Second-hand.

There’s something about hand-me-downs. I love them. And although I certainly appreciate the ones that come to us in mint condition, I think my favorites are the pilly old pj’s with the stretched out elastics and the jeans with the threadbare knees.

I love to slip him into things that I remember my nephew wearing ten years ago or that I know friends’ kids have kicked around in. It’s almost like the history is woven into the fiber, which, no matter how cute or current or charming it may be, you’ll never find in a new piece of clothing.

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Autonomy.

How much autonomy does a two-year-old get?

I have always operated under the notion that The Who is his own person and as such, we generally give him freedom of choice. He eats when he is hungry and stops when he is full. He eats what he craves when he craves it (which is just as often chicken and fruit as it is cookies), and he plays what he wants to play when he wants to. (I feel like it’s important to add here that this freedom does not override things that we believe are in his best interests. He naps when we notice his body is tired, whether he feels like it or not. He gets a bath when he is dirty, etc.)

Recently, though, I commented to a friend: “I wonder if The Who will go to the pool when he wakes up.”  Often, despite having a great time when he’s there, The Who opts not to go to the pool. And he’s pretty clear about it, too. “No,” he says matter-of-factly. “I don’t want to put on my swimming suit and go to the swimming pool.” Sometimes I can talk about how much fun the pool is and remind him about the last time we were there and I see him get lost in a reverie for a moment and then decide to go, but I never really know whether he’s going to suit up agreeably or thwart my plans. When I said this to my friend, she seemed genuinely surprised that this would even be an issue. “You’re the adult making the decision,” she told me. “He’s two.” She seemed to be saying, “who cares if he doesn’t want to go? You’re the mama. Go if you want to go. Plus, he’ll have fun once he’s there and you know it.”

He is two. Sure. And I can easily insist on slathering him in sunscreen and popping him in the car. And chances are, as we approach, he will say (as he often does), “I can’t wait to get to the pool!” And then all’s well that ends well. On the other hand, shouldn’t I respect what he says he does and doesn’t want to do? I mean, especially when it’s a fun, leisure activity? It’s not like he’s telling me he doesn’t want to go to the doctor’s or to day care. It’s the pool. Shouldn’t he get to choose what he does for fun most of the time?

Reduction.

I want to empty out my whole house and start over.

This happens to me every single month at just about the same time. (I also start craving chocolate and getting migraines around this time, too, y’follow?) I just get fed up with all the crap in my house and I want to put it in piles, throw it out, rearrange it all. For about a week every month, I’d be perfectly happy to just live in a house of completely empty rooms. But I know I’d eventually come to my senses.

The toys are my greatest conundrum right now. I know I can throw some out or donate some or return some to their rightful lender, but which ones? The ones he hasn’t played with a long time, but are old standard favorites? The ones we got before he was ready, but that might be just the perfect thing in 6 months? The ones that are basically duplicates of other toys like the zillionth fire truck, even though he loves them all and has different names for them all (“bigg’ole fire truck” and “actual fire truck” among my favorites)? How do I know which toys can go and never be missed and which ones should stay?

Same with books. And stuffed animals. And clothes. It’s very hard for me to let go of things for some reason. I solved the clothes problem by making a quilt out of all my favorites that he had outgrown, but I can’t very well make a quilt out of old puzzles with missing pieces, can I?

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ETA: Right after I wrote this, I was inspired to go pick through his toys and at least move some to the basement, if not directly out to the trash. I also organized what was left. I love Joe’s idea of asking The Who to go through the toys himself and will probably do that on the next go-around. I think he might still be a little too young to get the concept.

"Food" in the fridge and utensils collected neatly in a cup. Let's see how long we can make this last.

"A nice quiet place to read," a la Maisy and Caillou (in two different stories we are currently reading/watching.)

Score.

You know what I’ve gotten really good at? Holding out for the “right” thing. I was am definitely an impulse-shopper and it really doesn’t take much to woo me. Despite Advertising Age and Consumer Reports being staples in our magazine rack growing up and being the child of ad execs, I am still won over easily by savvy marketing. Combine this with my lifelong desire to “wear” rather than “wrap” and you’ve got someone with a house full of mostly useless stuff that is often not the exact thing I wanted to begin with.

