Monthly Archives: January 2012

Day of the Dog

It was just before the holidays that I started to really take stock of my child’s vocabulary. Honestly, I was starting to get worried that he was behind in his language skills. Of course that would’ve been totally normal given that he’s being talked to in three languages on any given day. But still. I was worried that he was noticeably behind.

As it turns out, he’s progressing like any mono-lingual kid at this point. And by that I mean he’s totally soaking anything and everything in. While not everything he utters is intelligible, at 20 months, he’s really trying to repeat (to varying degrees of success) everything that is said. And that is really fun–and a little scary when you actually start to realize all the adult language that you are still using even though you don’t think you are.

But the coolest thing for me this week was that baby now has two words in two different languages for the same object–that object being our dog. Baby’s second word after gato (cat in Spanish) was chien, or dog in French. And that’s what he’s been calling a dog for months now. Until this week when we went to the dog park. As he was running around, chasing all the various mutts, he started yelling out, “Doggies! Doggies!” It floored me because no one in our house says doggies. I suspect it’s something he’s picked up watching television at the nanny’s, but I can’t be sure.

But the interesting thing to me is that, at 20 months old, he understands that doggy and chien mean the same thing. Althought it sort of seems like he’s using doggies to refer to multiple dogs and chien to refer to a single dog. (As an aside–that’s the other thing that’s new in terms of development for him; he can now pick the image of a dog or a cat out of a book or off TV.) But all the same, I’m fascinated by the fact that he’s somewhat grasped the concept of a synonym.

I don’t know if that represents a major milestone in multilingual development or not. I clearly haven’t ready enough books to make me knowledgeable about what I should be doing much less an expert in doing it. It does seem like it should be. But even if it’s not, it’s cause enough for some age-appropriate celebration around our house.

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The $40 Beer and Other Tall Tales

After the exciting New Year’s Eve that I had, the thing I was most look forward in 2012 was a first New Year’s brunch at  a relatively nice place. (Cloth napkins, please; that’s all I’m asking.) So, I made plans to meet up with my husband’s cousin, her husband, and their son who is also toddler aged. I figured if I couldn’t enjoy a night on the town, I could at least enjoy a couple of festive mimosa and an overpriced plate of eggs before strollering home for nap time.

New Year’s Day started out just great. Baby and I slept in, then we went to the gym, where he had a great time in the baby-sized ball pit and I had a less-than-great time sweating it out on the treadmill. We had a wonderful walk downtown to the restaurant, and luckily there was no ridiculous wait.

And that’s pretty much where the fun stopped.

I’ve been totally embarrassed by my child before. The incident that first jumps to mind is sitting in a financial planner’s office this fall. As we negotiated what to do with the 401K I needed to do something with following my layoff, my kid turned from a little boy into a goddamn monkey. He was literally climbing all over the guy’s leather chair, pulling documents off his desk, playing with a model car that was clearly not a toy, highlighting the wooden table in his office–you name it, he meddled in it. The crowning moment was when my child discovered the mini golf sculpture, replete with a real sand trap. Before I could sign my life’s savings over, my child had a fist full of sand and had chucked it across the guy’s office. And if I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my kid took a dump in his diaper that stunk up the place to the point where the financial planner had to open the office door and let some fresh air in.

If I thought that experience was humiliating, I had another thing coming at this brunch. We sat down, ordered a drink, and then placed our orders. I went for some mussels steamed in some beer-infused cream sauces with spicy sausage and a cold, crispy beer; I ordered baby some sliders to share with his cousin and fries. After about 15 minutes of playing with cars, whining started. And then I got angry face. And then the crying started.

In the span of the next 20 minutes, I pulled out a light saber (or thats what I call this toy that has a globe on a stick and when you press the button a bunch of lights spin around), fruit snacks, a toy phone, a toy remote, crayons, and raisins. But the crying wouldn’t stop. At this point, the best thing about the restaurant was that it was loud as hell and I don’t think the table next to us could hear my child fussing majorly over the din of other diners conversing and plates being cleared.

So, baby and I went hand in hand to the bathroom to check on the diaper situation. Turns out the diaper was not an issue. But the crying had turned into hysterics and I soon found myself three more times in the bathroom over the next 15 to 20 minutes. (Seriously how slow could this service be!) I tried everything–diaper change, timeout, pleading, and finally begging. I was starting to completely look my grip on the whole situation. I know it’s bad when family follows you into the bathroom to find out if you’re okay. (Ummm, no, but I can’t tell anyone just how close I am to completely losing it.)

After an eternity and a day, the food arrives. My child is absolutely sobbing. In the high chair. In my lap. Standing next to the table. He’s just a blubbering and snotty mess. I pull the plug.

I ask for the check and a couple of doggie bags. I shovel a couple of mussels into my gullet and whole-heartedly try to package up the rest of them with the intent to actually enjoy them when I get home. I get them all in the box and realize (1) the box is cardboard, so I’m going to end up with a soupy mess in my stroller despite the box inside the box packaging and (2) even if I could get a plastic bag to wrap up the box, the box still won’t close. So, I think I pretty much threw my hands in the air and got the funk out of there. My bill (with tip) was close to $40. The only thing I actually ingested was an Amstel Light.

