Wednesday, May 25

The Master Manipulator

You can tell Doodles is the son of a Harvard MBA: he has his manipulation skills down pat, and he's only twenty-one-months old. Doodles hates having his diaper changed. So when I put him on the changing table, he's learned the one thing that will delay poop removal. He looks up at me, smiles, and says, "Cuddle? Hug?" That kid knows I'm am absolutely sucker for the cuddle and that we have a never-refuse-the-cuddle policy in this house. He's learned how to work me.

However, it's causing problems because Doodles needs to stay in his room at night now. For starters, I don't want his staying in his room all night to coincide with the birth of his sister. We coslept with Doodles for six months, so we will do the same with The Occupant. However, it's too dangerous to cosleep with a newborn with a toddler in the bed. So Doodles needs to stay all night in his room. Then, there's the fact that I've now entered that well-known stage of pregnancy called sleeplessness. Lower backaches and the need to pee three times a night (I seem to remember it happening much later in my pregnancy with Doodles). Which doesn't affect Doodles except that I wake up a ton and it wakes him some, so neither of us are getting a lot of sleep.

Ferberizing a baby is terrible. The screaming, the tears, the guilt. And the baby gets upset too. But as miserable as Ferberizing a baby is, Ferberizing a toddler seems near impossible. The other night Doodles woke up around 1 a.m. And he began to cry. Loud, snotty, tearful crying. I tried not to listen. But then he starts in with the "Momma! Momma! Momma!" Gets me right where it hurts. Adam went in to try and calm Doodles down and to explain that Doodles needs to stay in his room, but Doodles simply tries to talk louder. "Up! Up! Up!" And then, the killer. "Cuddle?"

Aaarg! How do you turn down the cuddle? The cuddle is sacred and can't be refused! Which is why Adam goes in at night instead of me. Because that way Daddy is the evil person who refuses to pick up Doodles and Mommy can still be the loving, warm, giver of all cuddles.

Hmmm, I guess it turns out that Adam and Doodles aren't the only masters of manipulation in the house. At least we know Doodles comes by honestly.

What Was That You Said?

I'm trying a new technique that the Y-chromosomed folk in my immediate family have perfected: selective hearing. Doodles is proving that it's a skill the men are simply born with; I plan to prove that it can also be acquired.

For instance, right now Doodles is sitting in his favorite perch--behind the cushion on our living room chair--and he's saying desperately, as if his life depended on it, "Signing Times! Signing Times," which is his favorite video series. Doodles, however, is allowed between a half hour and one hour of television a week, and I'm not about to blow that at 8:39 in the morning midweek. So while I can hear perfectly when he says, "Stuck! Stuck!" as tend to happen when he gets behind the cushions and his feet get stuck between the back of the chair and the bottom cushions, I don't hear at all the tearful, "Signing Times! Signing Times!"

Of course, I haven't quite figured out what we are going to do of day five of Nor'Easter weather. I finally relented and pulled Doodles's winter coat back out. Digressing a little here, I, the consummate Floridian, like warmth. It's just ingrained. And yet I have this total objection to turning on the heat in May, never mind May that is not even a week shy of June. Adam thinks this is ridiculous and has no qualms turning on the heat whenever he feels cold. However, since I'm having such success with my selective hearing experiment on Doodles, I think Adam will be my next victim. You told me to turn the heat on an hour ago? Oh, I'm sorry, I simply didn't hear you.

Wednesday, May 18

I Think I'll Move to Australia

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (and if you don't know that reference, read this book immediately!). It was one of those days that truly wasn't so bad when you try to lay it out, but when you add in the pregnancy fatigue and hormones and stress, just pushed me to the brink.

First there was the no sleep. Doodles woke up twice, but was relatively easy to get back to sleep. What wasn't so easy to fall back asleep from was Adam has these incredibly vivid dreams--usually that Doodles needs something--that cause him to leap out of bed and proclaim something loudly, which he did. It always startles me into alertness. And then, just as long as I'm awake at 3:42 a.m., I might as well stress about all the work I've got to get done and the fact that we're going to have a baby, and who did I think we were that we could handle a second baby, and how are we going to afford a second baby, and damn! I forgot to call back the folks from Early Intervention...

So yesterday morning, I barely was able to force my eyes open. I realized that it was more than simply sleep deprivation. My throat was sore, my head was stuffed, and I was oozing more mucus than Doodles's Friday playgroup. "Ugh!" I moaned. "Can't move!" But when you have a toddler, you have to move whether you want to or not.

We headed to our Music Together class, where I was forced to dance, swing my child, sing loudly while discreetly trying to plug up my nose and save my poor voice. When we got home from our morning, I called Adam to complain. "I have so much work to do! Three deadlines next week. But I'm exhausted. I know I should work during Doodles's nap, but I'm probably better off sleeping and then being refreshed to work tonight." Adam offered to come home and work so I could rest up, but I felt bad asking. Pregnancy and illness and toddler isn't a fun combination, but I thought I could manage it. Besides, I could make it through nap time.

What was I thinking!! Did I actually utter those words out loud? I should have known better. Because I put Doodles down for his nap, crawled into my bed, and waited for him to stop crying. And I waited. And I waited. Normally, Doodles cries for about fifteen minutes at nap time and then goes off to sleep for anywhere between one and two and a half hours. But yesterday, he wanted nothing to do with the nap. And he screamed for forty-five minutes. "I need this nap," I thought. "I can power through and sleep through the screams." Um, yeah right. So I gave in and brought him into bed with me. Do I need to say that this didn't work at all?

Then we got his charming mood. The "No no no no no! Mine!" mood that involves much screaming and kicking the floor because I'm certainly not giving in once that starts. And what did he want? Who knows? Because nothing I gave him was what he wanted. He pushed and kicked and got himself two timeouts because "When we're frustrated, Doodles, we can kick the floor, but we can't kick people." And you certainly can't kick your poor unborn sister who hasn't done anything to you (yet).

Sigh. Well, I needed to go to the store and buy him bed railings anyway, so might as well get a start on it. Decided to go to Right Start as the selection at Babies R Us is pretty minimal. Packed us up, put him in the car, and made what Mapquest said was a twenty-four minute drive. Which it would have been if it weren't for the construction. And the fact that I got lost. I'm tired. I'm sick. And I'm determined for one--one!!!--stupid car ride I'm not listening to the Music Together c.d., which isn't truly accurate because all Doodles wants to hear is the "Hello" song. Over and over. The second it's done, he starts with, "Hello? Hello? Hello?" So for the entire 18.63 miles plus whatever zillion miles I covered when I got lost, I got, "Hello? Hello?" until he realized I wasn't giving in and I got a full-fledged temper tantrum. Screaming, yelling, flailing in his car seat until literally one block away from the store, when he finally fell asleep (and I never use literal in a figurative sense, so you know my timing is accurate here).

I managed to transfer him to his stroller and at least got to roam the store unbothered. Which would have been great if they had had stock on bed rails. They had one, which wouldn't fit our style bed. But I wasn't about to ruin a good nap, so I browsed the maternity store next door. Finally, I decided I'd risk the double transfer and move him back to the car. Since I was having such a lousy day and I was already not too far away, I decided to splurge and go to Zaftigs and get us chicken soup and rye bread for dinner. Nothing is better on a sick day than chicken soup!

I got Doodles in the car--no luck keeping him asleep--and he began his fussing. I drove to the corner, about to get on the highway, when I noticed the light saying my trunk was open. I put the car in park, ran to the back of the car, waved quickly to the car approaching, opened the trunk, and slammed it shut. Which is when the rear glass shattered. Just completely. No reason for it to happen. The window didn't have any cracks, it didn't hit on anything. It simply just shattered into a zillion pieces of safety glass and a huge gaping hole in my window. I'm stuck in Natick, about twenty miles from home, with a screaming toddler, a runny nose, total fatigue, a gaping hole in my car, and flying glass if I try to drive over five miles an hour. This is when I gave in. "Adam," I wailed into the phone. "Come get us!"

Adam, thankfully, did, although I was worried he wouldn't find us, as I could see him drive right past us, and when I went to call him to tell him so, remembered that he'd forgotten his cell phone that day. But he found us and he took the gaping-hole car and let me drive Doodles home in his intact car. And to avoid any problems, I put the "Hello" song on repeat. No Zaftigs, but at least the day was over and I could relax.

So, this morning, Doodles actually slept till the more-than-reasonable 6:30 a.m. (believe me, 6:30 a.m. is cause for celebration in this household). Adam brought him into bed with us so Doodles and I could have a little chat.

Me: So, Doodles let's talk. Yesterday wasn't a very good day for either one of us, was it?
Doodles: Yeah.
Me: Are you going to nap today?
Doodles: Mia, burbble, burble.
Me: I couldn't understand that. Are you going to nap today?
Doodles: Yeah.
Me: Are you going to be nice to Mommy today?
Doodles: Nasty.

And, not too surprisingly, I'm more annoyed at Adam for that response than at Doodles.

Beddy Bye

On Sunday, we made the trek to Jordan's Furniture, which for those who don't live in the area, is Massachusett's answer to Disney World. There are trapeze artists and light/water shows. The kids get carted around in little taxis or fire engines. Huge displays made of jelly beans grace the walls. There's an IMAX theater. And, oh yeah, they sell furniture.

Sometime within the next year, Doodles will need to move to a big boy bed and relinquish his crib to The Occupant (which is what, for lack of a better term, is now what we're calling our daughter-to-be). He has plenty of time; as I said The Occupant will cosleep with us for six months, which means Doodles has about nine months before we need the crib back from him. But I wanted the bed to appear in his room (they'll be sharing) long before The Occupant appears. I want no connection between the bed and the baby. So we went on our quest for the bed.

We decided on a twin rather than a toddler bed, as we think toddler beds are a pretty dumb idea. We knew exactly what we wanted: a twin bed with drawers underneath and a bookcase headboard, as space will be at a premium in the room (we have another bedroom for Doodles, but it's downstairs and our bedroom is upstairs; I figure when Doodles is old enough to ask for his own room, he'll be old enough that I'll be okay with him on another floor).

After putting Doodles in his little taxi, we drove him around the store asking his opinion on different beds. "Doodles," we asked, "what do you think of this bed?" "Snacks! Snacks!" he said. "Cup!" (meaning his snack cup) "Doodles, do you want to try this one?" "Efent! Efent!" (pointing to the large elephant painted on the wall) So we finally just chose one without his input. Years later when he complains that we got him the cheapest bed (the fake wood kind), we can say, "Hey, you were given the choice!"

Adam thinks I'm nuts, but buying the bed made me sad. I mean, he's my little Doodlebug! Today, the big boy bed. Tomorrow, college. Waaaa!

Wednesday, May 11

Sugar Sugar

Adam made us cookies tonight. He ate half his share and then went off to solve a bathroom sink plumbing problem.

"Hey," I finally told him, "you still have two cookies left here. You can't just leave two chocolate chip cookies next to a pregnant woman. They're not safe."

"I trust you," he said.

Trust me? Trust me? What does trust have to do with it. This is a medical condition we're talking about. I'm pregnant. There are cookies beside me. This has nothing to do with trust. This has to do with the involuntary compulsions that force me to scarf down anything with sugar in a three-block vinicity.

"I trust you." What an idiot!

The Things a Doodles Does

The little monkey is developing in leaps and bounds. And I actually mean that literally. Doodles's gross motor skills are starting to catch up to his peers' (not that he was that far behind, but gross motor skill are his weakest area--I learned that babies who don't crawl on hands and knees are often a little slower on things such as climbing. Crawling develops a baby's pectoral muscles, and since Doodles commando crawled, he didn't get a chance to develop those muscles). So he has all sorts of new Doodle tricks. He's now jumping. Off of things. Oh, he tries to jump up from the floor, but he can't actually clear the ground. Instead, he learned how to climb. And jump off. And give a little screech as he does so. Me Mommy. Him Monkey.

