Month Ninety

Dear Husband,

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.

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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.

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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.

Ponderingly Yours,
Your Loving Wife

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Day 357

Dear Elliot,

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Much love,
Mama

Week 213

Dear Genevieve,

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Alles Liebe,

Lexelah