Friday, April 15, 2016

Scary Dreams

Dear Drake,

Right now, while you are four years and four months old, you are crawling into bed with us almost every night. Anywhere from about an hour after your Dad and I go to sleep, to 15 minutes before we have to get up in the morning. Sometimes I hear you wake up, obviously sad or scared from some unpleasant dream and sleepily welcome you into my arms when you show up at the foot of our bed. Other times, I roll over in the night and discover your small body sleeping next to me since who knows when. As squishy as it can be, and as much as I do not like your feet in my face, as you are known to do, I love it. I love how much you love to cuddle, and will be profoundly sad when the day comes that you decide you have outgrown it.

A couple of nights ago, Dad was away for work. You came into bed with me almost immediately. I don't think I had even fallen asleep when I heard you crying upstairs. I came up and found you wandering around the kitchen, half asleep and whimpering. I scooped you up, you wrapping your long limbs around me and resting your head on my shoulder, and carried you down to my bed. I think we both sleep better together, which might have something to do with the 14 months you spent sleeping in our bed after you were born. We cuddled straight through the night.

Somewhere around 5 in the morning, you woke us up with a scream that peeled through the dark room. The kind of gut wrenching wail that tears a person out of some terrifying nightmare. "NoooOOOOOOOOO!!!!" you screamed. "NO CHEESE IN MY QUESADILLA!"

It still makes me giggle. I am sorry you were scared, but good grief, Son. That is what scares you most?! Food. Our biggest struggle with you. The never-ending, completely nonsensical battle. You love tortillas. You love cheese. But how dare someone put cheese in your tortilla! Silly boy.

I related the story to Daddy, and he laughed, of course. As we chuckled together, it occurred to me that you really ARE the product of our marriage. Your Dad and I, we were meant for each other. We are best friends, and each other's perfect counterpoints. He keeps me steady, and I keep him dreaming. We support each  other. We make each other laugh. We communicate patiently. I'm telling you this to try to make your understand that your Dad and I are very well matched - in all ways but one: food.

I'm the hippie who wants everything to be non-GMO, organic, whole grain, pasture fed, locally raised, whole foods. I believe just about every issue we have with our bodies can be addressed by what we put into it, and that processed foods are the root of all evil. I was a vegan when I met your Dad. Your Dad, most decidedly, was not. The joke is that he is my Southern boy who likes fried chicken. The truth is something a little less stereotypical than that - for both of us -  but is certainly marked enough that it was the subject of much teasing from our friends when we first got together. "That will be the only thing they ever fight about," friends would say with laughing eyes, as your Dad joked about wanting to fry a Twinkie and I freaked out a little. And then we got married, and we made you, and here you are: a funny, sweet boy, a good communicator, a loving member of our family with whom our only fight is food.

Funny how life works.

I do hope to be able to teach you healthy habits and that you carry into your life a strong understanding of the way to nourish your body. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to remember that this is the dynamic I created, and deliver my admonitions with laughing eyes.

I love you young man. I can't wait to cuddle you again tonight. I hope your dreams are full of grapes with no seeds and apples that have had every molecule of peel removed and absolutely no brown spots and that your cheese is safely separate from your tortilla.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Can't Benemba Lasterday

Of all the reasons I wish time would slow down, all the precious pieces of my son's childhood that I wish I could preserve like mementos that can be taken out and viewed at will, one of the biggest things is his speech. I don't know why, but nothing else endears me to the wonder of each stage of his life thus far like the words he either mutilates in adorable toddler fashion or nails unexpectedly.

I've called them Drake-isms, and I meant to write more down.

Each hit me as being so uniquely adorable, I ensured myself that there was no way I could forget them. "I'm definitely going to remember that," I would think. "That's one of those moments you just don't forget."

I forgot.

I remember thinking that I would not forget, but I have no idea what I thought I was going to remember. A glance back through this blog recently taught me just how much I have forgotten already. I read multiple posts in which I professed things like, "It will go down as one of the most precious moments of my life, and a memory I will cherish always." And up until I read the post, I had exactly zero recollection of the event.


So I'm not making any promises. I won't swear that I will document every single one from here on out. I've set myself up for that failure a few too many times. But I am going to write about some of the most current ones - right now, today - and if nothing else, at least I will have captured those.

One of Drake's go-to phrases right now is, "I can't benemba." Which, if you can't tell, means, "I can't remember." He uses it for everything.

"What did you do at school today?" "I can't benemba."

"What did I just say?!" "I can't benemba."

"What would you like to eat?" "I can't benemba."

"Why did you do that?!" "I can't benemba."