But somehow lately, this has turned around. There have been a few items that I’ve had on my to-get list in the past month and I’ve been tireless in my search for them, testing out a bunch, but not settling until I found exactly what I had in mind.

The first was a wallet. I can’t even tell you how many wallets I looked at. One sunny afternoon, The Who patiently went in and out of no fewer than ten stores over two hours (his patience handsomely rewarded with a 45-minute stop at the toy store), never finding the “right” wallet. Over three or four different shopping trips, I probably looked at and contemplated 50 different wallets and I almost settled two times. First on a low-quality number from Claire’s. And then on a much-higher quality Fossil one. I looked at Anthropologie, Gap, and Target. Shoe stores, paper stores (they carry wallets, believe it or not), and purse stores. And then I finally landed at the Coach outlet store. I knew going in that I was going to find what I had been looking for (even though that exact something had never truly been clearly defined in my mind.) What I walked out with is a wallet I haven’t regretted for a second. And it doesn’t hurt that it ended up costing almost $100 less than it would have full-price. Score one for patience and perseverance.

The second thing was a tea set for The Who. It drives me crazy that tea sets are so flimsy and character-laden and frilly. Why is it assumed that a kid who has a pretend tea party is also enamored by those infuriatingly ubiquitous Disney princesses? Toys R Us carried crap. Target was no help either. I finally found what I wanted** at a Barnes and Noble nearly 20 miles away. But the moral is that I waited! Score another one for patience and perseverance.

Finally, sneakers. The Who needed summer sneakers. I thought that he would kick around in Keens all summer, like he did last year, but I quickly realized that with age comes forceful independence. Sometimes the kid just wants to wear sneakers. So, for the past several days, despite the gross humid heat, I’ve been lacing him into his old, brown suede sneakers, knowing that I wanted something else. And not just anything else. Something canvas. Something velcro/elastic and something NOT light-up or be-charactered. I looked at Chucks, but they are hard to find in a bricks-and-mortar. I looked at Keds, but it was hard for me to commit to all-velcro, all the time. And then finally I found just what I wanted. Elastic “laces” so I am not compromising aesthetic while making it easier for him to help putting on/taking off. So, score yet another for patience and perseverance!

That’s three points. Three points for me! And if the lesson of waiting until you find just what you’re looking for can rub off a little onto The Who, well even better.

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** I would have taken the Plan Toys tea set, too, but that was even harder to come by.

Mommy.

Saturday morning. I hear The Who whimpering himself awake, muffled through his bedroom door. I roll over and moan; it’s so early. I wait a minute, rub my eyes. Check the time and confirm that it is indeed So. Early. And just as I start fumbling around for my glasses and thinking about whether or not I have time to pee before his whimpers ramp up to an unbearable whine, I hear m* roll out of bed and make her way down the hall to him.

I listen:

She greets him with this sweet, completely authentic joy and he responds; I can almost hear the grin spreading across his face. No matter how tired she is — no matter how unrestorative her night’s sleep has been (the curse of a pervasive sleep disorder) she is always present for him. Always delighted to see him. He asks for cocoa and I half-expect her to shuttle him down the hall to me to bring him down and make it, but she doesn’t. “Sure,” she says brightly and they continue their chatty banter down the steps and into the kitchen.

Downstairs, she is more patient that I ever am as he insists on “helping” with the milk, the chocolate, the microwave, and the cup’s cover. I hear her brew her coffee once he’s sated. The spoon clinks against the inside of the blue pottery mug as she stirs in her creamer and he asks, “You havin’ your coffee, Mommy?” I doze back to sleep, listening to the two of them begin to discuss fire trucks.

When I open my eyes again, she is making train whistle noises and he is giggling. I close my eyes. When I open them again, she is reading to him from one of his library books. I sleep some more and when I wake, she has dragged in the trampoline from the porch and has pulled her chair up next to it. As he jumps, she holds his hands and laughs and laughs and it’s hard to tell from up here who is having more fun.

