More on the lentil reading.
The lentil and I were reading books together before his nap. This summer he started sounding out words so his teachers suggested we get him some early reading books. We got him these, based on the suggestion of the sweet little lady at the bookstore who seems to know everything and then some about children's books. We were reading Crab Trap today. He gets bored with it pretty quickly, but we do sound out some words while reading the book. At the end of the book there's a set of questions about the book, asking about rhymes and content. The questions are his favorite part. He's still a little vague on the meaning of rhyme- for him anything rhymes if it starts or ends with the same sound. I was wondering what he'd come up with today, so I asked him the questions.
"What rhymes with grab?"
"What rhymes with trap?"
"Okay. What rhymes with ham?"
How could you not laugh? I tried to ask him about other rhymes, to make the whole swearing thing not so big a deal, but he denied ham rhymed with Sam or lamb. Only damn, I'm afraid.
And now sweets and I commence the swear jar.
This may be small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it was a gigantic moment for us. Tonight we were driving to my dad's house for a little grampy dinner. The lentil and the peanut were in the back seat, the peanut was crying, and the lentil was babbling to himself, probably something about being invisible or flying in his invisible jet or using his magic powers to make our car invisible. He's big into invisibility these days. It was dark enough that the stores along the street had their signs lit, and the lentil started looking at the words on the signs. He would ask us about different letters, what the signs meant, and eventually he started guessing at the words himself.
On the way home he spotted a sign we'd passed on our way there. Sweets asked him to sound it out, so he did. "ssss aaaaahhh guh. Sag." We smiled, and then asked him to read it the other way. "guh. aaaaazzzzzzz. guhazz. gas." And our big moment had arrived. The lentil has begun reading road signs.
I remember when I was first learning to read and that big moment when I realized I could read road signs. Suprisingly, most basic signs use very few words and those words tend to be short. No apothecaries around here, but we have a lot of drug stores. I remember the world really opening up to me at that moment, when I became aware that the world was screaming out words for me to read and understand. I am so excited for the lentil.
Of course, the whole reading backward thing brings a different spin to the discussion. Since dyslexia runs in the family, we're waiting to see if the lentil got the gene. He's also a lefty, and I know from experience that lefties tend to read and write things backwards at first, so we're just holding our collective breath to see which side of that one he falls on. Either way, the boy is officially reading and I couldn't be more excited.
Ways in which I am a bad parent, by Whylime:
1) I sent my son to school today even though I know he has a mild ear infection. Other than the ear pain, he's fine- no fever, no runny stuffy anything. We doped him up on motrin and didn't look back.
2) I dope my children up on motrin for just about anything. Why sweat through a bad night when you suspect the child may just possibly without any serious justification be teething or suffering from some other unnamed ailment when you can resort to vitamin M?
3) I read the police notes out loud over breakfast, exposing my son to the glorious world of petty crime. I know of few three year olds who are quite as aware as he to the world of late night DWI and drug-related arrests.
4) I lie to my children. I tell them there aren't any more cookies, that the cookie store is broken, and that the cookie supply is tainted. I tell them that dragons live in the trails and we have to be careful where we step so we don't wake them. I have no lie making up a story to explain something instead of coming up with the real answer. For example, the lentil asked how mucous got its name. Of course, I told him, it's named after Dr. Mucous, who discovered it.
5) I allow my son to run freely in restaurants, as long as it isn't bothering anyone. Of course, who would tell me if it was bothering them, you know? I also let him play under the tables at restaurants. And I let him play in the clothing racks in department stores. I don't blame him for that one, really. I would do it too, if I could fit. They're the modern wardrobes with little secret hiding places in them. Maybe one day he really will find Narnia inside a rack of Target sweatpants.
6) I bribe my son with candy. Even though all the experts warn against this, I have been known to carry an emergency lollipop in my purse for those times when he just won't cooperate. It works.
7) I let my baby sleep in the bed with me. I have no plan on when we will move him out of the bed. I know that the AAP tells me not to do it, but I just can't see the logic in getting out of bed a million times a night to soothe a cranky but not yet hungry baby.
8) I give my baby a pacifier to help him sleep. This is another that I know will haunt me in the future, but I needs my sleep, people!
