Simon discovers hockey

In nominating me for the Bad Mother of the Year award, be sure to include the fact that every night after I put on his jammies and brush Simon’s teeth, I bring him downstairs to give him a bottle and watch 10 minutes of Entertainment Tonight with him while he cuddles in my arms and drinks it. I figure that’s at least three strikes – a nightly bottle and he’s almost two, a reinforcement that mommy’s love and TV are linked, and the fact that we probably could be watching something educational like the weather channel, but I like my nightly 10 minute microdose of celebrity trash.

Except, Entertainment Tonight (and the new -gag- ET Canada) are only on weeknights. Sundays we dial in to America’s Funniest Videos, where Simon chortles and observes, “Uh oh!” at the hapless twits falling off of chairs and being beaned by pinata sticks. That leaves Saturday evenings, where through the fall we enjoyed an inning or two of playoff baseball while I explained the finer points of bunting to advance the runner and the difference between a knuckleball and a slider.

Now that the World Series is decided for another year and hockey has returned, Hockey Night in Canada seemed a good place to while away a few minutes this past Saturday night. (I’ve taken it upon myself to educate the boys in their sporting life, god help them. Beloved, my artistic soul, certainly isn’t going to do it!) And well, well, well, it was the Ottawa Senators versus the Toronto Maple Leafs – our favourite rivalry.

As soon as I flipped the channel to the CBC, Simon was excited. “Hockey game! Hockey game!” he said enthusiastically. I have no idea how he knew, but he knew. We watched for a while, and I explained the power play that was favouring the Sens, and then the two man advantage. Just then, the Sens scored and I cheered – “SCORE! Hooray, they scored a goal!” to which Simon replied, “Uh oh.”

“No no, Simon,” I explained, “that’s good for our team. We scored a goal.”

Simon, watching the replay, said it again: “Uh oh.”

Uh oh indeed. I think he’s a Leaf’s fan.


Simon, the human alarm clock

I’m a morning person. In the first half of the day I’m at my most productive, my most energetic. I like waking up, knowing a fresh day stretches out before me. Most mornings, all I need is a cup of coffee and a couple of minutes to shake the cobwebs from my head, and I’m ready to go. On the fairly rare occassions when I sleep in, it’s never any later than 8:00 am.

But I’ve met my match. There’s early, in a birds-are-singing and sun-is-shining kind of way, and then there is “oh no, you can’t be serious – it’s two hours until sunrise!” kind of early. Could someone please explain that to Simon? It’s a good think he’s so damn adorable, else I would have locked him in a crate in the basement by now.

I can’t remember the last time my alarm, set for 5:45, actually woke me up. This morning, I was profoundly asleep at a little past five when Simon’s whimpering “Mummy? Mummy?” wafted down the hall. I woke up with that sickening feeling of being yanked to the surface of an ocean from some incredible depth beyond the reach of daylight, where only eyeless fish live in thermal vents.

I’ve given up on trying to coax Simon back to sleep most mornings. IfWhen he wakes up between 4 and 6 am, I try sticking his soother back in his mouth and patting him back to sleep, which never works. If it’s really early, I’ll try rocking him a bit and turning his CD lullaby back on, which never works. I’ve begged, pleaded, cajoled and ignored, none of which ever work. Mostly, I just pick him up and carry him into our bed, where he flops about like a landed trout while I try to convince myself I don’t need more than six hours of sleep a night. He crawls around on our bed, sticking his fingers in our ears and pulling my hair and kneeling on my nipples (at least I can say that the rest of the day is guaranteed to be an improvement from having someone kneeling on my nipple) until either one of us gives up and brings him downstairs or, more likely, Tristan wanders in and crawls on to the bed, too.

