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.)

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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If There’s a Tree, It’s a Forest.

Alex is such a little dude these days. It just amazes me that he is, like, a person.

This is nothing new, and I have no doubt it will continue to astound me every other day, but my god language development is fascinating. And just development in general.

“I wike forests.”
“Oh yeah? What’s in a forest, Alex?”
“Twees!”

So, trees are in forests. Good. This is true. For about a week every single time we would pass a tree Alex would yell, “Mommy! Look! Dewes a FOWEST!”

A implies B does not mean that B implies A. This is a very complicated concept, apparently.

Take Target. Now, Target sells, well, everything. It has toys, games, clothes and groceries. And because it has groceries, it is therefore, according to Alex, a grocery store.

Every time I tell Alex we are going to the grocery store, he is very disappointed that it isn’t “da OTHER grocery store. Da one wid da popcorn.”

And to make matters even more complicated, I told Alex that we will be going to see his first movie at a movie theater this summer. At the theater, I tell him, we will get popcorn. “Oh! Our goin’ to see a movie in da grocery store?!”

Of course we are, kiddo. Because that makes perfect sense.

The Darndest Things

Me: Let’s play hide and seek! I’ll count to ten, and you go hide. Then I’ll come find you!
Alex: ::running away:: Otay! I be hiding!
Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Ready or not, here I come!
Alex: ::running towards me:: Heaw I am!

I don’t think he quite grasps the concept.

Me: I love you.
Alex: You wuv me?
Me: Very much.
Alex: Thanks.

Me: Alex, you’re so cute!
Alex: Noooo…I not cute, you’re cute!
Me: Aw, thanks. But seriously…how did you get to be so cute? I guess it’s in your genes.
Alex: ::looks down at his pants, puts his hands in his pocket, pulls out a quarter:: Dis? You gave me dis in my pants? It’s so cwute!

Alex: Ick. I don’t wike dis cheese.
Me: That’s probably because it’s sharp.
Alex: Oh! Oww…it’s sharp! Oww! Yucky cheese. ::puts his hand near it:: Ow! Sharp!

In the middle of doing just about anything: “Mommy, you wike dis? You wike dis movie/food/game?”

Me: Alex, are you are a boy or a girl?
Alex: I’m a boy!
Me: Is daddy a boy or a girl?
Alex: Daddy’s a boy! He’s a good boy.
Me: Am I a boy or a girl?
Alex: Noooo…you’re just mommy!
Me: I’m not a girl?
Alex: No!
Me: If daddy’s a good boy, can I be a good girl?
Alex: Noooo…you’re mommy! You’re not a good girl. [Name of girl at daycare] is a good girl!
Me: But I’m not? I’m not a girl?
Alex: No. You’re silly. You’re just mommy.

Me: ::walking downstairs after getting ready for the day:: Hi, buddy!
Alex: Hi, mommy! Ooooh…you’re pwetty!
Me: Aw, thanks, sweetie! You’re pretty, too!
Alex: Nooooo…I not pwetty. I’m cwute!

Me: Alex, are you hungry? Do you want your snack?
Alex: No. I’m fine. I’m just playing. Are you hungry?

Alex

Mwen Regret Sa

I lack the writing skills to properly explain the situation. Even if I sat here for hours, editing my thoughts, I would never succeed in communicating the contradictions of emotions that these children have brought to me. Honestly, I don’t even know if my own brain can comprehend it all.

Last night, I had the opportunity to spend the night with the remaining orphans. I believe there were about fourteen of them, though I spent my time with the youngest three: a ten month old who was only twelve pounds, a one year old who looked six months old, and a healthy, babbling, vibrant one year old girl.

These children are breathtaking. They are beautiful, smart, so loving to one another, and amazingly resilient. These children will forever be in my heart, and I only spent 6 hours with them. I will think of them often, and hope that they have every opportunity to continue to be the amazing people they are.

I don’t speak any creole, and very, very, little french, so my communication with the older children was limited at best. “Bonjou” does not simply mean hello or good afternoon (like “bonjour” in french does), it means “good day” and is used only before 11am. A five year old girl, when I greeted her with “bonjou!” smiled at me and said, “non, bonswa!” giggling with bright eyes. I attempted to ask her how she was, but I only knew how to do so in french. “Comment ├ža va?” She giggled again, understanding my botched french accent, and replied: “Non! Komon ou ye?… Mwen byen! Mesi!” She ran off in her pajamas to play with her friends, the other orphaned children.

The children all went to bed around eight, and I sat in the infant room listening to the three babies sleeping in the donated pack ‘n plays.

These children? Are amazing.

This morning I woke up with Alex. I woke up to his little voice singing, “Moooooommmmyyy!” Over breakfast, he told me: “You weft wast night. I cwied. Daddy put spaceships on the TV!” I took the time to explain to him where I was and what I was doing. I told him that I had spent the night with children who don’t have mommies and daddies.

“No Mommy? Oh…dey’re sad.”

I told him that they may be a little sad, but most of them were actually very happy. They had each other, and wonderful big people to take of them, I explained.

Alex looked at me, very seriously, and told me: “No…dey’re sad. Dey don’t have a mommy? Dey’re sad.”

I hugged him extra tight, gave him a kiss on his cheek, and told him I loved him.

Alex

If you haven’t yet, please donate to Haiti. Every little bit helps, and we can all do something.

Cwimps-muhss, Oh My

This was Alex’s first Christmas, in many ways. While he has technically had two before this one, this was the first one he had the beginnings of understanding. He knew that it meant we got to bring a “tree? Inside!?” and that there would be presents for him. He knew that we would visit family and have the opportunity to “eat yummy tweats!” He also had some inkling that a man with a red hat would be bringing him gifts and that this man was named Santa.

Now, the whole Santa thing is probably the only thing Zach and I have a bit of a disagreement about. I’m not a fan of Santa, but we will be doing the Santa thing regardless of my feelings about it. This year was no exception, and Alex got a few presents from Santa under the tree.

Santa didn’t get the opportunity to give Alex very many “good” presents, and the ones that were there first thing in the morning for Alex to enjoy were not particularly well received.

Sitting in front of the tree, unwrapped, were two adorable stuffed animals. The kind of stuffed animals that you touch and can’t fathom how they got to be so amazingly soft. The kind of stuffed animals that are just perfect for cuddling.

When Alex saw them, he said, “Pooh and Tigger! Where’s Mickey? I want a Mickey.”

Whoops. I guess Santa didn’t get the memo that Tigger and Pooh are out and Mickey is in.

Christmas Morning

Fortunately, Alex received a Woody and Buzz from us that he is in love with, and life basically couldn’t be any better for a two year old. He runs around playing with them for the majority of the day, making them talk to each other and telling us all about their adventures:

Buzz: “To affinity…and be-onnnn!”

Woody: “You are a toy! You can’t fly!”

“Woody says, ‘howdy howdy howdy!'”

“Buzz has wings on! He can fly! Look, he can fly with Woody! Wooooosh!”

And he surprised us with this one, which I’m not sure is a part of the movie. And if it is a part of the movie, I wish he hadn’t picked it up. But if it isn’t a part of the movie, well…where did he pick it up?

Woody: “Buzz, you want a piece of me?”

Oh, My.

Woody!