9) I'm incredibly self-centered. There's a reason the lentil loves Starbucks. Because starbucks makes momma very, very happy.
10) I feed my child hot dogs. At least weekly. He likes them. We buy the organic, nitrate-free kind, but still. I know better.
I'm happy to report that I'm no longer sick. Which is good, because I was running out of underwear from all the peeing on myself. Coughing + pregnancy = uuuuugly.
I never thought I would be so grateful to be simply pregnant. I am already grateful for the healthy pregnancy we've enjoyed thus far, but up until this past illness, I was feeling all slighted because my hips hurt. Today? Happy my hips only ache a little. Slightly inconvenienced to be peeing every 30 minutes. Annoyed with the rib pain. But so, so happy to be clear-headed and cough-free. Almost cough free. There's still some remnants of cough, which is excruciating when combined with the rib pain, but it happens once an hour and I can deal with that. And I seriously don't mind napping every day, because it gives me a few minutes to read the new Harry Potter before I pass out.
This morning I took the lentil to the Indian Hospital for his 3 year physical. He's such a big kid. He weighs a monster 32 pounds, and he's 39 and a half inches tall. He's in the 50%ile for weight and the 90%ile for height. He was so brave the whole time, I was so proud of him. He tolerated having his body poked and prodded, and he answered questions when asked instead of hiding under the chair. I told the doctor that he's started reading and the doctor was suitably impressed, which made us both feel pretty good. They didn't give him any shots, but they did have to do a blood draw to check for anemia. Unfortunately, my favorite lab tech wasn't there and instead we got a gentleman who I'm sure is completely competent but was not playing his A game today.
The blood draw was just a quick finger stick with a lancet, then some drops of blood would be milked out of the finger. The tech cleaned the boy up with the alcohol swab, got everything ready, grabbed his hand and then realized that he had no clue how to make the lancet work. He tried three times, with three different lancets and it just didn't work. The lentil started complaining that it hurt when he tried and I started worrying that he wouldn't sit still when the tech actually got the stupid lancet to actually poke the boy. I gave him his bravery prize- a lolipop. The lentil was happy. The tech disappeared, got a second type of lancet and tried it with that. Still dismal failure, but on the 5th try he got it to work. Blood starts shooting out of the lentil's finger and the lentil started crying. It must have really hurt, especially after all the tries. The tech was milking the blood out, blood was starting to drip everywhere, and the lentil started crying out "This is unneccessary! This is unneccessary!"
And we tried desperately hard not to laugh.
So the good news is that we have a very brave, smart little boy on our hands who appears to be completely healthy. What more could I ask for?
We haven't cut the lentil's hair since he was one and we had a ceremonial cut done. There's a lot of meaning behind hair in the Apache culture, and we're trying to honor a few traditions that we can. I stopped cutting my hair when I got pregnant, which I also did when I was pregnant with the lentil. Hair is protective, hair is symbolic, and hair should technically only be cut when someone dies. I don't live a very traditional life, but I do like to honor this when I can. I love his long hair- it's down past his shoulders now and we can braid it into little braids when he's willing to sit still for it.
The problem with having a boy with long hair is that everyone assumes he's a girl. Everyone, except other indians. We don't have enormous amounts of contact with other natives, though- and he has only one other native friend who is also from a mixed family. So we can't insulate ourselves against the boy/girl thing by spending all our time with other boys who have long hair. It's weird, actually. He wears all "boy" clothing, with dinosaurs and stripes and bold colors. There are no other visual cues that indicate female sex, yet people always assume he's a girl. Always. Little kids, parents- they're all the same. Everyone thinks my son is a girl. Sometimes I correct them, but usually I just let it go. I figure he'll start correcting people when he starts caring, but until then it's not really an issue. It doesn't change how people interact with him, other than kindly old men calling him "mijita". Which isn't such a bad thing, overall.