This morning, even though as soon as Simon saw me he began to dance in his crib and chatter cheerfully “All done, Mummy. Up! Up! All done!” while holding out his soother to me like a prize, I stubbornly refused to give up hope that this might be the morning Simon curled up in my still-warm bed to fall blissfully back to sleep. I picked him up, berating myself for my spinelessness – and felt something warm and wet soaking into my t-shirt. He’d peed through his diaper, two layers of jammies, a blanket and his crib sheet. I stripped him and his bed, piled everything in a corner, and dressed him for the day, all without turning on a light or opening my left eye. I think he’s wearing brown and khaki cords with a red sweatshirt over a lime green t-shirt. He’ll never remember when he grows up, I’m sure.

I was still debating hauling him into bed and using our combined body weight to pin him under the duvet when Tristan wandered in, rubbing his eyes and whimpering. Tristan, who has had virtually no accidents in the two months since potty week, had peed through his pull-up, jammies and sheets. I reassured him that everyone has accidents, dried and dressed him and stripped his bed – just in time to hear my alarm go off.

Every morning for weeks I’ve written a blog post in my head, pleading for help from the blogosphere on how to get Simon to sleep until – let alone past – 6 am. I’ve thought about it as I rocked him (unsuccessfully), ignored his cries (unsuccessfully), tried to get him to sleep in my bed (unsuccessfully) and given up and just gotten up with him (unhappily). For all the time I’ve spent thinking about this post, it’s an incoherent mess, isn’t it?

Any thoughts, bloggy friends? We’ve tried keeping him up later, or putting him down earlier. I’ve tinkered with naps. No matter what I do, they both rise before sparrow’s first fart. It’s been almost a year since we relented to CIO sleep training to get Simon to sleep at night, and I have absolutely no problems putting him down for naps or at bedtime – in fact, it’s one of the best times of our day. But how, for the love of god HOW do I get him to sleep just a little bit later?

If you need me, I’ll be the one standing in the kitchen, trying to get the coffeemaker to drip directly into my mouth.


Tristan squared

While I was at work yesterday, Beloved took the boys to the paediatrician for Tristan’s three-year old check-up. Um, yes, he turned three a month ago – I kind of forgot to make the appointment until last week.

This is a big step for me, giving up control of a well-baby appointment to Daddy. I have no trouble letting Beloved change diapers or get up for midnight feedings, and he does a great job getting them dressed — probably doing a far better job of coordinating their outfits than I ever do. He stays home with them two days per week, so he’s quite good at feeding the boys, putting them down for naps and taking them on little excursions. In a perfect world, I’d prefer it be me at home with the boys, but if not me then Beloved has proven himself more than worthy of the challenge.

But it was still hard for me to relinquish control of the doctor’s appointment. This is serious Mommy-territory, and I have been known to have control issues on occasion. Would he remember to ask the right questions? Would he be able to handle both boys in the exam room? Would he remember enough details of what the doctor asked and observed to satisfy my neurotic need for affirmation that Tristan is doing well?

Yes, yes and yes. I have to tell you, I’m proud of all four of us. First, I’m proud of Tristan for behaving so well. (By contrast, the two-year old appointment was a bit of a farce, with Tristan pulling the ‘I’m a boneless bag of slippery potatoes and I will resist your every attempt to examine me as if you were attacking me with a hot poker’ tantrum.) I’m proud of Simon for being patient and only trying to climb up the doctor’s leg once during the exam. I’m proud of me for ‘letting’ Beloved handle the appointment. Mostly, though, I’m proud of Beloved for exceeding my expectations of him and for being more than able to handle everything the boys throw at him.

He even remembered to make a mental note of Tristan’s new stats for my wall calendar-cum-baby book. Tristan made it a little easier for him by being a perfect square – he is 40.5 inches tall and weighs 40.5 lbs. He is in the 95th percentile, the size of a five year old. Another whopper in the family!


He walks! He talks!

Simon has joined the illustrious ranks of the world’s bipeds. I love the new walker’s toddle, stumbling around with stiff bowed legs and arms held up and open, ready for the inevitable crash. He’s quite good at it now, having gone from his first tentative steps a couple of weeks ago to being able to cross the room and navigate corners and clutter with ease.

