Friday, February 25, 2011

Butt Of Course

It’s amazing how quickly kids grow up, how quickly they learn about the world around them. Just the other day I walked into our family room and found Landon lounging in his silk bathrobe, puffing on a bubble pipe and trying to coax our cat into fetching his iphone so he could read the Wall Street Journal – illustrated edition with his evening sippy cup.

Okay, not really. But, seriously, how cute would a little mini silk bathrobe be?

Anyway. So like I said, they grow up fast. Or even if they don’t grow up fast in terms of time (to be honest, I kind of feel like I’ve had a toddler for 16 years now. Actually, I’ll probably still feel that way when he’s 16) they certainly grow quickly in their ability to notice things around them, even if you don’t want them too.

That’s what I worry about – my little baby learning about a few things way before his time or learning about them in the wrong way or learning about them at all (girls shall always – ALWAYS I SAY! – remain a mystery. Forever. And ever. Until I want grandkids. And then I hear adoption is nice.)

Most importantly, I worry about Landon learning about things without learning respect first. I have a grand vision of raising my son with the upmost respect for not only himself and his own body, but for women and their bodies as well. I could write a diatribe on how the female body is severely disrespected and degraded in our culture but I will spare you all my soapbox. Just know that it is. Nod head.

So that is why an incident that happened a couple of days ago shook me up so profoundly, for more reasons than one.

We were visiting our local library (where all good memories begin) and Landon and I were perusing the latest books on display (by perusing I mean Landon was taking them all off the shelves and creating a step stool to stand on to reach the higher shelves to climb onto and I was pretending he wasn't my child).

Somewhere along the display were a few new fitness books. One had a cover that looked like this:

I never would have taken a second thought for this particular book except that Landon suddenly got very animated and started yelling "BUTT! BUTT! Mama, Mama! BUTT!!"

I looked down at this small bit of a boy pointing excitedly to a book cover with a toned and tight woman, still proudly proclaiming "BUTT!"

Is he saying what I think he's saying?

More importantly, since I don't remember this particular part of anatomy coming up in our fun little "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" song, to whom do I serve a restraining order for teaching this to my kid and how long should I allow them to maintain full use of their faculties?

By this time, people were starting to pay attention to my cute little pervert and snicker/judge my mothering skills. I quickly whisked him away to the kids books while loudly saying "Yes, honey. We will find that BUS book for you!"

I fooled no one.

So as my child happily pulled out every book in the children's section, I sat deep in horrifed thoughts. "It's started! I thought I had more time! At least until school when he met some other kid who teaches him poop jokes (which consist of yelling POOP! and then falling down in a giggle fit). How do I teach him to respect women's bodies when he doesn't even understand that the cat is not his intellectual equal? What if my child is the poop joke instigator? Will he be the one to teach his friends how to spell certain inappropriate words on the calculator? Do I have THAT kid?"

And so went my thinking all through the rest of the time at the library and during the ride home. I looked at Landon's sweet little cherubic face, laughing at himself for putting his sock on his head. "Where did I fail you?" I thought.

We arrived home and my mind continued to plan out how in the world I would now try to right this wrong, rewire a tiny sponge brain and change my child's certain errant path. I had to do it before it was too late, I had to work harder to instill empathy, compassion, respect and proper anatomy. I will have to speak to Tyler to get him on board, unless, heaven forbid! He was the culprit! Then we would have some words. Oh, man he would be in so much...

"Mama! BUTT!"

Landon came running over proudly showing me his tummy and pointing to the curious thing in the middle.

Belly Button.

Butt of course.

Let me step down from my high horse now to tell you what I learned from all of this:

1. I need to chill out. Seriously.

2. I need to stop projecting my own feelings and perspectives onto Landon and remember that he is only a toddler. Most of his thoughts currently revolve around cookies.

3. I still have a few more years before I really need to worry about what he learns and what he understands and even then it needs to revolve around organic discussions.

4. The most important thing I can do is not shove my own rhetoric in his face but rather create an open and honest atmosphere in our home that makes him feel comfortable asking questions and expressing his feelings.

5. I need to teach him how to say navel, immediately.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Landon In Training
Um, excuse me? Do you have these in size Tiny?

In Puke Green?

 I'd also like some with pockets to hold my graham crackers.

While you're back there, look for a sippy cup camelbak too.

Don't be fooled by my Fonzi jacket.

I'm serious about hydration.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Whiners Unite!

I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a whiner. When things are bad, they are really, really bad. A hangnail will ruin my day. Okay, not really, but those suckers hurt!

One of the pitfalls about whining is that you invariably hear about someone who has it worse. And then, not only are you having a hard time but then you feel guilty about having a hard time. Which is hard.

But I do think it's important to get out of ourselves a little and remember that as difficult as something may be for us, someone else always has it harder.

For instance, you may have noticed me mentioning once or twice on here that my son was a terrible sleeper for about the first year (or you may have noticed my PTSD-like flashbacks whenever a conversation about infant sleep ensues).

But I was sincerely humbled when I interviewed a woman the other day whose daughter was born eight weeks premature. Even after she got home from the NICU, to ensure that their baby girl was still breathing with her underdeveloped lungs, the husband and wife had to take turns waking up ever half-hour to check her breathing. For the first few months.

Not only did I realize maybe Landon wasn't so bad after all, I was also immediately thankful that I had such a hard time with his sleep - because that meant that there was nothing more important than that that I had to worry about.

There are so many instances that I can point to like this. The fact that my husband's work schedule is ridiculous and sometimes we don't see him for days. Then I find out that my brother has had to travel for work extensively for the last couple of years, leaving my sister-in-law home alone with her three kids for weeks at a time. But then even she will say that she's at least grateful she's not a military wife.

Or Maria Hunte, whom I interviewed for a story about adoption for Columbus Parent Magazine. She opened her home to five teenaged girls so they could have a family. She now has six daughters - mostly teenagers. One has reactive attachment disorder. She wants to adopt more. She doesn't have many resources except those that come from her heart.

Suddenly my frustrations with my one toddler son didn't seem like such a big deal.

I don't mean to invalidate anyone's hardships. Nor do I advocate a cease-fire of the whine wars. I fully intend to continue whining. I deserve to continue whining. Why? Because pain is relative. What's hard for one person may be easy for another and vice versa.

But instead of seeing another's hardship and guilting ourselves for being a wuss (I'm really hoping it's not just me), I think that what we do need to do is take strength from others and what they go through.

"If she can do ______ then I can definitely do _______!"

If she can handle a child with a life-threatening condition, maybe I can think (THINK!!) about maybe possibly having another baby. Before I'm 60.

If she can be independent enough to be a single mom for weeks or months at a time, then I can figure out how to unclog the disposal by myself.

If she can open her heart to five kids that she don't share her blood then I guess I can still love Landon after he smears yogurt all over my freshly cleaned windows. And then draws on the cat. And then eats her food. Then throws it up.

Yes, I can do it. But don't worry - you'll hear about it later.