Dear Elliot, I know it has been far too long since I wrote to you. I have been slack and that is lame and you could well argue that you are coming off a little… More
It’s really like adding insult to injury isn’t it? How many more water problems are we going to have? We’ve had from the top down and the bottom up. From the outside in and by nature of it having to go somewhere, the inside out and now we’ve got stuff leaking through the middle! Elliot is yet again boosted from his room due to wet carpet as we now have a leaky shower. Brilliant! Which needless to say did wonderful things to your stress levels. The fact that it took so long for us to get back to being able to use the shower was not so good for mine either.
I left the resolution or the course of action up to you and we discussed ripping the bathroom apart or just siliconing the crap out of it and hoping to blazes that it would hold water for the mean time but you have got to admit that you dithered. It was well over a week that we were bathing and prevailing upon the goodness of family and neighbours to take a wash which was a pain in the backside really. At least I have my shower back now though. When I am under the scalding hot water behind a shut door it’s that heavenly “me” time that helps me function. In a perfect world, no one would be allowed to bang on the door or scream “Mama” at me when I’m taking a shower but I’ll take what I can get.
Of course, what we also have is now a bathroom that may just have a precarious fix at best. We’ve got no idea how long it will hold out. And by hold out, I mean hold water in. We also are aware that we have mould between the walls. As part of your trying to figure out what was wrong, the neighbours came over with their bendy camera thing so you could get a look in the wall to see if you could locate the leak. You were not able to but you have been concerned ever since that there is a mould problem in Elliot’s room that is making him sick. I honestly don’t know. As you so often point out, I can’t smell jack in regards to stuff like that.
On more than one occasion you have more or less berated me with exasperated versions of you seriously can’t smell that!! Unless its excessive, apparently I can’t smell musty, mouldy, smoky and otherwise malodorous scents. On the other hand, I seem to have a poo radar. If I get within a couple of metres of one of Elliot’s soiled nappies it’s my turn to exclaim can you not smell that! Sometimes I am positive you are just leaving him squelch in poo so I will be the one to change the nappy because you can be a turd like that but at other times, you honestly seem surprised that he is dirty. Maybe that’s a boy thing.
And, because we needed something else to go wrong this month (like we needed a hole in the head), the hot water heater blew up. Or rather, it didn’t really blow up like a Mythbusters hot water heater blowing up. I’m not sure if that would have been better or worse. I mean, in Mythbusters, no one gets hurt. At least that’s the theory. And if there was an explosion and the house was largely cactus, we could rebuild it but it would be damned inconvenient and we could potentially lose a lot of stuff we have no desire to lose so I’m sure we had the lesser of two evils but it wasn’t exactly in the budget this month to buy a new water heater. I must say though, I was impressed that you resolved this situation in a very expedient manner.
First thing I the morning, we came out to see that the bung had burst from the top of the system and water was pouring out of it at a rapid rate. By the end of the day, you had sourced a new replacement locally and pulled some favours to have it installed and ready to go by that evening. That was pretty cool. Or rather it was hot. Thank God.
Then we come to the car. Because this month we also had to deal with some idiot who doesn’t know how to park and had hit our car. Or rather, we didn’t have to deal with them (or I would hazard to say her because the note left was in lipstick) but you had to deal with the insurance company as you wanted to be sure that our vehicle hadn’t been damaged. Since we have previously been affected by bent control arms and busted ball joints or whatever they are, you didn’t want to get stung with heaps of repairs later so you asked that the car be looked over and checked out. Which apparently takes forever. That wasn’t really our problem though because we got to drive Sonia Kluger for a couple of weeks. I got to revel in the new car smell and feel like we actually had money and could buy a new car like that which right now, kinda feels like it’s never going to be the case in my lifetime. Oh well. She chugged a bit of fuel too but it was a silver lining to the month.
The highlight of the month though was our day trip out to Junee to the liquorice and chocolate factory. It was a day just for us and the kids and it was nice to spend some time away from things. I got to take photos without feeling like I was pushing everyone into it and we could just take our time. You are right, we should do more of that. I do get caught up with it feeling like and effort and an expense beforehand that is taking me away from something that I feel I should do but that can easily wait (I won’t reminisce about a clean house when I’m 60). When I don’t know what to expect, I am warier than I should be but I did have fun and we should have days like that more often.
Your Loving Wife
You are my big one year old boy now. You have not been a baby for a while but now we can start counting your life in years, not months as you launch yourself into your life with gusto. Your birthday came and went with a minimum of fuss as you were really none the wiser. You did of course have an awesome elephant birthday cake which you showed no particular interest in whatsoever but then there are far more interesting things to do as an energetic little boy. For instance, you are a climber!
You are not a kamikaze daredevil but definitely a climber. If you can find any way of elevating yourself above the floor you will be right there. In like Flynn. Chairs, couches, steps…you name it. You particularly like the kitchen helper that your Dad made for Genevieve to allow her to reach the bench. More than once I have heard a plaintive wail or a distressed cry when you have reached the top and realised that you do not yet know how to get down.