The interesting thing is that we have a kid who identifies strongly with female characters. He always picks the females out of a story, and his top heros lately are: Dory from Finding Nemo, Glenda the Good Witch, Dora the Explorer, Wonder Woman, and Tinkerbelle. He loves playing with magic wands and pretending he's a fairy, or that he's Peter Pan and he has a magic wand like Tinkerbelle has. As I like to put it, he's connected strongly with his female side. He's somewhat interested in stereotypically male things like trucks and sports, but when he plays "ice skating" he's not pretending to be a hockey player, he's pretending to be a figure skater. This is probably because we took him to a figure skating show of Alice in Wonderland this past winter and he's only seen hockey for a few minutes once in passing, but still. Observation bias makes us want to pick out the grossly femme-y things that he does and overlook the obviously boyish things. He has boyish things too- he likes to play soccer and t-ball, he likes to roughhouse and wrestle with the dog, he doesn't care for dolls or playing dress-up. I cuold go on. But it's his clear affinity for female heros that strikes me as unusual.
The last straw occured last week when we were visiting his granny. She took him to Build-a-Bear and let him pick out his own bear. He chose the one that looks like Winnie the Pooh. As you are encouraged to purchase outfits for your bear, he chose the fairy princess costume, complete with hat and magic wand. He also gave it cat-in-the-hat boxer shorts, but those are hidden by the sparkly tulle skirt. It gives Pooh Bear a decidedly tranny appearance. It's odd enough that we've struggle with assigning a pronoun to the bear, instead waffling between "he, no she" whenever we talk about it. It reminds me of a time in San Francisco before I understood about gender politics. I feel like I should honor Pooh's identity as a female, yet he's still so clearly male. The lentil calls him "he", by the way. We have settled on just calling it "fairy Pooh" or "Glenda Pooh" when the topic comes up. It's not unlike the struggle people have with the lentil before they learn his actual sex, come to think of it.
We're not quite sure where to go with this. Obviously, the issue isn't about whether or not my son is gay. It's more about making sure he's happy with his identity, and allowing him to be that person. Sweets wants to cut his hair, to eliminate the sex-confusion with strangers. I'm not sure that will make any difference other than giving the lentil a definite sex identity in public. I don't know where to go with this. It's an interesting conundrum, or maybe not an conundrum at all. He's such a special kid, we want to protect him from negative, but we're not entirely sure what the negative is.
You can tell by my post that this isn't very clear in my own mind. Who knows where it will go. We'll just wait and see. My good friend told me that my son is a metrosexual and I should just get over it. Anyway, here are a few photos of my metrosexual two year old and his little bear. (which he hasn't played with since it was made, by the way.)
A few weeks ago I took the lentil to see Santa at the mall. Up until this year, he's been pretty shy and hasn't seemed ready to visit with Santa. The thought of putting him on a stranger's lap and then take photos was akin to baby torture, and I couldn't convince sweets to do it. There was absolute resistance and only a small amount of grumbling about ruining Santa forever, etc. This year I was determined to do it, so I took the lentil in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. We had visited once before, just to check out the scene, and familiarize the lentil to the whole routine. I took him and he watched as some kids before him in line did the whole Santa bit. By the time it was his turn, he was ready to sit with Santa. So ready, in fact, that he hopped on his lap early and ended up having to make small-talk until the photographer was ready. Imagine making small talk with Santa. Yep- it was that awkward. "Soooo, Santa! How are the elves? um. yeah."
So Santa asked the lentil what he wanted. The lentil has wanted a miniature frisbee for the past 5 months, ever since his aunt wouldn't let him play with hers. There was this territory crap going on between the two of them (11 years old vs 2 years old... who will win?) and she ended up taking her frisbee with her when she returned to Massachusetts for the school year. He has wanted, lusted after, desired a mini-frisbee ever since then. We didn't mind this, it seemed an appropriate sort of random gift to ask of Santa. The only problem is that it's not so easy to find a mini frisbee. I spent hours looking for that damn frisbee. We finally had to special order one from a party supply website, and then it would only come in packs of 10. So now we have 10 rainbow-colored mini frisbees. They'll make great coasters if we ever chose to have a Pride party.
Not a day after the box came with the frisbees did the lentil have a great conversation with the crusher on the phone. They were very cute, talking about their visit last month and playing. They started discussing Santa, and the crusher asked what the lentil wanted for Christmas. He told the crusher that he wanted a "nemo box." WHAT? What the hell is a Nemo Box? Who the fuck told him about a nemo box? Where am I going to find a freaking Nemo Box?