Listing it like this makes it sound annoying, and at times, I suppose it is. Usually, though, it makes me giggle inwardly at his uniquely "Drake" way of saying things. Picture it with downcast eyes and the slightest shrug of a single shoulder.

Another favorite is "Lasterday," which means, "absolutely anytime that came before this exact moment." It could be last night, it could be last week, it could be at his birthday last month, it could be last Summer when we visited Uncle Trevor's farm.

"I brushed my teeth lasterday!"

"I was three lasterday, and now I'm four, and tomorrow I will be five!"

"I saw those baby chicks at Uncle Trevor's farm lasterday."

The last I'll list for today is "A little help here?!" This one can be a little maddening, as he says it anytime he is asked to do something for himself.

"Drake, take off your boots please." "A little help here?!"

"Drake, pick up your toys please." "A little help here?!"

So yeah, maddening. But also, so distinctly him. Do I wish he would find the drive to accomplish tasks that most kids are stubbornly insisting on doing for themselves at this age? Sure. But is that about the cutest thing he could say when he feels like he's not capable of something? Yep.

Ok, with those things safely recorded on the world wide web, I'm going to go cuddle him on the couch and crochet while he watches yet another episode of Little Einsteins.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Runaway

Today I experienced real panic as a mother. I came face to face with the idea of losing my son. He ran away. Just disappeared out of the back yard.

It had already been a rough day, full of tantrums and bathroom accidents. I told him, "Mommy needs a little personal space," and that he could either go play in his room with his toys or go play in the snow in the backyard.  He chose the snow. We bundled him up in his snow bibs and boots and hat and mittens and sent him out into the fenced back yard with the dog, as we've done many times before. He knows he's not supposed to go in the front yard without Mom or Dad. He knows he's not supposed to let Sadie out. So when I stopped hearing the sounds of his play, I didn't think much of it. I assumed he had moved into the lawn area, away from the house, and was happily rolling around in the foot of fluffy stuff we've been blessed with in the last two weeks. After about ten minutes of the silence, I went to check on him.

He wasn't there.

I saw one set of size 10 boot prints and one pair of Boxer paw prints leading away from the yard. My first thought was, "Oh, crap! Sadie!" Our dog isn't the best with other dogs. We had an incident with a neighbor dog once before and I did not want a repeat. I threw on my coat and boots and trotted out the front door, assuming I'd find them loitering in the front yard and that I'd scold my son for doing as he knew he shouldn't and letting the dog out.

They weren't there.

I still wasn't worried. Annoyed, more like. "He's pushing it," I thought, assuming he was in the neighbors yard. Again, no. Thanks to the freshly fallen snow, I could follow his tracks for a moment, but when he joined up with the well-trodden sidewalk, I had no idea which way he had gone. I picked up the pace and started to call for him and the dog.

Nothing. No sounds. No recognizable tracks. No sign of movement in any direction.

Now I was running. Running, and screaming. I ran in a star pattern, unsure which way to go, always returning to the house, praying that somehow he had thought it was funny to hide in the backyard. Neighbors started to notice. I shouted at one woman I'd never met before, "Have you seen a four year old little boy??!!" She just shook her head no. I turned and ran in the opposite direction, now nearing hysteria.

Finally someone who was unloading their car in the driveway right across the street from my own house asked, "Are you looking for your son?" When I shouted that I was, he said, "He just went that way with a dog." I didn't feel grateful. I felt exasperated. How long do you need to listen to a mother scream before you decide to mention that you saw her child? I ran past him with what I can only assume were crazed eyes. As I ran he said, "He said he was going to school. He seemed to know what he was doing." A four year old.

I had already run past the preschool once, having thought of that possibility. He wasn't there. Finally, I saw a woman walking down the alley toward me, holding my son's hand. I almost collapsed.

I was relieved and furious. "Drake!! Where did you go??!!"

"I went on an adventure with my dog," he said. The kind woman said he appeared to be following Sadie. I felt embarrassed, like I needed to explain. Breathless, I said, "He had been playing in the backyard, and then he just wasn't there." She said she understood. That she had a three year old "who's just like that."

"He isn't "like that,"" I thought. "He's never done this before!" But I didn't say it. It seemed rude after her kindness.

As I blustered between gratitude and embarrassment, Drake interjected with heart crushing words, "My home wasn't special anymore. I wandered off to another special place."

I'm not paraphrasing or altering his words in anyway.

"My home wasn't special anymore."

"I wandered off."

I just stared at him, dumbfounded, until he told me he was sorry of his own volition. As the fear drained out of me, the guilt slid in. I should have gone outside with him. I'd been meaning to go out and play in the snow with him for days and still hadn't done it. Childhood should be full of adventure. I should have provided it.