I am aware that you are now mobile and as such can manoeuvre yourself out of my sight. So most of the time, if you move off in the direction of not too many things that are likely to hurt you, I just let you explore. Which is fun for you until you get stuck. Then you have to wail until someone takes notice and occasionally, that is not immediately. Ok, so most of the time it’s not immediately. I can tell the difference between I’m hurt and I need help and I’m not getting my way and I want it fixed so on more than one occasion I have waited to see if you will get over whatever is bothering you. Then, when the complaint doesn’t stop and I have thought what is it now, I have usually investigated to find you hanging on for dear life at the top of the kitchen helper. Sorry about that. It’s not the easiest thing to get off either.
Most of the climbable platforms around our home are ones you can navigate all by yourself. Not ones you necessarily do navigate on your own but ones that you can. Even the ladders in the back yard. We were down in the playground area the other day and you decided you were going to go up the ladder. All the way up. So we’re figuring you don’t have a fear of heights. We did know you were going up the ladder by the way. We saw you when you started at the bottom and then your Dad shadowed you all the way to the top to make sure you didn’t fall. We’re not totally irresponsible parents. Then, when you had reached the top, your Dad made you climb all the way back down again by yourself so that you’d know you could. Life skills, yes? We’re all about teachable moments. Even if they’re ones that would scare the pants off other parents. Now we just have to teach you to climb down backwards off the kitchen helper. And perhaps to hang on more, especially when you’re tired. Good thing you have a hard head! Go hard or go home, right? Seems to be your philosophy on food.
You still eat like a horse. You pack it away like a junk yard crushing its intake into compacted bricks. I’m not sure where it all goes on the inside but it definitely looks interesting on the outside. With the summer months, grapes and berries have been in season. Bags of grapes and both blueberries and raspberries by the punnet seem to be the favourite snacks in this house. Especially raspberries. You inhale those given the opportunity. When you have assuaged the first wave of hunger, you are sometimes happy to play at feeding us food from your tray. Your Dad might hold his mouth open for you and you think it’s really hilarious to put in a grape or a blueberry inside and have him gobble it up. If he holds his mouth open when you have a raspberry in your hand though? Not a chance. That little sucker goes right in your mouth and you are never going to part with it. Then you look so pleased with yourself. It’s very funny to watch.
Well it’s the start of a new year and there were a couple of nice milestones to celebrate with the kids. Genevieve had her first day of pre-school and Elliot turned one. So we now have a near school-age child and we definitely no longer have a baby. I am sure the school thing is going to be an adjustment. Even if it is only a couple of days a week. We have had years of just being able to do what we wanted regarding kids, the only real commitment being swimming lessons on and off or ballet classes. And though pre-school is not a legal requirement for 4-year-olds, it still seems to fall into that category of we can’t miss this on a whim. Although, we are fully intending on letting her come to all the Babes In Arms screenings which will necessitate her missing some of her time there but you know what I mean.
As for Boo, he’s getting more interactive and interested in playing with others which is great. We did have a rocky day or so at Summerfest where he was totally not happy to be palmed off at crèche, overall though, it was a great week. I think before we went to stay with our friends on the coast, we didn’t really intend on staying as long as we did but it was relaxing to spend the time just chilling with them and I really enjoyed the program at EV. Anywhere you can drop your kids for a couple of hours and enjoy some talks is pretty good. Although the more I learn about raising kids in today’s world, the more daunting it seems.
I remember my Dad’s mum saying once that she didn’t always agree with his parenting choices but she wouldn’t want to raise kids in the environment I grew up in for quids. And today’s world is a whole hell of a lot harder. To a certain extent, some of the stuff they were talking about doesn’t affect us as the kids are both too young and or still under constant supervision (mostly by us) but then standards and attitudes have to start somewhere so that doesn’t mean we can be ignorant either. More than one person stressed that you need to know exactly what apps your kids are using and what they do. Facebook, for all its evils, is not the problem and it’s no longer the it thing either. Just in case you were feeling cool and hip as opposed to old school. There was also the take home that cyber-parenting is really 10% cyber and 90% parenting. Or maybe the percentages were different than that but the basic message being that you have to be present with your kids and teach them to use their own discernment effectively. Model good behaviour; more is caught than taught.
Then there were the sex talks. The sexologist was particularly entertaining. A little old Indian lady who amongst her many stories from years in the field of study was telling us that kids are just like a Ferrari on steroids. Pedal to the metal, using minimum breaks and with no GPS. She talked about tactics for kids and porn, that is get them to name and shame. Recognise what it is, say I don’t like it and go and tell an adult. Good idea really. I know that we are a lot more liberal than some other people in our circle. I also don’t quite have the doom and gloom attitude that some seem to think justifies banning their kids from any situation they can’t control but it is a little disquieting to realise that exposure happens so much earlier now and to a certain extent, we have to hope our kids want to come and talk to us about this stuff and not hide it from us.
When you first have children and you can totally control the environment around them you are not thinking how do I teach my kids about porn. How do I make sure they don’t fall victim to emotional abusers or sex predators. How do I teach them to be confident and self-assured such that they value their body, their friends and their family? We’re having a bash at it of course and it’s easy to think we’re doing well when Genevieve asks questions and shows compassion but then seeing what friends with older kids are going through, friends who I would assume have the same morals and values as we do, well I’m buggered if I know how to avoid that…
And on that note, I will leave those bridges to be crossed another day and get on with enjoying today. We’ve got vague plans for this year so who knows what will happen.
