We recently purchased a toy kitchen set for our older daughter. And when I say cute, I mean this thing is freaking cute. I was stifling the urge to elbow her out of the way so I could play with it. (Just kidding folks, I don't actually "elbow" my kids). These things didn't exist back in the Stone Age when yours truly was growing up.
Back in the day when yours truly was just getting comfortable in my own skin circa the mid-90s, I realized something which would soon exasperate me to no end, but which I found pretty cool at the time: I was taller than every other girl in my class and as tall or taller than some of the boys. I thought it would keep boys from picking on me, but instead some of them (the runts) were intimidated by me. All the girls secretly envied me, telling me wistfully that I could be a runway model, given my height and (stick) figure. What they didn’t know about was the tearful frustration of a teenage girl who wanted to look cute in clothes that were always too short everywhere—sleeves, legs—or hung like a tent when going up a size. It was incorrectly assumed that I must be an expert at basketball and volleyball, but when the cat was out of the bag, I would hang my head in shame.
In school plays and dance recitals, I was always in the back “so the others can be seen.” Strangers meeting me for the first time would glance quickly down at my feet before returning their gaze to my face, convinced for a second I must have been wearing skanky stilettos or the chunkiest of platforms.
It’s even worse when I take trips to India to visit relatives, and I’m taller than the average Indian male, who is around 5’6″. I’m taller than both of my parents, all of my girlfriends, and most of their husbands.
So you can see why I’m feeling frustrated all over again for my elder daughter Pumpkin, who is almost 3 years old. She has inherited her tall height from me and her few-inches-taller-than-me father, and people who see her automatically assume she’s much older than she actually is, which doesn’t seem like a big deal–except she’s not “caught up” developmentally.
At the park:
(Talking to another mom while Pumpkin plays with a random little boy who is only two-thirds her height but about 2 years old)
“Your daughter doesn’t even climb yet?”
“Uh, no, she’s only 18 months.”
“Wow,” she says. “Wow.”
Storytime at the library:
“We have a kindergartner here today!”
(Me looking behind my back) “Uh, what?”
“She’s in kindergarten, right?”
“First grade? Second..?” She sees the skepticism on my face and falters.
“She’s two-and-a-half,” I say, looking her straight in the eye.
The librarian stunned, asks, “Really? Two-and-a-half?” She shakes her head. “What are you feeding her?”
And the most annoying one of all:
“Why doesn’t she talk in full sentences yet?”
(Tearing out fistfuls of hair) “Because she’s not as old as she looks, dammit!”
Pumpkin’s pediatrician warned us at her 2-year checkup to ignore the other parents who would mistake her for a child a year or two older. At the time we laughed and shrugged it off. We were so young and foolish. Not only is it annoying, but at times truly hurtful when others think my child is “slow”, when honestly, she is so bright it makes me want to burst with pride.
I guess she has a few more years of this, and then pretty soon she’ll be intimidating the boys like her mama!
(Or playing the tree in the school play. Ugh.)
*The title of this post is adapted from the song title, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies
Also from the Handbook:
To this day, I still don’t know how she learned that.
Once, as I finished reading her a story, I closed the back cover while announcing, “The end!”
“Again!” she squealed. She leaned forward and tapped the center of the front cover repeatedly. “Again, again!”
She was doing the same thing she usually does when she wants to replay a video on my phone.
I felt kind of bad, to be honest.
Speaking of phones, the only kind she has really seen are touchscreen smartphones. I still refuse to buy a tablet so she can have the genuine experience of flipping through pages of a real book instead of swiping across a screen.
While I’m eternally grateful there was no Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube when I was in high school, I wonder what social media or technology will be in place when she comes of age (hopefully none, but I guess I’m asking for the moon). I still stand by my prediction that there will be no more Facebook within 10 years, although a site like this would’ve been nice back when I was younger. Meanwhile, there is a special space reserved in a museum somewhere for the future acquisition of my laptop and phone.
Oh well…technology marches on!
Also from the Handbook:
In the past, I would befriend just about anyone who I had something in common with, could share a laugh or two, or just because they were friendly. Nowadays, things are very different. Whenever I meet someone new, my first question isn’t Do you have kids? it’s How many kids do you have? All the other friendship qualities seem to take a backseat.
Clearly there’s a reason for all this: Parents just Get It. With other mommy and daddy friends, we don’t need to endure the shock of guests who visit our toy-strewn home. We don’t need to tolerate an annoyed eyeroll when we say we can’t meet at a certain time because it will interfere with the baby’s next feeding.
Whenever I spy a Childless Couple (CC) across a parking lot, walking at their own pace, carefree, hand-in-hand, I, The Bag Lady, look down at my many bags (diaper, snack, purse) and juggle them while lifting my toddler out of her carseat, trying to hear what my husband is saying over the sound of traffic, and think: We used to be you. But not anymore. Now it’s impossible for me to imagine being friends with a CC. It’s like we’re two different species.
Here we go!
I might be biased against you if…
- You have gone to bed after midnight by choice, usually after a fun evening out (yes, OUT!)