I asked him if he still wanted to go for a walk. We dropped Sadie off in the yard and I put on my hat and boots. I told him I would follow him and he could decide where we went. He held his hands in front of him as if reading a book and said, "My map says to go left... My map says to go right..." And we wound our way through the neighborhood as I felt myself collapsing inward under the unbearable weight of total parenting failure.

It's been a day...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sweet Dreams

Wake up time may vary, and Drake can wake up in a variety of moods, but one thing about our morning routine has been consistent for close to a year now. Since Drake started putting together phrases and short sentences, our first exchange of the day has gone like this:

"Liiiitle Muuuunchkiiin..." as I peek around the door to greet him in his bed. Drake bounces on the mattress, clinging to the red railing and smiling behind his binky. "Good morning my handsome Little Man."

"Moneen, Mommy."

"Did you sleep good?" I ask, as I lift him out of his bed. He wraps his legs around my waist and lays his head on my shoulder, nodding.

"Mm, hm."

"Did you have sweet dreams?" I ask, carrying him to the couch for our morning cuddles.

"Mm, hm."

"What did you dream about?" And then this is my favorite part...

Every day, for who knows how many months now, Drake has responded the same way. "I dweam," he says between yawns, "in my bed."

And that's it. That's all I get. I still have no idea what it is my Little Man dreams about, but there can be no doubt that he does so in his bed. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

3 Years, 3 Weeks, and 3 Days...

I'm gonna say the thing that all parents say: How did this happen?! My little boy is not little at all really. He's big, in so many ways.

He's tall, lanky, and moppy haired. 

When I cuddle him, I can't contain all of him in my arms. His long limbs spill out all over the place. He sits in my lap and rests his head on my shoulder.

He's physically capable of it all now. Running, jumping, climbing - there is no awkward or unsure movement anymore.

He is smart. Too smart, maybe, as he seems to know how to break all the rules and charm his way back into favor. Case in point: I was sternly scolding him the other day, and he simply leaned in and rubbed his nose against mine, "Ugga Mugga, Mommy!" How am I supposed to be mad at that?!

He says he's sorry when I have no idea what he's done.

He still likes to cuddle.

He sneaks his binky out of his bed (it's only supposed to be for bedtime these days) and walks around the house with his hand over his mouth, like I can't tell what he's doing. When I tell him to put it back in his bed, he giggles and says, "Alwight, alwight, alwight!"

He can count to 14. He can say his ABC's. He's 3 feet 2 1/2 inches tall and weighs 32.4 pounds. 

He still refuses to eat meat, and most vegetables, so that's frustrating, but at least he says, "No, danks," when turning down food. And anything else, for that matter. It seems he considers most of what I say merely a suggestion. 

"Come on bud. Let's go brush your teeth."

"No danks!" The manners are nice, but the obedience would be nicer...

He's not potty trained yet, but we're working on that.

He loves to read, and has several of his books memorized.

He loves his Lovey and his Pooh Bear and a rainbow colored unicorn.

He's already embarrassed by his parents when they dance like psychos in the car. "Stop! STOP! No dancin!"

This year, he asked for a costume party for his birthday. Well, not so much specifically for his birthday as much as just every single day after Halloween. I guess he liked Halloween this year. He asked for it over and over again, for weeks. "Oh, have a costume party??" When asked what he wanted to wear to his own costume party, he consistently answered, "A punkin!" On the day of his party, he refused to wear any costume.

Stubborn, opinionated, handsome, funny, frustrating, and immensely lovable. This is my son: aged three years, three weeks, and three days.

Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated his birthday with us. For those of our friends and family that weren't able to make it because of distance or time or just life, I've included a few (er.. a lot of) pictures. You can see we had a little bit of fun with the photo booth... 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Waiting for Santa...

We made our shopping lists for Drake based on our own ideas - the things we anticipated him enjoying and the developmental stages he's coming up on. Educational toys. Books. Christmas jammies, because he grew out of last year's set. At the very last minute, it occurred to me that I should ask him. I wasn't sure if he was old enough yet to actually want something - to know that there was something out there that he didn't have, and to wish he had it - but I wanted to know what he would say.

"Hey buddy, is there anything you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?" I asked.

With wide eyes he answered, "Cwismas!!"

Perfect. Done and done.

In the two weeks since, I've repeated the question, just to see if his answer would change. It didn't. Not until last Sunday, when we went to visit Santa.

"What are you going to ask Santa for?"


Laughing, "Oh yeah? What kind of presents?"

"Pink ones! An' purple ones! An' candy!"

We'll see if Santa got the message.