I watch him careen off the furniture and plop uncerimoniously onto his butt, and think how much that would hurt if it were me landing with that much force on my ass-end, even with all the padding I’m carrying around these days. Kids are impressively durable! It’s the bounce that makes me cringe. I wish I could bounce with impunity, but I fear I would end up with my tailbone somewhere between my ears if I fell on my tucus as often and with as much aplomb as Simon does.

He talks now, too. He’s mastered “up”, “nite nite”, “dog” and “ball”. No mama, no dada, but a reasonable stab at “Tistn”, which shows me my place in the family heirarchy. He also babbles ferociously, and I would really like to have use of a Babel Fish for just a day or so to know what it is he is going on about. He’s probably complaining about my cooking.

A friend of mine who has studied linguistics or anthropology or childhood development or something like that (hey, I can’t remember everything) told me that babies are born with the capability to make all the sounds in all human languages, and it is around the age of one year that they begin to whittle out all the sounds they won’t need to speak in their mother tongue. Kind of like undifferentiated linguistic stem cells, I think. I guess that’s why some days I swear he’s spouting off a Wagnerian libretto in gutteral German, other days he sounds like he’s being raised in Chinatown and still other days it sounds like he is speaking in that throat-clicking language of the Inuit.

I want to say this is one of my favourite stages of babyness, but then I said that about the age of 4 to 6 months, when they first start to beam at strangers and sit up for themselves, and about the tiny newborn stage when their cries sound more like angry cats than hungry babies. And I love the next stage, where growing vocabularies intersect with a burgeoning awareness of the world.

What is/was your favourite baby stage?


Springtime at last!!

It’s been a while since I posted any pictures, so I thought I’d show you why I’ve neglected blog this weekend in favour of having some fun with the boys. First, while Simon was napping on Friday, Tristan and I painted some eggs.

Then, on Saturday we went to the Farm with some friends. Simon got a free ride…

… while Tristan ran his little legs off. Notice the gravitational pull of that puddle… an entire farm to play in, and the boys head right for the puddle. Needless to say, they were soaked. Happy, but soaked.

We actually managed to get a few of them to stand still long enough for a picture! From left to right, that’s Tristan, Grant, Ben and Trevor.

Then on Sunday, we played outside some more. What a gorgeous weekend!

I have the power

It started innoccuously enough. I was trying – with little success – to motivate Tristan into getting his little butt in gear so we could get out the door. He had a different agenda.

Me (ordinary voice) : “Okay, Tristan-bean, time to get your shoes on.”
Tristan : ignore
Me (singsong voice) : “Triiiiistan, it’s time to go. Come here please.”
Tristan : ignore, poke Simon
Me (stern voice) : “That’s enough of that. Get over here so I can put your shoes on.”
Tristan : ignore, poke Simon
Me (annoyed voice): “Hey! Are you listening to me? I said get over here NOW.”
Tristan : ignore, starts pulling socks off
Me (bellowing) : “Don’t you DARE pull those socks off.”
Tristan : tosses peeled-off sock in the other direction

That’s when it happened. Like tumblers clicking into place, something shifted deep in my psyche. It burbled up from the depths of my being in an icy geyser. I felt my facial features twisting, pulling, moulding into something I had never experienced. That’s when I unleashed… (cue ominous music) the Icy Glare of Impending Doom.

My own mother has an Icy Glare of Impending Doom that would freeze a hardened criminal in his tracks. I am 35 years old, and still wake in the night after panicked dreams of being on the wrong end of the Icy Glare of Impending Doom. It is the ocular equivalent of a taser.

I didn’t know I had it in me. It never occured to me to even attempt an Icy Glare of Impending Doom – such powers are not to be trifled with. Like divine intervention, the Icy Glare of Impending Doom makes itself available when the time is right.