There has been no discussion about this "nemo box" (said with air quotes) since this event. He brought it up once, but we were able to distract him back to the mini frisbee. Granted, he is going to recieve quite a few nemo items, mostly because he has this nemo passion that has dictated our buying patterns to the effect that we purchase anything clownfish-related now. But still, this Nemo Box has me totally flummoxed. Mini Frisbee! you said Mini Frisbee!
The lentil is going through this incredibly contrary phase. He spent most of lunch insisting that his little tow-headed friend had black eyes. Not blue! He also insisted that he had Blue Eyes! Not Black! and this wouldn't be a problem save for the fact that his little friend didn't understand that he wasn't trying to be hurtful and got all offended. Trying to have a lunch date with two two-year-olds is, well, trying.
We're in this place now where so much is in limbo. Our house closes in a week, so we're not making huge efforts to clean or keep our lives organized. Christmas mayhem is already descending upon us, acting as disincentive to do anything other than work on Christmas. The lentil hates everything, except when it was his idea, which makes it easier for us to "compromise" than to force an issue. Case in point- for the past few weeks, the lentil has made it habit to wear his pyjamas all day. Because we like to keep him warm, we usually dress him in two layers of pyjamas every night. Layer one is a pair of cotton pyjamas, layer two is usually a footed microfleece body suit with a full-length zipper. We can usually convince him to shed the footed body suit, but getting him out of the cotton layer is akin to full on torture for both parent and child. What do we do? We just slap a pair of pants and a hoody over the pj's and send him to school. He rarely wears those big-boy underwear he was so proud of, just because it's nearly impossible to get him out of his pyjama bottoms long enough to get the underwear on him. The compromise? I keep my hearing, you keep your dirty pyjamas on another 12 dirty, toddler hours.
What has my parenting come to that I feel like an accomplished, fulfilled woman when I can get my child dressed in the morning in an outfit that does not contain at least one item from the night before?
So, limbo. The point here is that we're not putting a lot of energy into the small things because we just don't have that kind of energy to spare. Between the babymaking efforts, the work and dissertation (total failure as a student, by the way) and family obligations, we can barely get ourselves out of our pyjamas in the morning. In a week we're going to have all our friends arrive with big trucks and trailers and I hope to high heaven we'll have enough stuff in boxes to make it all worthwhile. We move in 10 days, nothing is packed. not a thing. it's all just laying around, waiting to be put away, somewhere.
I try hard not to be an "Okay?" mom. You've heard them before. Everything they say to their child is ended with an "okay?" For example: "Simon, remember, it's not good to slap other children, okay?" "Maddox, When you're done with your painting, it will be time for bath, okay???" You've heard them. The moms who seem to ask their child's permission for everything, whether the child is in a place to take responsibility for decisions or not. And then the kids are completely confused: "No, it's not okay. I like hitting other kids. It's what I do."
The other day the lentil and I were at the park and there was a kid who was just out of control. He seemed to really enjoy tormenting this group of older girls- busting up their games, breaking down their little creations. His mom was standing there, reminding him over and over that he wasn't supposed to be hitting kids, okay? Seriously, Oliver, please stop bothering those girls, okay? I mean it, Oliver. Okay? It was no surprise this kid had no sense of boundaries- his mom put everything in his court.
I can understand how it happens, the okay? game. Here we are, adults who are used to communicating with words, trying to negotiate life's situations with beings who are just barely verbal. These little people can't verbalize their own feelings and end up doing things like pushing and screaming because they can't quite get it together to say "excuse me" or "i'm hungry." The urge to ask okay after every comment is strong, mostly because I want so badly to get some sort of confirmation that I've been heard and understood. But at the same time, I can understand how confusing it would be for a semi-verbal toddler to have to give permission for every decision made about their life.
This evening the lentil didn't want to take a bath. He was storming away, so upset, and in a moment of parenting clarity I took him outside. Outside, without his jacket, in 18 degree weather. I didn't have my jacket on either. But the cold was surprising enough that we were able to negotiate bathtime. He was still crying, still upset, so I quietly told him each thing I wanted from him. He screamed. He raged. But in the cold, he was able to calm down enough to talk, to respond. And I didn't have to ask him "okay?" once.
The nice thing about parenting is that you get little moments of clarity now and then. Every once in awhile you actually have the upper hand. It feels good. Okay?