Your Loving Wife
My darling boy, I have neglected you a little in the letter department of late. I have been lazy. I apologise. And to catch up on where you are now…
You are still crawling. You have yet to identify the fact that when you finish crawling and reverse into a sitting position, you actually pull your body away from whatever it is that you were pursuing. You will see something you want, crawl towards it until you are within easy arm’s reach then push yourself back onto your bum only to find that you can no longer pick up what you want without leaning right over to get it. It still makes me smile. What I smile less over is that you have opted for the ninja crawling approach to getting around and if we put you down, you can be off like a shot. You like to lull us into a false sense of security here and there though. Sometimes, we will put you down and you will find something nearby to amuse yourself with briefly and then as soon as we have been distracted and are not looking, you disappear.
You may be gone for a couple of minutes and then all of a sudden, your father or I will freeze in that manner parents have of stopping everything to allow their other senses the maximum ability to identify the location of their children. If your sister is around, we will ask where is Elliot!?! If not, we go about the house quickly calling your name which is a somewhat futile exercise because you never answer. 1. You can’t talk. 2. You do not generally babble back with a response each time we speak to you and 3. I’m pretty sure that if you thought about it, it would seem like way more fun to make us find you instead of letting us know where you were and you would actively decide not to respond. But thankfully that doesn’t happen all that often.
More often, you have started to get yourself places that you can’t get out of. As well as crawling, you can also climb. You can climb on couches, you can climb on one of the high chairs and you can climb on your sister’s kitchen helper. So I might be putting some clothes away and I will hear increasingly distressed crying (as opposed to continuously whiney overtired crying) and I will come to the source of the noise to find you have climbed up somewhere and you are stuck. You are holding on for dear life because you can’t get down. You haven’t figured out how to go backwards yet. So fortunately I guess, you have not climbed that high yet either but there are heaps of ladders in the front yard so give it time.
We actually had thought you might walk over the Christmas break but you have decided that its not really necessary yet. You are getting closer inch by inch though. I notice the progression as I have my arms around your torso and it becomes more a brace than a hold. I see you brace yourself against objects for support and you drop from two hands to one. Your core muscles are getting stronger as you can spend more time weight bearing on your feet and if we hold your hands, you are starting to move your feet forwards. In the last week or so, you have been practicing just letting go. You can manage about 5 seconds so far. And you usually look quite pleased with yourself.
Actually, you quite often look very pleased with yourself. You are still such a happy little camper. You are not my baby any more though. Not at all. You might not officially be a toddler yet but you are not a baby. I saw you against a three month old over Christmas who was in fact very close in size to you but worlds apart in ability. You just looked like a big bruiser in comparison. A cheeky, lovely bruiser who taught himself to open sliding doors so we had to be on constant watch that you were not about to head towards a rather large set of stairs you could fall down!
So what else can I tell you? Well, you eat like a horse. I have grave concerns for our grocery bills in the future. You are a grazer like your father and your sister and you just keep on packing it away. You can eat as much if not more for the main meal as Genevieve and this is after you have possibly had some fruit or a biscuit for an entrée. You can then follow that up with a punnet of blueberries for desert with no trouble whatsoever. You eventually slow down but we are still amazed by just how much you can eat. And by how loud you are.
You are not yet talking. You can make “mama” and “dada” sounds at the appropriate times on occasion but then at other seemingly random times so I don’t believe it is purposeful communication. Other than you are purposefully making a lot of noise to draw attention. Man you can yell though. Especially when I am right beside you. Are you copying your sister? She gets louder every time she gets excited and one of the constant refrains in this household is a little quieter please – I am not deaf! Well yet anyway.
Other than that, we go day to day, occasionally finding new things that you enjoy. We think we are nearly at the liking baths stage. Initially you would scream blue bloody murder if we put you in one. Now though, if you can watch Genevieve for a while and then we ease you in, you are happy enough to play. We read to you every now and then and you seem to like books but I have to confess, its not something you have seemed to love or something we have made a concerted effort to make time for. Perhaps we should…you do love crazy time with your dad and your sister though. In keeping with tradition, right before bed in our house is a time for dance parties, wrestling, hysterical laughter, tickling and mania. I keep hoping that this will completely tire you out but it still doesn’t work as well as I’d like.
I wouldn’t say that you sleep though yet. You can. You have done it on occasion. Sometimes 2 or 3 nights in a row. Most of the time you wake at least once though and you still have periods where you can wake more than once before midnight and then do a long stretch afterwards. I still feed you, not that you really need it, and it is what it is. It is rare that I cannot get you back to sleep within 10-15 minutes and since most of that is not spent voicing your displeasure at me (if I am feeding you), I am ok with that. Don’t get me wrong though, if you would like to start having some uninterrupted nights of sleep in your own cot, you be my guest. Maybe you would like to start doing that when you are 1.
