Sunday, July 24, 2011

Progress progresses, progressively

So there is good and there is bad. The good: Kiddo has gotten much more proactive about the whole potty thing. He even, occasionally, voluntarily uses it. For some reason public restrooms have a special allure that our boring old bathrooms at home do not (could it be the paper towel dispensers? the separate stalls?), so he's much more enthusiastic about the whole business when we're out and about. We've basically ditched the pull-ups.

The bad: We're not using them at night, either -- per the recommendation of his teacher -- and that's meant a whole lot more sheet-washing. I'd hate to go back to the pull-ups now, since it would feel like backsliding. But he just does not wake up to pee. I've started waking him up to go potty right before I go to bed, but I haven't quite found the magic pee time yet. 11:30? Already peed. 11? Already peed. 10:30? Can't pee yet. And yet, after falling asleep on the couch last night, then waking up in a panic at 12:30, I rushed upstairs and he was miraculously dry. This kid's bladder is playing a mean, mean game with me.

The worse: His #2 issue is so problematic it's requiring medical intervention. As in, suppositories. Every night. I don't know if it's officially considered encopresis -- I wasn't in the pediatrician's office for this latest visit -- but that does sound like what's going on. So at least we know he's not deliberately soiling himself, and at least the "medicine" (as we're having him call it) seems to be doing something or other. I will of course spare you the incredibly gross details, except to say that he's been putting up with all this remarkably well, considering, and he seems positively gleeful when he actually produces something in the proper place, and then makes me come look at it. I thought it was bad enough when my cat would kill things and then casually leave the little corpses around so I could praise her magnificent hunting skills. (Except for bugs, which she ate on the spot.)

What's really kind of aggravating is that I hear and see what other kids eat and I know my kids have better diets, in that fruits and vegetables are involved, dessert is not every night, bread products are whole wheat and high-fructose corn syrup is not allowed near our front door. But clearly this isn't just a diet issue.

I cannot believe how much of my brain is occupied with my child's other end. I mean, I just had to show the cat where the litter box was, once, and she was set for life. Obviously cat ownership did not fully prepare me for this little problem. I feel like the world's worst conversationalist -- like you could drop me in a room full of fascinating people holding forth on art, politics, modern philosophy, the slow food movement, and all I would have to say is "My kid peed in the potty five times today and his bed was still dry after his nap, isn't that just fabulous?"

But, we had the smarts to bring him to the doctor when we did, and he is getting better. So there is hope on the horizon, and eventually, if I actually want to occupy my brain with poop-type matters, I'll have to resort to watching "Dumb and Dumber" again. (I won't.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On my way, to where the air is sweet ...

It's a milestone of sorts, your first family amusement-park trip. Your first chance to pay way too much for parking. Your first time thinking maybe you should've packed lunch instead of eating at the park. Your first hour-long line for a two-minute ride. Your first sunburn. You know. Fun!

I kid. Because I love amusement parks. I love roller coasters and totally rigged games of chance and water rides and occasionally even souvenir shops. And we'd been planning on bringing the kids to Sesame Place at some point, so when friends of ours said they were heading down for a weekend trip, we decided to meet them there.

I was at Sesame Place myself maybe once when I was a kid, since by the time it had opened, I had more or less aged out of it. I remember the ball pit and that's about it. So the park was basically a new experience for me. Which would explain my many, many rookie mistakes.

1. No pocketbooks. Really. You're going on water rides. Unless your purse is waterproof, stow it in the locker. We hit the lazy river first, and I was leaning on kiddette's tube, holding her around the waist (they do supply little life jackets, which is nice, but still), secretly praying that my leather backpack/weekend purse was not going to get doused to the point that my cell drowned. Shortly afterward, I bought a couple of those little clear waterproof containers for the money and such, and stowed the purse in the locker.

Most embarrassing: I worked at Six Flags in high school. I know all too well what happens to unprotected valuables on water rides, because when I was a cashier, people would hand me sweaty, wet dollar bills and I would have to take them without looking too nauseous. Customer service and all.

2. Wear shoes you can walk around in wet. DH and kiddo had their sneakers on. DH, realizing his error in time, bought those water shoes for the two of them. Kiddette and I had sandals on, and neither of us cared so much.

And no, barefoot is not an acceptable option. The ground is hot. Your toes will melt off.

3. Sunscreen ... and then more sunscreen. The kids and I ended up OK, because I kept reapplying. DH, I would swear, had gotten enough on, but apparently he is the fairest of them all, because his shoulders are still red days later. And I thought I was the master of sunburn.

4. Timing is everything. By the time we'd gotten our plastic purses and water shoes and gotten our gear settled, we'd about run out of valuable ride time. The crowds only get bigger as the day goes on, and then the lines get longer.

Fortunately our friend is a world class ninja master in amusement parking. She got us there before the park even opened, she arranged the character lunch, she steered us to the good rides, she knew where to park the strollers so the younger ones could attempt to nap. She'd given us the heads-up to reserve a locker in advance, online. Truly, she knows all.

And did the kids like it? Is Big Bird yellow? They dug the lazy river. Kiddo and I went on a two-person inner-tube slide together, and he bawled when he realized we couldn't go right back on the ride after it was over. He was remarkably patient about the line even, though he did kind of creep his way ahead of the people in front a couple of times. Everyone smiled indulgently, which I'm chalking up to his giant Elijah Wood-size eyes because they seem to have an effect on people.

