Monday, February 27, 2012

Dorothy Toto Glenda

One day a pair of sparkly red shoes were handed down to us from a friend. It wasn't long after my daughter started wearing them that people started to comment. Everyone mentioned "The Wizard Of Oz" and my daughter would just stare at them blankly.  She had no idea what they were talking about. I decided to show her a few "Dorothy" videos on YouTube and her obsession started there. At first she wanted to be Dorothy for Halloween, but then, since seeing most of the movie, she's added a lunchbox, a calendar, a dress up set and a doll to her collection. She is in love!

My husband and I had no idea how big an obsession this would be. I'm honestly a bit impressed since none of her friends have even heard of the movie, but that doesn't seem to sway her interest.  Her enthusiasm has remained high since she watched that first video almost six months ago. She doesn't go too many places without her Dorothy lunchbox in hand.
These days while I'm practically seven months pregnant with her baby brother, she is also interested in him.... almost as much so as the "Wizard of Oz."  She constantly rubs my belly and likes to watch him move and then feel him kick. She sticks her finger in my belly button thinking (logically) that she can get closer to him that way. She sings and talks to him, and when she's done she puts my shirt back over my belly and say she's putting him to sleep. Ask her what her baby brother's name will be and she will say "Dorothy Toto Glenda."

I actually have friends who let their kids name their younger siblings. I think Robin Williams has a daughter named Zelda, having let his son name her after a video game. We haven't made any final decisions in the name department yet but I can assure you he won't be named Dorothy. What she decides to call him though is another story.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

These Days

With a three year old girl, the mood can shift many times within a day. It hasn't been the easiest age for me to deal with, but at the moment we are in a sweet spot. Her sleeping issues have finally resolved (I know, I know, I shouldn't get too comfortable). Her whining has been a lot less frequent, and her separation anxiety with school has shown amazing improvement.

This morning I was so proud of her. I could see she was struggling with the decision to get sad during our goodbye and instead she walked into school like a trooper. I told her she needed to be strong for any of her friends inside that might be sad, and she took on her mission and went right inside bravely. She also has been so affectionate that I quite possibly could melt. She wraps her whole body around me tightly and then plants a strong hard kiss on my lips. Sometimes I tell her I love her so many times in a row that I fear it will lose it's meaning to her. I just can't think of anything else to say -- I just love her so much. She is speaking with such an expressive vocabulary recently as well. She said to me a few days ago while we were watching the rain fall outside, "Mommy, isn't the rain wonderful?"

Last week I threw a baby shower for a dear friend of mine, and many of the women had already had second children. They were sharing stories with my friend and they all said that when they brought home the new baby they very quickly feared they had ruined their older child's entire life. They all shared this feeling that his or her life as they knew it would be different forever. I get, intellectually, that there is very little reality in that statement, but practically speaking, there is some truth there. Twig loves the idea right now that she will be a big sister. She says almost every night how grateful she is that she is going to have a baby "brodder." It is just an idea to her now though. I am pretty hopeful though that the fact that she will be close to four by the time he arrives will help soften the blow of the changes.

The women also shared the importance of keeping the first few months of the baby being home still all about the older child. I've read that if both are crying I should always go to the older one because the little one won't remember it.  I just want to make a promise to myself now before the hectic chaos of two kids arrives to remember to spend time one on one with her. I know it won't always be easy but I never want to miss an opportunity to cuddle with her, look out the window and just stare at the rain.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not Easy Going?

Last night I sat on the phone with a close friend. It was getting late and precious sleep time was slipping away, but it was worth the chat time. My friend has been in my life for over ten years. We have seen each other through (insert cliche here) -- all of it. She came running to me in the hardest times and made me peanut butter with apple slices. We were there for each other during the dating nightmares, heartbreaks, and droughts. We went to each other's weddings and I was there when her daughter was born.

I had Twig two years before she had her daughter, and she was the first friend to show up at the hospital to see the fresh new bundle. From that moment on and through that first year though, we started to see each other less. I began my search for women with babies the same age so I could be tired, afraid, and thrown into oblivion with people going through the same chaos. It wasn't a conscious decision to neglect a good friend. It just happened. She made efforts to come over, call, and even come help with the baby, but I just couldn't quite get it together to see her that often.

