He Has Great Ideas

“No, Alex, you may not have a fourth serving of fruit snacks.”

“No, Alex, you can’t have cool whip for dinner.”

“No, Alex, you may not throw your action figure at me. Or anyone.”

He almost always asks. I guess that’s a good thing. Instead of just doing something he knows he isn’t supposed to, he asks first. He generally still does it, and then gives me a look like what are you going to do about it, huh?

His obsession with candy and dessert is no surprise. Not only is he a kid (what kid doesn’t love sweets?), he comes by his love of sugar honestly. My weakness is definitely sugar-laden foods. Brownies, M&Ms, ice cream. If they are in my general vicinity, I have a really hard time not consuming every last drop.

This love of candy and sweets can make it hard to get him to eat anything real, so generally we bargain. Actually, we bargain everything. Or threaten. “If you don’t let me brush your teeth you don’t get to have story time before bed” works like a charm. “If you don’t let me get you dressed for the day I won’t wrestle with you on the bed” convinces him that getting dressed is a good idea.

He’s figured this bargaining out, though, and now tries to use it on us.

“I know what’s a good idea! I’ll go into the kitchen and eat a carrot, and then I can have the entire container of cool whip.”

More often than not, though, he goes straight for what he wants and doesn’t even offer up an enticing offer. “I know what’s a good idea! Let’s have cookies instead of chicken!”

Yeah, you wish, kiddo.

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Osmosis

Everything you say to or around a young kid is absorbed.

There is no such thing as them not understanding. They get everything. Alex may not understand the exact words, or get the sarcasm, or even know how to respond, but he still gets it. Everything sinks in.

At some point in the recent past, he heard a swear word. My best guess is that one day at daycare, he overheard one of his caretakers saying the word. It was probably when they thought no kids were around, or maybe they were heading up the stairs and assumed the kids couldn’t hear.

Zach was taking the diapers out for garbage night, and Alex ran up to him while he was walking them out and said: “Let me see the damn diapers.”

Um, what?

After asking him to repeat himself it was clear: he definitely said those words.

Alex talks like the people around him, whether that is good or bad. If someone says the d word, he will, apparently, repeat it. For all I know he heard that word months ago. For all I know I said it without even realizing it.

He absorbs it all, and I’ve definitely learned that I have to be very careful. No swear words. Proper grammar. Correcting any inappropriate pluralization or change in verb tense.

He’s not allowed to say “slippy” just because he hears other people using that word. “It’s slippery, Alex.”

He is, however, allowed to start most of his sentences with “so.” And correct everyone by saying “actually…”

But no more swear words. And definitely no slippy.

(I still love that he can’t say his ‘r’ sound. Cheese boogers are way more humorous than cheese burgers.)

I’m Probably Doomed

When I took Alex to his three-year well-child appointment, I expected the usual: Alex would refuse to talk to the doctor. He would probably cry as the doctor attempted to look in his ears, mouth, eyes. The doctor and I would have a hard time talking, as Alex would insist that I not talk to anyone but his small self.

As per usual, I was surprised. Every question that the doctor asked Alex was answered. When the doctor asked Alex to open his mouth, he did. Alex walked up to the doctor and initiated conversations about our plans for the day (playground), what he had for breakfast (waffles, three of them), and, the new favorite topic, farting.

“Wanna hear something?” Alex asked the doctor. He then pretended to fart, sticking his little hip out to the side and looking over his shoulder, laughing at his own humor.

When the doctor was finished checking him out and asking questions, he told me that the nurse would be in shortly with the vaccinations.

The nurse came in and gave Alex his two shots. One in each arm. When she left, Alex cried. And cried and cried.

“Mommy, it huwts. She put two big holes in my awms! Look!”

I tried to tell him that it would be okay. That the “holes” were covered by super! cool! bandaids! and that he would feel better soon. I told him that I knew it hurt, and that it was scary, but that it was all over and the nurse was just trying to make sure he didn’t get sick in the future.

“I don’t wike her. I don’t wike nurses. Nurses are bad. Dey are mean.”

I guess I shouldn’t tell Alex that one day I had to give a baby three shots, and that I will have to be that mean nurse over and over in the future.

Pretty much, I’m bad and mean in Alex’s eyes. Good thing I’ll never have to be his nurse.

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No One Prepared Me

No one prepares you for parenthood.

It’s not their fault. It’s impossible to prepare someone for it.

I was told, countless times, that having a child would change my life. That having a child would be exhausting. That having a child would be unimaginably difficult. That having a child would bring more joy, and devastation, than anything else ever had or would.

I listened. I nodded. I thought to myself, of course it will be difficult! I get that!

No one can prepare you for the sleep deprivation you face when your baby is a newborn. No one can prepare you for the tears you will shed as you attempt to take care of a small, helpless, being on two hours of scattered sleep over the previous four nights.

I listened to advice. I nodded. I smiled. I get it. I know having a baby is hard, I thought.

No one can prepare you for how quickly your baby will learn to crawl. And then walk. No one can prepare you for the fear that will race through your spine as you see your baby take their first nasty fall.

Over and over people warned me that these things would happen. I listened. I understood. Babies fall. They hurt themselves. They crawl, they walk, and then they run.

No one can possibly prepare you for the joy that you will feel with that the first smile, the first giggle, the first “mama” that comes through their little mouth. “It’s the most amazing feeling in the world!” I heard them say. I listened. I knew that it would be.

Everyone told me that two would be worse than one, and that three would be harder than two. I get it! Three is hard, blah blah blah. Three year olds will fight you to to the death, they told me.