During the rest of the day, she will pull him into her lap and show him a seemingly endless stream of YouTube fire truck and construction vehicle videos on her little netbook. She will take him for a long, sweaty walk up to the playground. She will make him a grilled cheese just how he likes it and stand patiently by as he cuts the crusts off himself with his bright, plastic IKEA knife. She will not sigh when he wakes up cranky and early from his nap and will instead give him an empathetic hug and get him to stop crying more efficiently than I ever can. She will carry him downstairs, his head on her shoulder, and she will hold him on her lap until he’s fully awake.

After his bath, she will — as she does nearly every night — walk him down to his room and sing “Jingle Bells” and “Wheels on the Bus” and “Twinkle Twinkle” until he is ready to lay himself down and go to sleep. And he will — as he does every night — go to bed the luckiest kid in the world.

 

 

 

 

Happy Mommy’s Day, babe. Your boy and his Mama couldn’t ask for more.

Naps.

He likes to rest. A few weeks ago when we went to IKEA, he spent the largest chunk of our time there climbing in and out of all the toddler beds, pretending to sleep. He enjoys a nice stroll into town lately. And he’s upstairs napping right now.

My kid loves to nap.

I wouldn’t say he loves to nap more than he loves to not-nap. He’s plenty active during the day and enjoys being on the go. I’m not concerned about his nap-love, but I am aware of it and people often comment on it. With an appropriate 5-minute warning, he will happily climb the stairs, get into the crib, snuggle down, and say goodnight. No fanfare. No complaining. No stalling for more playtime. No stories, songs, or ritual. Just time for sleep. Same with bedtime (although there is more of a routine there. Bath, stories, and songs.) He goes to sleep. He likes it. And he wicked needs it.

I’m shocked by stories of 2-and-a-half year olds who no longer nap. Or those that do nap, but then stay up until all hours. The Who is a solid 2-hour daily napper and in bed by 7:30, most nights. And if he’s anything like his Mommy, this will continue for the rest of his life. (Please note that I said “Mommy” and not “Mama.” I hate napping and rarely do it. I feel all out of sorts and grumpy, but m* is great at it.)

Time.

Potty training.

I’m feeling like, at least according to the checklist, The Who’s about ready. I could answer “yes” to 15 of the 17 readiness questions and I’m feeling more and more like it’s time. (For what it’s worth, I answered “no” to the one about caring if he’s in a wet/dirty diaper and telling me before he pees or poops.) I kept thinking that he would tell me when he was ready — like actually ask to use the potty — and then I would just know, but I’m starting to believe that that doesn’t actually jive with his personality. He certainly asks to do a lot of things (open and close the microwave, cut his own crusts off, etc.) but there are a million things he can do that he doesn’t, simply because I haven’t encouraged him to and he hasn’t asked.

He could totally climb into his car seat and buckle the top part, but he doesn’t. He probably could physically climb out of his crib, but he doesn’t. He could unlock the door and walk out, but he doesn’t. And, chances are, with a concerted effort, he could pee in the potty. But he doesn’t.

In the fall, he will move up into the 3-year-old class at school (although he will be almost three months shy of 3) and he will be the only one not potty-trained. They are ok with it and haven’t put any pressure on me or him at all (although they have hinted at the fact that they will “work on it” when he is in that class) but it just seems like a perfect opportunity to start working on it here at home. Plus the fact that it’s summertime and we’ll have no school or work in August, so there will be plenty of dedicated days in a row where we could just hang out, practicing. I just feel like we’re ready.

And also, so not ready.

No more diapers? When he’s potty trained, he will have the flat little underwear’d butt of a big boy. I won’t be seen as a mama when my grocery cart no longer contains diapers. Our whole nighttime routine will change. Diapers are really the last part of his babyhood. (Ok, well the binky, too, but you know what I mean.) It’s hard to make that leap.

We’ve got another couple of months before I think we really need to work on it in earnest if we’re going to do it. But I do think we’re going to. It’s time.

His first diaper ever.