I took my job as a new mother very seriously. Any article I read, I took to heart. If I read something about a product I had been using being questionable for infants, it went in the trash. Not organic? Not for me then. I followed strict self imposed rules, and had to do it my way. Looking back I was a classic tightly wound first time mom. I wasn't eager to let other people hold, help or advise me on my baby. I could have benefited from some alone time, but I never took it. At some point my friend drew the conclusion that I didn't trust her with my baby. She wasn't all wrong. I was trying to get a system down, a system that one can never really get down, and so it was a constant work in progress.

When she finally confronted me about the change in friendship, I tried to explain how hard the year had been, and how much attention the baby needed. It wasn't until a few months after she had hers that she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I understand now, this is so hard." Last night we talked about our friends now who don't have babies, and how it has changed the friendships. How she is more aware of not wanting to isolate them, but how no matter what, having a child takes a toll on the relationships. We reflected back to our little riff, and came up with some theories. She said she understands my need to control my situation, and likened it to her cooking when she doesn't want anyone else in the kitchen. She also said that I am a lot of things, but I am not easy going. A few seconds later she asked if I was still on the phone. I was, I just got stuck for a second. Not easy going? Of course I wasn't surprised and she was absolutely right. I just didn't think any one had noticed. I suppose it was pretty obvious, but hearing it said was different. I am not even sure if it is a negative or a positive to be too easy going or too strict. Either way, she outed me. I replied that I was still there and we had a good laugh. By nearly 11 pm we wrapped our call with her telling me how happy she was we worked through that time because I am such a dear friend to her. I shared right back how much she meant to me and that I loved her too. Even if she flies by the seat of her pants, never does her laundry and lets her kid eat whatever she wants. After all, friends aren't there to judge one bit. Maybe we just point out each others flaws a little, but only very lovingly.

Monday, February 13, 2012

French Fluff

Another article came out this weekend that compared the French to the Americans and proved that the French can be superior in some ways. A few years back it was the book "Why French Women Aren't Fat" When the author was interviewed she was described as a 95 pound woman when dripping wet. Her book explained that French women eat what they want but know when to stop, they don't eat on the go, and there are more fresh foods in their diet then here in America.

This weekend an article came out called "Why French Parents Are Superier." It was written by an American who lives in France and how after struggling to "control" her kids wild behavior she looked around and saw little French children independently playing and very obediently obeying their parents. After reading it, I do feel like there is a great deal to be learned from this article. It even points out a few American tendencies that I am definitely guilty of. For example it stated that we often excuse our kids behavior because we claim that our kid is just of a certain nature. I have done that from the get go as I ran after my Twig instead of letting her figure a few things out on her own. I just feel after reading it though that perhaps the word "superior" was a little harsh. After all, isn't that the biggest ego boost to the French that the fancy well dressed Parisian folks are better than us?

Ego aside I am working on being a bit more French in the parenting department. We already love a good baguette now and again so it wouldn't hurt to attempt some of the parenting skills mentioned. Just today, I had quite a hard time with my American offspring. She was pretty manipulative and impatient with me. This was before I read the article so I didn't try any of my new tricks, but as soon as she wakes from her nap I will show her who the "patron" is. With any luck she will say "oui oui Mama" pretty soon.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Yesterday I read an article about what I can expect my three-and-a-half year old to be doing right now. It said verbally she would be using all of these adult words, and she will try to do all of these adult-like tasks, but when she gets home expect her to go cuddle with her lovey. Most of this is spot on. Yesterday Twig said she wanted to read the ingredients on a box of applesauce, as well as commenting that the rain sounded "wonderful." She has also taken to wanting to snap herself into her carseat, which makes my heart skip a beat since I can't stand the idea of her pinching her fingers. Which brings me to her fingers. She sucks two of them-constantly.

When she started school back in September I was concerned since one of the rules is no hands in the mouth. At first I thought that was so unfair since that is a huge source of comfort for her. It was a slow adjustment period for her, but now I couldn't be more grateful for that rule because now I know she knows how to stop. At least for a few hours a day. Once I pick her up though, she is ready to make up for lost time though. Sometimes she remembers to ask if she can suck, but mostly the habit takes over her. My concern other than the obvious germs and dental issue is now her skin.