This last year has seemed remarkably slow at times and like a whirlwind at others. So now we find ourselves 10 days away from your first birthday. I know exactly how that happened but wow. That is a big milestone and it is right upon us. And your dad hasn’t even started planning the cake. You will get to know about your father and cakes as you get older. I know you don’t really care right now, as long as it’s food, right? But its not a real kids birthday without a cake à la Karlos and we will need to find something suitable for you.
So until next time when I am pretty sure you will be 1, love you big time little buddy.
For the love of all things Pete, can you JUST. STOP. TOUCHING. YOUR. BROTHER! Every time I turn around you are grabbing him and pulling him over, practically strangling him as you drag him around or moving him such that he will do just what you want. HE IS NOT A TOY. He is a little boy and he is learning to do all the cool things you can do but he is still HIS OWN PERSON. I’m sure it has gotten to the stage that we look like helicopter parents (or perhaps that was lawnmower parents) when it comes to you and your brother. Sometimes we can go spare at you on a moment’s notice but you do try my patience girl.
I LOVE that you love your brother. I think it’s awesome that you are not jealous and that you are always excited to see him. I appreciate your compassion when you try to comfort him or help him. I would rather however that you smothered him a little less than you do. I am trying to learn to just take a big step back. I keep reminding myself that turnabout is fair play and as soon as he gets a decent command of language and his arms and legs, he is going to monster you every chance he gets. Just like you do to him now. And you are probably not going to like it. I also know that you are a lot less violent and possessive than some other children are towards their siblings. I try to give him the same opportunity to learn though that you had when you started to move and to talk although I guess it’s really not the same at all.
You started off as an only child and that is different in so many ways to being the younger sibling. For all that you try to do for him (as opposed to letting him do it for himself), you can show him things that we can’t. He looks to you to know how to be a kid. He picks up mannerisms from you. He wants what you have. He is content to have time to himself and to latch on to mum or dad but there is a certain camaraderie that he cannot experience with us. A sense of being part of something that he gets precisely as a result of the way you include him in your games. So I am sorry that we give you such a hard time. But to be honest, I’m probably not going to stop rousing on you when you are clearly annoying your brother. Just so as you know.
And I am also not going to stop trying to teach you the art of accepting gifts graciously and not assuming that you are entitled to them. Which is a hard thing to grasp, I know. In less than a month, you experience a birthday and Christmas and you’re young and cute so we tend to spoil you rotten. Which provides much short term gratification on our part but is perhaps not really helpful overall. Especially as you have begun to keep a tally. You know that family almost always provide presents and when your Granddad told you that he would save your birthday present to pass on to you at Christmas when he saw you, you remembered. It was one of the first things you remembered once you got there. And you weren’t ashamed to say it. Unfortunately.
Then, as gifts were being passed around on boxing day, you whispered to me that your Aunt had not given you anything yet. Which was correct but no, you cannot ask her for one. You cannot tell her you want one. You cannot point out to her that she has not in fact given you one. That is rude. And as it happened, her gift was to be a belated one and not a tangible one anyway. She wanted to gift you with an experience and offered you a girls outing when we were next available. That took a little wrapping your head around. As did the idea of a familial gift. As you pointed out, Bepi didn’t get you anything either. No she didn’t, she got us something.
But these are lessons that many adults still need to learn so we are going gently. Understanding that the appearance of something is not tantamount to comprehending the situation as a whole is not an easy concept for a four year old. We also haven’t made it easy for you to understand that you are privileged and not poor. But all this is now getting too heavy so I shall tell you a story that would most likely embarrass you when you are older…
We spent New Years with some friends of ours who have a three month old baby. As children are wont to do, they copy what they see and you and their other son (who is one month older than you) decided to play at breastfeeding. Each other. When we realised that this was what you were doing, we decided to invite you to try caring for dolls instead – in the living room – but you were both having a ball paying at being a baby, crying and feeding and rocking.
I also had to laugh that at times, you get very frustrated with your imaginary friends who refuse to tell you things. This is usually in the car when you just chat to yourself (sometimes on a pretend phone) to pass the time but the other day you were telling me all about Queenie and when I questioned you further on one point, you very exasperatedly told me that she wouldn’t tell you the answer. The girl that you made up in your head was acting stubborn by refusing to provide you with the information you wanted and had specifically asked her for. Ok. I love the conversations you seem to have in your head. I must admit, I love them a little less over an hour after I have put you to bed but you have a pretty big imagination there little lady.
Well here we are at the end of another year. And seemingly, we are no wiser than we were last year. I mean you’d think we might have learned that you trying to buy me a watch as a Christmas present was an exercise fraught with danger and unforeseen perils. A threat to goodwill and burden borne rather than a blessing received. Even if you don’t quite understand it, I have tried to impart on you that jewellery for me is a very personal thing and not a functional thing and so it definitely matters how it looks and how it feels and if it doesn’t “feel” right then it’s wrong. And that’s not to say that you are wrong or unappreciated or incapable or anything else that you were feeling but everything you showed me didn’t feel right so it wasn’t. You can’t make a square peg fit a round hole so if you actually want me to wear the damn thing and not stuff it in a drawer never to be seen again then I really can’t justify the expense right now. Its not as though we have that much to spare.
