Monday, September 28, 2009

Overdue travel: ripping off the band-aid

We have never gone to the beach. Except for in Maine. But not once in 9 years of living in the DC Metro area have we been to the ocean as a couple or as a family. Last year I took my son to visit my sister and her kids in the Outer Banks. But the three of us in our nuclear unit have never gone to the beach together or even been on any vacation that didn't involve going to visit family or friends.

We finally changed that. It seemed unwise to go through with our first kid-free vacation to leave our traumatized-by-the-beginning-of-school boy with his grandma overnight for the first time. So instead we all headed down to Chincoteague and Assateague Island for a short getaway.

I do mean short. We arrived at the hotel at 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday and headed for home the next day just after 2 p.m. It was cold and windy and a little rainy. But our little boy had a fabulous time playing in the waves just the same. We were out there for about a hour and a half, including two changes of clothing for me (pants to shorts and donning an extra jacket) and three for the little guy (into bathing suit from shorts, then to extra long-sleeved bathing suit on top).

Then we visited the nature center where some folks were going to set free Monarch butterflies they had raised and tagged. We learned about terrapin turtles and got to touch a horseshoe crab (I'd come to believe there never really was an animal -- only an empty shell). My husband stayed shivering in the car predicting nightmares about the swarms of mosquitoes closer to the woods while I jogged with my boy on my hip to give him at least a glance at some wild ponies. We ate lunch in town and then spent a while keeping our kid's fingers off fragile items in a gallery before buying a piece of art for the first time in years.

I told my husband that this trip was like ripping off a band-aid. We just needed to do it in order to move on. Now that we've done something, I'm hoping we can make it out to Shenandoah for some hikes and eventually back to Assateague for camping, which I've heard lovely.

And then the next band-aid will be to finally get away for a night without our little one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Through little eyes

I just thought I was involving -- and amusing -- my son while we made dinner. Joel Salatin wrote in a recent issue of Flavor magazine that we need to keep our kids in the kitchen if we want to have any hope for the future of agriculture, for future farmers who will seriously care about food and the land it comes from instead of retreating to video game alternate realities where it doesn't matter what you blow up or who gets killed.

So if I made a sweet potato and squash bus with carrot headlights (a la the Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers Fast Food books), I thought, my son might get stick around to try to "help" me and feel more invested in dinner.

Without skipping a beat, he said, "Lobster!"

Going to Maine helps appreciate food, too, I guess.

I was going for a standard vehicle, but I love that my son sees things I miss. He notices representations where I don't, and, on the flip side, he notices new details it never occurred to me he'd see, like the new 2010 county sticker on my dashboard within seconds of the first time we got in the car after I'd removed the old one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I stand corrected

So, we did have a nice beginning to the school year as described last week. But then, on Tuesday, I got The Call. My son's teacher had to let me know that he'd bitten his friend's arm.

I freaked out. I cried. I felt horrible. Why is he feeling so much tension? Why can't I model for him how to just roll with the punches?

I sobbed and told him we needed to be nice to our friends or then maybe we wouldn't be able to play with them. I didn't yell or belittle, but apparently I did shame him, because the teacher told me the next day that he stuck close to her for a while and told her at lunch, "Don't call my mommy again because she cried because I was bad." I never use judgment words with him, and I really hope he didn't seriously use that word. But regardless, he took on my pain. That is not what I want. That's the last thing I want.

So it was an upsetting week, even if we did avoid the TV the whole week and he happily enjoyed playing in the kitchen while I made dinner instead of whining about something else he wanted to do or begging me to play with him. We coexisted peacefully a lot of the time

Except, that is, when things set him off. He was crushed that he didn't get to put the soap in the dishwasher, even though he was chatting with me while I did it. The world had come to an end. And he tried to hit me, as though mocking the fact that I was about to go off and lead a Holistic Moms meeting with a speaker on Craniosacral Therapy.

I sure was glad that I'd made an appointment for acupuncture weeks earlier when he'd had his first-in-a-long-time biting episode. As I wrote on my other blog, I think the acupuncture really helped -- both of us. It was a great weekend with few frustrations and lots of lovely weather. I hope he and I can both remember to breathe and enjoy what we're given.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The school year begins!

After a week or two about worrying that my overtired, non-napping son would freak out in a class (even though a Waldorf class) of 12 boys and 2 girls, or that he'd melt during the transition to the afternoon program where there would be none of the aforementioned 13 other young children (and only a handful of older ones), I have to say I'm breathing easier after the first day of school.

I guess I got to feeling better after talking with his teacher on Saturday and after deciding that my angst was only going to negatively affect my son.

