Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#$%&ing Toddler Room Again

I thought everything was going well. And it was, for the most part. Norah still had some difficult drop-offs once in a while, but they were much better. The gals would always say she had a great day at pick-up. Her little report cards were unfailingly positive. There is a list of adjectives at the bottom and the ones circled for Norah are usually "Happy," "Smiley," and "Busy." Sometimes "Talkative."

And then one day I dropped off Norah and one of the gals stopped me. She told me that Norah had been having a rough few days. Um, what? Happy-Smiley-Busy, right? Nope. She had been upset in the mornings and would cry. Outside, she'd sit against the wall alone and cry.

Let me pause for a moment. I need to think of a way to articulate through prose how I felt about this news.


I can't even bear to think about my little girl doing this. I cried the whole way home. A million questions flooded my brain. Should I just take her home? Will that set a bad precedent? Why won't they calm her down? Why can't she just play inside with the other group if she doesn't want to go out? Why the hell do they use report cards if they're bullshit? What else do they gloss over? That last question was from my friend, Amy. Thanks, Amy. Like my paranoia wasn't in the orange zone as it was.

Before leaving daycare, I told the woman-- for the I-don't-know-how-many-th time-- that I was to be called if my daughter was having a terrible day and was inconsolable. She called me an hour later and I had to decide. What should I do?

I talked to the gal for a while. She said the kids needed to go outside. I didn't push, but I regret that now. Then she talked about setting a precedent-- that Norah would learn quickly that Mom would come get her if she cried. That wouldn't be good either-- I need to work. She seemed to think Norah should tough it out.

But I didn't want her to tough it out. I couldn't work. I could only picture her crying all alone. I know they hold her and coddle her when I'm there, but there are a ton of kids there. I'm sure they leave her. They have to. I don't want her to have any tough days. Life will suck soon enough. It doesn't have to as long as I have the power to stop it.

Should I take her out of this daycare? Obviously they are lazy about the report cards. They have so many strict rules that are supposed to help the child grow, but it seems like they're just inflexible to me. They don't tell me crucial information in a timely manner. I was so pissed. I still am pissed.

Then it dawned on me. "Give her Baby Orajel." She had been chewing on her nuk like crazy and sticking her fingers in her mouth. She hadn't been sleeping well. Maybe she was getting her molars.

I called about a half hour later, and they said she was doing fine. Excellent. Although I was pissed that they didn't think of it first. I don't care if that's rational or not.

I though all was well again. Then I picked her up yesterday. Her report card actually said something different for a change. They must have gotten my not-so-subtle hint. "Needed lots of hugs." That's daycare for terrible day. I asked the afternoon crew, "Did you give her Baby Orajel again?" They responded that they did after nap and then she was fine.


So the daycare people need to work a little on their communication, and I, too, need to work on mine. Perhaps I will invest on some custom printed shirts that have a bulleted list on them:

  • If there's poop in my diaper, please change me.
  • If I ask for a drink, I'm probably thirsty.
  • Same with food.
  • If I'm upset for seemingly no reason and you can't calm me down, give me Baby Orajel.

You may be thinking I'm overreacting. Maybe I am. I don't know-- I'm new at this. All I know is that I pay these people a boatload of money to watch my kid because they're supposedly professionals who supposedly care about children. And, yes, I realize that the individual caregivers probably don't earn that much. And they should! This society is jacked-- people who care for children, nurses, hospice workers, social workers-- they make squat. But athletes make millions and investment bankers have bonuses bigger than five years of my income. It's not fair.

But I don't care. It's my kid. I can't demand anything but excellence, perfection.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Norah Loves Santa. Mommy Hates Shopping.

It's official. We can't go to any stores until well into January. Norah loves Santa and everything Christmas-y.

So, why deprive her of such joy, you ask?  Because when a toddler sees a shining, singing, sparkling, spectacle of a Christmas display, she never, ever wants to leave. When you say, "Come on, Sweetie, time to go," you will hear, "NO!" as a reply. When you say, "Honey, come to Mama," you will hear, "NO! NOOOOO!" And when the store is closing and people are forcing us out and threatening to call the police, she will throw herself to the floor, facedown, and throw the mother of all tantrums.