Because what we really got each other for Christmas this year was an evaporative air cooler. Since the old one was pretty much a rust bucket, we would have been in for a hellish season without the ability to cool down so we had to suck it up so we could blow it out. That’s pretty much it, isn’t it? We did have to wait a little longer than I would have liked. I brought the topic of buying a new one up a couple of months ago with you but you said to wait and by the time you had finished waiting, it was days before Christmas that provided the earliest opportunity to get the unit installed. Right before we went away on holidays. Figures. I shouldn’t complain though, I know. We did get it before what I am sure will be the height of summer and we can afford to get it as opposed to not being able to afford anything at all. I do not fancy sitting in the bath for the next month or so because that’s the only place I can cool down and not feel drenched in sweat. Besides, I still have to work on my computer and water and electricity don’t mix.
Apparently us and insurance companies don’t mix either. At least, I’m pretty sure if insurance companies could fire clients, we’d be on that list. The saga with the rumpus room still continues. We can’t categorically prove our problem is subsidence and they can’t categorically prove that it’s not and we are at an impasse. A tense, stressful, negative impasse. One where you leave the house to take phonecalls lest the kids hear the language you end up using. One that has our four year old saying Daddy, you have to let go of your anger. One that has you building a wall up that I can’t break down. I find out about what has been happening and where everything is up to by overhearing your conversations with other people. You will go into detail for them as you never will for me. If I ask you what is going on, if I push you for details or ask where are we up to after you have had a half hour conversation, you simply tell me there is nothing to tell. We are no further along. The status quo hasn’t changed. And its hard…
Hopefully though, the time away and out of the house will be at least a little refreshing. This year, for the first time, we went to see your Dad for Christmas. Or rather, we saw him on Christmas and went to the Mountains for Boxing Day. Ever since we have been together, we have been with my family. I assume that this has not been as issue for you as your side of the family has never seemed attached to the day or any particular traditions but more to the idea that it’s nice to catch up over the season? After making the round trip in July / August this year though, we are now in the process of going the other way and ending at the beach. But after passing through Sydney traffic (and Pennant Hills Road which I will never miss) and catching up with your Mum, we are now with friends for New Years which feels a little like coming home in the best possible way.
So this is a great way to end the year. Moving on from the commitments and projects that existed back in town; the Christmas Carols event at which you actually performed this year and the Babes in Arms trial that is another brainchild come to life. Setting aside the stress and tension of negotiations with the insurance company and the large ticket expenditure of the evaporative cooler. Putting away the angst and frustration of Christmas gifts because for you and I, this is still our first world problem “thing” (although I totally got you the best present ever as it was in budget and right on the money – if you lose both your phone AND your keys then you’re still up shit creek but given your propensity to only misplace one at a time, that tile is going to drastically reduce some additional stress in my life alone!). We are loved, we are loving, we are together and at midnight, we are (or were as I am totally backdating this) not entirely sober.
Happy New Yearily yours,
Your Loving Wife
It’s your birthday time of year. You know how I know this? 1. Because I am your Mama and I am totally supposed to know these things. 2. Because you mention it all the time. That and your party. Which seems to have a different theme every five minutes. When you turn 4, you are going to have a minions party. No, wait, an Angelina Ballerina party. Actually, you would like a Cinderella party. But you might like a Sophia the First party. Maybe you should have a Princess party. You could have a pirate party. Then again, maybe a Mickey Mouse party would be better?
You couldn’t fix on one thing at all. Which for the most part was ok cause I could just smile and nod and not put any significant effort into trying to theme the party cause there wasn’t a consistent theme going. Then we had to make a call. Which became remarkably easier when we saw that the Cinderella Party paraphernalia was at least half price and then slightly more complicated when we realised that the majority of your friends are boys. Thus we came up with a Cinderella / Jake and the Neverland Pirates themed birthday, heavy on the princesses. And we bought a whole heap of stuff, most of which we probably didn’t need.
I still have dreams of creating a pintrest worthy party. Lovingly handmaking food and games for beautiful children to enjoy. I know that in reality, if I was to try such a stupid feat, I would get pissed off, leave half-finished projects lying around and end up buying a number of things anyway so we saved a little stress and less money and just went to the party supply shop. We are looking forward to the party though. Your aunt is coming and your best friend so that pretty much takes care of your happiness for the day. The rest is just sugar and sunshine. Hopefully.
And in other news, you are definitely laying on the love with your brother these days which is both pleasing and frustrating depending on the time of day. One of the things you have started to do is sing to him when he is upset and neither your father nor I are in the room. A couple of times we have heard you sing the Doc McStuffins song to him:
Hey, what’s going on? Tell me what’s wrong.
I know there’s something we can do…
Tell me what’s wrong, what’s going on?
