Empty.

So, we’re driving home from school and The Who is trying to negotiate his way into eating the cookie I had gotten him. (I had told him he could have it with his dinner, which I believe to be more than fair.)

“But I am so hungry now, Mama!” Try a diversion, said the little voice in my head. (The same voice that’s been helping me remember to go with the flow and try “time-in” instead of time-out, which, incidentally, is totally working so far.)

So, I say, “Is your belly full or empty?”
“Empty!”
“Perfect! It’s nearly dinnertime! That’s the best time for your belly to be empty!” (I’m hoping that he’s biting, but he’s kind of not. Because, see, he’s hungry for a cookie. This dinner business is pretty much bullshit.)

“Are your shoes empty or full?”
[giggle.]
Score!
“Full!”
“Full of feet?”
[giggle]
“Are your pants empty or full?”
“Full!”
“Full of legs?”
[giggle!]

And on and on. He did some. I did some more. As we turned the corner onto our street, I was running out of options. I said, “Is your bladder empty or full?”

Crickets.

“Because mine is full,” I said.
“What does that mean?”

I explained what a bladder is. He didn’t say much and we pulled into the driveway and started talking about which side of the car he was going to get out. He asked if the house was empty or full (which, c’mon, that’s a pretty clever way to ask if his mommy was home yet, right?)

Inside, he ate his dinner (yes, the cookie first), chatted about his day (“We had circle time and then we played and that’s all I remember”), and we called Grandma to make sure her plane landed. Then he took his ritual after-dinner trip to the bathroom and after some reading and alone-time, he called me in, triumphant.

“Mama!” he told me. “My platter is empty!”

Bella.

Tonight, at 7:30pm after having just said goodbye to our 5 playgroup friends who spent the afternoon at our house, I laid down on the couch next to The Who and watched as Sister opened a teddy bear birthday present on an episode of Berenstain Bears.

Teddy bear, I thought. That’s cute. Like Bella.

Shit. Bella.

I sat up and heaved a sigh. “I gotta go get Bella,” I told my wife. And so, at 7:40pm, when I should have been bathing The Who and easing him into bed after a fun, wild afternoon, I was getting in the car to go back to the grocery store to retrieve The Who’s beloved little puppy, whom he had left in the passenger seat of the car cart.

This was just the kind of thing we tried to avoid.

When The Who was an infant, we used cloth diapers as his “lovey.” We tucked one into his crib with him (with the pediatrician’s blessing), carried at least two with us in the diaper bag, sent one to day care with him, and kept one in the car seat. We thought we were so smart. A replaceable lovey! We won’t be those parents paying $200 for some no-longer-produced rare, random stuffed animal. We have “di-di”! (The name came from my little cousin, who, 19 years ago, also used a cloth diaper as her lovey. She called it “di” and so when we introduced it to The Who, we called it “di” also. At some point, a teacher in school referred to it as “di-di” and that stuck.)

Early Di-love. 2.5 months old, chillin’ with cousin E.

Yeah, well. Please see paragraph 3 above.

Bella has actually been around for The Who’s whole life; she was a baby gift from my aunt (ironically, the mother of the original di-girl.) She has spent time in and out of the crib, has always been enjoyed, but never particularly loved over anything else. And then right around the time that The Who gave up his binky, he latched onto this little dog. Di-di is fine and good. And she’ll do in a pinch (all the loveys seem to be “she”) but Bella — Bella is the shit. She is the it-man. She is the top banana. Bella is the one who comes out of bed with The Who in the morning. Bella is the one who gets regaled with stories “from when she was a little girl” when The Who feels like chatting at night, and Bella is the one who, unfortunately, comes on out-of-the-house adventures.

Bella travels on trains.

And so now I am that parent. Googling this little dog, thinking of buying a second one, frantically calling the grocery store and hoping that some kind soul turned her in, and running out at bedtime to retrieve her from the lost-and-found drawer behind the customer service desk. Damn.

Fireman’s Hall.

I can already tell that we’re in for a fun summer. We’re adventuring all over the place and it’s not even mid-May yet. (Although, I don’t know if the weather got that memo; today it’s a blazing 90 degrees. May the fourth be with you indeed.)

Since The Who is really into trains lately, we took the train from our little suburb into the Big, Big City and took a tour of Fireman’s Hall, which is a very cool museum for what it is, but I do wish (and I think The Who wished also) that it was more interactive. More things to climb on, touch, play with. There were some fun exhibits like an old rotary telephone set up on a wooden desk, presumably to simulate where the dispatcher took fire calls. The Who desperately wanted to sit in the big swivel chair and pretend to triage emergencies, but it was cordoned off with big brass chains, upon which hung a sign: “Do Not Touch The Brass.” (I did let him sneak under there once or twice at the end, though.) There were also awesome old horse-drawn fire wagons, including an early coal-powered engine with coal to shovel. Of course, “Do Not Touch The Coal” was posted. (And of course I let him touch it a little.)

