Thursday, February 28, 2013

The New Normal

I had only been in the house 2 minutes, when I saw these. 

Man. I couldn't stop thinking about them.  Couldn't take my eyes off of them.  But I held my ground; stayed strong for over 3 hours and then I broke down like an old, beater car.

The Cousin's kitchen is filled with sugar crap: chocolate chip cup cakes, Girl Scout cookies, real cream ice cream.   It's like The Big Rock Candy Mountain and I'm always having to host these little conversations in my head: "Don't eat it. You're a diabetic." 
"Just eat half." "You can run instead of walk today."  God knows what's in these things, but the ingredients register high on the "delish meter."  They're to die for.  When I finally broke, I cut one into small pieces, as if that would reduce the fat and calorie content, but damn!
I wish I could tell y'all that this was my one and only challenge yesterday.
But the truth is, there were many and I don't mean of the 'small-bump-in-the-road' caliber.
It was a war zone.  I'm talkin full-on 20-ft ditches that left the three of us with battle scars.
But these bumps; these battles are quite frankly, my new normal.

Sweet Pea took a lot of "hits" in the morning; Sweet Pea who thinks she's 7 years old
not 10 months.
To begin with, she climbed up onto a plastic chair and came crashing down like Humpty Dumpty, biting her lip and hitting her nose on the way to the floor.  Shit!
This was the first time there'd been blood on my watch.

Then, as if she hadn't experienced enough trauma to her face, The Cousin went after her with a
"pinch-grip" that left a red, 1-inch line on her left cheek.  That was prior to The Cousin placing another choke-hold and leaving marks on the back of her little neck.
It all happens so quickly, folks. Let me tell you. I'm not in the kitchen eating cookies when the war breaks out. I'm right there, 2-3 feet away from the soldiers, and I still can't stop it!
I think I have to get more firm with The Cousin. But look at this face.

As I said, Sweet Pea definitely took her share of hits.  But the cool thing about Sweet Pea is...
She's Sweet Pea.  She's like a fucking Rolex. She just keeps on ticking.

I resorted to Cheerios as a sort of peace-offering. It actually helped, at least temporarily; like a band-aid on a deep wound.  It stopped the bleeding for the time being.

Then Sweet Pea took matters (and the jar of cereal) into her own hands.

She's a "dumper."
She grabs shit and dumps it faster than lightening.  Here she's finding total pleasure in dumping the water from her tipee cup and then playing in it.



The afternoon got better. It got better because of a little 3-letter word called "N A P."
And I felt as if I accomplished the most challenging feat known to man and womankind: 
I got them to both nap at the same time. 
Okay. I'm so lucky right now.

And then, I walked and walked until I ended up here.

And no, I didn't pull a "Thelma and Louise" and send the little sweeties over the cliff at high speed. 
But rather, I sat on a nearby bench, soaked up the sun, breathed in the salty, ocean air and realized how lucky I am to live in a place like this. 
I'm sure, now that you've seen this picture, any slight amount of pity you might have had for me and my nanny plight, is probably long gone. 
Yep. It's not a bad place to work.
My quiet moment did however come to an end, as all good things often do.
We ended up at the park and all of us, including Kitty, had a great time!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bye Bye "Kitten" Anderson

Although any given day can be a cliffhanger, I'd never pull a "Joe Rickey."  
The term "terrible twos" is a term that's always left a sour taste in my mouth. 
Never liked it. Never used it. The idea of that particular label being placed on any child at such an early age is appalling. 
Mother of God! Don't we have enough labels placed on us in society?!

The term "terrible twos" (I did a little research) was coined in the 1950's, perhaps because so much pressure was put on families to be detergent-commercial perfect; squeaky clean like the family in Leave It To Beaver, and of course, who could forget the Anderson children?

When a child grew out of compliant infancy, mom freaked out. (or in the recent event; a racist, drunk stranger on a plane freaked out).

The Cousin showed a clear and significant sign of change last week. In some kind of miraculous, unexplainable "rewire", she went from "Kitten" Anderson to a savage beast of the jungle.

You look at this face and you think, "How could it be?" 
Well, friends, there's no denying it:
2-year olds are stinking cute, and The Cousin is no exception.  Her curiosity about the world is infectious. So, what's not to love?

Up until about a week ago, she had some sense of reason;  probably more than most of us actually.     When she would throw a book or choke Sweet Pea, I could at least walk her through it with simple phrases, spoken in quiet, Zen-like undertones like, "I see you are angry, but let's figure out a better way." Or "It hurts Sweet Pea when you pinch her cheek. It's not okay to hurt people. 
I don't want anyone to hurt you." 
My voice would be steady and unwavering;  quiet, calm and smooth like filling in a chocolate mousse pie. And for the most part, The Cousin would respond in the healthy way that I, the adult in charge, deemed appropriate.  She could be reckoned with; in other words,  I could talk her down.
That's all a thing of the past as of last week.
It's as if a light bulb went off in her head that flashed "I'VE HAD IT!" or a blimp sailed across her sky carrying a banner stating "IF YOU SAY 'NO' TO ME ONE MORE TIME I'LL KICK YOUR ASS!" 

And, she now knows her charm and her good looks.
It's also as if she doesn't give a shit if her pinches leave scars.  
In fact, it's almost pleasurable.

Now my "Deepak Chopra voice" has gone out the window and I find myself saying, "No." 
The exact word 2-year olds are numb to and dislike with a passion.  And because she hears that word too many times in her short life, and she doesn't have the language yet to express all of her extreme feelings, she goes haywire bizerk in a matter of seconds at the sound of it.