No one can prepare you for the guilt you will feel as you attempt to raise that fighter of a three year old. The awful feeling of knowing you are doing the right thing only to have your child exclaim, “I hate you!” through tears.

I was told it would come. I expected it to come. I get it!, I thought, of course he won’t mean it!

Everyone told me that it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the hardest thing I will ever do. I thought, I get it.

No one prepares you for the laughter. No one can prepare you for how much joy you will take out of the silly things they say. “We weren’t very close,” Alex told me when I asked if he missed one of his daycare friends who had started preschool.

No one can prepare you for how much joy you feel for your child. How what they do is the most amazing thing any child has ever done. How what they say is funnier than another child saying the exact same thing. How when they say they love you it gets stored away forever, and how when they say they hate you it also does.

No one can prepare you for parenthood.

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Today More Than Yesterday and Less Than Tomorrow

Dear Alexander:


My little stinker. Stinker pot pie. Stinker the linker. Pooper. Schpooger. Booger. Booger the looger. Pinky. Boobers.

My little buddy.

Today you are three. Three! Can you believe it? It was three years ago that you were born, fighting to stay in the home you had known for the previous 9 months. You didn’t want to enter the world, but eventually you arrived, and boy was it beautiful.

The last 365 days have been quite an adventure. You went from staying home with me all day, every day, to going to daycare full time with me returning to school full time. You transitioned beautifully, and have grown even more beautifully.

You were talking at two, but now you won’t stop! There is a constant dialogue streaming from your lips, explaining every little thing that is happening. You not only talk, you ramble. You tell stories. Long stories. Almost every story ends with someone or something farting. Or pooping. This, of course, is hilarious to you, and pretty darn amusing to me. “Row Row Row Your BUTT!

This year, you have outgrown toddlerhood. You are officially a kid. Between the incessant chatter, including in depth conversations, the knowledge of letters and numbers, the ability to be taught, in an instant, the definition of a new word, the hopping, skipping and jumping, and the love of all things big boy, you are no longer a toddler. I look at you and see a child.

My child.

My Alex, you are my world. You make me happier than anything, and I hope that I can bring you even half of the joy in your life that you have brought to me.

In another year you will be starting school. Real school. You are ready in many ways now, but I know that the next year will prepare you for the beginning of approximately 18 years of schooling. You will grow more, learn more, mature more. And I will enjoy watching it all, because even the bad moments are only temporary. Every second of every day you are changing, and it amazes me.

This year has been a whirlwind, and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to spend more time with you in the upcoming years. I feel like I missed out on a lot, but as I look back at the year I know that I didn’t miss everything. We traveled to Florida together, and I came the realization that even though I may not be with you all the time any longer, something is going right because you were the most well behaved two year old imaginable.

You say please and thank you, and now excuse me. While you do not fully understand that “excuse me” is not an excuse to simply start talking or yelling or shaking or dancing in order to get someone to pay attention to you, you do know that there is some polite way to get their attention. We will work on that this year.

It isn’t something I am fully prepared for yet, but you are now lying. I know that it actually means you are learning, that you are comprehending the world in ways I didn’t think would happen quite yet. I heard you telling someone, “Mommy said when I woked up I could have fruit snacks for bweakfast.”

I certainly did not. But it’s cute that you thought you could get away with it.

You are smart. You are focused. You are extremely empathetic. Your hugs and kisses are the best ever. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

I love you, pooker. Sweetie. Honey. Honey bunny. Darling. Dear. My baby.

I love you, Alexander. Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. And I wish you the happiest of happy birthdays on this day.

Love,
Mommy

Three Point Five Years

In three(ish) years, a lot has changed. I went from being a typical college student to…well, whatever I am now. A mother. An almost-nurse. Tired, but happy. A hopeful soon to be home owner. The owner of a seriously awesome new camera.

In three short years…

I had a baby:

Jaundiced Alex, two days old, with mom

One undergraduate degree from Smith College was completed.

I celebrated the first and second birthday with said (no longer a) baby:

Wall-E Cake!  and Alex eating him

Eating birthday cake

I graduated from Pitt with a second bachelor’s degree, this time in Nursing.

And then, to top it all off, I had the most amazing congratulatory dinner celebration last night. A surprise, full of wonderful food, family, and amazing gifts.

As Zach, his parents, my mother, grandmother and long-time friend showered me with love and affection, I came close to tears. As I watched everyone take turns entertaining Alex throughout our long evening, just as they all had numerous times throughout the past year, I came close to tears. When Zach offered me an assortment of my favorite beverages, and as my favorite cake in the world was brought out after dinner, I came close to tears. Every gift I opened? Brought me close to tears.

Again and again I thought about how unbelievably lucky I am. Looking around the room as most of the people I care about gathered to celebrate me and my accomplishments, I felt, mostly, grateful. And also undeserving.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of myself. I am perfectly able to toot my own horn and say that I accomplished a lot over the past few years. This past year (or three, really) has been hard. Really, really, hard. I had to finish up my first degree while staying home with a new baby. I spent the next year taking two classes each term as I prepared to start yet another degree, still staying home with Alex. None of that could prepare me for the challenge of returning to school not just full time, but F.U.L.L. time. Taking more than a full course load each semester and then adding in an average of 24 hours of clinical, all while attempting to still be a mom, a partner, a daughter, a friend…it was almost impossible.

At times, I thought my god, what did I get myself into? I am never going to be able to do this. But then, somehow, it was over.

Only it wasn’t just somehow.

I could never in a million years have gotten through the past three years on my own.

And I can never in a million years thank the people in my life enough.

To Zach, my mother, my grandparents, Zach’s parents, and the friends and family who have supported me:

Thank you. I could not have accomplished any of this, or anything, without you.

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