- You have slept in till whatever time you wanted after said fun evening.
- You haven’t discussed poop and pee with your partner at least once today.
- You don’t wake to the screams/crying/babbling/jumping of your toddler in the morning. You use an actual alarm clock instead.
- You have 30 minutes to get ready to go somewhere, and use all the time for yourself.
- You still remember what brunch is.
- You wonder what stay-at-home moms “do all day”.
- You don’t have to call ahead to a restaurant to confirm that they provide highchairs.
- You aren’t constantly interrupted.
- You haven’t crossed your living room and every other step was onto the sharp corner of a toy.
- You haven’t been baptized by the three P’s (Pee, Poop, and Puke) at least once per day.
- You haven’t wrestled a writhing toddler into her highchair while enduring screams that could shatter glass.
- You don’t leave the house without at least 5 bags, not counting your purse.
- You haven’t turned on the closed captions for your favorite show because you can’t hear the TV over your toddler’s repetitions of the latest word she learned.
- You haven’t yet mastered the art of typing with one hand while your baby is in your lap.
- You aren’t constantly needed.
- You haven’t cried out to a higher power at least twice a week.
- You haven’t cried after your baby’s ultrasound.
- You haven’t banished imaginary monsters from the closet or wiped real tears from your child’s face.
- You haven’t marveled at how quiet your home can be after the little ones are in bed.
- You haven’t stayed up all night, worrying about your sick baby, wishing you had her cold instead.
- You haven’t checked on your kids while they were sleeping and wondered how so much energy can be stored in such a tiny body.
- You haven’t looked into your daughter’s eyes and realized you are everything to her.
Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Also from the Handbook:
I have a confession to make: my 4-month-old daughter Peanut sleeps through the night.
As in 10 hours.
She has done so for the past month now.
Phew! That feels so much better!
But, strangely enough, I haven’t yet admitted this to any of my mommy friends. Why? Have I done something wrong? Should I feel ashamed?
Part of me feels bad for the moms who are still struggling with their children’s sleep issues for months, or even into their kid’s second year. I don’t want them to feel worse by trumpeting my “success.” Not that there is anything I feel I am doing special or different to get good results. Believe me, if I had the answers, I would be writing post after post about them.
If I could say anything, I would recommend a strict, regular bedtime in a semi-dark room with some white noise, and let her self-soothe whenever possible. I suppose every child is different, and it took some time before my eldest, Pumpkin, would take to any of these methods. Oh, and I can’t say enough about nursing. I know it’s not possible for every mom, and especially challenging for working mothers, but if you can do it, go for it! It’s known that formula-fed babies typically do sleep longer because they feel fuller, but maybe there is something else in breast milk that promotes sleep, or something related to the bond between mother and baby during the nursing process. I promise this is not a sermon on the virtues of breastfeeding, but it does go a long way.
Whenever my mommy friends and I discuss our kids, the topic of sleep will inevitably come up. This is where I squirm, then put on my game face. I wait while they finish their narrative on How Many Times Baby Woke Up, and nod my head sympathetically. I do feel for these mothers, and they truly are warriors for going through these hurdles of parenthood. When the conversation turns to my kids, I am humble, and say They’re Doing Well, It’s Not Too Bad. Then I gently change the subject. I don’t want to start preaching to them, because no matter how honorable my intentions are, it seems like some moms would take my advice as some sort of criticism of their methods, which it’s not. If they ask, I’m more than happy to help unravel the mystery that is our Children. Maybe others might even be a little envious that things are a little “easier” for me.
Everything won’t be easy for everyone; every kid is different and there’s always a trade off. I think it’s important that we network and share back and forth what works for us, and what could be better. It takes a village to raise a child, right?
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Also from the Handbook:
Putting a child down for a nap can be a frustrating process. Recently, I’ve had to trust Pumpkin to self-soothe so that I could spend that time attending to Peanut’s feedings and naptimes. For the most part, she is able to fall asleep by herself, but there are those nights when she just wants to stay up and party. Good thing I discovered white noise, quite by accident.
I have always wondered why laying on the beach and listening to the waves made me so sleepy. I randomly thought, I wonder if this would work on a stubborn baby? I searched YouTube, and there were countless videos playing ocean wave sounds. This one seemed to me the most soothing, and even better, it lasts an entire hour! This is good for when you are also very tired and fall asleep before your child does (like I tend to do).
I’m aware that there are CDs of white noise such as rain and thunderstorms, but I was under the impression that these were marketed toward adults who had trouble sleeping or who wanted to be able to focus better. YouTube is overflowing with videos such as these, and other examples of white noise, including restaurant conversation, typing on a keyboard, office background noise, and so on. I did some research and found that the reason these noises are so soothing to us is because they remind us, on a subconscious level, of what it was like in utero. The womb is a very noisy place! All those fluids coursing through the body are your baby’s lullaby. This is where we were the most comfortable and at peace, and anything which reminds us of that feeling, consequently helps us sleep!Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
*Pumpkin has fallen asleep in as little as 10-15 minutes after listening to the video below: