally broke down and said that he needed me. Hmm...I don't have a defense for that one. So, I held him on my lap for a little while and we rocked.

About half an hour after all this started, I was able to get him back in his crib. I kissed him good night and left the room. He started crying as soon as I was out the door, but this time I just let him go. I really expected him to climb out of the crib at that point, but he didn't. He cried for two or three minutes and then fell fast asleep. I have no idea what happened last night, but I hope this isn't the beginning of a trend.

Don't worry, I'm ready for the switch to a toddler bed if need be. We were prepared to make the switch a year ago, but held off because things were working so well. I suppose it's unrealistic to think that he might last in the crib until he's old enough to head off to college.

Friday, June 12, 2009

When I picked Michael up from my mom's yesterday he was in the classic overtired three year old mood. He was a little hyper, a little silly, and a little cranky. He was happy to see me when I got there, but he wasn't thrilled with the idea of going home. This lead to a string of weird behaviors; including hiding behind the sofa, pushing the cat, and - the oddest one - letting me put his shoes on.

My mom has been working with Michael on how to handle her cats. Morgan, the "special" kitty loves attention and loves to be around Michael when he's nice. But, Morgan also knows when to high tail it out of the room when he gets a little rough with her. Charlie, the mostly blind Maine Coon, is a big wuss and normally just avoids Michael at all costs. This means that Michael and Charlie haven't had much chance to interact and learn how to deal with one another.

I don't know why, but Charlie came out while Michael was still there yesterday. Charlie sat down by the door and laid his big, fluffy tail right in the walkway. It's really big and really fluffy and his gives it those little teasing flicks every few seconds. I had trouble avoiding the temptation to step on it, so it's not surprising that Michael couldn't resist. Fortunately for Charlie, Michael only stomped on the puff and not the actual tail, so it didn't hurt. But, it was a behavior that required correction.

"Michael did you just step on Charlie's tail?"

He said yes and broke out in the most elegant of evil genius laughs I've ever heard. My mom and I were both taken aback by what we had just heard. Where do kids pick this kind of thing up?

I started to explain why stepping on Charlie's tail was not nice as we headed out the door, but Michael was still in goof ball mode. He took off down the hall while still looking back at me to laugh. About 5 steps into his run he veered to the right and smacked right into the wall. He hit so hard that he bounced back and feel backwards onto the floor. I stepped over to him and paused for a second to make sure he was ok, then I cracked up laughing.

Hmm...I guess that's where he picks up this kind of thing. Oops.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mommy what are these lumps?

1975ish Easter Sunday

A mother looks out the chapel door during the Easter Sunday Service to see her young daughter wandering through the church. The sweet little girl has golden curls, chubby cheeks, and a hand smocked dress made especially for the day. The mother goes to retrieve her little girl, wondering how she managed to escape the nursery without anyone noticing. Instead of returning her daughter to the nursery, she brings her back into the chapel for the reminder of the service.

The father is concerned that his daughter will disrupt this most holy of services so he decides to play with her quietly. He hides his hand behind the lapel of his suit and pokes in finger out intermittently in a hushed game of peak-a-boo. After watching her father play for several moments, she points at her father's chest a yells "BOOBIES" at the top of her lungs.

2009 Random Sunday

A mother is grocery shopping with her three year old son. He has blond hair, chubby cheeks, and is wearing one of his many dinosaur tee shirts. He's riding in the cart, even though he would rather be running through the store. The mother stops for a moment to look at Thank You cards, which she should have sent out two weeks ago.

The young boy reaches out with both hands and grabs his mother's chest. She startles and jumps back. "Mommy, what are these lumps?" he asks. His mother blushes, leans over and very quietly whispers "boobies".

Somewhere, the woman's parents feel a moment of smug satisfaction. They don't know when or where their grandson will exact vengeance for them, but they know he will. I can assure you, his mother is not looking forward to that moment.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Random thoughts from the weekend

Here are some of the random thoughts that crossed my mind this weekend.

  • I wonder what strawberry milk syrup would taste like in coffee?
  • Wow, who would have thought that shining a laser pointer in the toilet would look so cool?
  • I really don't want to fish a laser pointer out of the toilet.
  • Good lord child, can't you sleep later than 6:20 on a Sunday morning? When is the summer solstice so the days start getting longer? It is June, so it must be soon. Oh shit, it's not Father's Day today, is it?
  • Playing in the sand and water table would be a lot more fun if Michael would stop pouring water on my sand bridge.
  • Everyone should have a helium tank in their basement. I love blowing up balloons whenever I want.
  • Why on earth does anyone need a fishing rod that fits in their pocket?
  • If I were an evil genius, I'd want to be like Jumba, not Doofenshmirtz.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Photo Phriday

I was browsing through some old pictures today and came across these two.


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I feel that way when people wake me up by taking my picture too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Suggestions Welcome

I've been pretty laid back about the whole potty training thing. I think Stacey summed up my reason very well when she was discussing Cole.

"I've specifically avoided putting any pressure on Cole to use the potty because he is so painfully contrary that he'd stay in diapers until he was 25 if he knew I wanted the opposite."

That is exactly how Michael is as well. I'm fine with how things are going. Michael will not ask to go potty, but he will go potty most evenings before bedtime. He clearly understands how to control when he pees, because he can hold it until he's on the potty or pee on demand when Hershey's Kisses are involved. (Sometimes he get's excited about the Kisses and takes off before he's finished, but that's a different problem.) I figure this is progress, so I haven't seen any need for changes in what we are doing.

That is until recently. Michael normally saves his poopy diapers for my mom -he's a good kid, I tell you - but the last few days he's gone right before bedtime. Instead of heading to the potty for the the Hershey's kiss bribery, I've laid him down on the floor for a diaper change. When this happened the other night, I opened his diaper and went for a wipe. He immediately peed on me. I had a sneaking suspicion that it may have been intentional, but I couldn't be sure. Last night, we had a repeat. Everything was the same except for the grin on his face while he peed on me. The little stinker did it on purpose!

I think it's time for a change to the standard operating procedure. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh Snarfle!

I have this odd habit of doing silly things simply for my own amusement. Normally it's no big deal, but sometimes it turns around and really bites me on the butt. This happened the other night, and I'm still paying the price.

Part of Michael's bedtime routine includes me reading him three books. The child has about 30 books on the nightstand to choose from, but every night I have to read at least two of the same books that I have been reading for what seems like the last 30 years. Dinosaur Dinners and Corduroy are getting a bit old at this point, but I understand that children like repetition so I deal with it.

Recently, however, he's been getting very wiggly during story time. He squirms around on my lap, he tries to stick his toes up my nose, and he interrupts my reading with classic stalling tactics. (Think "Mommy you need to wear these pants to bed" not "what is that picture".) I can put up with reading the same stupid book over and over again, but if he isn't even going to listen to me, what's the point?

So, I got silly. I just started replacing random words in Dinosaur Dinners with my own gibberish word, "snarfle." So instead of saying "Dinosaurs that don't eat meat need protection from meat eaters," I would say, "Snarfles that don't eat snarfle need protection from meat snarflers." Michael didn't react at all to it until I was mostly through the book. Somehow, while wiggling and trying to cover my face with Shirt, he also noticed what I was saying. He also noticed my inconsistencies in the use of "snarfle" and corrected me. If I replaced the word "leaves" with "snarfle" on one page, I had to do it on every page. What started out as a silly joke for my own amusment has turned into an exhausting mental exercise while I try to remember just when and where I am supposed to use the word "snarfle".

Of course, he remembered this the next night, and the next. The only way I can make sure to cover all of the previous "snarfles" is to keep adding them in any place that I can. Last night I found myself singing "Rock-a-bye Snarfle". Once Michael was lying down, I tucked in his snarfles and said good night to my littlle Snarfle.

As I was walking out of his room cursing myself for creating such a snarfle, I heard, "I love you mommy Snarfle." I just snarfled on the spot.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bird Attacks - I've got an App for That

I was such a dolt yesterday.

When Michael and I got home, he insisted on playing in his sand and water table. He was so determined that he walked right in the front door, marched straight through the house, and started to unlock the back door to the deck. I decided to have a yes moment, so I let him out to play. However, I can't really leave him out there alone, so I made myself comfortable while he played with his dinosaurs in the sand.

I was playing with my iPhone and decided to try out one of my apps. The app is the iBird field guide to birds. It's a very good field guide and the main reason I bought it was because it includes the calls for most of the birds in the index. I'm enough of a bird geek that I like to be able to identify birds solely by their sound, so having the songs on a pocket sized device if very helpful.

When I originally read the description for iBird, it claimed that the calls are loud enough to be used to call a bird to you. I'll be honest, I didn't really believe them. Ever the curious little kid, I decided that the only way to find out for certain would be to try it out. We have a lot of Gray Catbirds in the area, so I decided to give the Catbird call a try. It sounded so good, that I couldn't tell the difference between the real bird calls I was hearing and the recorded call coming from my phone.

Now, this is the stupid part. I know that Catbirds aggressively defend their nests. I also had a strong suspicion that we have a Catbird nesting in one of our shrubs. But, for some reason it never occurred to me that playing a Catbird song within 10 feet of a Catbird nest might be a problem.

Well, it was. About thirty seconds into the call, a very pissed off Catbird darted out from under our grill and flew straight for me. I jumped and screamed and the poor Catbird zigged away about 5 feet from me, clearly startled by the very human looking Catbird that had invaded his territory. I quickly shut off the bird song while my heart was still pounding in my chest.

Michael noticed the whole exchange and asked me what was going on. "Your mommy just showed very poor judgment, that's all sweetie."

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Weekend We Should Have Had

This past weekend we had the weekend that we should have had for Memorial Day. Everyone felt mostly healthy, the weather was perfect, and we did lots of fun stuff.

On Saturday morning we walked down our street to watch our township's centennial celebration parade. It wasn't the most impressive parade ever, but it was interesting enough for a three year old. Wait, scratch that. The camp chair that we brought for Michael to sit in was interesting enough for a three year old. While Andy and I watched the SWAT Tank, the Chick-Fil-A cow and the WaWa Goose march by, Michael entertained himself by sliding under the seat back, turning around, and talking with the two girls behind us.
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This was my view of Michael throughout the hour long parade. All things considered, not having to chase Michael around for an hour is what I call a victory.

The day was so nice that we decided to head up to one of our local parks for the afternoon. It's a gorgeous park, with a big lake, paved trails, and plenty of parking. There were tons of people walking the trails, dogs galore, baby ducks, and even some sail boats on the water. Michael was thrilled by all of the excitement, and had a blast throwing rocks in the water. But, one thing really caught his attention.


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I'm not sure if you can see it or not, but he's playing with a tent caterpillar. He followed it all over the picnic bench, tried to feed it a piece of wood, and eventually managed to coax it onto his hand. After about 20 minutes I finally decided that poor thing had been traumatized enough and I released it back into the wild. (This is really funny considering that every spring we would burn every tent caterpillar nest in our apple trees, scorching the little pests to death. I just don't think Michael needs to know the harsh realities of apple farming at such a tender age.)

To end such a great day, we decided to push our luck and stopped at Outback for dinner. Considering Michael had been to a parade and to a park in one day, he did really well at dinner too. He did stand up on the seat a lot, but the hostess had stuck us in a corner, so he didn't bother anyone. It capped off the day perfectly. We headed home with full bellies and drooping eyelids. Now that is my kind of day.