She lost it completely when she couldn't have a third cookie; I'm talkin a full-on Tsunami, complete with flailing arms, stomping feet and vocals. When it was all over, her stare could stop any sane (or insane) adult in her tracks.

The moms approached me last week with the news that The Cousin was saying, "What the Hell?"
They weren't being accusatory or suggesting she heard it from me. (If she'd heard it from me, the 3rd word of the question would have begun with an "F".) They were merely letting me know that she picked it up somewhere and it was part of this sudden change that has come over her.
There's only 4 women that watch the girls; 4 very brave, strong women: The 2 moms, of course,
the grandma and moi.
Let's just put it out there.  The moms are perfect. They are the June Cleavers of 2013.  
So that excludes them and y'all know where I'm going with this.

Evidently, grandma (who works for free btw) has used the catchy little question-phrase on several occasions and was busted the other day when she was struggling with the car seat in a futile attempt to get it locked securely.  
Hence, The Cousin's new "catch-phrase" is WTH?

So, what about Sweet Pea you ask?

She's cool. Eating anything she can get her lil mitts on; string, Swifter pads, dirty diapers, dirt and chalk.
Unlike The Cousin, it doesn't have to taste good. Although, she's all about good tasting grub.
She is so goddamn happy to be having something to munch on besides boob milk. I think her mom is torn. She's happy when Sweet Pea isn't munching or chomping on her boob, but she recently indicated a little bit of personal sadness with the fact that Sweet Pea "is growing up right before her very eyes."

SHIT! COME ON! I say, leave the boob to us girls who know how to appreciate them, and let the baby have some organic whole grain oatmeal with smushed banana!

This is when I adore Sweet Pea.

This is when I don't.

But at least she's not approaching the enchanting age of two. We got a ways to go with that. 

Recently her mom asked me how long I thought I'd be able to "hang on?"
My response was simple and to the point. I didn't hold back.  "I'm outta here when there's 3 of 'em." 
I don't think I could take it.  I mean 2 toddlers and a new baby? 
Just give me a gun.
You might see me in the news like Joe Rickey Hundley. Joe's in some deep doo doo for slapping a toddler and though I certainly don't advocate his language or actions, I can't stop chuckling at his mugshot and I don't know exactly why.  Could be the wine.
Evidently, the toddler started crying when the plane they were on had a change in altitude.

Duh, Joe.  It happens.
I once grabbed a stranger's arm in the seat next to me, when on the way into Denver, we dropped in altitude to avoid the mountain ranges.

But I'll give y'all some 411.
I'll never slap "my" babies because of altitude change or any other kind of change; 
even a foul diaper change.
Kisses? Yea!  Hugs? Yea!  Reasoning? Yea!  Explanations? Yea!  Diversions? Yea!  An Occasional 'Time-Out'? Yea! 

And as for that squeaky clean, detergent-commercial type family image...
What the hell is that!?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Rabbi

Rabbi with The Cousin and me
This is what I look like by noon. You can only imagine what I look like by 5:00 pm.
I've had f*!@#ing Hava Nagila stuck in my head for the last 48 hours. 
So, The Cousin got a new toy. By the time Sweet Pea's mom came home at lunch to offer up a little "boob action" for Sweet Pea, I had listened to, danced to and sang Hava Nagila so many times, I thought any slight trace of Jewish heritage I might have, would jump out of my skin and slap me up the side of my head... hard. 
"More, Rabbi, peez"  was what The Cousin requested OVER AND OVER AGAIN. So I'd squeeze the Rabbi's left foot and the Hebrew folk song would begin again.  Even when I hid Rabbi behind a pile of dirty clothes, The Cousin would find him. It's not that I hate Hava Nagila. It's alright. 
But I'm sure you'd agree; when you hear even your favorite melody 100 times in a day, it sucks. 

Sweet Pea isn't at all interested in Rabbi.  She does her own thing and her own thing is fine by her. I dig that about her. I honestly do.  Our struggles are lessening actually.  The only real one we have, and it's a "doosey", is on the changing table. She still fights me like a caged bull and I still hold her two little ankles up in the air like a plucked chicken.  I'm all about not getting the poop all over the table.  She's all about winning the battle. She and The Cousin are such polar opposites in so many ways.  And though it's The Cousin who's being prepped for the toilet, it's Sweet Pea that thinks she's ready...
"I can do anything and my age has nothing to do with it."
Th Cousin not so much...
"Rabbi, pleez."
The Cousin is very cooperative about diaper changing. She remains still and lets me get the job done quickly and efficiently. She loves a clean diaper and has happily accepted the nickname I've given to her: "Clean Machine".

"Clean Machine" and I have bonded and, as y'all know, it happens during Sweet Pea's naps. This week we made pink play-dough. Totally took me back to my teaching days when play-dough was actually used regularly in Kindergarten and even 1st grade classrooms, not just for fun, but for the healthy development of fine motor skills in young children. Kneading the dough, cutting it with plastic knives, rolling balls of it into worms, etc is proven to help young kids in their abilities to hold pencils, use scissors, connect blocks and manipulatives.  And there's the whole brain connection with other areas such as language arts and math. But hey! Now our public education system has nixed the play-dough (and other "play" experiences) in favor of scores. We go straight to the test, and of course, the bubbling in of Scantron sheets beginning at age 5.
It's all about the data I've been told by my teacher pals.

But The Cousin and I, we know better. She poured in all the ingredients, including the strawberry JELL-O for color.
We just had to spend a little time working on not eating it.  Once that concept sunk in, it was smooth sailing and lotsa fun!
And, it kept her mind off Rabbi for a good 45 minutes!