I'm actually not sure when the climbing started. This evening we had a playdate and Doodles wanted to eat. It wasn't quite dinner time. I told him so and went back to my conversation with Doodles's friend's mom. Two seconds later, I turn around and Doodles is sitting in his booster seat, buckling himself in. Um, hello? This is the kid who isn't tall enough to climb up on the couch and he suddenly got himself into his chair? I pulled him down, let him have his temper tantrum, and then, about twenty minutes later, when he said, "Eat, eat," I said fine. And sure enough, he ran back to his chair, hoisted that tiny little leg up, pulled himself up, and crawled into the chair. We've got a whole new level of baby proofing to deal with.

Combined with the climbing, I'm really appreciating the throwing. Especially the rocks. Nothing is more exciting than to find rocks and chuck them. Particularly if you have no aim and there are lots of other little kids around. He's become quite adept at it. By the way, it appears our little Doodles is a lefty. Adam is thrilled. As he has often said, "Southpaw pitchers make more money."

Doodles's language is also rapidly improving. He's now regularly using two word sentences ("More fish!" "No touch," "Daddy's shoes," "Wake up") New words are added daily: otpus (octopus), necklace, ray (a ray fish--he's still completely obsessed with fish), snorkel (I know, he's learning words that are going to serve him well in our little suburban New England neighborhood), filthy, nasty, yucky (the last three courtesy of Adam--oh joy!).

And in the world of eating? Oh, the changes! Now, instead of eating just crunchy carbs and yogurt, he now eats... just crunchy carbs. Nice to know that some things will remain the same.

Wednesday, May 4

New Discoveries

Many Doodle stories are ones I won't blog. A few that I find very amusing, I'll send around in an e-mail to friends. I think that some things are just a little too personal. This is actually one of them, however I'm so annoyed at my child for not sleeping, I've decided to take my revenge by telling this story so that if you meet him someday in the future, you can say, "Oh, I remember the time you..."

Adam gets up with Doodles every morning. Doodles is often good about independent play, but not great. He loves to be read to over and over and over again. So the other morning, Adam was in the kitchen making coffee and getting himself breakfast and he heard Doodles making his "I'm very busy noises," this sort of little hum he makes when he's thoroughly enmeshed in some project.

Adam peeks out the kitchen to check to see what Doodles is up to. And he spies him sitting on the floor behind the dining room table. Doodles is quite involved so Adam comes out to further investigate, only to discover that Doodles has removed his pajama pants, undone part of his diaper, and is happily, um, discovering himself. Unsure of what to say and a little worried that the morning poop could come at any moment, Adam exclaimed, "So, what do you have there?" Possibly not the best question, but it was what came out at the moment. Adam let Doodles, um, play a little longer and then got him up to get him dressed.

See, Doodles. This is what you drive your mother to when you don't nap. Take this as a cautionary tale.

One of Us Needs a Nap

Some weeks I just don't feel like posting and this is one of them. My desire to post is often in direct correlation to Doodles's napping schedule. Today, for instance, is a no-nap day. He slept for exactly six minutes in the car and then refused to do the transfer. So now I have an eye-rubbing yet awake Doodles who won't go anywhere near his crib and he thinks he can get away with it (which, I suppose, he can) because he just looked up to me from his toy truck and said sweetly, "Hi!"

However, I have the ability to blog because I did the toy rotation today. Doodles has more toys than... well, to be honest, he probably has many toys as your kids have, but you know that's an awful lot of toys. I only put out about a third or a half of his toys at a time and keep the rest hidden in the basement. Then, periodically, I do a rotation, hiding some current toys and pulling out toys he hasn't seen for a while. He has a small ride-on truck that makes lots and lots of noise that the last time he saw, he was too young to use (despite that the age range on the box said 10 to 36 months--it lied). It's been keeping him occupied for much of this day. Of course now, my child who is supposed to be smarter than a monkey (but who is giving us plenty of evidence that either monkeys are incredibly dumb or the theory is a bunch of malarky) is using his riding toy as a step stool, which mean any minute now I'll be running to pick him up from a face plant. Can you tell I'm cranky? I am so totally cranky.