When Twig "found" her fingers at four months old we couldn't have been happier. It meant she could self sooth, which really meant sleep for all of us. It was the best thing ever. Of course, looking back every third picture of her she has those two fingers in her mouth, but it was worth it. We even drew celebrity attention when she was five months old at a Starbucks. Jody Foster came up to us and said her son sucked the same two fingers, and the good news is it didn't ruin his teeth. She told us her dentist said the concern is more with thumb sucking since that will affect speech and shift the front teeth forward. So thanks to Jodi Foster the dental issue is less of a concern now.

Twig has a bit of eczema though which will cause her whole face to get red. The sucking only makes it that much harder to stay on top of since she just keeps saliva around her cheeks and chin constantly. Lately, I have begun to show her how red her face is in the mirror. She also can see how red her finger is, which at the moment she can hardly bend because it is so swollen. She told me yesterday that she it was her last day and that she is big enough to stop now. The first sign of exhaustion or any emotional dip and her fingers went right into her mouth. I tried to give her a little spoon that she will occasionally such on in place of fingers but I fear this might be a long monumental task she has ahead. After all one of my best friends was a closeted sucker until she was eleven. I saw the movie thumbsucker, and even worse is I caught some twenty year old in his car sucking his thumb. I certainly don't want to make it so taboo that she is sneaking sucks when she enters adolescence. Four seems like a reasonable goal, but this is not up to me. Recently she wore a dress, carried her little purse, and had her fingers in her mouth. She may be growing up very fast but I do still see that she is my baby from time to time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Let me Explain

Last week my friend was walking through the airport with her three year old daughter. When they stopped near an overweight woman, my friend's daughter asked (quite audibly), "Mommy, why is that woman so fat?" Much to my friend's chagrin, she had to lean down and have a chat with her girl right then and there. Another friend told me when her daughter went with her to the grocery store, her little girl pointed to a well dressed woman and her daughter said, "Mommy, I like her. She is pretty."

Recently, my own daughter said she didn't like someone in my photo album from my wedding. When I looked at the picture she pointed to someone who was overweight and had a short haircut. When I asked her why, she said because she didn't like how she looked. I very carefully tried to explain that the way people look on the outside doesn't have anything to do with whether or not they are nice.

This is obviously the age where she begins to notice the clear differences are around her. I am sure by the time these girls are around five or so they will know to not voice these observations so loudly in public, but for now they are keeping us on our toes. Just yesterday when Twig asked about what someone she hadn't seen in a long time looked like, she asked what color skin they had. I don't find anything wrong with that question, but I am curious how her brain works. About a month ago at gymnastics, a new little girl joined the class. She is African American, a bit younger than the other girls, and has a hard time sitting still. The next day Twig said, "I didn't like that brown girl at gymnastics." My shoulders tightened and I feared that perhaps I had a little racist on my hands. When I said why to elaborate, she replied that it was because she wasn't a good listener. Phew! I responded back, trying to overcompensate for something that wasn't the issue at all by saying, "She had trouble listening, but she was very cute, wasn't she?". Just in case.

The candor that comes with this age is not quite polished yet. The flip side though is at times, the kindness goes above any adult I have seen. We were at a birthday party and there was an older woman with a walker. She clearly had very little ability to talk or move on her own. Most people, including myself, just sort of smiled and walked the other way, but Twig walked right up to her and started a conversation. At first I was a bit uncomfortable with what she was saying, but I let her say what she felt. She explained that her Papa sometimes walks with a cane for help too, then she introduced herself. This conversation went on for a few moments and I realized that we often ignore sick or aging people, and I could learn something from my little girl.

As for a fondness for the more attractive folk, I do hope that living in LA doesn't give her leanings towards the pink, pretty and popular crowd. Even if it does, she could still end up calling me one day to say she is moving to a commune on some organic farm, to teach silent meditation. I hope it is somewhere in the middle, but either way I will celebrate differences.