Here’s a big fire engine. You may touch the bumper only.

You also weren’t allowed to climb on any of the old wagons and I understand why — preservation and everything — but I think if you’re catering to children (which, to an extent, they are, as evidenced by the big display of fire-related-toys for sale in their gift shop) then you need to have more for them to climb on and explore. To their credit, they did have big fire boots and jackets to try on, which The Who found hilarious.

Here, our young hero is completely collapsed in a fit of giggles, unable to stand up. His ever-so-empathetic mother took a photo before helping him up from under 17 pounds of gear.

It was a very educational trip, when all was said and done. Our walk to Fireman’s Hall from the train station took us past both Benjamin Franklin’s burial spot and the Betsy Ross house. I explained both the best I could to a 3-year-old. He seemed to understand the concept of “the body of a very old and important man, for whom your cousins’ hometown is named after, is under the ground here so people can visit this spot and remember how much he did for our country” and “the woman who sewed our very first flag lived here in this little house.” I suppose the history lessons will get a little more complex as he gets older. I didn’t even attempt to explain the Liberty Bell. The onslaught of questions would have done me in. (“Why is it broken, Mama? Why is it in this building, Mama? Why can’t people touch it, Mama? Why do so many people want to see it, Mama?”)

“F-R-A-N-K-L-I-N”

The day was long and fun. I do my fair share of complaining, but the kid is really a dreamboat when it comes to outings and compliance and listening and tolerance. I can’t wait to see what other wacky adventures we can dream up in the next few months.

Despite no nap and a very long day of listening and obeying, The Who never let even the tips of his toes touch the yellow line.

****PS: As an unrelated follow-up to my last post, we’ve had three dry nights in a row without waking him up to pee! We’ve stopped the dinnertime water (allowing a sip if he asks for it) and stopped the routine drinks at bathtime (again, allowing a sip if he asks for it.) Fingers (and legs!) crossed…

Pee.

Well that was a friggen nightmare.

The Who has been wetting the bed, quite out of the blue, after almost a year of not doing that and we discovered that limiting his water (cutting it off before dinner) seemed to nip it in the bud. (We did visit his pediatrician today to be sure, but she was unconcerned.)

Tonight, though, after two nights of resigned compliance, he spent hours whining at me that he was thirsty and I subsequently spent hours denying him a drink in the name of dry nights. When he was finally in bed, quietly whimpering about his thirst, I decided that it was nuts to be telling him on one hand to honor, respect, and listen to his body and on the other hand telling him to ignore what his body wanted (which was just a sip of lukewarm tap water, so it’s not like he was trying to score a can of Sprite or anything.) The wife and I decided to let him have a drink and wake him when I went to bed for a “dream pee.”

Well. I don’t know for whom this actually works or how you get it to work, but it was all I could do not to snap his arms off and drop-kick him back to his bed.

Whine whine whine whine whine. Refusal to pee. Loud complaints. Wouldn’t stand, wouldn’t sit, wouldn’t give up and go back to bed. And all this in the room next to my sleep-disordered wife for whom a good night’s sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity. At one point I actually stage-whispered to him, “I am begging you. Please stop crying so Mommy doesn’t wake up.” But trying to reason with a half-asleep, angry three year old in the middle of the night is like, well, trying to reason with a half-asleep, angry three year old in the middle of the night.

I did finally get him to pee by just saying, “here it comes; it’s coming” and just willing it to be true. Then there was the insistence of hand-washing, which seemed to be done from within a body-case of molasses and then — ready for this? (Of corse you are, but I, naively, was not–) he asked for a drink of water.

I quietly denied it, urging him to his room, hoping he would get there before the Grand Poobah of meltdowns, which I knew was coming, but instead he lost his ever loving marbles right there in the hall in front of Mommy’s room.

I snatched him up under his armpits and carried him down the hall, where the middle-of-the-night tantrum reached its pinnacle. Because he, of course, wanted to walk down the hall to his room, not be carried. He wanted to walk, thank you very much.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose as now, a mere 30 minutes later, he is snug in his bed asleep again (after walking back to he bathroom and then back to his room again in a classic do-over) and I am sitting here wondering what the hell my options are. Deny him beverage? Sadio-masochistically continue to wake him to pee at midnight? Resign mysel to 3am sheet-changes?

Remember when I said three was not so bad? (Ok, I can’t remember if I said it out loud or not, but in fact, just yesterday, I was thinking it.) Anyway, yeah. Not so much.