Okay, it was morning and we'd only been there for about 40 minutes, but it was lunchtime and we needed to go.

I don't even know how she remembers this stuff. She was just a few days under one last year when Grandma taught her "Ho ho ho!" and gave her a Santa ornament. How could she have possibly remembered that? But she bolted toward the Christmas display at Kohl's and bellowed "Ho ho ho!" to the glittering Santa ornaments hanging on white and green plastic trees. I was surprised, to say the least, but also amused as she went to each Santa object she found (chotchkies, ornaments, Santa stockings, snow globes, etc) and said, "Ho ho ho!" to each one.

Soon she was dissatisfied by just ho-ho-hoing. Now she wanted to touch-touch-touch. I tried to gently guide her hands away from the displayed items, but she got more and more irritated with my interference. She'd whip her hand away and squeal, and then find another item to break-- I mean, touch.

Now a group of little old ladies were browsing the Christmas section. At first we got a couple smiles. We usually do-- Norah is damn cute. But then as Norah started getting more rowdy and resistant to my pleas, we started getting those looks. You know. The my-child-never-acted-up-due-to-my-superior-parenting-skills look, or the that's-what-bad-parenting-will-get-you-look. I even heard one of them utter something about a "plug." I'm assuming the old broad was discussing my nearly-two-year-old's pacifier.

Okay. It was time to leave. Not only was it lunchtime, but I was dangerously close to telling some old bat to mind her own business.

"Time to go, Baby," I said quietly, crouching down to her level.

"Ho ho ho! Ho ho ho!" She blissfully galloped to the next display.

I must avoid a tantrum. Think, Heather. 

After bribing her with a number of things (we'll go find an Elmo toy, let's find more Santas, do you want some apple juice, etc.), I pulled out the big guns: "Should we visit Daddy?" Daddy works at a home improvement store, which is like Disneyland to a toddler for some reason, and Norah loves to visit. Grandpa works at the same store, so it's double awesome.

She broke out of her Christmas trance and looked up-- "Yeah!"

Then she turned to her Santa friends, as well as the sour old hens, and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Bye, Hos!"


Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Camping

Well, we made it.

The biggest thing I was dreading was the weather. I mean, who goes camping mid-October in Minnesota besides hardcore outdoorsy people? Norah and I are not hardcore outdoorsy people.

But the weather was unseasonably warm-- record-breaking nonetheless. We actually had the kids in the swim diapers playing on the beach and in the water. It was crazy! And dirty. But I promised myself I wouldn't spaz out about Norah getting dirty. Breathe in, breathe out.

The next biggest thing I was dreading was sleep. The first time we went camping with her, she was literally up 16 times in the night. She wouldn't sleep in the bed with us (we had a camper cabin), she wouldn't sleep in her pack-n-play. I just held her until she slept, but her down in her bed, and slept for 10 minutes or so until she got up again. Hell.

This time, she slept like a rock. She ran around like a maniac in the fresh air with the other kids and basically passed out. It was bliss.

The third biggest thing I stressed about was mealtime. Norah tends to eat nothing when there's the tiniest bit of distraction. We don't take her out to eat at all anymore. She picks at her food a little at our friends' houses. I don't think people even believe us when we tell them she eats like a horse.

Chow time
Anyway, mealtime did actually suck. She only ate a few chips and a cookie all weekend, pretty much. She ate a little bit of a cheese sandwich that Tamara made her and dunked it in applesauce. And on the last day, she raided the boys' Cookie Crisp. But, she's back to horse-like eating at home, so everything is fine.

Norah's Favorite October Camping Experiences:

  • Seeing three deer with Daddy
  • Rob showing her a fish and a frog
  • "Hiking" with Sara, Samantha, Tamara, Lincoln, and Will
  • Singing campfire songs with Tamara
  • Snuggling Mommy at nap time
  • Playing on the beach and dumping water into a hole

We're hiking!
Mommy's Favorite October Camping Experiences:

  • Camper cabins! Song long, tents, and all the unpredictable temperatures, wetness, awkward zippers, air mattresses, and other annoyances that go along with them.
  • Rob's campfire fajitas
  • Sleeping child
  • Hiking the loop with Tamara
  • "Hiking" with Sara, Tamara, and the kids
  • Having a couple drinks with my friends around the campfire under a zillion stars 

