Wednesday, March 15, 2006

six month roundup!

Well, it's been a busy month for us at chez Mama. We had many family happies: three birthdays (happy happy to SIL-ly, the inestimable Bobby-Su, and Unca M) and one engagement! Huzzah, and pass the bubbly. I also welcomed my family to this blog. They responded...silently. (hey, you people, stop lurking and use the comment feature already! This is not just a top-down experience, it's a conversation. Yeesh.) And I invited Matt James, host of the City Gardener to come and fix our garden woes on his swing through the US of A. He also responded...silently. Oh, well. And we finally, finally agreed to talk to the Make-A-Wish people, who responded enthusiastically to our somewhat doubtful selves. Yikes.

Here's what's been going on:

The Eldest:
We saw a range of behaviors from him this month, some of them alarming. To our horror, we actually had the Return of the Tantrum, to which I responded appropriately by fleeing the house to go to a set of lectures on parenting. (Yes, Brave Sir Robin am I.) We also saw the ugly side of competitiveness, when I was shoved aside on the stairs so that he could get to the bottom first. As I was carrying the babe at the time, this was a rather alarming moment. Competition had begun as a motivator (can you get dressed before the baby?) but had become instead a driving force that he couldn't escape, reducing him to tears at the idea of not being first. We shifted parental tactics and happily, the end of the month brought a shift back to the child we know. Today I watched him play games where his toys cooperate, rather than compete. I breathed a sigh of relief. Pedestrian traffic may now resume on the stairs...

His love for writing persists, and he's now alternating between asking us to spell out words for him and writing letters - and asking us what word he's written. I think this is a scribal form of the gobbledy-gobbledy my youngest brother and I used to speak to each other. Hmm. Scribal. Maybe he's taking after his father? I've retreated from trying to read books to him, as he now wants to read them to me. It's a power issue that I've no interest in pursuing, as the basic idea is clearly lodged in place: books good, reading good. Fine. He came home tonight from a story-reading at magid's house, which he pronounced to be "perfect." Yup, happy Mama-moment for me! Thanks, magid. Followed by a sheepishly happy Mama-moment plus religiously awkward Mama-moment, when he triumphantly wrote 'SOY' on his easel. On the sabbath. Yup, that was tricky.

We introduced him to the rock climbing area at our local childrens museum, and I watched him negotiate carefully between his interest in climbing and his anxieties about height. He set his own pace, and climbed about five feet up, at which point he'd wiggle over to a walkway/slide, and get off. Repeat ad infinitum. If I needed a reminder that sometimes I should just let the boy be the boy, well, there it was. Kid's got it sorted. And you should see him ride that tricycle! He's in love, and is surprisedly complaining of tired muscles. Um, right.

Finally, he's reinvoked some long standing plans for his future. About a year ago he began talking about marrying a certain lady, Spring. We know two Springs, one of which is his aunt, and it took us some time to figure out which he intended to marry. It's the other one, apparently. A couple of days ago, he laid out his master plan:
1. he'd draw Spring a picture.
2. Spring would marry him.
3. Spring's husband, J, would marry someone else.
I thought #3 was brilliant, since J would marry someone already married to a J. This is extremely tidy, as by conflating J and J, we'd save much time and effort - and free up Spring. This has all the feel of those sliding tile puzzles, in which you must push the pieces around until everything slides into order.

The Baby:
His eczema has receded amazingly since we identified the egg allergy, although he's still somewhat scaly around the ears and sundry other spots. (Ears??? why ears?) He's sitting up rather sturdily right now, and has replaced the tripod with a hands-free approach, allowing him to do more than stare determinedly at his toes. With this has come a greater accuracy with his grasping, and he surprises me sometimes by grabbing slim edges of things, like a wire drawer in our pantry. This is actually getting tricky at dinner prep time, when I often wear him in a sling while putting food together with his big brother's help. Leaving him on the floor only invokes his wrath, as he senses that something interesting is happening, and demands to be included. Clearly, this is going to need some rethinking. (Suggestions, anyone?)