Thank god I had a 45 minute walk home in 35-degree temperatures–after a $40 beer, no way in hell I was paying for a cab–because it took me that long to cool down. Honestly, I was furious. I wasn’t necessarily mad at my kid (although maybe I was a little bit), but I totally felt cheated out of not only $40 but a nice day with family. I mean, how often do I really get out? And it was brunch, for god’s sake!

I’m sure it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was somehow, on that day, at that time, nearly devastating for me. Which is why I felt like not only the world’s worst mother but a total ass the next morning. I retrieve my child from his bed in the next morning to find his entire face crusted in a snot mask. He was clearly sick. And he had clearly been telling me the day before that he didn’t feel well. And I clearly all but cursed him out for acting up.

I can say with certainty that the idea of having to remove not just a but my hysterical child from public was a huge parental fear of mine. And it happened, despite my efforts to the contrary. (I just thank god it was with family and not my husband’s boss.) But I lived to see another day, if not another mussel.

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The New Adventures of the Old Me

When ringing in the new year, it’s only natural to think about the new people we could become. But the problem I have is that I can’t just think about one thing I would change for the better in the year ahead; with every new year I feel like I need an extreme life makeover.

And this is why I can’t just pick one simple resolution. I have to choose multiple resolutions. Usually because I start out with one good idea and then it leads to another and then I’ve got something that looks like a weekend honey-do list rather than a simple resolution.

But the good thing about having so many is that you don’t feel quite as big of a loser when you fail to keep your resolutions or just sort of half-ass them. Because you’ve set such big expectations that even in falling short across the board, you’ve at least moved the needle on your life in a good direction.

While 2011 certainly had its challenges, one of the good things I took away from it was that I had a lot of time for self development. I wrote a lot (although nearly not enough in my book); I tried a bible study group; I volunteered for a leadership position; I raised a lot of money for a great charity (and ran 10 miles as part of the process); and I reevaluated my career path (the one good thing about getting laid off). So, in a way, it a productive if not ideal year.

While I had a ton on my plate, and sometimes it totally was too much, I felt better about me when I was that busy. And a lot of the things that I accomplished forced me to slow down and be a little more reflective than I might have been otherwise. So, my challenge in 2012 is to figure out how to sustain some of that momentum so that I end up a less frazzled, more content person. Here’s my roadmap to learning not to sweat the small stuff:

  1. Be more patient (with husband and dog, husband especially)
  2. Unleash my inner entrepreneur!
  3. Drink more water (glub, glub)
  4. Read more for fun (and some above a grade 3 reading level)
  5. Thank god every day

Yes, I realize that these five resolutions are all over the map. But the way this grab bag of resolutions makes sense is that each one speaks to a different facet of my life and the whole package is a better me. There’s one resolution that deals with family, another with my professional aspirations, a third that addresses health, another focused on leisure, and the last one is about spiritual enhancement. To me, those five things seem like the main ingredients in the recipe for a more fulfilling life. So, here’s to making all this happen in the year ahead. Cheers!

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Hello, 2012!

So, it’s New Year’s Eve. And I’m in my slippers and planted on my couch and its not even 10:00pm yet. My glass of wine is within reach, there is leftover takeout in the fridge, and I’ve got Season 1 of Parenthood on tap for the rest of the evening.

It’s a far cry from New Years past. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t entertain a few notions of taking my night up a notch. The most ridiculous one involved me putting on a sparkle outfit, replete with sequined mini skirt, tights, and heels, and having a candle lit dinner with my 18-month-old child. (It’s almost embarrassing to admit that.) Luckily I came to my senses and ordered Chinese instead.

Although it would be nice to be sharing tonight with someone who doesn’t eat at 5:30pm and call it lights out by 8:00pm (at the latest), for the most part, I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do. Yes, I know I’m lame, and I’m okay with it. But on the plus side of not paying out the you-know-what for a night on the town and then making sure I get my money’s worth out of cheap champagne (only to regret it the next morning), I am left with a few hours to really take stock of what 2011 was all about.

Since I wasn’t going to hear it tonight, I decided to look up the words to Auld Lang Syne; I never really knew what the words were even though I’m pretty sure I’ve belted out the chorus like it was my job before. I always thought the message was to not let your past be forgotten, but it turns out that the song really asks a question–whether or not it’s right that old times be forgotten. So, really, it assumes that we do forget, but it doesn’t really tell us whether it’s a tragedy or a blessing. And if I’m going to do my own year in review, I think I’m left with a similar question.

It was a long year. And an oftentimes lonely year. And sometimes just a really hard, total meltdown-worthy year, as I’m sure my mother can attest since I called her at a number of low points in 2011. All of those old times I would certainly like to forget.

But then there were the awesome parts. My baby grew into a little boy this year. So, there were a lot of big firsts to be had–first crawls, first steps, first words. We also had a lot of wonderful adventures along the way, some as far as Europe and some as close as the baby pool in the backyard. And those old times I wouldn’t trade for anything. In fact, it hurts my heart to know they’re gone.

So, with just a few minutes left before midnight, I think maybe the song says something totally different. I think what it means is that every year has its ups and its downs, things we’ll remember for ever and some we wish we could completely undo. We don’t have to relive it all or forget it all; instead we can choose what memories to keep dear and near to us and let the others just go. And so as I head into 2012, I think I’ll just take the good with me and leave the rest in 2011. Auld Lang Syne!

 

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