To my amazement and delight, the Icy Glare of Impending Doom lasered through my eyeballs and neutralized Tristan’s obstinance. As he scuttled obediently over to collect his discarded sock, his eyes flashed a quick succession of surprise, respect and compliance. He never saw it coming.

Like a superhero discovering their secret talent, I feel I have come fully into my power as a mother now. I have harnessed the power of the Icy Glare of Impending Doom. Don’t mess with me or I’ll glare at you, too.

Happy Birthday, Tristan!

How is it possible that you are three already? How is it possible that my life has changed SO much in three short years?

We had a birthday party for you yesterday, your first real party with friends and presents and chaos, and I don’t know whether it was you, your friends or the grown-ups who had the better time. Since our house is barely big enough for two boys let alone eight, we had your party at Cosmic Adventures, where you and your crazy boy brethren could run your little hearts out. And run you did!

I knew you were having a good time, because you were glowing and grinning and your eyes were just dancing with glee as you led a little pack of preschoolers through the maze of tubes, tunnels and slides. Since you are not quite old enough to run off on your own, or perhaps because your mother hasn’t quite gotten over the fact that you are a big boy now, either your daddy or I or one of the other grown-ups tried to keep up with you and your pals as you raced through tubes. Tried to keep up, because you little guys sure move quickly! My bruised knees and aching hips are a testament to the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be!

I think you and your brother both liked the ball pits the best. Leaping and throwing and making a mess are all perfectly acceptable in the ball pit, so what’s not to love?

After calming down just a little bit for cake and presents, you were off and running again. I knew you were tired, though, by the glaze in your eyes as you started to open your presents, and the fact that when you went to say thank you for the presents (which you did sometimes even without me prompting you, you gracious little man, you!) you scanned the crowd of adult faces with incomprehension, unable to pick out the person you were looking for in a sea of familiar faces.

Happy birthday, my gorgeous, smart, sweet and lovable Tristan. You make my world a wonderful place in a thousand ways every day. You make me happy, you make me crazy, you make me cry, and you make me proud to be your mommy. I love you!


Hedgehogs and jingle bells

I love words. I love to talk, to write, to read. I could spend hours playing in the reference books – dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, I love them all. I have to make a conscious effort not to go to get sucked into the many online reference tools I have bookmarked, as I could easily spend an entire day just following one link or another through words, etymologies, linguistic histories. Words rock!

And now, in my very own house I have two living language projects that I find even more interesting (is it possible?) than the online reference tools. Watching the boys learn to speak and to use language fascinates me. Tristan was an early talker, Simon not so much… but then, it’s hard to get a word in edgewise between Tristan and I! Tristan has been talking so well and for so long, it’s very strange to go back and watch the videos of him at 11 and 12 months when he was nonverbal. A Tristan who doesn’t talk? Inconceivable!

He still has a couple of language peccadillos that make us laugh. He inverts words occassionally, so when we walk the dog he tells me, “You have to pick up the poop dogs, mommy. Poop dogs, look at those poop dogs.” Actually, I think he’s onto something there!

Last fall, we were at the park and we found some pinecones. “Do you know what these are?” I asked.

“Hot dogs,” Tristan replied, to my surprise. He knows very well what hot dogs are (a little too well, perhaps, but that’s a blog for another day), and although I’m not the world’s greatest chef, and my hot dogs really don’t resemble pinecones. It was only many days later, and after many trips to the park where he repeatedly told me they were in fact hot dogs that I realized he was saying “hedgehogs.” Ahhhhh! Well, at least that makes more sense than hot dogs.

The one that really tickles me is the fact that he calls Homer Simpson “jingle bells.” I have not even the faintest clue as to why. Since well before Christmas, every time he sees a picture of Homer, he says, “Look Mommy, jingle bells.” We don’t watch the Simpsons regularly anymore, and certainly don’t watch it with him around. I can only imagine what was in his head the myriad times we sang “Jingle Bells” in over the holidays.