Hanging by one of the cabins

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flashback Friday: Our First Few Moments Alone with Norah

(Excerpt from Expect This: A Memoir on Pregnancy

The nurse took my blood pressure and temperature and asked us if we needed anything else. 
Um, yes. Someone to show us how to take care of a baby, I thought. “I don’t think so,” I said meekly. Mason shook his head no.
Once the nurses left, my euphoria waned. I looked at Mason, panicked. “What do we feed her? When do we feed her? Is it two ounces like in Baby 411? What do we feed her with? What if she needs a diaper? Do we have diapers? Can you roll that thing closer to me?” 
“Take it easy,” he laughed. He reached in the bassinette and carefully lifted the baby. She was wrapped up like a hard, little burrito. Soon she was cradled in my arms and I began to melt back down to my previous daze. Her eyes were still closed. 
“You’ve had a rough first day already, haven’t you?” I asked the little burrito. 
“Here’s what we’ve got,” Mason said as he pulled up a chair next to the bed. He reached over and showed me a piece of paper. “This is a log. We can keep track of when she eats and how much, and when she… um, goes to the bathroom and what, um, results from that. See? We’ve already done a diaper and a bottle.”
“You did a bottle?”
He smiled proudly. “Yup.”
“Wow…” I looked down at her. 
“This is where all the supplies are,” he got up and went to the rolling bassinette. There was a drawer in the bottom. Mason opened it up and proceeded to pull out things and name them for me. “Diapers… wipes… premade formula… nipples… changing pads.” Then he went over to a cabinet, opened it and began pointing at things. “In here we’ve got gowns, blankets, baby blankets, towels, rags… ah, feminine products, these things—“ (indicating the mesh panties) “—and what appears to be those bed pad thingers.” I was impressed. I don’t know where I had been, but Mason knew what was going on. I began to feel a glimmer of… no, not confidence… maybe competence. 
“What about clothes?” I asked.
“Yours or hers?”
“She’s wearing a little shirt under there.”
I stuck my finger into the opening of the baby burrito to feel the shirt, and felt warmth radiating from the wrap. A little breath came out of her mouth as if she was deflating a little. My eyes widened and my mouth opened and I looked at Mason. He had the same look of glee. “She made a noise!” I whispered loudly.
“I know!”
Before we knew it, it began to get light outside. We had arrived at the hospital around 9:30 p.m., and it was now nearly 8:00 a.m. It was snowing. Mason called it lazy snow; when the snow doesn’t all fall down in unison, but each individual flake zigzags gently down in no particular direction or hurry. Nurses had quietly come and gone to check in on us, to take blood pressure and things like that. We had barely noticed. It was just the three of us. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Day

We've been to a bunch of birthday parties, mostly because our friends, the Vix family, have seven kids in their family, four spouses, eight grandkids so far, and they like to party.

Because of this, whenever there are certain things around, Norah thinks it's someone's birthday, or as she calls it, "Happy day!" These things include: pizza, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, and balloons. Mostly it's cute, but it has caused some issues.

For example, I nuked some Smart Ones mini bagel pizzas for dinner one night while Norah and Ryan had some noodle casserole with meat in it. She thought they looked like cupcakes and chanted "Happy day! Happy day!" until I gave her one (I knew she'd just lick it and then be sad), and she just licked it and was sad. So, I lost out on food, and she started chanting "Happy day"again, but in a sad, disappointed tone.

Or when my mom made meatloaf that apparently looked like birthday cake. More "Happy day!" chanting, and then shock and devastation when the "cake" turned out to taste like meatloaf instead of chocolate.

Mostly it's cute, though. We went to a fundraising/celebration/party over the weekend complete with pizza, balloons, and a live band. Her new best friend, Kristi, even gave her suckers. She was pretty certain it was her birthday, singing "My happy day!" So either she'll think she has the best parents ever, hiring a live band and all that, or she'll be really let down on her actual birthday. We'll see. She fell asleep in the car, clutching her balloon. (Too bad that didn't last. She woke up completely refreshed when we got home and wanted to boogie instead of sleep.)

The next birthday, Tamara's, is this weekend. More sweets and fun! We're also camping. In October. In Minnesota. Yeah. I'll let you know how that goes.