He's making some fascinating sounds, coos, gurgles, squeaks and squeals. And he's making them rhythmically, as if they are a language, complete with sentence structure. My eldest and I were hanging out on the bed today with the babes when he began to hold forth. I looked at my older son and said, 'Hmm. Sounds like he has something to say' The child agreed, but wondered as to what. We decided that perhaps we should learn to speak the baby's dialect, since obviously he was too little to speak our own.

Finally, the babes has now happily entered into that game so beloved of his father: eat the baby. He holds up a plump little hand, cueing me to exclaim, 'hand!' and kiss, nibble and generally growl over. The baby laughs uproariously, and pulls the hand away. I look sad, say 'no hand,' and he shoves the hand back into my face. I'm rather fond of this little hand, and have a tendency to measure my sons by their hands while we nurse. The oddity of my demanding eldest, whose hand would stroke me gently while we nursed, a gentle, rhythmic caress that began when he was only days old. Or the grasping, determined hand of my mellower younger son, reminding me that his needs should not be overlooked, for all that he might be more patient about expressing them. Hmm. Point taken.

As for the Mama and the Papa, well, it's been busy. And good! Lots of loving, looking after each other, even managing the odd conversation about things other than children. My partner headed off to the ballgame on Sunday, he had a hockey game a couple of weeks ago, and has been walking steadily in his catharctic, bean counting kind of way. (See here for his description.) I check in with him from time to time (man are we wildly overdue for a date!), but he seems grounded, happy. Meanwhile, I've been having fun, learning about breast biosynchrony (it's a wild, wild, kanga world), getting responses to my latest article, transcribing my grandmother's diary (an achingly slow process), and helping edit the narrative of a man with hemophilia, HIV and hep C. And that's just the stuff not on the back burners. Overwhelmed by the egg and dairy free diet, plus a casual comment about my avoiding the Big Eight (argh!), I rediscovered the fleeting pleasures of retail therapy. But after a few tense sentences with my partner, I rediscovered the lesser pleasure of making the mortgage payment. And I'm currently wrist deep in gardening porn, as I plot out an impossible strategy for our garden this year. This year very well might be the year when I take on the awful side walkway. Or not.

Matt James, where are you?

And that's the six month mark, folks. Feel free to play the Looney Tunes 'th-th-that's all, folks!' as you navigate away from this page, because it's 10 pm and I'm d-d-done for the night.

5 comments:

SIL-ly said...

Just wanted you to know that without any games about who can finish getting dressed first, the SIL-ly girl has become amzingly competitive. She pulled on my pants from behind (quite hard) while I was carrying the boy upstairs so that she could run around me and 'be first'. When we were out driving she demanded, "We're first, right?" "We're first what?" I asked, foolishly. "We're first in the car." Well we weren't. In fact we were sitting right behind a rather large bus. I would have thought that she had seen the bus - but maybe she meant something sort of different. Nevertheless - "Me First" has become the watchword and the slogan. 'tis the age I guess.

magid said...

Would the baby be old enough for/ be interested enough from a baby backpack?

Still wildly pleased that the boy liked the story reading so much :-)

(And comments are a two-way street.)

Spring said...

I loved the picture and say let the wooing begin!

Daniel H said...

You asked: "Ears??? why ears?"
Well: He can hear the word EGG, can't he?
- PrBl

mama o' the matrices said...

Daniel, yup, that must be it! A whole new twist on cause and effect...(emoticon ruthlessly suppressed here)

magid, point taken. And yes, I begin to wonder about the baby backpack idea, too. Although I can just hear my partner on the subject of stuff and its accumulation...

SIL-ly, as always, thank you for that! I know I don't just live in a bubble, but it's good to hear that these things happen to others. I wonder if competition is a kind of self-defense, or sign of growing awareness of the ebb and flow of social situations/group dynamics? A rebellion against the imposed order of taking turns?