It's after 10 now, so I'm breaking my own new rule of reading in bed by 9:30 and lights out by 10 or 10:30 at the latest. But I am happy about a lot of parts of today that I had control over (as opposed to the fabulous weather, which was simply a gift).
- I snuggled my son in bed (he came in around 5:30) and gave him a mini massage, including effleurage. (I used to give him infant massage every morning! Let us retreat to those connected days!)
- I got out our yoga mats and had us do a few poses together, holding firm that it would not be accompanied by watching Yoga Kids
-(related happy point -- no video media today except me taping him on the camera. And the CD in the car was soporific "Duerme, Pequenitos" to which he sounds ridiculous trying to sing along)
- I ate with him instead of after. He ate a huge breakfast and I knew went off with a happy belly
- His lunch was all packed last night (in these new LunchBots containers that I love)
- He got through the transition from the morning class to the afternoon program well and did rest quietly, even if he didn't nap.
-I agreed to his suggestion to go to a particular park after school, and he had a good time (in fabulous weather) even playing with bigger kids who had just gotten out of school there and left without a serenade of "why" or "but I want to stay..."
-Dinner was leftovers as planned but we also managed to make some extra veggies and "sushi." I couldn't find the sushi rice but found 3 bags of millet and decided that was probably better anyway. We toasted the grains for a few minutes and then cooked them with new bone broth/homemade stock for millet sushi (a new invention) and also cooked butternut squash and green beans in stock, which he loved with the sushi (and ate the whole messy not-holding-together role). So later I made more (better) for tomorrow's lunch.
-During all this dinner prep, he happily hung in the kitchen, trying to do random stuff like grind nuts in a flour sifter and singing "The Noble Duke of York" and "Deedle Deedle Dumpling My Son John" from class. No real bursts of whining, no asking for TV. No asking me to play but instead just playing alongside me
-He was in bed at 6:57, though it took close to 20 min for him to fall asleep. I'm not so psyched that the last thing he was muttering was "Clifford is a big red dog." But what can you do?
-The kitchen was cleaned and the next day's lunch made by 8:45 p.m.

Apparently I can remain relatively happy and not upset as long as I have a big chunk of time alone. It would be nice if my husband could get home to put the boy to bed, as was our usual routine before work got so busy, but everything seems so much more doable when I haven't been with the little dude for 13 hours straight.

And this is why I say yay to Waldorf preschool!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sleep + run - child = better mood

My poor kid. He can't do anything right these days as far as I'm concerned. I have been working with a very short wick, even though I'm sure it's completely developmentally appropriate that he whine all the time, fall into tears when the mango isn't ready and rush to assure me "I'm not tired anymore" when I suggest rest to his whine of "I'm tired!" (Just in case it's a bigger issue, I got him a craniosacral session yesterday.)

I just can't put up with all this 3.5-year stuff very well because I just cannot get a break from him. Days that start at 6:30 and end at 7:30 with no nap or other help are just too much for this partially-introverted and wanna-be working-at-home mama.

Waldorf school starts next week. I'm counting the minutes. That sounds terrible, but with each passing day I feel more and more secure that I could never handle it as a homeschooler. I really hope it all goes well and that he transitions without incident from the big morning program to the small afternoon program where, I hope, he might actually learn to rest and recharge, which he has clearly not learned from me.

Thankfully, today I have him with a sitter so I can address some Holistic Moms work and so many other things I haven't been able to get to unless I use the dreaded TV (which I think is awful for his brain, but clearly is not the reason he stopped napping a year ago because he didn't even know TV existed back then. I cannot believe it has been a year since I could not count on naps. No wonder I'm fried).

Last night, my husband had to work late again, so I was on bedtime duty, which is normally a daddy thing. I had a flashback to earlier days: I fell asleep while putting my son to bed. I woke up at 7:40 in a pretty grumpy mood, not at all geared up for the chat my husband and I had actually (amazingly!) scheduled to talk about marriage stuff. So I called my husband, who was still 15 min. away and told him I was going to bed. Before 8:00.

I didn't drift off immediately, but close enough. I slept through the night, and you'd think I'd have popped up at 5 a.m. But instead I was still wanting to doze when little E crawled into our bed and started trying to feel me up. Without my post-bed checking in on work and friends the previous night, I felt like in fact I'd had no break from my son.

But the sleep did do me a lot of good, and it worked out that my husband could drive the boy to the babysitter for my one day of help (watch the minutes tick by while I write!). With the extra time, I felt like I could really go running. On a cool fall morning. It was fabulous. Then I came home and juiced and meditated. What a day before 10 a.m.

Now it's time to head back to other pressing matters on the computer, but I feel a lot better and hope that after a day with other kids (and quiet time, if we're lucky) my son will be happy and refreshed ... and that after a day without him, I'll be able to handle it even if he's not.