So choosing to ignore the fact that this may mean we let you watch too much tv, it’s really cute. It doesn’t work of course. When he is already upset, he is really not interested in you singing him a song but we think it’s quite lovely. What is not lovely is that sometimes you just can’t leave him alone. If I had a dollar for every time I have asked, pleaded, ordered and yes, yelled can you just stop grabbing your brother from behind! I know, I know. Sounds kinda bad out of context…
Sometimes we would like you to let your brother do things for himself. He is learning and we would like to afford him the same opportunity that you had, except you didn’t have any older siblings. You constantly take over for him and he will have to get used to that. You are also sometimes possessive of what is yours and if he picks up something that you are playing with (or not playing with occasionally) you will just go ahead and take it back. I can see that is going to happen a lot in the next couple of years. What is really frustrating for me to watch though is when you grab him from behind and essentially pull him over. Sometimes you are trying to cuddle him, other times move him and sometimes help him but he never seems to like it. You are constantly doing it though so we are trying to curb that behaviour.
We are also trying to curb the constant asking of the same question when you have already received an answer. And for some reason this happens both when you get the answer you don’t want and the answer you do. I can understand the playing off one parent against the other although the execution somewhat eludes you. Like when we were in the card waiting for Dad and you asked if you could listen to Playschool. I said no, not this time, we will listening to my music. Five seconds later, your dad gets into the car and you ask if you can listen to Playschool and he says sure honey. That one did not work out the way you had planned. You did not in the end get Playschool.
At other times though, you might ask if you can have something specific for lunch when you get home. I will say yes and then shortly thereafter, you will ask your dad (or even me sometimes) the same question. Do you forget that you received the answer you wanted? Or do we seem that fickle and changeable that you fear 10 seconds is enough time for us to change our minds and rip the carpet out from under you so to speak? I know that the more times you ask me can I have something, the more I am tempted to say no. Even if I first said yes.
And then there is the thing where apparently you can only receive an answer from the one to whom the question was originally asked. Whilst we are all together, you might ask a question of your dad but I will answer in his stead. You then continue to ask your dad. Either he or I will tell you Genevieve, you already have an answer to your question but you are all no-ooo, I asked Dad in that threenager way you have that is so rolling your eyes, disgusted with dumb parents that don’t get it, hardly done by attitude. I’ll show you attitude in a minute…
And then we just go back to thinking that you are gorgeous.
This was the month of the Lost Keys. The lost keys that were almost my fault but not really and the lost keys that were totally not my fault at all. And I know its not or it shouldn’t be about blame but you get so MAD when stuff like this happens that I either feel like scuttling into a corner or coming out punching. And the fact that your keys went missing twice in one week was really unfortunate.
The first time was when we went to meet your sister for coffee. When driving up to Sydney, the house keys (because you keep house and car keys separately which is just another thing to keep track of in my opinion but what do I know) were given to Boo. Then we stopped at Roselands while you made a toilet stop and I got Boo out of the car. I was so wishing I hadn’t done that later…Then we fast forward to getting out of the car on the North Shore and we can’t find the keys.
They weren’t in Boo’s capsule. They weren’t on the floor of the car. They weren’t in the bags in the car. They weren’t on the street. Did Genevieve know what had happened to them? No. Boo threw them somewhere? Did they fall out of the car when I got him out at Roselands? No, I don’t think so. But do you know? Can you categorically tell me that they are not somewhere at Roselands or even worse, in someone else’s pocket because they stole them from the ground kilometres from where we are now!?! Could they have fallen out and you didn’t notice? Were you not careful enough when you got him out of the car? Did you look at the ground specifically to make sure that none of our possessions had fallen out?…It was around this time that I was feeling particularly small.
I wondered if I had somehow missed the falling of the keys. I was pretty sure I hadn’t. I mean, when I get Boo out of the car, I generally stand him up in the seat first to adjust my hold and lift him out of the car carefully so I don’t knock him out on the ceiling. I try and be a good parent. DOCS frowns on braining your kids after all. I figured if the keys had been in the seat though, they would have fallen out IN THE CAR. The house keys themselves are also a massive bunch of metal and I thought I would have heard them clang on the ground for sure. Which I had not. I didn’t know where they were though and I couldn’t categorically say it was not my fault.
So we went to coffee. You were trying not to be openly pissy with me, we finished coffee and then we went back to the car. We still couldn’t find the keys. You searched again, pulling things out of the car. Muttering and swearing not so under your breath. I sat down on the side of the road with the kids and looked through the nappy bag with me (which I had already SEARCHED TWICE) to find something to amuse Boo and I found the keys. Which had presumably landed in the open back pocket when Boo threw them out of his car seat. And my first thought was I DID NOT LOSE THEM AT ROSELANDS AND THIS WAS TOTALLY NOT MY FAULT! You may argue that my relief was somewhat misplaced and should have been in the locating of the keys that would not result in re-keying anything rather than the lack of fault in losing them beyond recovery but I don’t care. You could also argue that a lot of stress could have been alleviated had they been found when I first checked the nappy bag but nevertheless, they were found and this was now not a terrible event in history that was going to go down as my fault.
And then there was the second time the keys were lost. I was getting ready to go to bed. You were coming too but you like to gather up your keys and phone etc before you go to bed and did I know where your keys were? No, I do not keep their whereabouts on my radar. I can’t recall seeing them either so I don’t know. I dutifully helped you look though. Through the couches, on top of the bench, in the piles of stuff we have about the place. You searched the car and the grass in the garden. No keys. When was the last time you saw them? I don’t know, if I knew that don’t you think I would be looking there? Sorry I asked. Did you need to use them today? I gave them to Boo in the park to play with. Which is where I struggle not to suggest that had they been on the same keychain as the car keys, you would remember if they had come home or not. Did we learn nothing from earlier in the week? Apart from this is not helpful at all?