The character lunch was the first one I'd ever been to, so I don't know how it measures up. It was a decent enough spread (buffet, of course), in that veggies were involved and not all of the chicken was breaded. Cookie, Ernie, Bert, the Count and Abby wandered around for hugs and photos. Elmo, proving he is in fact the A-lister of the bunch, sat in the corner for posed shots, Santa-like, and you could take those shots home for just a little extra cash. (Or you could run over to Elmo when he got up and get some shots that way, like we did.) Big Bird sat in one corner of the room, very still, to the point that DH and I were debating whether there was a guy in there or it was an animatronic thingy. But then Big Bird got up to dance, a little jerkily, and we realized the guy had to move veeeerry carefully in order to hold up that giant head. Which struck me as odd, since out of all of them, Big Bird was the only one who was the exact same size he'd be on the show. How does Caroll Spinney do it then? 

You know I'm only obsessing on this because Big Bird was my favorite character.

I wasn't especially worried about the kids being afraid of the giant walking Muppets, and they weren't. Kiddette hugged Cookie Monster a lot. And Elmo. Because she loves Elmo. Sadly.

All the characters have their own shows, apparently, and lucky us saw two Elmo shows. In one, all the characters decided to form a rock band and sing rock versions of their signature ditties, except Cookie, who rapped instead. I died laughing. Elmo wore a black leather jacket, which bothered kiddo, because the sign outside the theater showed them all wearing different rock-star outfits from what they had onstage and he couldn't get past that. Spent the entire show pointing that out, in fact. He'll make a great theater critic.

The second show was a live-action version of "Elmo's World." If you've ever seen the "Elmo's World" segment on "Sesame Street," this is it. Weird crayon drawings on the walls. Mr. Noodle in the window. Dorothy the goldfish. Yep, all there. If you are cringing, you must be a grownup.

Kiddette, however, had her tiny mind blown. She stood clutching the plastic barrier, mesmerized, occasionally yelling "Eelllmooooo!"

Mr. Noodle, incidentally, taught the audience how to Hokey Pokey.

The part of the park I liked, actually, was the part that looked like the show set. I pushed kiddette down Sesame Street while kiddo climbed up on the fire truck (again). There was a hopscotch grid set up in the "alley" next to 123, so I did a little jump to see if I could still do it. Kiddette was quite impressed. "Gainagain," she said, which is kiddette-ese for "I would like you to repeat that." So I did. "Gainagain," she said, but this time I politely declined.

We did manage to get the kids into the car and away without entering a single souvenir shop, but since we'd already bought lunch, dinner, two plastic purse things and two pairs of water shoes, it was kind of a hollow victory.

The next morning, I came in to get kiddette from her crib and, much distressed, she demanded we get her stuffed Elmo from the floor. I leaned down. She hugged it to her cheek. "Elmo," she crooned.

Later, I heard her trying to sing the Hokey Pokey song.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chitchat in girl world

Been meaning to note this post, via the Huffington Post, about how to talk to little girls. I find it pretty interesting, and precisely dead on in that it's all about how cute/precious/adorably pretty a girl is and not much else. Because it's still largely that way for grown-up girls too. How an actress/singer/politician-who-probably-ought-to-be-treated-with-more-respect-than-this performs in public, what she says, how she says it, is nowhere near as important as how she looks and what designer she is/isn't wearing. And then DH wonders why I obsess about my hair.

Hey, I know I'm judged on my looks more often than I'm even aware of. I'm not especially cool with that, even though I'm more or less happy with my looks. (Except in a bathing suit. Curse bathing suits.) But I am absolutely sure there have been times I've been dismissed as a lightweight because I'm under 50, and moderately attractive.

There's this one earlyish episode of "Scrubs" that I love. Elliot shows up for her hospital shifts in full hair and makeup, looking fabulous, and a bunch of her colleagues rip her for it, suggesting she's vain, saying no one takes her seriously, etc. So she shows up for work one day, hair a mess, no makeup, and those same people make fun of her for looking bad. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Very rarely have I seen that point made so succinctly. 

So occasionally I worry about how to raise kiddette in this sort of screwed-up "Girls Gone Wild"/kiddie beauty pageants/high heels for babies world. And one starting point, per top link, is to say something to her besides "you're so cute!" Even though she is of course the cutest kiddette who ever was. But she's also smart and tough and crazily enthusiastic about, you know, everything.

She had her first bounce house experience today. I was holding off on that since I wasn't sure she was old enough, and also because I've heard about freak accidents involving these things when older kids crash-land onto younger ones, and when the house isn't properly secured to the ground and it gets windy (don't believe me? Here). Hey, even when kiddo is in one I'm right outside, watching, just in case. But this was a rare occasion, in that I knew personally nearly every kid inside, and was reasonably sure they could be trusted. (And no wind.) So I let her in.

Other small ones were terrified to even get inside this thing. Kiddette crawled right in. She had some difficulty standing, and she did get knocked into once or twice. And then she got right back up again and imitated the older kids, going "Yaaaaahhh!" and waving her arms as she ran across the floor. She had a blast.

I love this fearlessness about her. I love that she loves books so much that she will walk up to you, crawl into your lap and give you a book, curling each of your hands around it, and say "Read book." I love that she thinks it's the height of hilarity to run screeching around the house after her equally screeching brother, even though my eardrums do not so much love it.

So occasionally I'll tell her something besides "you're my cutie girl." Occasionally I'll tell her how smart she is and how brave and how wonderfully crazy. I hope I always remember to do that.