Sunday, 18 January 2015

Dear Fraggle, Just learn the good stuff, k?

Dear Fraggle,

Newsflash my baby: Lately you are less "baby", more "small human taking over our house." You recently turned 18 months old, and it is finally becoming clear to me what people meant when they promised this parent job would get fun - because holy hell my little monkey, you are so. much. FUN.

Sure, raising a small human is still hellish on a fairly frequent basis.  There are moments when literally pulling out my hair seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction to a toddler who just hit me in the face or chucked her dinner across the room.

That said, those hellish moments are becoming more balanced with neat, hilarious, fun things that I had never quite anticipated, that I am grateful for, that I wish could be bottled and preserved forever.  Like scotch.  (That's a bad example.  Don't drink scotch.)

My point is, Fraggle, you're making our lives so much more fun than they were before.  Life before you was, well, boring, as far as I can tell.  Life now is exhausting, yes, but also exceptionally engaging.  For example...

You talk.  

Like, a lot.

Before I went to sleep the other night, I was counting sheep baby words.  You have almost 40 distinct, regular words - plus a dozen hand signs, a couple special squeals, and a minimum of 50 animal sounds, including camel and penguin.

Obviously there are only a handful of people who can understand these "words," but that fact matters very little when you look at me and say "sheesh" (meaning, please, I want that, help me mama); or "bAL" (meaning, hey look, a balloon); or "WHOA" (meaning, WHOA LOOK AT HOW COOL THAT IS I CAN'T BELIEVE IT).  Or my personal silent favourite: tapping one hand on top of the other when we chase/tickle/toss you (meaning, more! more!).

Communicating with you, my darling Fraggle, is the highlight of my day.

You dance.  

You adore music, bursting a giant grin and wide eyes that light up your face when you hear a guitar strum or a drum beat.

Even better than witnessing the beaming smile is watching you dance (aka run) around our kitchen - with moves including the Knee-bend, the Moonwalk, the Smooth Criminal, and your most recent addition, the Peg Leg.

You count.  

Kinda.  It's more like pointing. You point at all the frogs, or bears or butterflies and say "da da da" as I count.  You understand the concept - a concept that you wouldn't catch if someone (that is, we, your parents) didn't teach you.  

What I'm getting at is that you learn.

You are a person that I grew inside my body, and who, since that time, has absorbed every minor tidbit of seemingly useless information, and then somehow successfully applied it to your own little world.

You use a spoon.  You stack cups.  You tidy up.  You carry your pajamas into the bathroom.  You clap and say "yaaay!" when you place a puzzle piece.  You have a hand sign for toilet, and you run to your potty, hand waving, when you're about to pee.

You copy everything.  You hear everything.  You observe everything and store it away for later.  And when you reveal some new thing you've learned, I get to think to myself: "I taught her that. She got that from me."

Unfortunately, that whole copy-cat thing is bound to bite me in the ass.  One day you'll crack your neck like a prize-fighter, or argue with a stranger in a parking lot, or shovel a slab of cheesecake into your face like it will save your life.  And on those days, I'll have to be there apologizing for teaching you the wrong thing, showing you the wrong example, leading you down the wrong path.

I only hope you'll also be glad that I taught you how to count frogs, how to host a very exclusive living room dance party, how to spit like a camel - because these are the things I want most for you.  I want you to be clever, independent, active, helpful, polite, communicative, engaged, and a fan of Michael Jackson's music.  I want you to absorb the good stuff, the fun stuff (and ignore the shit) because I'm starting to realize that nothing else much matters than being happy.

You're happy, my doll, and I hope I can help you stay that way.

PS.  Seriously, don't drink scotch.  That never ends well.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Strangercare Show

After 23 months (9+14) of being my baby’s sole provider of care (i.e., eat, drink, sleep, play, learn – let’s be honest, I was her sole provider of life for all intents and purposes), I am now two weeks into my ominous Return To Work. 


This unfortunate Return To Work ritual is one that apparently every parent can relate to – some after only a few weeks of parental leave, others after several months or years.  There seem to be some customary phases of this momentous event, putting your child into Strangercare. 


The Strangercare Dress Rehearsal

Also known as The Transition.  Partial days, or partial hours, easing into the reality of leaving your most precious being in the hands of some hack who will probably drop her on her head and let her play with cigarettes.  Usually exudes only a small portion of the total strength eventually required for the actual Strangercare opening day, partly due to your continued significant daily role, but mostly due to denial. 


The Home Nesting Interpretive Dance

A fast and sometimes furious flutter, organizing and cleaning in an attempt to prepare for the new world order.  An often fruitless but necessary exercise. 


Before you know it, though, it’s opening night and the performance truly begins. If you don’t know your lines by now, it’s too late.  The show must go on. 


The Opening Prayer

A slow and cautious pleading to anyone who will listen, begging for empowerment.  Usually in the vein of “This is good for me.  And for her.  She’ll get used to this.” and ending with a single repeated phrase “I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.”


The First Day Acrobatic Display

Usually accompanied by a sense of confusion and awe that fogs you into a convenient submission. Running out the door in high heels, carrying 1-2 children on your hip, 3-to-4 bags on your shoulder, and a giant coffee mug in your hand. Followed by an 8-hour intermission. Then followed by a dash home in the same fashion with desperation in your eyes/heart/soul.   


The One-Woman Show

Also known as The Panic Attack.  When the reality of this being reality becomes a reality and the whole show almost comes (or does come) crashing to an end.  Usually accompanied by frequent (possibly extreme) crying for everyone involved.  This image is a hard one to shake – spectators be warned.


The Team Building Exercise

The rally.  The getting-to-know-each other and setting-a-plan group activity. Comes in the form of a meal planning diorama, or a "Juggle the Flaming Schedule" show, or a guest-starring role for your psychologist.  Or all of the above.


The Meditation

A slow and steady decline of emotions into a pattern of rhythmic movements. Not necessarily in a state of calm, but a state of acceptance. 


The Finale

The reflection on the overall event and how it has impacted your life.  Consideration of how you might change your life based on its influence.  For some, this will have shifted their perspective entirely – finding a new job, or a new income, or a new approach for their family.  Others will make moderate shifts – selling their house, moving close to work.  Some will make small allowances – hugging their kids more often and more fiercely. Some will do all three.  Ultimately, the finale is what brings you to your new you, your new world.  Or at least inspires you to create your own spin-off soap opera entitled Wine and Tears: My True Life Story.