So at this point you head down to the park with a torch and then come back – with no keys. Since it is dark and late and the kids are asleep, I figure there is not much more we can do now. I am pretty sure that we will find them tomorrow so I send up a little prayer for same, go to bed and incredibly selfishly think at least this wasn’t my fault either. I never said I was perfect. The next morning you had a commitment so you were out of the house and I was cleaning up. As I went through Boo’s room, I pick up some dirty clothes from atop the column heater and find the keys. It then takes me a couple more minutes to reset my phone so I can let you know because it decided to freeze on me and the home phone had no charge whatsoever.
You said that you did not put the keys there, however, you had been sitting on the floor there with both kids the previous day. You had given the keys to Elliot to play with (again) in the exersaucer and Genevieve must have moved them to the side…in your presence…I am saying nothing…
After all, its not like this kind of thing happens to us all the time…
I can’t however keep silent on the following. Every so often, you berate me regarding one of your apparent pet peeves which would not nearly be so bad if I had any idea of its coming. And if it wasn’t the pot calling the kettle black. The other day I was getting a piece of toast. I cooked the bread, spread on some butter and vegemite and went about doing my thing. At which point I got can you please JUST USE A PLATE!?! Do you not THINK that you are spreading crumbs everywhere and that this is what attracts insects? Can’t you just eat over a PLATE?
Um, I’m sorry? You are picking now after 7 years of marriage during which I cannot even count the times I have eaten toast without a plate to tell me that you think I am being dirty and unhygienic? You who frequently leave things like the peel of fruit sitting on the couch overnight without even resting it on a plate? You are unofficially insinuating that I am going to be the sole cause of a potential insect infestation because I can’t eat toast over crockery? Sure, if it means that much to you, I can make an effort to eat toast such that crumbs should never touch the floor but you might want to tone down the vitriol…
And then there was the hardly done by can you please just FILL THE KETTLE TO AT LEAST THE MINIMUM when you pour water out of it!?! I should just be able to turn it on without running the risk that it doesn’t have enough water to boil…So you’re saying that I am the weird one because I always take a quick glance at the kettle before I put it on and if it is in fact not holding enough water, I fill it in the sink that is like 40cms away? It’s me that has the problem and the lack of all common decency since I have failed to think of my fellow man in the household? You NEVER do this yourself? Oh wait, you do, so you totally just opened up a can of worms. I now make it my mission to check the jug every time I finish with it and every time I go to put it on the boil and it’s too empty I ask can you please JUST FILL THE DAMN JUG!?! Should have thought about that one, shouldn’t you…
And what was the whole defrosting bacon thing about!?! We were calmly discussing what to have for dinner one night and I was thinking along the lines of something easy, you know, like breakfast, and suggested bacon and eggs. You then informed me (I want to say snootily) that we didn’t have bacon. I said I thought we had some in the freezer and by extension figured that we could just defrost it cause we have a microwave with a defrost setting which is what it is there for. This was apparently the WRONG THING TO DO. For reasons completely unbeknownst to me, in this family, seemingly, we do not defrost bacon. Or rather, just to clarify a point, we do not defrost bacon when I make the suggestion, perhaps as we all know that I do none of the cooking in the house so therefore I should not stick my oar in where it is not wanted? Which is the impression I got when a week later you needed bacon for a recipe and HAD TO DEFROST IT!
So I’m sorry if this month you feel that you have been a little ganged up on. It just so happened that a number of things that might have been smaller in and of themselves seemed to pile up in one month or perhaps you reacted more strongly or vehemently than usual and what would normally have been a smile and nod from me became a thing. And the “things” in our house are totally not restricted to you as the initiator. I know this. I do plenty of things that drive you insane because they are absurd, nonsensical and or unprovoked but I can’t write them from your point of view so you would have to do that one yourself. I love that you put up with my crap as well as call me on it occasionally though.
Your Loving Wife
You are going to be trouble, kid. Trouble with a capital “T”. In the last week alone you have discovered the joys of pulling both DVDs and books out of the shelves upon which they reside. All over my floor. With very little care and much abandon as you seem to be having a rip roaring time. When Genevieve was little, everyone warned us that we would have to put locks on all the doors, everything breakable up high and, well, pretty much everything up high where it could not be reached by little hands. And then she never seemed interested in touching anything.
Ok, so that’s not quite true. She was particularly attached (and still is) to riffling through my handbag and dislodging all the contents across the floor but she never went for my bookshelves. They weren’t that interesting to her. To you, they are awesome opportunities for mischief. And other items of my furniture, such as chairs and coffee tables, are structures under which you can reverse and hide. Or get stuck which prompts a distress call from you so we know where you are but you will very soon figure out how to extricate yourself from situations that you don’t want to be in and from that point, I think we are just going to start losing you.
You can certainly get yourself around now. You have been somewhat mobile recently but today you figured out the whole opposing arm and leg thing that is required for the crawl. You haven’t mastered the art. You alternate between weight bearing on the knee in order to push forward and just bringing the whole leg underneath you as if you were going to push yourself up onto your feet. So crawling looks a little like a drunken, limping crab. Moving forwards (thus the drunken part) and dragging a limb as though part of it had atrophied and wasn’t bending in the proper form.
This of course hampers your speed a little but you are a smart cookie. You will either figure out that you are just going to have to get both your feet underneath you and start walking if you hope to be able to catch up to your sister or you will become a ninja crawler and disappear silently. A lot. We’re not really looking forward to that. I have contemplated setting up a port-a-cot permanently in the living area to put you in if I can’t watch you like a hawk. To the best of my knowledge, you don’t know how to climb out of those yet and your sister isn’t big enough or strong enough to easily lift you out of them (note I only said easily lift) so I am reasonably confident that you would stay where I had put you. You just might be a little ticked off. Which is another thing that does not bode especially well for your father’s and my stress levels in the future.
You are going to want to move and to explore. You will want to touch and to try and to test. Experiencing things is going to be high on your hit list. And anyone who dares to say nay is going to get a big cheeky grin as you go ahead and do it anyway. I am hoping that your penchant is going to be a little more scientific than careless. Inquisitive rather than destructive. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the outcome would always be different but at least if you can learn that it matters why you do something (not to mention have the best of intentions), I am hoping that this will help to put in you in a good place. And help us to keep you engaged. Cause I gotta tell you that I don’t have a lot of prior experience with energetic boys and you are going to be a handful. A delightful, hilarious handful.
You are already quite adept at charming the pants off people. You copy most of your sister’s crazy facial expressions and your face is pure joy when you smile. That never gets old. You are totally in the moment and you are just…happy. Others remark on it too. You certainly have your moments when you let us now that everything is Not Cricket but most of the time you are my happy-go-lucky little joy. I love this stage. You are still a baby and not yet a toddler. You are learning to do things by yourself, gaining some independence, millimetre by millimetre. You are discovering the world around you and slowly growing into your own personhood but you are still my snuggly Boo. Until you fling your arm across my windpipe for leverage to turn yourself outwards in my arms because wherever I am looking is bound to be far more entertaining than looking at me, right? That is what I really dislike about this stage. I’m just saying.
But I love you to bits, Boo and I am looking forward to whatever comes next.
This month you introduced us to “My Sweetie”. Or rather, you didn’t formally introduce us but she has started to make regular appearances during your play. Dependent on where you are and what toys you feel like playing with, My Sweetie could be the doll you have so far grown up referring to as Baby or an imaginary friend of your own creation. My Sweetie could also be someone you can interact with (so I would assume close to your age) if you so choose or merely someone that you have to care for (i.e. a baby). My Sweetie, bless her, is often sick or needing a nap or sometimes just a cuddle. It’s quite sweet.
It’s also cute that you have chosen her name (I can only assume) as a result of the endearment that your father and I both use with you. We frequently refer to you as sweetheart, sweetie or sweet for short. You know it for a name only ever used with love or affection and that’s what you choose to have for a friend. Zebby was incredibly short lived but My Sweetie has been a regular visitor around these parts and you are always generous and helpful to her.
There are times when you are especially generous and helpful towards us as well. Especially with money. You are starting to gain an understanding of the basics whereby you spend or give money to someone and you get something in return. You know that having money is a useful thing and you enjoy the occasions when you physically have money in your possession that you know to be yours. You don’t really have a concept of what it is worth and act like it sort of burns a hole in your pocket because you long to spend it but you are not selfish with it.
There have been several occasions where your father and I have discussed the shopping list of items to be purchased at the supermarket or we have talked about something particular we want to buy and you have been the first one there saying you can use my money. You desperately wanted to contribute to your bike helmet. In fact, you thought you could just about afford your bike helmet (as opposed to the box that it came in). You have even been very disappointed when Daddy didn’t get you out of the car at the supermarket so you couldn’t go with him and provide whatever funds you had on you at the time.
You don’t often have a lot of money and usually it is less than a dollar, a small handful of silver coins. It’s a proud moment for you to contribute though which I want to applaud at the same time as I want to say thank you but keep your money baby girl because you deserve to spend that for yourself. So I occasionally compromise by taking your money and putting it back in your moneybox later. As I said, you still have no concept of what it’s worth or what you can afford with it so it doesn’t seem at all strange to you to find coins you gave away previously.
It’s in these small things here and there that I see you growing up. Day to day, you look the same to me but there are times when you appear to grasp a concept I didn’t think you understood or I think when did you learn to do that. Like the colouring in thing. Like most kids, you like drawing and “colouring in”. Most of the time, this consists of circles or zig zags of pencil across a page or seemingly indiscriminately over the top of an outlined drawing. The other day I was colouring in something with you though and I was watching you concentrating on trying to get the colour inside the lines. And you were quite good at it. I have never seen you do that before. Some people might think that you are three and not supposed to do that. We are turning you into a little conformist or something. I just say way to go on your motor control. If you can do it, that’s awesome. Whether you want to do it, that is still up to you Sweetheart.